Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is one thing of a novelty amongst Activision’s giant catalogue of video games.
Whereas Name of Obligation stays its bread and butter, the publishing large has discovered outstanding success over the previous few years with 4 glorious remasters of traditional franchises: Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled, Spyro Reignited Trilogy and, most lately, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2.
Nonetheless, it’s been years since these properties had something moreover remasters, notably Crash, which — outdoors of assorted cell and kart racing video games — hasn’t had a brand new mainline platforming entry since 2008’s mostly-forgotten Thoughts over Mutant. Even then, the opposite Crash video games that populated the 2000s weren’t anything to write home about, either.
All of that’s to say that Toys For Bob, the developer behind the Crash and Spyro remaster trilogies, had quite a bit going towards it with Crash 4. It’s additionally why it’s much more spectacular that the studio has made a Crash sport that not solely lives as much as Naughty Canine’s unique PlayStation trilogy, however truly surpasses it.
“Fourth” time’s the appeal
Proper from the beginning, Toys For Bob has made the clever option to ignore the continuity of the various Crash video games over the previous 20 years and set It’s About Time straight after the Naughty Canine trilogy.
This time round, Crash and his sister Coco should journey throughout the multiverse to gather the reality-altering Quantum Masks to cease Neo Cortex and N. Tropy as soon as once more. Whereas the plot is quite skinny, the sport nonetheless offers a gradual provide of charming interactions between Crash, Coco, Cortex and co., in addition to quite a few callbacks to Crash’s historical past and even just a few Spyro easter eggs. Cortex is unquestionably the spotlight of the story, although, with a lot of the humour coming from seeing simply how defeated he feels after years of the identical go-around with the ever-meddlesome marsupials.
Above all else, although, Toys For Bob neatly takes full benefit of the multiverse idea to supply quite a lot of gorgeously detailed phases that happen throughout completely different time durations. At one minute, you may be working away from a T-Rex in prehistoric jungle, whereas within the subsequent, you’ll be hopping via a vigorous Mardi Gras-inspired metropolis and lethal chemical-filled manufacturing facility. If you wish to shake issues up much more, you possibly can even select to play any stage as both Crash or Coco, who play identically however have their very own delicate variations in animation and voice performing.
When it comes to gameplay, Crash 4 at its fundamental stage affords the identical double leap, slide, spin and Wumpa Fruit-collecting mechanics the franchise is understood for. This time, although, they’ve been given a welcome added layer of polish. Admittedly, the unique Crash video games are infamous for being overly troublesome. Particularly, their considerably wonky, free controls may make it troublesome to gauge the place, precisely, Crash would find yourself after a leap.
Crash 4, nevertheless, tightens up Crash’s dealing with to make it much less floaty and extra exact, so that you all the time really feel like you might have an ideal dangle on his motion. A brand new elective ‘shadow precision’ setting additionally locations a bit of yellow circle under an airborne Crash so you possibly can see precisely the place he’s going to land.
That’s to not say Crash 4 is straightforward, although. All advised, the sport is persistently difficult, particularly once you issue within the aforementioned Quantum Masks, that are present in particular areas of ranges and alter the way you view and work together the surroundings in radical methods. To make sure, the masks’ talents — such because the time-altering Kupuna-Wa and gravity-shifting Ika-Ika — aren’t precisely unique. Nonetheless, they’re used to excellent impact, with the setpieces involving them turning into appropriately extra elaborate over the course of the marketing campaign.
For instance, a few of the first challenges with Kupuna-Wa merely have you ever slowing time to maintain some falling stalactites out of the way in which when you shortly leap on others to progress. Later phases, although, require extra technique, comparable to in cases the place you’ll need to quickly flip Kupuna-Wa on and off in between leaping to make use of Nitro Crates as platforms earlier than they explode. Masks are made even higher when used at the side of new mechanics like wall-running and grind rails — activating and deactivating Lani-Loli to part environmental hazards out of my means proper within the nick of time by no means stopped being thrilling. This all culminates in some brilliantly-designed late-game phases the place you’ll be swapping masks mid-jump and need to shortly react to incoming obstacles accordingly.
