Tuesday 19 March 2019

Crackdown 3 review: Superhero fun is less than sum of its parts

(XO/PC) ★★★ Age: 16+

Crackdown 3
Crackdown 3
Crackdown 3
Sunless Skies
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

You wait ages for one Crackdown 3 and then two come along at once. This much-delayed superhero fantasy props up Microsoft's spring schedule but neither of its components stand out after protracted development.

Its single-player mode apes the original two instalments in the series but merely inches the formula forward. A multiplayer element, called 'Wrecking Zone', promised to be more radical. The reveal at Gamescom 2015 bristled with PR puffery about Microsoft cloud services providing unprecedented computing power that could transform gameplay via meticulous damage modelling of buildings. Sadly, the reality proves a shrivelled version of that vision, one that isn't backed by sufficient gameplay.

But enough of the kicking. Crackdown was always, at minimum, fun and this latest serving ably meets that bar, at least in single-player. In control of a brawny super-cop capable of vaulting up tall buildings and jumping off with impunity, you can indulge your inner power trip without much fear of death.

In a densely designed, gang-infested cityscape, the gameplay loop of driving, shooting and platforming reinforces itself with a steady dripfeed of increased agility, muscle and speed. But Crackdown 3 never escapes that shallow feeling of déjà vu. Meanwhile, 'Wrecking Zone' has the whiff of a flawed tech demo than a fully fledged combat arena.

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