Sunday, 7 April 2013

Crash Tag Team Racing Review

In part two of Crash-A-Palooza we will be looking at the first ever Crash game made by Radical Entertainment. This game was a bold attempt to mix Platforming and Racing into a single game, did it work out? WELL I'M GONNA SHOW YA

Story-6/10- Crash, Coco, Crunch, Cortex, N. Gin, and Nina are in the middle of an intense car chase but wind up crashing in the middle of a racing based amusement park run by the German cyborg Von Clutch. It turns out that Von Clutch's amusement park is dying due to the Power Gems that run the place having been stolen. On top of that, Von Clutch's very own Black Power Gem, which powers his cyborg body, has gone missing. Von Clutch hires Crash and the gang to get them back and save his park.

In addition to Von Clutch, we're introduced to Pasadena Possum, another racer and Crash's potential love interest, Chick and Stew, two chicken news reporters who are parodies of Howard Cosell  and George Foreman respectively, and Willie Wumpa Cheeks, a creepy anthropomorphic Wumpa fruit that speaks in rhyme.

While I applaud the game for actually trying to give a racing game a continuous story, with a plot twist even, it's pretty basic and the whole "Von Clutch is dying" thing doesn't stop him from being a racer himself. Another big problem is that this game really doesn't know much about the Crash series at all, simply ignoring things like the fact that Crash and his siblings are mutants and just having random humanoid animals running around.

The characterization is also way off the mark for most of the characters. Crash has turned from an idiotic, but kindhearted hero to an outright asshole who hurts people for his amusement, Cortex is now flamboyant and has an odd obsession with churros, N. Gin has gone from being a weird and creepy looking technological genius to just being weird and creepy, but worst of all is Crunch, who has gone from being a muscular badass bandicoot to being a bad Mr. T parody.

Another problem is some of the new characters. While Von Clutch and Stew are funny and entertaining, Pasadena is possibly my least favorite Crash Bandicoot character, and that's saying something when you have characters like Rilla Roo and Not-Tiny, that's saying something. She's a stereotypical country girl who has no funny lines and her "relationship" with Crash seriously creeps me out.

Gameplay-8/10- Here's the real bones of the game. The game tries to mix platforming and racing into a single blend. It succeeds fantastically, with both the platforming elements and the racing elements being both very well done and fun to play. While outside of the car, Crash can do everything he does usually, such as spinning, belly flopping, double jumping, to get around and find Power Crystals and secrets.

The main objective to the platforming is to unlock racing tracks and find the hidden Power Crystals in each of the 5 worlds. You need the Power Crystals to get to the Power Gem and unlock the next world, kinda like Super Mario 64 or Galaxy. But how do you get these Crystals you may ask? Why by collecting money! Throughout the worlds you can find Wumpa Coins, which are usually found in boxes, just like the fruit variety of Wumpa. But there's only so many coins each level and collecting them all is hard, so you can find another item, the Wumpa Whip, a fruit smoothie that temporarily doubles the amount of Wumpa Coins you can get.

When you get enough money you can go and buy Power Crystals from the Park Drones scattered across each world. This is the meat of the platforming sections, finding money, going over to people, and them buying the Crystal for 1000 coins. There are other things you can do to get Power Crystals, such as doing missions for some of the racers inside the worlds, finding the three hidden Crystals in each world, or getting first on racing challenges, which I'll get to in a bit.

Another interesting thing is the fact that you can do missions for the other racers to get new vehicles and weapons. Some require you to find an object in a world, other require you to just pay for them in either Power Crystals or money, and others just make you buy costumes for them. Crash can unlock cars for himself by doing missions for Chick and Stew.

One of the other collectibles are the Die-O-Ramas, which are cute little vignettes that involve Crash dying. Crash dies a lot in this game, possibly to make up for his rude behavior. There's some other gimmicks to the platforming parts, such as the buttons you have to belly flop, or the Ninja Penguins, who knock money out of you.

Now we can get to the racing. At first you only start with Crash and Cortex and their first tier cars, but you can unlock the other 6 racers by doing the missions for them. Each character has 3 vehicles, each separated into 3 types, with them being: Fast cars, armored cars, and good at drifting cars. Each character also has a unique weapon that behaves differently. These weapons also have 3 tiers, each one being more powerful than the last.

This game has a rather unconventional controls compared to the other two Crash racing games. First, you don't use the shoulder buttons to drift, you instead use the B button, which is a bit weird. There are also only 3 weapons, each of them very bizarre. The Chicken acts as a green shell, the Flame Guy acts as a red  shell, and the Monkey attaches to another vehicle and blows it up after a couple seconds.

The cars also have a health bar, and when that health bar empties, it explodes into a big ball of fire. This ties into the other big gimmick of the game, the fact that you can "Clash" with another vehicle to become a big metal death machine, and this is where you can use the characters weapons. But in reality the only character you'll  be using is N. Gin, because his weapon has the ability to BLOW EVERYTHING UP. He also gets some of the best vehicles.

In the 15 tracks of the game, there are 5 challenges, each having a theme. There's the regular race, the Crashinator, where you have to crash into a certain amount of objects, the Rolling Thunder, where you use N. Gin and blow everyone up a bunch of times, the Fast Lap, where you have to race around a track as fast as you can, and finally the Run and Gun, where you use a computer selected gun to shoot down flying targets.

There are 3 speeds you can unlock, and you get them by unlocking all the cars in a tier. There's also some extra car-based things, the Battle Arena mode where you shoot down 10 opponents, and the Stunt Arena, where you drive off ramps and preform crazy stunts.

The gameplay does have some bad bits, though. The platforming becomes slightly boring after awhile, and some of the later challenges can be frustrating. The mission system is also very shallow, basically falling into 3 categories.

Graphics-7/10- The graphics are very good, with little details hidden in the hub worlds and the tracks themselves. The animations can be very smooth and detailed, especially on Crash. But, it can be very choppy sometimes during the main hub world, but can be surprisingly good when it runs good.

Each of the five worlds has a theme, the first being an island, underwater theme, the second being a fairytale world, the third being a dinosaur land with fire and ice areas, the fourth is an Egyptian, pyramid level, and the last being in SPAAAAAACE. Each of the hubs have tiny details hidden in each, such as tiny cave drawings in the dinosaur world, Cortex statues in the Egypt world, and other such things.

The tracks themselves are filled with details, like dinosaur dung, and aliens wearing scuba masks. The tracks also have many themes, with the changing on a dime in a singular track, going from a candy world, to a beanstalk, to clouds, and that's just one track. My favorite has to be the level based on the fairytale bad guys and villains.

Each track also has this charming artificiality to it, with everything being obviously fake, but still good enough to look real and fit with everything.  In the aforementioned fairytale track, some of the shadow puppetry things have completely failed and you can see the wood the shadows are supposed to be shadowed onto them.

 Each character's cars have a personalized look to them, such as Crunch's skull car, and Cortex's hover car. Each character also has a taunt, which changes depending on the weapon the character is holding. Some of the animations can look off though, such as some of Cortex's in-game cutscene animations. His neck and legs stretch and it just looks really awkward.

Overall-8/10- This game is a good marriage of two unexpected genres, both filled with detail and care. There's a lot of content to keep you busy, and the story is pretty amusing for the few cutscenes it has. This game is definitely worth ten bucks, at least, and is probably worth 15 if you really want a Crash Bandicoot game. Tune in next time for a review of one of my favorite Crash Bandicoot games.

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