Crash Tag Team Racing - Review
Crash Tag Team Racing is the latest game in the Crash Bandicoot universe from Vivendi. This isn't a platform game like those in the past but rather the focus is yet again on racing. You may remember that Vivendi released Crash Nitro Kart a couple of years ago - a good, but not brilliant racing game. What makes this game substantially different is that firstly the game is being developed by Radical Entertainment, the same studio that brought us the magnificent The Simpsons: Hit & Run game a couple of years ago and secondly the game also includes plenty of on-foot sections besides racing.
|Some of the on-foot action.|
Upon starting Crash Tag Team Racing learn about Von Clutch and how he runs a large amusement park. Unfortunately all the power crystals have been stolen and he has tasked Crash and his friends, or enemies, to retrieve the power crystals. Why? Who knows, and essentially the storyline takes a back seat in the gameplay anyway. When you start the game you actually enter a racing amusement park where you, as Crash, run around talking to various characters. You'll soon learn that you need to unlock all their cars by collecting coins, nuclear materials, or gems and so on. Indeed the on-foot sections play a large role in the game as you must run around the large theme park, with many hidden areas and amusing sections we may add, in order to go to each of the races. I was quite concerned before playing this game about how this would be included, but it has worked out quite well indeed. But it's the racing that many of you would have come to see...
Each of the tracks allows you to participate in any of five game modes. The first is Race; first to cross the line wins. Pretty simple. Where it gets more interesting is the other four modes. Crashinator sees you racing around the track having to destroy a series of objects on the way around the course. Rolling Thunder sees you trying to destroy as many of the opponents cars as possible while Run and Gun sees you trying to shoot targets as you race around the track while Fast Lap is as it sounds, the fastest timed lap.
|Two cars clashed together.|
One of the unique features of the racing component of this game is the ability to 'clash' two cars together on the fly to form a super vehicle. When your car is combined with an opponents you take control of a powerful 360° rotating turret gun or drive the vehicle. Unfortunately this mode makes you so powerful that, on the easiest difficulties at least, the easiest way to win each eace is to clash two cars together and blast everything ahead of you out of the way until the last moment. This is actually one of the problems we have with the game as it simply makes it too easy to complete the races.
Crash Tag Team Racing supports multi-player action in a big way with 8-players via split screen LAN play. It must be said that while this game is good in single player the multi-player is where the game moves up a few notches. Not only are the powerups funny, but the racing is frantic. The game holds up fairly well in this mode with a fairly sold frame rate throughout. Sadly, there is no option for online gameplay in this game. It would have been perfectly suited too with different characters running around the main park before entering races, but it never came to be.
There's a few issues which we have with this game. We've already mentioned that the clashing of cars during races makes it all too easy, on the two lower difficulty levels to win races. I guess this can be put down to the title being aimed at the younger market. We also found that occasionally we were a little lost with what we had to do next and certainly younger gamers may spend a bit of time wandering around the amusement park looking for the next race. The game also contains several mini-games such as skeet shooting or bowling, and while the majority are tremendous fun its an easy way to rack up serious numbers of coins, perhaps too much so.
Graphics in this title range from brilliant to needing major improvements. First the good. The game looks quite sensational, there's certainly more happening on the screen then in past titles with non-playable characters populating the game world and yet more wonderfully colourful graphics. Be it the waterfalls, lava rivers, building design or characters it's all brilliantly realised. The animation also deserves a mention. The on foot sections contain a wide range of jumps and spins however I was surprised by the different animations in the cars. Crash and the other characters jump on top of vehicles to launch weapons at the opponents the cars catch fire and have a gorgeous turbo boost. Cut scenes in the game are certainly the best the series has ever seen as Crash converses with a variety of characters in order to discover new tasks.
In terms of the sections requiring improvements the primary issue here is the camera during the on-foot sections of the game. It needed some serious work to bring it up to todays standards. Sure, there's the option to manually rotate it, but this late into the current generation it shouldn't be needed.
While music and effects in this game aren't anything to write home about (if you've ever played a Crash Bandicoot game you'll know what to expect) the one area where this game seems to have had some effort put in is the voice acting. Each of the characters has his or her own style and the dialogue is also fairly well written, often with humorous results.
So Crash Tag Team Racing is certainly a title aimed at the younger market, and they will love every single moment of this game despite some areas where it could have been improved. Even if you're an older gamer, such as myself, you'll likely get just as much enjoyment. It's perfect when you want to spend just a couple of hours relaxing and playing a game you don't have to think about too much.
Review By: Dave Warner
Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
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|GRAPHICS||There's no mistaking this as a Crash game, needs better cameras.||73%|
|SOUND||Music and effects are pretty average, but we love the voice work.||70%|
|GAMEPLAY||Single player is fine, but multi-player is where this game rocks.||81%|
|VALUE||Not the longest game, but you'll come back for multi-player races.||75%|
|OVERALL||Crash Tag Team Racing is a super game for fans of previous Crash Bandicoot titles, but who are also a bit of racing action. The game looks and sounds terrific and while aimed at a younger audience adults should also be able to spend a few hours enjoying this game.||75%|