Saturday, August 30, 2014

Review #145: Crash Twinsanity

 Crash's beginning of the end.
 Over 6 Crash games, which followed two kinds of formulas: The platforming one and the racing one, so for this entry Traveller's Tales chose to somewhat reboot Crash, and thus Twinsanity was born.

 Three years after The Wrath of Cortex, N. Cortex returns and plots vengeance against the bandicoot... except that two seemingly alien parakeets quickly come into the picture, and now Cortex, Crash, Aku-Aku and Uka-Uka must team up in order to stop this new threat. The script is easily the game's strongest asset, unlike the last game, the story is hilarious. Cortex is now a more exaggerated version of his previous self, and he steals the show(Partly due to the fact that Crash is a mute, and most of his humor comes from actions, while Cortex gets both to speak and act). The rest of Crash's enemies have gotten make overs, and for the most part, they look pretty good, even if some only get a few seconds of screen time.
 Gameplay received an almost complete overhaul, instead of getting a hub World from which you chose which stage to tackle, you are now left in some more open ended areas, with all stages seamlessly connected with each other. There's a total of 16 stages, divided in 4 different "Areas", and each of the sixteen stages has 6 hidden gems, however, you no longer need to destroy all creates, now you need just find them, and usually solve a puzzle to get it. Honestly, I liked this new approach, and if the rest of the game worked properly, it would've made for a fun experience, if only...

 Here's the thing, in this game you'll be playing as Crash, Cortex, Crash and Cortex and a rather short, but enjoyable, stage with Nina Cortex. Crash plays just like he did in previous games, without the bonus abilities he'd earn from bosses. Cortex trades Crash's spins for a gun, and loses the double jump. When Crash and Cortex team up, you play primarily as Crash, and can spin around Cortex or use him as a hammer, plus, throw him away to have him hit switches or attack faraway enemies. As for Nina, she doesn't have a double jump, but she can spin attack, and gets a hand that doubles as a grappling hook.
 So far, so good, but the more you play, the more the game starts to frustrate. The largest problem, by far, is the fact that Crash doesn't project a shadow over crates. The game will demand a ton of jumps over crates floating over bottomless pits, but there's no way to tell where you are going to fall. Even worse, most of the hidden gems are locate over floating crates platforms, which will cost you a ton of lives if you aren't lucky. Something slightly less aggravating, is that they changed the bouncing physics, bouncing off crates doesn't feel as good and doesn't give you as much air time as before to plan your fall, coupled with the lack of shadows quickly grows vexing. Another issue are the "pushing" controls, in order to push something you must run against it and then continue to run, stop running and Crash stops pushing. It's as dumb, impractical and imprecise as it sounds, this makes the level in which Cortex spends his time trapped in a barrel incredibly hard, for all the wrong reasons. Oh, and once Cortex got stuck during an automated scene(He travels from pipe to pipe) forcing me to kill myself. At least you don't lose a life when Cortex falls, but you must restart back from the last checkpoint. Speaking of checkpoints, they are poorly spread out, and makes you wonder why they let you save your game anywhere if it will only save up to the last "hard" checkpoint(These are golden crates instead of the usual "C" crates). These two flaws, the lack of shadows over crates and the terrible pushing mechanics, are impossible to ignore, you'll be doing a lot of these actions during the game, which is why they affect the game so much.

  The game can be quite fun when it's not frustrating. The very last stage features a ton of very tight platforming sections(Over platforms on which Crash does project his shadow!), these are the most challenging sections of the game(which isn't saying much), but they were very well designed and were fun to get through, if only the rest of the game was this fun. Oh, and after this fantastic section... you are greeted with a pushing puzzle which quickly reminds you of how bad the game can get. And that's another issue, when the game is at its finest, the first stages, Nina's stage and the last stage, it's really good, but when it's not, it's pretty dull and frustrating. The game offers plenty of interesting ideas, like when Cortex is running away from enemies and Crash must open up a path for him, or when they fight over a crystal and you must move them together as if they were a sphere, but the game conspires against itself. Another issue is that you can't skip most cut-scenes, if you die during a boss, you will have to watch the entire pre-battle cutscene again.
 On a happier note, the game looks beautiful. The character redesigns are fairly good, the cutscenes are funny and well made, in-game models animate fairly well and look really good, and the environments are colorful and appealing. Soundtrack is very quirky and unlike anything else you've heard in a Crash game, and in my opinion, it's fantastic, but I'm sure it's gonna be hit or miss between different players. Voice acting is absolutely perfect, particularly Cortex, although the fact that N.Brio didn't get a voice actor is painfully obvious, he doesn't even moan during his transformation.

 Crash Twinsanity makes me kinda sad. There's so much untapped potential, so many good ideas, which I admit felt were gimmicky when I read about them, but after playing with them in the context of the game, they are fairly decent, but for every good thing the game does, it has a couple of catastrophic flaws that make it needlessly frustrating. It also started off so good, the first world is very entertaining, but as it goes along, it gets worse and worse...
 6.5 out of 10

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