crackdown 3 review
February 25th, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Why did this take five years?

The original Crackdown game came out in 2007 and received a lot of attention after it was revealed that you would get access to the Halo 3 multiplayer beta if you bought it. That’s one way to get attention, and as a result, a decent number of Xbox fans got to play it. Crackdown 3 was originally teased at E3 2014 and has finally been released. It is a freeform sandbox action game developed by Sumo Digital and published by Xbox Game Studios. You play as an agent of “The Agency” a group of super-powered police, with extraordinary strength, aim, jumping, running, and others. Your goal is to take down a crime syndicate, and in this third installment, an oppressive corporatist regime. This particular game lets you play as, basically Terry Crews. Xbox fans have waited a long time for this console exclusive game, so how is it?

GRAPHICS: 1/2

The graphics in the game are a bit odd. It seems like they were trying to be cel-shaded while not being cel-shaded. Some elements have that cartoon look while others have some very defined textures. Absolutely a mixed bag. But it’s not just the textures and bright neon lights, the cutscenes are inconsistent as well. In the beginning of the game you get a full animated, pre-rendered primer, which gets cut short. After that you get motion-comic cutscenes that seem rather low-effort. Then you also get in-game cutscenes here and there. The last are the worst. I’ve frequently had animations fail, with my agent glued to the air while a guy in a mech threatens you. Other in-game cutscenes stutter. And this is on the Xbox One X. The playable agents also appear to be a little lacking in quality. Terry Crews as Jaxon looks fine, but the rest of the characters look like they just used a face generator from Mass Effect. Andromeda. But with that weird inconsistent cel-look.

STORY: 0/2

I don’t know how you can do worse with a story like Crackdown, but they managed to do the unthinkable. They added a plot to the game that actually made it less enjoyable. In the original games, the plot was basically “Here are the bad guys, go get ’em”. This game gives all the enemies their own stories, but they are all really half-assed and emotionless. I cannot remember a single character’s name or what their deal even was. This guy is the chemicals guy because reasons. This guy is the guards guy because reasons. This guy has captured monorails cuz reasons. That moonshine stand needs to be destroyed because reasons. It would genuinely be better if I were just told to go at it.

But they try to characterize it so hard, it becomes cringe inducing, with motivations that don’t make any sense and asinine monologues. Worse off is the over-arching plot. Short spoilers for the very beginning of the game, the Agency is sent to a city to fight some kind of “blackout” but get killed in the process and time passes by a few years (I think). Next, a character revives your agent of choice and unleashed you into the city. The story is simply that the blackouts caused everyone to flee to the city because it still has electricity. No really. And then it turns out the city is run by a ruthless corporation, TerraNova, who immediately enslaves all the refugees. Yeah, makes perfect sense to me.

AUDIO: 1/2

If you don’t particularly like it when you hear a lot of useless banter over the radio while you’re doing stuff, you are going to have a bad time. The legendary “Voice of the Agency” played by Michael McConnohie returns with a vengeance. The whole shtick with his character, is he’s sort of the real protagonist of the story since your agent doesn’t talk much. Both in the original games and this one, he frequently says dumb things over the radio based on what you’re doing, such as:

  • Skills for kills, agent!
  • Sounds like there’s a hidden ability orb nearby, you should look for it.
  • Burn baby burn.
  • Wow, now that’s an explosion.
  • You’re unstoppable.

In the original game, this quirk was done every once in a while, and it has a certain charm about it. However in 3, he has something to say every five minutes. It would get annoying real fast for most players. I like it personally, but objectively, it’s super obnoxious. Still, his voice is amazing, and he needs to do audiobooks. As for the other characters? Largely forgettable. They did very little with Terry Crews other than the opening cutscene. The soundtrack sounds like a royalty-free selection of faux-dubstep tracks that fail to impress. Most of the guns and explosions are pretty satisfying. Also, the iconic sound of the agility orbs are still there.

