Hidden Gems of Xbox Game Pass

ClockworkHouse wrote:

Below is surprisingly engrossing after an initial hump where nothing makes a lick of sense. Like Hyper Light Drifter, it's sort of the nadir of modern app design where everything is an inscrutable little icon that could be crucial or trivial, you can never tell which. But once you start to figure all of that out and play with it a bit, the game has a mood that it just hits beautifully.

Yes, the mood it evokes is really something special, particularly in some of the larger hand-crafted areas.

Dyni wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:

Below is surprisingly engrossing after an initial hump where nothing makes a lick of sense. Like Hyper Light Drifter, it's sort of the nadir of modern app design where everything is an inscrutable little icon that could be crucial or trivial, you can never tell which. But once you start to figure all of that out and play with it a bit, the game has a mood that it just hits beautifully.

Yes, the mood it evokes is really something special, particularly in some of the larger hand-crafted areas.

One question for you, since you've played it: what does it mean when you pay 25 cube thingies at a cook fire? It turns the flame blue. Does that make that fire your new respawn point? I also got the impression that a kindled fire like that could be traveled to from another fire, is that right?

ClockworkHouse wrote:

One question for you, since you've played it: what does it mean when you pay 25 cube thingies at a cook fire? It turns the flame blue. Does that make that fire your new respawn point? I also got the impression that a kindled fire like that could be traveled to from another fire, is that right?

Yes. You can warp to the blue fire from any other once. After you warp, that fire is gone until the next run.

If you're going to be hanging out in an area for a long time, you can also kindle to have a reliable refuge. Normal fires fizzle out after 5-10 minutes, but blue fires remain until you warp to them.

Crackdown 3 out tomorrow. I'll be getting to it sometime this weekend. Reviews look okay? I understand why reviews have gone this way, and intellectually I support it, but I do miss the days when I could just look at one or more numbers on a review to get the sense of a game. I was skimming through Polygon's review and it's all "I'm pirouetting and arabesquing through a crackling stage of comic destruction, but the illusion fades into humdrummery" and I'm thinking to myself jesus, can you just tell me if this is like a 9 or a 7? 5 stars or 4 stars or 3? Is the gameplay good and the graphics mediocre and the storytelling poor? I appreciate a thoughtful and well-written review, but probably moreso on games that seem like they might be worth expending brainpower on, which I suspect does not apply to Crackdown.

mrlogical wrote:

Crackdown 3 out tomorrow. I'll be getting to it sometime this weekend. Reviews look okay? I understand why reviews have gone this way, and intellectually I support it, but I do miss the days when I could just look at one or more numbers on a review to get the sense of a game. I was skimming through Polygon's review and it's all "I'm pirouetting and arabesquing through a crackling stage of comic destruction, but the illusion fades into humdrummery" and I'm thinking to myself jesus, can you just tell me if this is like a 9 or a 7? 5 stars or 4 stars or 3? Is the gameplay good and the graphics mediocre and the storytelling poor? I appreciate a thoughtful and well-written review, but probably moreso on games that seem like they might be worth expending brainpower on, which I suspect does not apply to Crackdown.

While Metacritic is definitely a flawed way to look at games, there's at least some value in a collective view of opinions. Right now, Crackdown 3 has a score of 60 on 46 ratings. For a major AAA game, 60 is pretty much an "F". It's looking pretty rough, and I'm glad I'll be playing it for effectively free.

I played though the Crackdown 3 tutorial tonight. It’s more Crackdown, but I’m sure you all know that. It doesn’t feel like a AAA game, but it does feel perfect for Game Pass. Microsoft is now offering a two month trial for $2, and if Crackdown 3 gets more subscriptions than sales, I think they will be happy.

So, Crackdown 3.

I'll kick this all off by saying that I've never played either of the original games. This wasn't a game I was particularly looking forward to, and I wouldn't have played it if it weren't available through Game Pass.

That said, I'm having fun with it. I played for an hour and a half or so, and I enjoyed it.

It feels like... the middle of a modern open world game: after the long story intro, after the tutorial, about when you're level 8 or so and have finally started unlocking the middle tier of powers, but before you're doing all those long late-game story sequences. Crackdown 3 hits that groove within 15 minutes or so and then gets out of the way.

You get a waypoint to a mission location at the start, but you're not required to go there, and the game expects you to find other stuff to do just fine on your own. There aren't NPCs or side quests or crafting materials to harvest or random crimes in progress to stop. The strategy for every location you visit is, "jump around and wreck sh*t".

Look, it's no one's idea of a prestige AAA release. It's not a Spider-Man or Red Dead Redemption 2 or Horizon Zero Dawn that's all polished and cinematic and packed with gameplay systems that all get leveled through seven types of side activity. It won't be on a single publication's Game of the Year list. It's not a system seller to win the console wars.

But it's fun and immediate, things those prestige games often forget to be.

I played for about an hour last night. The main takeaway for me is that had this been Crackdown 2, everyone would have loved the crap out of it. It’s not just more like the first game, it’s the the first game on steroids.

