This week, Yahtzee reviews Crackdown 3.
Ah, the long-awaited Crackdown 3. Well, frankly, while it has been close to a decade since the last Crackdown and thirteen years since the last Crackdown that didn't suck mouthfuls of used baby wipes from a blocked sewer drain, I'm not sure it's fair to say that anyone's been "awaiting" another one; I was content to forget about it and recycle the relevant brain cells to think of more inventive ways to look down ladies' tops without them noticing. But nevertheless, Crackdown 3 has appeared, and it's a very appropriate title: "down" because that's how it makes me feel, "crack" because anyone involved with it is going to lose all their teeth and end up sucking dick behind the bus station, and "3" which sounds a bit like "wee".
"Yahtzee, we all know you're being needlessly negative because Crackdown 3 has already reviewed pretty shittily and you're going for the mercy kill. Switch to Contrarian Mode, you lazy asshole." Oh, all right. Crackdown 3's good, actually. Well, the fact is, time has made a fool of Crackdown 3; clearly, the feeling was that it's been long enough since Crackdown 2 that it was time to bring back Crackdown 1 updated for a new generation, but then someone rested their balls on the piece of paper where they wrote the idea down and obscured the last five words, and then all the scrotum sweat messed up the ink, and after they lifted up their balls, the words had somehow changed to "and put Terry Crews in it".
Crackdown 3 is about a glittering future city that was established in the aftermath of a global crisis in which the super-powered peacekeepers of the ever-unspecifically-named "Agency" are going into to start trouble because the people running it are evil. Or at least, we are given every assurance that they are; it's a very "tell, don't show" kind of arrangement. We don't get to see for ourselves much of the oppression and violence we're told is taking place; the most evidence the game presents for us outside of the briefing videos is that the city has police stations. Yes, our helicopter does get shot down on the way in, but that could just have been the city authorities not wanting the Agency to come in and beat them all to death with their own company cars. I spent the whole game waiting for someone to acknowledge that twist from the end of Crackdown 1 where it turned out the Agency itself were the evil masterminds behind it all, but I think I might be the only person who remembers that.
So the intro diligently fails to satisfactorily establish why we hate the villains, and instead spends most of its time establishing that Terry Crews is in this game. And God bless his little cotton socks, probably thought he was going to be in more of it, but then he's killed off in the crash and largely disappears from the situation while the surviving Agent of our choice washes up ashore and hooks up with the local resistance movement of hordes of idealistic young people.
The game proper then begins, and if you played Crackdown 1, slipped on a puddle of your own brackish mung, fell into a coma, and only just woke up in time to play Crackdown 3, you could be forgiven for thinking that in the intervening time, the games industry had advanced no further than a shit-smeared dildo at a relay race. For it is just basically Crackdown: you jump about the city very emphatically not driving any of the thoughtfully-provided vehicles, collect upgrade orbs, cause chaos until you can take down the local lieutenant, kill lieutenants until the big boss is defenseless, and reload is bound to the left shoulder button, which is exactly the sort of thing we used to do in the olden days before evolution solidified our brain matter.
"Surely, Crackdown 1 was a good game, Yahtz?" It was, at the time, back before our sophisticated modern age where all races and creeds live together in harmony and everyone understands that vaccinations work; back then, the very concept of a "go anywhere" sandbox was still somewhat novel, especially ones where you could jump 50 feet into the air and bludgeon people to death with the corpses of their old schoolteachers. But these days, sandbox games are like chicken: bland, obvious, and there's about three for every human being on planet Earth. We've got small sandboxes, sumptuous sandboxes, survival sandboxes, superhero sandboxes; I've got so many sandboxes in my house, my cat uses one as a toilet.
And Crackdown 3's sandbox is humiliatingly small and uninteresting, with very little personality on a moment-to-moment level. You're just going from one "shoot all the bad guys" mission to another while all the innocent pedestrians we're ostensibly doing this for are but flakes of dandruff settling on the pubic hair of the world. Possibly interesting if you like to reminisce about what sandbox games were like around the late PS2/early PS3 era, but you can always just replay Crackdown 1 for that, or keep holding your head underwater till you damage your short-term memory.
You might be a little confused if, like me, you remember seeing a hype video of Crackdown 3 a year or two back that showed off a fully-destructible city, which would have been enough USP for a modern sandbox, but it turns out that that's only for the multiplayer mode, which makes sense. It wouldn't really work in the story campaign; it'd be hard to have an epic final boss fight if you've already blown up the final boss arena and converted the rubble into a custom-made Japanese zen garden. But I'm not sure it works totally well as part of a competitive deathmatch, either.
It's pretty uninspired; every player is shown every other player's location at all times like the game wants this to be over as quickly as I do, and I could barely notice the terrain destruction 'cos I was too busy trying to avoid unavoidable gunfire. Everything's destructible, so taking cover was as much use as a flak jacket made of pink wafer biscuits. Besides, I don't want to blow up empty buildings in a special dedicated map cut off from the main campaign city; I want to blow up somebody's place of work and imagine the stupid look on their face when they show up on Monday, all that remains of their 401(k) glistening wetly in their eyes.
Crackdown 1, fun. Crackdown 3 is Crackdown 1. Therefore, Crackdown 3 fun? No. That's where the mathematics breaks down. Maybe I've changed; maybe it's not just my hairline that's receded in the last ten years. I found Crackdown 3 very boring; go to place and shoot all the things with icons above them, repeat. The only thing that threw a wrench in the works was that my weapon-switching button arbitrarily decided I hadn't pressed it respectfully enough and that it wasn't going to bloody work, but even then, the average tech industry CEO faces more consequences for failure. The only time I felt really "challenged" was doing one of the later boss fights against a dude in a giant mech, and that was just frustrating; he spawns too many helpers to keep track of, all with hitscan weapons and in an arena with no cover, and after seven failed attempts, I realized that I could jump out of a window, cling to the side of the building where they couldn't reach me, and wait ten minutes for my health to come back. "Yahtzee, that's cheaper than a baby bird with Tourette syndrome." Hey, I'm just using the tools that are available; blame whoever left this window open! It must have been Crackdown's last semblance of marketability as it was committing suicide.
- Down with the crack: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- But what kind of skill orb would you get for throwing a car at an enemy, shooting it so that it explodes just before it hits them, all while doing jumping jacks
- Shout out if you insist on collecting all the agility orbs before doing anything else