Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is a game that comes into existence with a ridiculous amount of pressure on its shoulders. The previous Crash Bandicoot release, the remaster of the original trilogy, had the bonus of being able to base itself off an incredible original storyline. Naturally, Crash 4 will be under the major scrutiny of fans now who expect nothing short of excellence from the team at Activision.
Thankfully, they need not worry.
CRASH’S NEW LOOK AND GRAPHICS
Visually, the game looks stunning. If you had told me that this game was running on a PS5 instead of a PS4 I would not question you whatsoever. Fans were initially divided over the slight changes to some of the characters and the addition of skins to the game, but the game delivers these well and honestly, they look amazing.
The game is able to keep up well with the incredible speed the players can reach on occasions. The frame rate remains constant and each enemy is ridiculously detailed and unique in their own way. You can tell how much time has been invested into this game as each level stands out in a different way. You never really feel like you are just running through a carbon copy of the previous level. The camera angles threw me off initially as they can quite often change course without really giving you much inclination or warning, but you get used to it after a while and it just becomes natural.
The textures, character models and environments are captured perfectly in this game.
RIFTINGLY GOOD GAMEPLAY
One of the main selling points about Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time was the reliance of the new power masks. There are four new masks to try out, each with their own differing abilities ranging from being able to slow down time, accessing an uber spin ability or rifting between dimensions to make certain areas accessible. Some masks are more fun to play with than others and they do take patience and time to get the hang of. Quite often you are left to find out the functions of these masks yourself with little or no guidance – something that was fine for me but may be an annoyance to others.
Puzzles rely on your use of the masks quite often. This could potentially be make or break for fans of the classic format of the game. The masks could be interpreted as an unnecessary gimmick by some, but I personally like their addition to the game. You get the feeling from them that this truly is a one of a kind Crash game rather than it just blending in with all the others that have arrived previous to this entry.
Inverted mode is a new addition to the game as well. Basically, all colour in the game is gone other than boxes, enemies and berries. The map is also inverted and basically you play the whole map as if someone flipped it on its head. It’s a very nice way of elongating the game and doesn’t feel like it’s forcing the game to be longer than it needs to be.
Vine swinging and rail grinding and nice additions as well and present their own challenges to the completionists out there.
New characters have been made playable as well, each with their own differing abilities and gameplay tricks. Tawna, who has had quite the glow up, relies on her athleticism and grappling hook to get around the map. Her wall jumping abilities allow her access to the highest regions of the map whereas the grappling hook can fly her too hard to reach places and break boxes from a distance. The grappling hook’s aiming system could do with some tweaks and it is very difficult to aim sometimes when you are in a speedy situation. Other than that she is a joy to play with.
Neo Cortex is a tricky one to summarise. His ray gun has the ability to change enemies into solid objects or bounce pads. He can also phase push himself forward to cross larger gaps, seeing as he cannot double jump. That’s about it really, his puzzle areas are quite difficult owing to his lack of maneuverability and actually getting to play as him is not really anything to shout about.
The half dingo, half crocodile known as Dingodile is the final playable character in the game. You have the ability to flame your enemies using his flamethrower and charge around the map with his brute strength. He’s a fun character to play as, but not really a game changing one.
PICK UP AND PLAY
The controls for Crash Bandicoot 4 are easy to get the hang of and master. Certain areas do require skill and precision to access which may initially be difficult to any newcomers to the game, but after a serious practice session I feel anyone could 100% understand this game.
Time trials are very tricky for this title as a lot of them require perfect timing when it comes to grabbing certain vines or riding a rail in a certain amount of time. With the levels being as huge as they are, it’s so much easier now to muck up a timed run at the last minute and have to start the whole thing again. The trials were the things that caused me the most frustration during my gameplay time, but also the most jubilation when I was able to complete them.
Mask ability mastering will be a real make or break for people enjoying this game. The controls for them are sometimes quite fiddly and timing can be a bit off when it comes to smashing boxes using certain abilities. The inclusion of the jump aiming dot underneath the player was really helpful at times and is a nice addition compared to the games previous.
SHOULD CRASH BE ON YOUR WISHLIST?
In my opinion, absolutely. I have been playing Crash Bandicoot games as long as I can remember and this is the perfect addition to the series. Nothing feels forced or nostalgia baiting. It’s just a great Crash experience with some fun comedic moments and fourth-wall-breaking humour.
The gameplay is challenging yet achievable. It gives you the right amount of difficulty without forcing you to throw the controller at the TV screen. It runs smoothly and really is just a whole lot of fun to play.
If you were a fan of the trilogy released previously, this should be an essential purchase for you.
This copy of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time was reviewed on PlayStation 4.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time releases October 2 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Featured Image Credit: Activision