February was pretty surprising for video games across the board. I don’t want to single anything out, but a lot of games that I was excited for didn’t get under my skin, and I ended up getting my gaming kicks from elsewhere.
Crackdown 3’s mediocrity wasn’t surprising at all, being about as you might expect from a game with this many delays and behind the scenes problems, as it was originally planned for a 2016 release. Then 2017. Then 2018. It finally released this month.
Jade King effectively summed the game up in our review, saying “Crackdown 3 can be great fun, but the open-world genre has come on leaps and bounds in the past decade, and this feels firmly stuck in the past.”
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However, after getting curious and downloading the game for free using an Xbox GamePass subscription, and I’m here to report that Crackdown 3 is the best bad game I’ve played in a long time.
You’re turned loose after only minimum hand-holding into Crackdown 3’s neon-hazed open world with a huge gun and very little supervision. The gameplay loop is simplistic, but there’s something seductive about it: if you’re not jumping, your sole interaction with the game is violence, but pretty much everything you do makes you better at what you’re doing.
Your character, who is probably Terry Crews because you can select him as a character in this game and why would you choose anyone else, travels through the city like a whirlwind hoovering up map icons and acquiring better and better weaponry, occasionally beaning someone in the face with a dumpster.
You scrabble across rooftops to collect agility orbs, which increase your agility and make you better at scrabbling across rooftops. Elsewhere, you kill people with your guns, fists or explosives and they bleed not blood but orbs that can make you better at the method you used to kill them.
As the very definition of the modern superman, it’s unclear why you would want to drive anywhere when Terry Crews – again, that’s you – can pick up a car and belt someone with it, but you’ll also get driving skill for every cool trick you pull off in your motor, or everyone you plaster across the front of your vehicle.
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There’s a plot, but it doesn’t matter. There’s probably challenge somewhere, but I found the only real trouble was running out of explosive ammo before I’d killed everyone the game had thrown at me in the latest, ridiculous, shootout. There’s a story but you can skip every cutscene by holding down the X button, and I did. It didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the chaotic whirlwind the game becomes as soon as you’ve finished the brief tutorial segment.
In a world full of disposal media, it’s likely Crackdown 3 will vanish without a trace in just a few short weeks, but considering you can get your hands on it for no money (or the monthly cost if you’ve already used your 14 day free Xbox GamePass trial) it’s worth playing. It’s fun, uncomplicated and something blows up every 4.3 seconds. At least.
Not every game has to be art, and not every game has to say something. Crackdown 3 doesn’t do either, but it’s fun as hell.