With AAA games like Far Cry New Dawn, Metro Exodus, Crackdown 3 and Anthem all releasing within seven days of one another, each one needs to do something spectacular to stand out from the pack. While I haven’t had the opportunity to play Far Cry or Metro, I have spent several hours with Anthem and Crackdown 3, and I’m concerned about the latter.
Crackdown 3 is not a bad game, not at all. It’s actually a lot of fun. Crackdown flips Grand Theft Auto on its head by placing you in the shoes of the law – a super cop, or “agent” to be precise. As your agent progresses, they gain access to special abilities. We’re talking a super jump, Hulk-like strength and aerial dash to name a few – all perfect skills for delivering “hot justice” to the criminals within the open-world of New Providence. And it’s fine.
The problem is Crackdown 3 doesn’t offer anything new. It plays and feels just like the original Crackdown, its sequel and a dozen other open world game of the last five years or so.
The real selling point of Crackdown 3 is Terry freaking Crews! The Brooklyn Nine-Nine star plays the role of Commander Jaxon, signing on to bring his trademark flair and overblown acting to 1 of 21 playable characters. Seeing Crews in action made me want to see more cutscenes. That never happens!
Having a likeable actor appear in such a big way seems like a no-brainer. That’s why I was surprised when I talked with Crackdown’s Creative Director Joseph Staten and Head of Production Jorg Neumann and they told me Terry’s involvement was originally quite limited.
“Terry joined the game as a spokesperson who we believe embodied the big, boisterous, fun of the Crackdown franchise,” they said.
“We continued to work with Terry, who unsurprisingly is a really nice, genuine guy. His enthusiasm and some additional time led us to add him as the 21st playable character.”
“Sometimes you work with celebrities, and they’re good at what they do, but every once in a while you meet someone who is truly a gamer and brings the passion and Terry was one of those guys.”
Sadly, Terry Crews wasn’t available to take questions. Instead, I was offered some additional time with Crackdown’s new multiplayer mode Wrecking Crew. Microsoft is pushing the hype train behind Wrecking Crew as it’s powered by the new cloud-based processing system and features fully-destructible multiplayer arenas.
“It doesn’t matter if you have an Xbox One X, or less powerful 4-year-old Xbox One, the cloud guarantees every player sees the same thing.”
Playing Wrecking Crew, bullets punch holes through concrete as if it were cardboard. Launching rockets at the base of statues causes them to collapse. Joseph and Jorg revealed that the destruction would even allow skyscrapers to collapse, but that wasn’t something I witnessed.
“You go in with ideas about tactical destruction, and quickly realise you’re literally blowing up all the game design rules, destroying cover and having to continually rethink what that means, as a player and as a developer.”
The destruction of the arenas is impressive. That’s why it’s such a shame that the kill-or-be-killed gameplay loop is dull. What I played was old-school team deathmatch that didn’t reach the standards of other competitive games.
The more Wrecking Crew I played, the more I wished the technology was implemented into the single player/co-op campaign. We’ve never seen destruction of this scale, and it is something else that would set Crackdown 3 apart from the other big titles launching this month.
For now, the best thing about Crackdown 3 is Terry Crews. I don’t recognise a single actor in Far Cry, Anthem or Metro Exodus. So Microsoft wins the celebrity battle.
Crackdown 3 launches February 15 for PC and Xbox One. It’s also available as part of Xbox Game Pass from day one. Bargain!