Gamescom hands-on: Crackdown 3

Oh Crackdown. What a development cycle you’ve been through. For those of you uninitiated with the franchise, the original, simply titled “Crackdown” was one of the most fun, wild open world roller coaster rides that became a darling hit for Xbox. It’s sequel, largely more of the same, didn’t fare quite as well and put the franchise on ice for quite some time that is until a couple of E3’s ago with Microsoft used the title to show off it’s cloud computation systems that would enable the Xbox One to harness the power of its always-online connection to shift heavy computational tasks to Microsoft’s cloud computers. In the example a sky scraper in Crackdown 3 is destroyed with a bevy of rockets and explosions sending it crumbling to the ground in a smattering of calculated physics all produced courtesy of the cloud.

Things have changed a lot since then. The Xbox isn’t “always online”, Microsoft’s cloud computing for Xbox is largely forgotten and poor old Crackdown 3 was held and shifted to become an Xbox One X launch title only to be delayed at the last minute until 2018.

What does that mean for the game though? Well, Crackdown 3 is at this point a nicer looking, smoother and larger world. At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking the game hasn’t received any visually update from it’s predecessor half a decade ago but rest assured that’s just nostalgia playing tricks on you.

The demo, which ran on Xbox One X’s, placed you in the centre of the city near with a major objective that, in true Crackdown fashion, is soon usurped with the general mayhem you as an agent inflict upon the city and those who wish to do it harm.

Gameplay felt amazingly familiar, even after all this time. Launching yourself across a series of rooftops collecting orbs and weapons in a cacophony of absolute carnage feels just as good as it always has. The only thing missing, or absent from the demo at least, was the large scale world events of major environment destruction shown off just a few years ago.

Staff on hand were not entirely knowledgeable of the title or its development so I can’t speak to the finished product but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was heavily scaled back.

Throughout the demo I had the opportunity to try a series of weapons. Each with more fire power and a larger area of effect. My favourite, a rocket launcher used to pelt a litany of wayward enemies as they ran like lemmings from their homes to the edge of my rocket propelled cliff of death.

Fun as it may be it does highlight the game’s continued shallowness when it comes to AI. I saw no improvement in this version from either of predecessors. The vertical slice exhibited was well contained however and in no way was the opportunity (that I had at least) to engage a more formidable foe.

It feels like Crackdown 3 is going to be a tonne of fun – just as it was all those years ago. What I don’t think it will be, and I’m sure the undertones of my thoughts have already shone through, is the monumental leap in game dynamics it was once touted to be.

Perhaps the mere fact it’s been so many years since it was first released nostalgia will carry it through? Personally I’d rather it be a downloadable title that I could jump, spend 20 minutes blowing shit up and then jumping out again.

Crackdown 3 will be available as a Windows 10 and Xbox One (Xbox One X Enhanced 4K @ 30fps) exclusive title in early 2018.

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