Crackdown 3 a huge letdown

Actor Terry Crews lends his face to team commander Isaiah Jaxon in Crackdown 3.
Actor Terry Crews lends his face to team commander Isaiah Jaxon in Crackdown 3.

Crackdown 3 marks a return for the open world shooter franchise after 81/2 years, but back with a bang it is not.

Available now on PC and Xbox One, Crackdown 3's problem is not that it does anything badly, but that it does not do anything well enough to stand out in today's crowded action adventure genre.

In the game, the player reprises the role of a superpower Agent from a shadowy city-funded organisation known only as the Agency.

A terrorist attack has cut power across the globe and you are one of the agents tasked with tracking down the terrorists in the city of New Providence.

The initial strike fails spectacularly, leaving you as the sole survivor to take on the hordes of mega-corporation Terra Nova and its evil leaders.

While the game's plot is really just an excuse for the shoot-up action to follow, promotional trailers had promised a generous serving of the effervescent Terry Crews (most recently seen in hit television series Brooklyn Nine-Nine), who plays team commander Isaiah Jaxon.

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $75 (PC; Xbox One, version tested)

    GENRE: Action-adventure third-person shooter

    RATING: 6/10

But after a memorable opening cut-scene, there is barely anything to distinguish Crews' character from the other 20 selectable agent skins.

The game's general lack of personality - from player avatars to creeps to boss fights - means that much of the single player campaign can feel like ticking items off a list rather than the one-man crusade against dastardly villains it is supposed to be.

Crackdown 3 is not helped by its lacklustre graphics, which give the game a dated feel.

I had to remind myself several times, after yet another low-resolution walkway, that I was playing a game released in 2019 and one by Microsoft Studios at that.

Crackdown 3's "practice makes perfect" levelling system is its one saving grace.

As a newcomer to the series, I found shooting enemies to get better at shooting, and hitting them at close range to get better at melee, refreshing and intuitive.

Agility Orbs, which improve the player's mobility and must be collected, are the exception.

I was not a fan of tracking down the 1,000 orbs in total, although this could appeal to completionists.

Combat itself, however, is as anonymous as the game's player avatars.

You point, you shoot, you kill, which in the absence of a unique mechanic or gimmick is no different from any other shooter out there.

Crackdown 3 also has a multiplayer mode called Wrecking Zone, featuring destructible environments.

But to my disappointment, I did not get to try it during my review period as it was not yet ready.

I had a brief turn on it after the game was launched.

It was different enough from the single player mode to almost warrant a separate review, but my initial impression was that Wrecking Zone lacks depth like the rest of the game.

It turned out to be the last of a series of disappointments for a decidedly underwhelming game.

• Verdict: With a bland story, dated graphics and cookie-cutter combat, mediocrity is Crackdown 3's undoing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2019, with the headline 'Crackdown 3 a huge letdown'. Print Edition | Subscribe