There was a point where Crackdown 3 seemed to be one of those games that we never thought we'd actually see, like Shenmue 3 once was and the Final Fantasy VII remake still is. It's been talked about for so long and despite bombastic trailers at E3 featuring Terry Crews, it's still been a very long road with a lot of radio silence. We recently got invited to get our hands on the game for ourselves in London though, which made the long-awaited sequel just that bit more real.
Microsoft Senior art studios Dave Johnson gave a very humble opening speech thanking everyone for their time and stressing that the team had been working with their heads down to make sure Crackdown 3 lives up to its full potential, before eventually letting us loose on either campaign or multiplayer. We chose campaign first, since we wanted to sharpen up our skills before facing our fellow man (this wasn't the case, but more about that later).
We hopped straight into the thick of it as we dropped into the city map with no context at all. Well, there's one key bit of context - there is an evil organisation called Terra Nova, and you do what you can to either piss them off or destroy them. This city of New Providence is your Agent's playground as you control one of these super-powered warriors to deliver justice, one punch and explosion at a time.
As we wandered around we noticed that this was your typical open-world game, with the city and the art style reminding us a lot of Agents of Mayhem. You have your usual mix of foot races, car races, strongholds to take over, and added extras like freeing prisoners and destroying Terra Nova car depots. This is all in the name of disrupting the organisation's power to lure key members out and crush them, but it also works as a box-ticking exercise that'll be particularly important for achievement hunters.
One neat little feature here is that you can look at your map to see your survival chance for each activity, so you don't have to wander into a world of hurt straight from the start. Johnson did want to make clear though that nothing is gated off for you, and if you really want to try the big tough challenges right from the start you can.
You might want to upgrade your Agent before you do though, as we got to see how agility points increase your jump distance and make traversal a bit easier (something you'll want to do because climbing up everything is awkward and annoying). Getting new weapons is also a must as well since a pistol isn't going to cut it against armoured bad guys - you'll be needing a Cryo Shotgun or even a Grenade Launcher for that. Already we can see there are plenty of tools of destruction, and with three weapons available on the fly as well as a gadget like a grenade or a launch pad, variety is the spice of life. You can even upgrade your car as well, so it becomes a sort of spider-car that can jump around.
No matter which way you turn in the game there's always some quip being said or something to try and get a chuckle out of the player, and the narrator is constantly telling you what's what and whether you need to heal. Of course Terry Crews is there to bring the energy too, and the whole game is dripping with the kind of personality that we've seen peek out in previous games.
In fact, the overall feel is very over-the-top, especially since you can throw everything from cars to explosives and send people ragdolling around to your heart's content, hearing them screen as they go flying. It's packed with enemies to fight and stuff to do as well, so you never find yourself twiddling your thumbs and wondering where to go.