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Thursday, April 4, 2019

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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Best Online Learning Platforms Of 2019 - Ars Technica

Best online learning platforms of 2019

Crackdown 3 Review (XB1)

Written by Anthony L. Cuaycong


Title: Crackdown 3
Developer: Reagent Games, Sumo Digital, Cloudgine
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Genre: Action, Adventure
Price: $59.99
Also Available On: Windows (Xbox Play Anywhere Title)



Crackdown was released with much fanfare in 2007. It wasn't merely that Microsoft Game Studios bundled launch copies with multiplayer beta access to hotly anticipated Halo 3. More importantly, it was because the involvement of developer David Jones (the force behind sandbox giant Grand Theft Auto) heightened interest in the open-world action title. And he wasn't attached just because he so happened to be head of Realtime Worlds; he conceived it and helped shepherd it through a five-year turnaround process that included shifting programming focus from the Xbox to the next-generation Xbox 360.




The result was a critical and commercial success that, simply put, had legs. Despite being on store shelves early in the year, Crackdown became — and, more importantly, stayed — top of mind for reviewers and gamers alike, making "Best of 2007" lists and garnering industry awards for its capacity to push the envelope in terms of gameplay and presentation. It was, as Jones envisioned, Grand Theft Auto, but better. And, as he also envisioned, the positive response led to the green-lighting of a sequel. Unfortunately, Realtime Worlds by then had other commitments, compelling Microsoft, which held its intellectual property rights, to commission another developer for the project.

When Crackdown 2 hit store shelves in mid-2010, it was met with a more modest reception relative to that of its predecessor. Perhaps because of the participation of former Realtime Worlds staff in its progression, it retained many of the elements that made Crackdown a hit. And perhaps because of the absence of Jones from the Ruffian Games team behind it, it likewise presented design changes that not a few quarters viewed in a less favorable light. Still, it was deemed good enough — and, of course, profitable enough — to keep the franchise going. That said, Microsoft figured he needed to be overseeing the next release from the get-go.




As things turned out, Jones did get on board for Crackdown 3 via Cloudgine and Reagent Games, companies he formed following his departure from Realtime Worlds. Announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2014, it was envisioned to harness the potential of cloud computing to generate in-game models and environments. At the time, Sumo Digital was likewise tasked with providing the game's campaign mode. Following delay after delay, however, the latter took over principal development, and, after a year at the helm, finally managed to bring it to fruition.

For gamers, the good news is that Crackdown 3 continues the series narrative. Picking up a decade from where Crackdown 2 left off, it has the Agency — the organization previously tasked with keeping order in Pacific City through the deployment of artificially enhanced soldiers — stepping in to stop terroristic Terra Nova from establishing a new world order. To do so, agents are deployed to New Providence, the stronghold of the supposedly humanitarian outfit, carrying out with the aid of Echo, the established local rebel group, missions aimed at eradicating the threat.




Just as crucially, Crackdown 3 displays all the core elements that have enabled the franchise to claim a loyal following. Of particular note, back is the "Skills for Kills" Campaign mode mechanic that increases the motivation of gamers to complete missions with a horde of weapons at their disposal, traveling around extremely expansive New Providence using any and all means of transportation they find. The more deaths they cause, the more they are able to level up their attributes and, in turn, gain access to new equipment.

Parenthetically, freedom of choice is the biggest draw to Crackdown 3; how objectives are met, as well as in what order they are met, depend entirely on player predilections. In this regard, it builds, and delivers on, its premise and promise of an open-world setting where anything can — and everything does — happen. As an aside, it amps up the independence factor in its Wrecking Zone multiplayer options; whether in the Agent Hunt or in the Territories milieu, gamers in teams of five obliterate enemies and, in the process, destroy everything in sight. Mindless fun? Sure, with the operative word being "fun," dialed up to a rip-roaring 11.




If there's any demerit to Crackdown 3, it's in an apparent inability of the series to improve in look. For all the time between releases and notwithstanding pledges of maximizing the cloud-computing facilities of the Xbox One, it feels, well, dated. No doubt, the long gestation period and the late transfer of reins to Sumo Digital didn't help. In any case, the latest saga of the Agency features not inconsiderable softness and lack of visual detail, giving the impression — no doubt unfair in the face of its myriad pluses — that those behind it left a lot of the console's graphical power untapped.

On the flipside, Crackdown 3 does keep the action moving with nary a slowdown in play; frame drops are nonexistent even when the screen exhibits instances of frenetic mayhem. Whether or not the tradeoff should exist is subject to discussion. That said, there can be no discounting its capacity to deliver an excellent gaming experience. To this end, it's aided in no small measure by a properly modulated audio mix. Sound effects are bombastic and expectedly over the top, and the music evokes the appropriate ambience. And precisely because the voice acting is first rate, the dearth of cutscenes and somewhat brief appearances of Terry Crews as the main character represent missed opportunities.




At any rate, Crackdown 3 ultimately manages to pay homage to its source material. It makes no pretensions on its roots and does well to preserve the legacy of the franchise. It doesn't reinvent the wheel, but, then again, it didn't promise to. Even as it seems to want to attract the more mature set with its treatment of its content, its immersive gameplay figures to reel in a wide swath of the gaming demographics. Bottom line, it deserves a place in the library of longtime fans of the series and newcomers alike.



THE GOOD
  • Continues the series narrative
  • Retains core gameplay mechanics of previous releases
  • Excellent sound mix
  • Ramped-up fun factor

THE BAD
  • Visuals lacking sharpness and detail
  • Story on the thin side, coming off as a missed opportunity
  • Absence of innovation


RATING: 8/10


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