Back in 2007, Microsoft used the hype around the Halo 3 beta to launch a new franchise. Plenty of gamers bought the original Crackdown just to get access to the Halo 3 beta, but once the beta was over, realized that a pretty solid game had come along with it. Twelve years later, Crackdown 3 has landed on the Xbox One X, though with more of a whimper than a bang.
The best way to describe Crackdown 3 is painfully average. As a game, it takes inspiration from a number of different titles, but it doesn’t build on any of them well, and it doesn’t innovate on what came before. Superhero action? Saints Row IV did it better. Destruction? Red Faction: Guerrilla set the standard for that. Traversal during combat? Sunset Overdrive says hello. Each of these games stood out from the pack because they focused on one thing and did it well. Instead of prioritizing a specific type of gameplay, Crackdown 3 tries to throw too much into its toolkit and ends up as a jack-of-all-trades, master of none.
This disconnected approach even applies to the main storyline in Crackdown 3. The game takes a non-linear, open-world approach to progression, similar to the Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry games, but here, there aren’t any core “story” missions. There is merely a collection of independent missions that lead to bosses. Kill the bosses to unlock the final boss. Kill her to win the game.
There are vague references to a shadowy puppet master who is supposedly pulling the strings, but the lack of a core story makes it all feel like random lore. It’s as if the creators of “Lost” decided to write the script for a video game. There are plenty of possible questions, and there aren’t any concrete answers beyond the player being good and the bad lady being bad. The mission progression doesn’t even seem to register with the AI banter. For example, Roxy the AI boss was one of the first ones I took down. Later on in the game, the radio chatter was talking about how I need to take out Roxy. Little things like this make Crackdown 3 feel like a collection of side missions rather than a coherent adventure.