GAMEPLAY: 1/2

Rather than having any campaign missions whatsoever, the game has you just complete a series of objectives. You just do this until you clear enough to fight the boss in charge of those battle locations. So, no real campaign here, you basically just make your way around the map, playing section after section. To give it some credit, the main map isn’t full of empty spaces between objectives. All challenges are located relatively near one another. You won’t spend a lot of time driving because it’s so easy to jump from one to the next. Honestly, it’s a welcome change to have a more tight-knit experience than most sandbox games. But a sandbox it still is, and it has plenty of flaws.

One activity has you liberating militia members by freeing them from holding cells around the city. This activity will literally take you one minute or less, as there aren’t that many guards, but even if there are, all you have to do is jump over to the prisoner release panel and hold LB. That’s it, you’ve freed the prisoners, and any enemy in the area freezes in place while you get a “mission success” screen. In another location, all you have to do is blow up either machinery or storage tanks of a substance called “Chimera”. I’d tell you more about it, but I can’t because I missed the one point where they said what the stuff was and it’s not really brought up again after that. Then in another, you have to capture monorail stations because an evil AI is using them to… move drugs? Don’t remember.

Had a hard time with glitches that were rather annoying. I’ve had input lag in sections where the screen gets busy, and other sections where the controls weren’t even responding. Also ended up getting an OP assault rifle in the middle of it the game. Once that happened, the game was barely a challenge. I might have to play it on harder modes to see if it’s better. Even then, once you piss off enough of the 3 different police factions? You get a city lockdown and are immediately inundated with enemies that are 4X as tough. When that happens, I just let myself die. It is more fun than dealing with that mess. The game’s idea of “challenge” is having you fight a boss while dozens of enemies spawn in at the same time.

FUN: 1/2

I had fun in the 3 days it took to complete this game. Every achievement I got after the first boss was a RARE ACHIEVEMENT. That’s sad. The game is just out and I’m getting rare achievements because not enough people bothered to finish it? Oy. Anyway, playing Crackdown 3 felt like a retread of the original game. It was enough to take me back to when I had just started College and got the original game. But by the end of it, you get tired of the game. You may get bored after finishing a few bosses. It’s a pretty low effort affair. Then again if you just decide to start jumping around, collecting agility orbs and doing side activities, you may find a sort of Zen. Seriously.

Saints Row 4 took to this sandbox super-powers type game and made it an absolute riot. But this new title feels like it’s a huge step backwards. It’s less of a modern Crackdown and more of an Agents of Mayhem experience. Which also wasn’t very good (and that was the same devs as SR4). My roommate found the game fun because he had never played it before. So, don’t pay full price for this game. Don’t bother with it unless you have Game Pass. It’s cheap enough to get a three month pass for the amount of titles you get to play. It’s a mediocre experience but if you “rent” the game by getting game pass, you will find yourself with far superior titles to play afterwards.

SCORE: 4/10




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December 20th, 2017 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

This isn’t the multiplayer game you’ve been looking for.

I really cannot restate enough how disappointing Star Wars Battlefront II was to me. I knew based on all of the feedback from the beta and the pre-release reviews that it wasn’t going to be great. But I specifically wanted to give DICE and/or EA the benefit of the doubt and see if it really was just as bad as everyone said it was. So I played it. And… it was worse than I even imagined.

Many people would come to the website and think we are trying to be edgy with the score we gave to this game. Not quite. While the language I personally used was lost bashing, it was a very inspired brand of bashing to say the least. After hearing so many negative comments and so many negative reviews (AKA 6/10s, the mainstream games journalism equivalent of “bad”), I went in with rather low expectations, and not even those were met.

I stand strong in everything I said and don’t think I was being harsh. To shortly reiterate the review, I found that story was particularly abysmal in its stupidity. The audio was a snorefest of generic music with lazer noises and bad soundalikes. The gameplay really wasn’t all that fun with its needlessly confusing starcard system. And then the loot box fiasco was just the icing on the cake. Fun fact, Ubisoft recentaly globally rolled back all their scheduled 2018 releases and I have a slight suspicion that they intended to implement loot boxes but are now backpedalling. I have no proof of this, just merely a speculation.

