Like his denim shorts, Crash Bandicoot is no longer in style.
Review written by
Crash Bandicoot has finally made his Wii debut. For those who don't remember, there was a time when the little furball was placed in the same league as Mario and Sonic (well, almost), as he was the colorful, ever-wacky poster boy for Sony's new PSX. That was a long time ago, and over the years Crash has lost some steam. He no longer spearhead's the Sony gaming community, but he hasn't completely faded from memory either.
In his newest adventure, Crash makes an attempt to jump back into the forefront of the platforming genre. Even though this game gets a few things right, there's enough shabby content to hold Crash of the Titans from becoming an ambitious return for one of gaming's more popular mascots.
The story is pretty much throw-away. Dr Cortex takes away Crash Bandicoot's sister to do his bidding, and it's up to Crash to rescue her. Several cutscenes are peppered throughout the game to push the narrative, but it's mostly for comedic purposes since the game has enough decency to not take itself seriously.
The graphics are a mixed bag. On the one hand, the artwork is beautiful and really gives the game a cartoony vibe. A pleasing mixture of vibrant colors is combined with some really inventive and crazy character models. Textures, however, are rather bland. Screen tearing also pops up intermittently. Overall, previous games have proven that the Wii is capable of a lot more, but the graphics are not bad enough to detract from your experience.
Sound is a hit-or-miss affair as well. The music is nothing special, and the voice-overs from Crash and most of his counterparts prove annoying after a very short time. The dialog is kind of funny, but it's hokey and juvenile tone will appeal more to kids under 13 years old.
The actual gameplay is backed by some really good ideas. As you go through levels, Crash will encounter large enemies that he can 'jack' and take control of. Upon stunning one of these baddies, Crash will jump on their backs and take the reins, using their unique abilities to his advantage. This is a very satisfying gameplay element. Smart Wii remote controls help enhance the experience, as you will perform a variety of motions to perform slams, swipes, throws and the like. Particularly awesome are the titans with projectile attacks, since your cursor turns into a crosshair that zeros in on enemies. For the most part, it feels natural and right.
Combat becomes very systematic as you'll constantly have to stun, then jack, then stun, then jack, and repeat. Difficulty is also extremely inconsistent. It's either absurdly easy, or frustrating. And when it's frustrating, it's never because of an actual challenge, but because of cheap enemy AI or poor item placement. This is due to poor development, and you will definitely notice it in your playthrough.
Outside of these new monster-controlling abilities, Crash starts to show his age. Consistent with all other Crash games, levels are extremely linear and offer no branching paths to complete levels. All levels possess the same types of challenges as well (kill X number of minions, combo X number of hits, beat secret room, etc), and there is a distinct emphasis on combat over platforming. Crash collects 'mojo' to power up his attacks, but this never really varies the gameplay or gives distinction to playing as Crash without a monster underneath him. It all leads up to an extremely repetitive process. You'll run forward, fight monsters, jump over chasms, and repeat. You can't really explore levels because of the aforementioned linearity, and you won't see any sort of shake-up from start to finish. Besides the new monsters, this game starts to show itself as a watered-down Crash Bandicoot excursion.
The monster-jacking isn't the only gameplay element that Crash of the Titans gets right. The multiplayer aspect is (dare I say it) superior to even Super Mario Galaxy. If a second player jumps in, they take control of a slightly discolored Crash clone. You share the screen and can work as a team to defeat enemies and jack monsters. Where the multiplayer really shines though, is the piggyback ability. If you press down on the D-Pad near your partner, you'll jump on their back and they will be in control. This unique feature allows simultaneous platforming and solves the problem of sharing a camera during tricky jumps. Simply hop on your buddy's back, let them take care of the jumping, then get off when you reach your destination. Shaking things up even more is the Leapfrog option. When you are on each others' backs, the player in control changes each time the team lands from a jump. This forces more player communication and makes the game more interesting.
Crash Bandicoot is not a good enough game to warrant a purchase. It's short (5-6 hours to beat), it's very linear, it's inconsistent, and there is no variety to the core gameplay. Graphics are so-so, and the whole presentation screams last-gen. However, there are some really good ideas here that keep Crash of the Titans from falling on its face. There's something inherently cool about taking total control of ferocious monsters, and the appeal of simultaneous multiplayer platforming can't be denied, especially when it's done so well.
Mostly, it's a game for kids, which is bizarre since its target audience is too young to have played with the bandicoot during his glory days. I recommend a rental if you're really hankering for some Crash. If you want to get it for your kids, wait until the price drops a bit before you buy.
Monster-jacking and multiplayer shine, but the rest of it is repetitive and boring. One of the weaker Crash offerings as far as gameplay goes.
It only takes about 5 hours to beat, and it isn't likely that you will want to go back and collect 100%.
Artwork is cartoony and colorful, but textures are muddy and last-gen.
Most voice-overs are poor, while the dialog is only occasionally funny. The comedy appeals more to kids.
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