I’ve played a ton of video games in my life, so it can take a lot for a game or mechanic to impress me. The freedom and movement and progression in Crackdown is one of the lucky bunch that has stuck with me since I first played it back in 2007 on the Xbox 360. I loved collecting orbs and seeing the progression along my path of destruction. So, when it was announced that Crackdown 3 would be available for the launch of the Xbox One X and that I would be able to get hands-on with a short demo, I was super excited to see what this franchise has become.
While we only had a ten minute demo, there was a lot to do and see in this world. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any of the multiplayer, which takes advantage of cloud computing to allow for destruction on a massive scale, but the campaign demo gave us many options to have a ton of fun.
I began my adventure and was so happy to hear that the iconic Announcer voice from the original games has returned. My one mission in this demo was to collect as many Agility Orbs as I could and jump around the city to explore. Along the way, I would test my hand at weaponry, vehicles, and hand-to-hand combat.
What I feel would sum up Crackdown 3 the most is that it felt like coming home again. Putting aside the fact that running at 4K resolution made the cartoon/comic art style really shine, it felt like Crackdown. I understood the controls and knew what I had to do to accomplish my task. I started collecting the Agility Orbs and after about 10 or so I gained a level and was greeted with an explosion of leveling up and a slight change in my appearance. This is what I love about this franchise, the celebration of leveling up and becoming more powerful. Crackdown 3 had that in spades.
After I leveled up my Agility for a few moments, I went down to deal with enemies on the ground. In Crackdown 3 you are expected to free areas that are under “Terranova Rule”. Each district has a boss and the more damage you deal in a particular area, the more you have a chance to trigger “Gangs Bite Back”. This will send thugs and enemies to attack you no matter where you are on the map, depending on how much chaos you have created for a particular boss.
So, as I was attacking and trying to liberate an area, I began by shooting my way through enemy after enemy with a trusty shotgun. With each kill, orbs would fly out and empower my weapons ability. Similarly, when I allowed my fists to do the talking and started punching and kicking enemies, my strength grew to the point that I was allowed to throw cars or rip lamp posts from the ground and swing them around like some giant baseball bat.
I got my hands on a rocket launcher and wanted to test the limits of the destruction of this world, and was a bit disappointed. I understand that they are holding that back for multiplayer, but I was hoping to decimate buildings and leave a trail of terror in my wake. That being said, as I leveled up my agent, the enemies continued to fly farther and farther, and that never got old.
In my last few moments I got into some cars to test out the driving and it felt as you would expect. You can level up your driving ability as well, and that’s the magic of Crackdown; no matter how you choose to play, you are getting rewarded and becoming more powerful in any and all areas you chose to focus on.
Though I only had ten short minutes, the magic and fun that runs in the of DNA of the Crackdown series is firing on all cylinders. It remains to be seen what the multiplayer and co-op chaos will bring to the table, or if the story will come together and stay engaging throughout your adventures, though if the sandboxy fun stays at level 11 for the entire time, these extraneous worries may not be an issue at all.
I still worry that Crackdown 3 may be too familiar and won’t bring enough to the table to really make it stand head and shoulders above its predecessors or like-minded titles. That being said, if it can provide the fun and progression that I enjoyed for those short ten minutes, I think the Xbox family will be receiving an incredible title to showcase the power of its new Xbox One X.