So, you may be asking yourself, what’s the point of this article? Are you just here to kick SWBF2 while it’s down? Well, no. This is because it’s not “down” at all since it appears to somehow still be a successful release. But as much as there were many great games this year, there were also 3 major titles that were massive disappointments.

Sonic Forces came out recently and I harped on that being only good for the soundtrack. But would I play that game over playing SWBF2? Yes, this buggy, poorly slapped together mess of a game is still a better and far more entertaining experience, made doubly so because it’s short. And well, that soundtrack, hot damn.

Mass Effect Andromeda was a huge letdown across the board thanks to janky animations, clunky combat, and god awful scripting. But it’s still Mass Effect and as much as I like to joke that SWBF2 was Star Wars game with mass Effect assets, one thing still stands. Andromeda does have substance. By now, Andromeda should also be fairly patched (I hope) to a point where all the multitudes of bugs and glitches have been fixed.

What else was a letdown? Agents of Mayhem, Volitions spiritual successor to Saints Row, was quite mess. It was buggy just like Andromeda, but only half as much. The way the script and character design was made, I genuinely have no idea what audience they had in mind when they made this game, it’s all over the place in tone and script. But after finishing the campaign, I still had stuff to do, and time permitting, I would have done it because even with all the repetition, it was at least playable. A weird design, but playable.

And that’s just 3 examples. I’m not saying that Star Wars Battlefront 2 is the worst game of the year, the game runs ok, the graphics are good, and at its core there’s potential for improvement. This, on the otherhand, is a heavy letdown because it didn’t have good press before it came out, and was even worse for wear on release date. But to all the fans who are angry at the bad reviews, you ire is misdirected. Don’t get mad at the reviewers for giving your bad game a bad review. Refocus your attention on EA and ask why, oh why, did they make the decisions they made for the game. You deserve more and you should be asking for more.




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August 28th, 2017 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Those peacekeepers could use your help, agent!

Agents of Mayhem is a third person shooter with RPG elements developed by Volition and published by Deep Silver. Volition’s last full release, Saints Row IV was released by Deep Silver after THQ, the original publisher was unable to stay in business. This final game (plus the Gat Out of Hell standalone expansion) left the series with little room to move on. So, this game serves as a spinoff to the Saints Row series by taking all of its gameplay and adding some interesting new tweaks. It’s a single-player-only experience, yet you play as a squad of 3 and just swap in and out of all 3 characters. Does it work?
{Reviewed on Xbox One]

GRAPHICS: 1/2

It feels like Volition is always just a little bit behind everyone else in the area of graphics. Adding a slight amount of cel-shaded flair and some decent visual FX, it’s their best looking game to date. But unfortunately, ‘their best’ is a game that looks like a launch title in the graphics department. Or, at the very least, it’s a former last gen game that was hastily ported to next gen for Xbox One and PS4. The design of Seoul, the city the game takes place in, looks quite nice artistically. Aesthetic highrises, building zones, factories, and a shipyard, they made them all look decent. But, in terms of technical prowess, it’s just not up to part with the more modern games it’s lining up against. There’s also a fair bit of asset reuse going on here. Because of that, you see the same signs and buildings multiple times if they aren’t part of the set-piece structures. There will be more about this later on in the review.

STORY: 1/2

The plot of Agents of Mayhem was so banal, it was entirely forgettable. The titular agents of M.A.Y.H.E.M. are put up against the nefarious L.E.G.I.O.N. in order to stop them from creating a super weapon. If this sounds like a Saturday morning cartoon, that’s because it’s framed as one. Tons of 2D animated cutscenes play before and after missions. This game manages to mimic that look, albeit way more raunchier and full of F-bombs. But, like I said, the story is forgettable. What is memorable is the array of colorful characters that interact with each other. Every single mission and major side-mission is loaded to the brim with radio chatter, often engaging as much as 5 or more people in the group gabbing it up while you’re fighting. The case contains 12 agents, 5 major NPCs in your home base, and 5+ enemy characters and they all do their fair share of talking. This is multiplied if you play the game with your favorite squad loadout. You definitely won’t like all 12 agents but you’ll find the ones whose humor aligns with yours the most. Bonus points do have to be given. The enemy NPCs have a metric ton of lines that are specific to whichever agent you’re currently playing as (“It’s Hollywood, get him!” or “Oh sh*t, it’s Braddock!” etc). One more thing that bothers me more though, is that they decided to make Saints Row mainstay Johnny Gat into a pre-order only DLC from Gamestop. I am dumbfounded as to why they decided to do this, so I chose not to pre-order and pick up the game elsewhere.

