A fun, almost one dimensional romp.
Crackdown 3 is a ton of fun when the game ramps up during either its combat or platforming or both. Like all games Crackdown 3 has en ebb and flow about it, peaks and valleys where the high and low points of the game live, not necessarily in sync or on "the same page".
The result is a fun game that feels almost one dimensional. Jump around, catch ledges, pull off the traversal needed to get somewhere, and/or shoot the bad guys with your awesome array of weapons and/or fists. Or just throw a tank at an enemies face.
On paper the game has all the ingredients needed to be great, the movement and traversal (platforming) feels great, the shooting feels great, the mix of the two feels awesome, the enemy variety is plentiful and varied, the worlds design facilitates it all, and the game does a good job of making all these things work together to the glee of the player.
The problems with Crackdown 3 lie in its pacing, your power progression, the use of the enemy variety, and how these three things are mixed and applied.
Crackdown 3 starts you off with all 5 skills at once allowing you to level them up depending on how you play. Use guns a lot? Your firearms get better. Go around beating enemies up with punches and kicks? Your strength increases. This part of the progression is dialed in and feels properly tuned.
The enemies of the game however don't utilize the differences of your skills and the variety of weapons enough though, this then creates the sense that every fight is going to go the same way. And no matter how fun that one way is it ultimately feels like every engagement is just an exercise in using every one of the games' mechanics to get through it.
In short, it feels like the game is in its final hours (those parts of games designed to have players use everything they've learned) during the entirety of the game despite the fact you're skills are increasing. My first 10 hours of the game largely similar to the last 10.
Rarely does the game use its extensive "ingredient" list in ways that are clearly there to be used as.
There are air enemies, snipers, robots of all shapes, sizes, etc. melee enemies, elemental enemies, shielded enemies, mechs, you get the idea, but with few exceptions they all can be taken down by the same means with only distance or enemy health pool playing a role on whether you punch them in the face or shoot them or blow them up.
Instead of pacing the game out by introducing these enemies over the run of the campaign they are all more or less fighting against you within the first few hours, and even had the introduction of these enemy types been spread out the engagements wouldn't have been helped because of how little (if at all!) these units' specialties are leaned into.
This fails to create ingenuity on behalf of the player where weapons and abilities are used depending on who or what you're fighting.
This unfortunately spills over to the other areas of the game as well such as the objectives, side missions, and bosses, as everything noted above, it feels like the game front-loads everything as it never really feels like its keeping any cards close to its chest with (again) few exceptions.
When Crackdown 3 is at its greatest is also why it feels generally one dimensional even when doing so much, because of how it ramps things up and delivers the "highs" it then offsets itself because that's the only thing it does.
Ultimately this makes Crackdown 3 a straight up sandbox more so than a traditionally paced, curated, structured game. To some this might be enough, and in fact for me it is but for those seeking some through-line to work through this will absolutely feel a bit like aimless box checking despite how fun the actual gameplay is.
The platforming and gunplay are absolutely the stars of the show here because of how tight they feel both individually and when done in tandem. This is works as well because the world is equally great laterally and in its verticality as it serve as the supporting facilitator in its aesthetic and geometry to both the said gameplay and setting for the story.
The game doesn't really acknowledge any past events in the Crackdown universe but it never feels like it has to, the story is presented in multiple ways as well where the intro and ending cutscenes are done in a non-game engine CGI with the stuff in between being done in cool comic panels with some in-game engine cutscenes thrown in. While this did feel a bit disjointed it ultimately works in regards to the overall visuals of the game.
The city has been taken over and you as the player are taking it back with the story progression being reflected across the island piece by piece with some world altering tangibles like shutting off some turret defenses that make your attack on the final boss easier due to not having to worry about surface to surface missiles bombarding you. Using this example you can imagine how working your way through the world and defeating its bosses creates a more clear and straight shot to the games final boss.
What's here story-wise functions enough as a narrative vehicle even if it mostly feels generic from the protagonists end with the exception of Terry Crews who absolutely does a great job even if underused, what works more so are the villains and their personalities with good voice work and dialogue that serves an otherwise mediocre story.
All in all Crackdown 3 is a solid game that is good for a playthrough or two if anything to see just how bonkers you can make your romp through to the end. If one thing's for sure the game brings the "BOOM!" as it were as the fights get positively nuts in scale where often times it take place across multiple city blocks.
Some house keeping notes here:
Total play time for me through one playthrough: 20 hours - this reflects me doing everything besides focused collectible hunting.
Difficulty played on: Super Agent (one tier above normal).
This review only represent the campaign.
On a 10 point scale this scores a 7/10.