Sadly, Crash 4 isn’t fully well-balanced.
For one factor, the sport’s common shifts in perspective (like within the traditional ‘run in the direction of the digicam’ sections and through corner-turning rail grinding) show to be a double-edged sword. Whereas they do assist maintain gameplay diversified and supply a powerful feeling of scope, in addition they typically make it troublesome to gauge the place Crash is in relation to an impediment. In flip, you’ll seemingly mistime a leap, particularly throughout on-rails segments the place you swiftly flip corners and aren’t given sufficient time to react.
Likewise, Crash 4 has a quite irritating tendency to put out-of-sight projectile-firing enemies in its 2D sections. This result in a number of conditions after I’d already plotted my jumps to keep away from lasers and Nitro Crates, solely to fall proper into an assault from a barely seen enemy. Total, although, Crash 4 sometimes feels difficult however truthful, with most of my deaths ensuing from my very own errors.
Extra content material than you possibly can match right into a crate
What’s most spectacular about Crash 4‘s marketing campaign is that it’s solely a small a part of the general bundle. For context, I cleared the story in about 10 hours, and my sport mentioned I’d solely reached 37 p.c completion. That’s as a result of there’s a slew of different nice content material on show right here — most notably, the Flashback Tapes and N. Verted Mode, both developed in conjunction with Quebec City-based Beenox (Crash Crew Racing Nitro-Fueled).
N. Verted Mode is a intelligent spin on ‘mirror modes’ that’s unlocked for every stage when you clear it as soon as. With N. Verted Mode, every stage is given interesting new hooks, together with a fantastic, distinctive visible fashion (like a black-and-white filter that additionally accelerates gameplay) and reworked obstacles.
The Flashback Tapes, in the meantime, are particular ranges that may solely be unlocked in ranges when you handle to gather them with out having died earlier than reaching them. That mentioned, they’re completely definitely worth the problem, as they provide tantalizing appears to be like at Cortex’s early checks on Crash alongside entertaining banter between the mad scientist and his assistant, N. Brio. In follow, every Tape unlocks a novel 2D platforming crate-based challenges, that are a Crash in its purest type and function a pleasant distinction to the marketing campaign’s mask-fuelled mayhem.
Lastly, there are bonus ranges that mean you can play as Cortex, an alternate universe model of Crash’s girlfriend Tawna and former Cortex minion Dingodile — all of whom really feel splendidly distinct. Cortex, the very best of the bunch, lacks a double leap however has a touch to present some horizontal vary, and the flexibility to zap enemies to show them into static platforms or bouncy pads to get increased. Dingo, for his half, can glide quick distances utilizing his gun and suction up distant objects like TNT to shoot at enemies or obstacles. Lastly, Tawna has a grappling hook that may attain distant enemies and crates.
These characters’ distinctive talents be sure that their ranges are all the time refreshingly completely different from Crash and Coco’s. There’s one average nuisance, nevertheless: there’s no method to intention Cortex and Dingo’s weapons manually. Because of this, you typically need to depend on the sport auto-locking on the specified goal, which may be irritating because it fails to take action amid all the crates and enemies that lie in entrance of you.
An N. Credible comeback
Given the sequence’ monitor file over the previous twenty years, Crash 4 may have simply been yet one more underwhelming Crash sport. Fortunately, Toys For Bob was greater than as much as the duty, delivering a top-notch Crash expertise containing a nostalgia-driven story, expertly designed ranges, a number of equally compelling playable characters and excellent replay worth. Merely put, that is the very best Crash has ever been, and it’s a sport that each one builders trying to revive traditional franchises ought to completely take notes from.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is now out there on PlayStation Four and Xbox One. A free demo containing three ranges from the sport can be out there on each platforms.
Be aware: Crash 4 has a ‘Cross N. Play’ mode, which brings native multiplayer to the mainline Crash video games for the primary time. Because the identify suggests, as much as 4 gamers can take turns passing the controller to see who can get the best rating throughout a few different modes. Due to bodily distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, I didn’t have somebody to attempt these modes with, however their inclusion continues to be noteworthy.
Picture credit score: Activision