It only takes the quick glimpse of a Crackdown achievement on display at Microsoft’s Xbox One premiere to set forth a bunch of rampant speculation about the future of the franchise. When Microsoft made the announcement seven years ago that they had brought on David Jones, the original creator of Grand Theft Auto, to make an exclusive first-party title for the Xbox 360, the crowd went wild. But is there any value left in the series after all these years?
I fell in love with Crackdown from the original demo, which launched more than a month before the game hit. Limited to 30 minute rounds, the demo accelerated your character’s learning progress to give you a thorough vertical slice of what the game had to offer. Scaling buildings as Pacific City’s Number One ultracop lead to jumping right over them as your skills advanced. Taking advantage of The Agency’s morphing vehicles gave way to leaping large distances and throwing cars at criminals. Unfortunately for me, the demo probably covered far too much ground for its own good as I wound up putting more time in the game’s demo than the actual game. Taking longer to hit the same highs in the full release didn’t help things. The game’s narrative was slender, consisting of postage-stamp sized cutscenes and a barrage of voiceover from your boss, acting as a super-flimsy reason to take down mob bosses. Crackdown was a fun game, even with the cooperative play, but not for terribly long. When Ruffian’s Crackdown 2 landed three years later, it was merely a darker rebadge of the first game’s content.
In the hands of the right developer, Crackdown 3 could be both super fun and and substantial as a game. The series has a lot of potential that two games simply failed to tap, but in the right hands, it could be a huge deal for the Xbox One.