The campaign is fun and obnoxious. Wrecking Crew is going to need more work. It’s not terrible, but I don’t get the feeling it’s going to be a thing.

Mainly, the game is better than the demolition circus they tried to sell us on when it was announced, but some are going to be upset that it is not that game.

One thought I did have is that this game could be why there is no Sunset Overdrive 2. The gameplay feels similar, as you are bouncing around the city and hanging around on the streets will get you swarmed. But a SO2 might have played better in 2019 than Crackdown.

I did watch a couple of streams on Mixer last night, and it was genuinely fun to watch and I was cracking up as one streamer kept saying he was shutting it down, only to see some orbs, or find a new weapon, and then more hijinks ensued. He probably went another hour, especially after finding a particularly hilarious weapon.

It’s a great great add to Gamepass and worth checking out. I’m not sure it is a $60 game, though.

Leaving at the end of the month:
- Aven Colony
- Dovetail Games Euro Fishing
- Kyub
- Lumo
- MASSIVE CHALICE
- Mega Coin Squad
- Resident Evil Revelations 2
- Shadow Warrior
- Sonic CD
- The Final Station

Jayhawker wrote:

It’s a great great add to Gamepass and worth checking out. I’m not sure it is a $60 game, though.

I wonder how many people will actually end up buying it for $60. Even on the game's store page and the main Xbox.com landing, Microsoft is pushing it as a Game Pass game. I have to wonder if they wouldn't have been better off making it a Game Pass release only, but I'm sure there were issues with existing pre-orders and distribution deals and the like.

I gotta say, I'm really enjoying it. I've played it for probably 4-5 hours because it sucked me in. I mean, it's basically Crackdown with a 3 at the end of its name and I'm not sure that's a bad thing. It shouldn't be a $60 title, but I feel like they kind of had to do that to make it seem like a better value for being available day one on GamePass (if that makes sense).

Crackdown 3 is a great podcast listening / stream watching game.

FYI, it's possible to play Crackdown 3 coop with friends who don't have Xbox Live accounts. I discovered this earlier today. Useful for families where everyone has separate Xbox accounts, but not everybody has their own Xbox Live account.

The hard difficulty ups the tension a bit without making it too frustrating.

I get why Crackdown 3 is getting mediocre critical reviews, but like you guys said: it's Crackdown with a new coat of paint and that's good enough!

If this was just some random game I'd probably think more kindly, but . . . it took how many years to make this thing? It kind of feels like somebody ate a used bookstore copy of Neuromancer and it up on Crackdown. This is what that came up with after all that time?

I'd bet a shiny penny that we eventually find out that the game was scrapped and rebooted multiple times and that what we got was built in a year and a half or so. It's fun enough that I'm not bothered.

Not to bang on that Crackdown 3 drum too much, but I'm fascinated by its narrative within the industry. It has all the hallmarks of a typical gaming cult classic: it's a big name game with a big price tag; critics don't really care for it; no one thinks it's worth $60; once the price drops into impulse buy range, people start to pick it up; with different expectations from New Release AAA Game, they find something to enjoy; voila, a cult classic is born. Pretty normal.

Except Microsoft has gone through that process at warp speed by giving people a path to get the game for $1 on day one. Critics didn't like it, but word of mouth has been good, and it feels like it's already in the discovery phase of being a cult hit.

That has a lot of interesting implications for the industry and for the viability of those games on the market. (Also, if I were THQ Nordic, I'd be pushing hard to get Darksiders 3 on Game Pass right now.)

Very well stated. I think if B-tier games can find a path to users through services like Game Pass then that's a win. I've often played 60-70 Metacritic games because they were discounted and seemed interesting and enjoyed the heck out of them.

Yeah, that makes sense for B-tier games and all, but it seems pretty clear that Crackdown 3 was not meant to be a B-tier game. It's been hyped at major events, talked about frequently, and even picked up a reasonably notable celebrity face in Terry Crews. Crackdown is a B-tier game because it isn't very good, not because it was intended to be a simpler game. This is something that was supposed to be a big deal, and, now, meh, it's fine.

Edit: What Jim Sterling said.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

It is what it is. I doubt anyone cares about what the game ought to have been the further we get from release.

("Crapdown"? Really?)

I’m just glad it was a part of Gamepass because the narrative pushed by pundits probably would have led to me skipping.

And I like to enjoy my gaming experience, so I avoid Sterling videos.

Mr GT Chris wrote:

Very well stated. I think if B-tier games can find a path to users through services like Game Pass then that's a win. I've often played 60-70 Metacritic games because they were discounted and seemed interesting and enjoyed the heck out of them.

I think the lower scoring B-tier games are often experimenting with more innovative gameplay mechanics and styles. In general, there's almost no correlation between the amount I paid for a game, the metacritic score, and the enjoyment I got out of it.

That said, it's starting to look like there is something genuinely polarizing about Crackdown 3. I wish I had more insight into what was going on. I fear the discussion is going to devolve into projection-fueled narratives about true gamers vs elite critics or somesuch. For the most part, I think most folks are being honest about how they feel about the game.

