Monday, August 25, 2014

Review #142: Crash Team Racing

 Crash and burn!
 Naughty Dog had three platforming Crash Bandicoot games under they belt, so it was time for Playstation's then pseudo-mascot to get his own Kart Racing Spin off. Just as with the Crash Bandicoot taking a little bit of other platformers, but having its own spin, CTR borrows a lot from Mario Kart(Particularly the SNES version), but still manages to feel very different.

 The game offers a surprisingly decent amount of modes. Adventure, Arcade, Time Trial, VS and Battle Mode. Adventure features a very silly story where a new enemy, Nitros Oxide threatens the earth, so now Crash, Coco and their enemies must join together in multiple races. The game is set up in a hub world, not unlike Crash 2 or 3's, where you must eventually go through 16 tracks and 5 boss races. In theory, it's a great idea, but in practice you have to beat each stage at least three times. The first time you must finish in first place, the next one you have to beat a certain time record and the third one you must collect three letters(CTR) and finish in first place(And no, you can't do this on your first time throught). I guess if you like racing games, the repetition won't bother you to much, but for me it was too much. There's also the four unlockable Crystal Collecting missions which were, on someone like me, way too challenging. The game does allow for cheat codes to unlock all the unlockables, but if you want 100% save file, you gonna have to work.
 Arcade Mode allows up to two players to play single races or full 4-track cups, Time Trial is pretty much self explanatory, VS mode is for up to four players and functions like Arcade Mode but removes all other CPU racers and Battle Mode takes place in special arenas in which you must make the most points or take all the other racer's lives away(You can choose the rules). The game has over 20 tracks, and they are all very, very creative and fun to race through, with not a single dud among them.

 The gameplay is just as with any other mascot Kart Racing game, you go through a track, usually 3 laps around it, and if you collect boxes, they grant you an item(Usually a weapon) which you can use to attack your enemies. Weapons are fairly varied and aren't as strong as Mario Kart's counterparts, which means skill matters a little more than luck, but just a little. Borrowing from Mario Kart SNES, you can collect Wumpa fruits(up to 10) to raise your max speed, plus, having 10 Wumpa Fruit will "super charge" your item, making it much stronger, however, getting hit or falling off the track will cost you some fruit. Lastly, the game has drifting in the form of "Power Sliding", which is done by pressing R1 or L1 when turning the wheel. What's more, holding the slide for a while will make the exhaust pipes' gas will turn black, pressing the opposite shoulder button will grant you a little boost, for up to three boosts in a row. Unlike Mario Kart, you have to earn your boost, and they end up being much better as they can make you zip through the track. Be warned that if you miss your window you lose a boost, and holding a slide for too long will make you spin out.
 The game looks beautiful, slightly better than Crash Bandicoot 3 I believe. Characters are taken all throughout the Crash series(With guest "Trash Bandicoot"), and while being in a kart means they don't have a ton of animations, they do have their unique celebrations or lamentations when on the podium. The real stars of the show are the stages and the amount of detail they pack, couple with the speeds at which the game moves! Music feels very "Crash Bandicoot", besides the returning tunes, which is a plus as Crash tends to have great music.

 Overall, I liked Crash Team Racing. The racing feels very good, the power sliding mechanics seem overwhelming at first, but after you get the hang of them, they become a very fun mechanic, and tracks feature some unique pieces that I haven't borrowed by other games. My one complaint, but a big one in my book, is just how much the game expects you to replay each stage, maybe it's because I don't particularly like the Racing Genre, since I had no problem with the Crash Bandicoot games, but at least three times to get 100% is a bit too much, at least there's cheat codes!
 8.0 out of 10.

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