With just two weeks to go until Crackdown 3 launches with Xbox Game Pass on Xbox One and Windows 10 PC as an Xbox Play Anywhere title, I was recently able to suit up and leap into an hour of the main campaign.
Much of the attention on Crackdown 3 thus far has been focused on Terry Crews’ portrayal of Agent Jaxon (and rightfully so). But knowing that he’ll probably feature in every preview you read today, I gave one of the other selectable characters, Agent Chapman, a go. Each playable character possesses different attributes that can help take down your myriad enemies; she offers an additional 10% strength experience and 5% to firearms. I like those things!
A Note on Swapping Agents: Your Agent progresses independently of your game progress, meaning you can swap Agents mid-game to suit the situation, or maybe just because you miss Agent Jaxon’s voice (a likely scenario). Simply visit one of the Supply Points scattered throughout New Providence for a new look, or to adjust your loadout in-game. You’ll want to pay attention to what you bring with you; some are far more effective on robotic enemies, for instance, while others chew through enemies in mere seconds.
This preview session placed me rather early in the game, so while my Agent was certainly capable, I’m a long, long way from leaping over buildings, double dashing, or spawning black holes with the “Oblivion” gun.
Getting a Lift
As I ponder how far I must grow, I’m spurred on by the familiar voice of the Agency, Commander Goodwin, who returns to Crackdown 3. Goodwin ‘s scenery-chewing performance is a constant companion in your ear, alternately congratulating you for blowing something up, offering intel on your current foe, or chastising you for, well, not blowing something up.
Holding down on the d-pad to summon my Agency vehicle, I’m offered the hilarious choice of jumping in to drive or picking the whole darn thing up. I’ll… drive? When I arrive at my destination, a monorail station, I find myself immediately under attack. My plasma rifle makes quick work of the security robots, which flushes out a mini-boss, equipped with a long-range flamethrower (it’s a thing!). Maybe now’s a good time to try out this whole “lifting up my car” option; one accurate throw of my agency cruiser, and the station master is out of commission.
A new challenger approaches! We’ve flushed out Roxy, a lower-level target which will get me closer to the game’s ultimate big bad, Elizabeth Niemand. Oh, in case you thought Roxy was a typical henchman – it’s actually a corrupted customer service AI which runs New Providence transit (and is running rampant). Taking over this, and other stations around the city will help sideline this boss.
Let’s try something else – a vehicle lockup shows up on my map, let’s, uh blow it up! The key here is to drop the defenses and vaporize the vehicles inside. One well-placed grenade does the job, and I’m introduced to Liv Sorensen, another of Niemand’s enforcers. Hit the other 8 lockups and you’ll have enough intel to take her down directly.
A Note on Combat: Because your Agent locks onto targets, gameplay is less about how well you can aim, and more about how quickly you can eliminate enemies, swapping weapons for ideal advantage, while keeping on the move and minimizing the damage you take. You’re always outnumbered and frequently outgunned; therein lies the challenge, and the core of what Crackdown 3 is.
In my hour of play, I also freed prisoners and destroyed chemical weapons plants; quickly making the acquaintance of a host of major enemies, and this is just the lowest tier of Niemand’s cabal.
While I could do this for hours, I’ve only got a small amount of time left, so… let’s work on my agent. I’ve tallied significant battle experience, racking up firearms orbs and getting closer to unlocking a new ability. But if your memories are anything like mine, there’s nothing more fun in Crackdown than building your agent’s agility. I spin the camera and quickly zero in on a spinning, teal Agility Orb. We remember these fondly, we do.
Collect ‘em All
It takes a minute to puzzle my way up to the roof, but I claim my prize (with the iconic ping that goes along with it) and scan the rooftops where I find another Orb. And another. Agility Orb collecting is a game in and of itself, one which leads to tangible results; soon, my agent’s agility outstrips her other abilities, and I’m clocking more hangtime than Shawn Kemp in NBA Jam. This is the joy of Crackdown 3: growing ever stronger, facing enemies ever tougher, igniting explosions ever bigger.
I’ve seen only a fraction of the map in my session, and most key targets remain undiscovered. There’s a lot to do in New Providence, and I look forward to really cleaning up the city – via explosions, of course – when Crackdown 3 arrives with Xbox Game Pass February 15.
Crackdown 3 is available for pre-order via the Microsoft Store for Xbox One and Windows 10 PC as an Xbox Play Anywhere title. Crackdown 3 will also be available the day of release for Xbox Game Pass members on February 15.