Maybe it's just a matter of gameplay mechanics that appeal very strongly to a minority subset of gamers and less to others. Sort of the gameplay equivalent of a cult movie, as others have pointed out.

I beat it this afternoon and am still going through finishing up collectables.

I find how mindless it is to be kind of nice. I dont have to invest anything in it other than to pick up the controller, jump over buildings, and punch/shoot bad guys..

It's a simplistic power fantasy game that some people apparently expected more from. I think that's fair, but I like it for what it is. There isnt much of a skill curve or any overly complicated systems. I can see it being a game I pick up every now and then for when I want to play a game but don't want to commit to anything deeper.

Aristophan wrote:

Microsoft is now offering a two month trial for $2, and if Crackdown 3 gets more subscriptions than sales, I think they will be happy.

$2 for 2 months of Gamepass, huh? I’ve been considering trying it for a little while, but haven’t yet. It may be time for me to dip my toes into the Gamepass pool.

I had a lot of fun with the first Crackdown (IIRC, I beat the game by firing rockets into the building with the final boss from some ridiculous distance), so all the comparisons of Crackdown 3 to Crackdown are raising my interest in this game.

It definitely helps that Crackdown 3 is part of Gamepass, since (due to it’s critical and user-based reception) this game doesn’t seems to be worth the $60 price, but is an excellent addition to Gamepass.

Does anyone know if you can pay for Gamepass using gift cards/Microsoft credit? I really don’t like needing to have a CC on file.

I gave up on Human Fall Flat when I realized I was trying to peal the skin off of my face and the cat was missing.

A couple more thoughts on Crackdown 3. First, it's nice to play a relatively major modern game that has absolutely no microtransaction components at all. It's complete in itself. Next, one of the subtler joys of Crackdown 1 was that a lot of the buildings and city design seemed to be informed by an architectural perspective. I would guess that there were a few architecture grad students among the crew that designed and built that city. Crackdown 3 does not have nearly as many of those interesting and unexpected forms. There are a lot of good vistas, but I have yet to pause and think, "Hey, that's a cool house" or "That's a really neat building." Instead, there are a lot more repeated and boxy forms.

The level design honestly reminds me a lot of '90s PC shooters. I can't quite put my finger on it, but the boxy buildings, 45° sloped ramps, and comparative lack of ground clutter combine to remind me of those older games. It gives the architecture a retro futuristic vibe that dovetails nicely with the very '90s tone and attitude of the writing.

I agree with everyone so far about Crackdown 3. I finally tried Game Pass to play it. I didn't go into Crackdown 3 expecting anything more than Crackdown 1 with a few more upgrades and more orbs to collect, and that's what we got. I'm fine with that, and am having fun with the game thus far.

I can't help but think a game that combined Crackdown agility and orb collecting, with the distruction of Red Faction Guerrilla would be a great combination. It would have been interesting to see the developer's original vision of Crackdown 3 because it kind of seemed like it was going in that direction.

BGFH wrote:

I can't help but think a game that combined Crackdown agility and orb collecting, with the distruction of Red Faction Guerrilla would be a great combination. It would have been interesting to see the developer's original vision of Crackdown 3 because it kind of seemed like it was going in that direction.

Yeah, I can't figure out why they weren't able to get that to work. They could have preserved the integrity of the city by having "repair work" take place on a timer - with damaged buildings getting covered with scaffolding and tarps and reemerging an hour or so after they'd first taken damage.

It seems like this should be a fairly straight forward animation task rather than a technology problem. But, maybe they had a version that worked like that at some point in the development cycle and there were gameplay problems that aren't apparent to us.

I finished the final boss on Crackdown 3 tonight. What a weekend game! Overall I enjoyed it, but some of the boss fights were basically the same thing, and also ended up being challenging, but not interesting. The game also crashed on me once when there was a lot of stuff on the screen, so I'm not too sure the engine could handle more complicated geometry.

Finishing the final boss puts you back in the game. I did most of the major stuff, but of course there is still a ton of orbs to find, and I didn't do much with the driving. Also, the maxed out skills look completely overpowered.

I think this would also be a very interesting speedrun game. It appears possible, but very difficult, to go straight to the final boss (but I don't know this for sure). Running around, picking up the right orbs and weapons, would be a lot of fun to watch.

I've put a few hours into Crackdown 3. It seems like the sort of game that most people agree on what it is, but opinions diverge regarding whether what that is is something they want. For me the answer is: eh, kinda. It feels like a sequel to the original Crackdown that was made almost immediately after that game came out and then shelved for a decade. As with the original, I'm almost entirely here for the jumping and the agility orbs. I somewhat enjoy the very dated approach to an open world, as I'm always up for a good set of checklists that I can work through while listening to a podcast, although I suspect there may not be enough other draws to keep me coming back to this game. I think the guns are almost all bad, and right now I feel like I need to do too much shooting. I expect I'll open up most of the map and max out my agility and maybe look through whatever fun achievements there are to do and then probably delete this. But I am curious to check out what the destruction in multiplayer looks like.