AUDIO: 0/2

Complete disaster. The audio is littered with multiple small glitches like sounds being interrupted, missing sound effects, and lines getting occasionally cut off. There were also numerous times where leaving the game running and coming back later mutes the entire game, forcing you to restart it. Games running in the background are a staple of all the new consoles, so it’s a pain in the ass when your enjoyment is interrupted because you have to restart the game. The voice acting was mediocre for the most part. Nobody really stood out, but nothing was terrible. The music though? Boring. The cars didn’t even have radio stations either, music just clicks on any time you enter a vehicle. I said in our video that the music sounded like generic “royalty free” music you can purchase at a lower cost than licensed music. Given Volition’s usually propensity for absolutely nailing scenes with well-times songs, it’s just depressing that they couldn’t be bothered to come up with something more interesting.

GAMEPLAY: 1/2

The gameplay in AoM is hectic, as you jump around attacking various enemies in either wide open spaces or closed in dungeon-type areas. It’s sort of an overhaul from Saints Row IV but optimized to suit a squad-based combat system. Some team members are better at taking down certain enemy types than others. It’s pretty easy to make a well balanced teams since they all have handy little logos indicating what their specialty is. Some break through armor, some break shields, other can hack, others do more damage against leaders. This new depth actually made the game exciting to try out different characters while playing the missions. However, all of the gameplay is completely marred by bugs. I’ve gotten stuck in scenery, textures not loading, my car getting trapped, and an enemy boss accidentally teleporting outside the map, forcing me to start the whole bass battle over again. It’s stuff like this and the aforementioned audio bugs that really bring this game down. Even worse is the mission design. Every other story mission or major side mission has you perform a menial task followed by assaulting one of Legion’s underground lairs. Except it’s the same lair. EVERY. TIME. The game tries to make up for this by having you travel to different sections of the lair per mission but its done so frequently that it doesn’t help it at all. One more thing: another detriment to the game was the lack of a minimap, making the buggy GPS system and driving confusing on many occasions.

FUN: 2/2

So, here’s the rub. Despite all of AoM’s problems with glitches and bugs, the game is an absolute blast to play once things get going. Though I’m not a fan of the recent uprising of every game turning into a sandbox game, I can’t say it doesn’t give you plenty of things to do. This is also helped by making the map not really that big. In a market full of games that are continually trying to outdo each other by size, this game had the guts to say NO. This game takes place in one city, not of the missions or activities is all that far away, and the activities are free form so you have that old-school freedom to do whenever you want. The best way to play this game is in short bursts. Playing the game for review forces me to tire of the repetition but if you use it as a time killing game and decide to go around, shooting some stuff up, and causing general MAYHEM, you’ll be in for a good time.

Bugs, glitches, and lackluster soundtrack really hampered the overall quality of the experience of this game. It could have been better had it not been for seemingly lazy mission design. Doing the same thing over and over again can be annoying but not in short bursts. A wild idea arose while writing this review. I think this game should be on the Nintendo Switch. This game looks like it could run on it, and this game would be great to have as a portable title. So if you really like your sandbox games, you could do worse. But for a full price release? Forget it, wait for a sale.

SCORE: 5/10




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August 28th, 2017 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

More Like Agents of “Meh”-Hem

Vega and Chet from Hard Mode Gamers talk about Agents of MAYHEM. In Agents of Mayhem you fight the nefarious LEGION by doing random things and go into their underground lair. After that, you do more random things and then go into their underground lair. After that, you do more random things and then go into their underground lair. After that, you do more random things and then go into their underground lair. After that, you do more random things and then go into their underground lair. After that, you do more random things and then go into their underground lair. After that, you do more random things and then go into their underground lair.

It’s just OK.




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