Crash of the Titans - PS2 Review
Believe it or not but it has now been over 11 years since Crash Bandicoot smashed his way onto the Playstation and became Sony's unofficial mascot. After the PSOne outings developers Naughty Dog moved onto new franchises including Jak & Daxter on the PS2 and their new PS3 title due out in a few weeks, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and sold off their Crash Bandicoot IP. Games in the series are now released through Sierra and Vivendi, including this latest release. This game comes with quite a bit of hype as it has been three years since a 'proper' platform based game after a few kart racing and mini-game outings. So what has Vivendi come up with for this latest title? Well it is certainly aimed at a younger market, but even older fans are likely to get some entertainment from this game.
|Taking control of an enemy.|
In a nefarious plot to unleash destruction, Crash's arch-nemesis, Neo and Nina Coretex, have mutilated the creatures of Crash's island into monstrous abominations! Not only that but Neo has kidnapped Crash's girlfriend Coco. Never one to shirk from danger, the brave bandicoot finds that he able to hijack the titanic monsters and wield their immense powers against each other!
As we have previously mentioned Crash of the Titans returns the series to its platforming roots following some kart racing and mini-game styled outings. Split across 20 levels, this isn't the same old platforming game that we remember though as Crash now comes with a host of new abilities, not least of which is the ability to hijack (by attacking them and when dazed pressing the circle button) fifteen different large enemies and take control of them. These enemies have much more power then Crash could ever build up allowing him to take on even larger enemies, destroy objects or items in his path and create much more havoc and destruction.
|Graphics are pretty nice.|
Crash Bandicoot himself ha a much wider range of attacks the previous games and now includes flying kicks, multiple attack combos and special counter moves. The square button is used for the primary attack however by holding down the triangle button a charged attack can be used to create more destruction. His range of moves has also been given a boost as he can now swing from ropes, hang onto ledges and move along them, run along walls and use Aku Aku as a shield or even as a skateboard!
As you play through the main game you will also have an opportunity to enter some mini-game areas. In these you will have to perform a task within a set time period, perhaps defeat a series of enemies, collect some orbs, or destroy some mines. If that wasn't enough the developers have also included a neat co-op mode which allows gamers to drop in and join the action as Carbon Crash. What makes this most entertaining is that Crash Bandicoot can even hijack the second player as Carbon Crash, or vice versa and control the characters over the platform sections. Actually the co-op mode is very entertaining and we hope that should a sequel be made, and we can't see why not, this will be expanded upon.
|Time for a balancing act!|
One good thing to note is that, despite the short length at around 8 hours game time, Vivendi Australia have released the title here for only $AU49.95, and if you shop around you can certainly get it even cheaper then that making this a fairly good valued title. It's certainly a great option for a Christmas presents for youngsters.
So what about criticisms. Surely the game isn't all perfect is it? Well no it's not. Primarily, and while I understand the game is aimed at a younger audience, it is far too easy. It was a breeze on Normal difficulty, and seasoned gamers will certainly want to start the game in a Hard mode. The good news for younger gamers is that no matter your skill level you'll be able to get through this game if you choose the easiest difficulty level. Another issue is that at times the camera is a little annoying making the odd jump a little hard to make out. You can move the camera ever so slightly using the right analogue stick, but it's not enough to be effective. The levels can also be pretty linear. For the most part you're heading down a narrow path to a goal with little or no option to look at areas off the main path (although some items will be hidden away in various locations). While playing the game I also really wanted to see some form of quick escape option. Perhaps the developers could have implemented a 'quick roll' option using the right analogue stick so that Crash can get out of danger as quickly as he can be placed in it.
|This looks a bit dangerous.|
To be honest I wasn't expecting Crash of the Titans to really impress me visually. I don't know why. Perhaps the age of the system was working against the game in my mind, or perhaps the series has shown me everything before and would look a little stale with little new to offer. It was to my great pleasure then that I discovered one of the better looking PS2 titles in recent times. New developers Radical Entertainment have used some superb character design (especially on the large enemies) which, while skewed towards a slightly younger audience still looks fantastic. Animation is polished while the locations are often varied. Texturing could be a little better in places, some locations are a bit drab, but importantly the frame rate is fairly solid from start to finish. The cut-scenes are pretty entertaining and while you shouldn't expect Square-Enix quality they are worth a look.
Audio in this game really is impressive, and certainly among the best, if not the best in the series. The music has been composed in-house at Radical Entertainment and retains the familiar upbeat themes and style from previous games. Effects such as attacks, breaking boxes, jumping and so on are fairly standard fare but it's the dialogue that truly impresses with over 7,000 lines of dialogue recorded for the game - and repetition, while evident, is kept to a minimum. The scripting is also pretty humorous as well which suits the game perfectly.
|The 2-player mode.|
Crash of the Titans is certainly aimed at a younger market. It's bright and colourful, and certainly very easy to get to grips with. The series needed a reinvention and this title has done a solid job of keeping things fresh. Worth a look if you like the little orange marsupial from Down Under.
Review By: Dave Warner
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|GRAPHICS||Great characters and animation. Some textures could be better, but it is bright and colourful.||83%|
|SOUND||Tonnes of dialogue, solid music and effects throughout.||83%|
|GAMEPLAY||Aimed at a younger market, older games should enjoy too. Levels can be a little linear and it is rather easy.||75%|
|VALUE||Under $50 if you shop around, some solid entertainment.||70%|
|OVERALL||Crash of the Titans is a very entertaining title with great graphics and audio. It is quite easy, but well worth checking out at a great price.||76%|