Published on October 24th, 2020 | by Zorbz
REVIEW – Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time
Crash Bandicoot is back but in a direct sequel to Crash Bandicoot: Warped…22 YEARS LATER! That is pretty insane to think about but hey the most important thing is can the new team bring back the essence of what made the original Naughty Dog trilogy a major success. After the the fantastic remake of the original trilogy in the N Sane collection, I had very high hopes, read on to find out if they managed to match or even succeed my expectations.
Story: Set Directly After C.B: Warped, the story starts out with Uka Uka, Neo Cortex and N Tropy attempting to escape from their imprisonment in the past. Uka Uka manages to open up a wormhole in the fabric of space and time but in doing do he is drained and knocked out, meanwhile Cortex and N. Tropy manage to escape, leaving Uka Uka behind. The evil doctors realise they can now traverse the multiverse and set a plan to take it over.
Crash is warned by Aku Aku that their is a disturbance and they set out to see what has happened only to be sucked into the past. This is where the title of the game comes in as it literally is all about time but also refers to the extremely long time between Crash 3 and this new sequel 4.
Along the way as you journey through rifts through the multiverse you’ll catch up with a different universe’s Tawna ( who is an absolute badass ) who assists through your journey as well as good ol Dingodile (one of the many villains in the previous games) who surprisingly has given up the life of a criminal to open his own restaurant.
The story is charming and engaging without being shoved down your throat because at it’s core the series is all about gameplay. It is nice though that they put some effort in and some tongue in cheek jokes which is a great nod to previous games, especially in the titles of the levels.
Graphics: Just like the original crash trilogy on the OG Playstation, this game sets a high bar for amazing art and level design that a lot of games in this genre can take note of. The visuals are clean and crisp with just gorgeous character and enemy models and fantastic environments that are so unique from each other that they all had me gasping at how truly beautiful they were. I love the attention to little details in the backgrounds that don’t need to really be there but just add so much more charm to the overall feel of the level as a whole.
Particular favourite worlds are the new orleans looking rooftops filled with all things music, complimented by parade floats cruising by in the background with a particular notable purple dragon, to the pirate bay drenched in stunning crystal clear water with treasure all over to boot. Each environment just looks fantastic and I couldn’t even think of any to fault. I think another cool thing is how the enemies really fit the themes of each world too with mad max looking dudes in the wasteland desert areas to the giant sword wielding squid pirates in the you guessed it, pirate world (btw it’s not actually called that). It’s just those extra touches that make it a sight to behold because they could have easily just put the same generic characters in each world but instead they created enemies specifically to fit the area you’re in making it feel lived in.
I did this review on the Xbox One X and to my surprise there is no HDR implementation, and I say surprise because I honestly didn’t notice. The colours are so vibrant that I had to check my settings to see, just simply amazing. The framerate is constantly smooth as butter and the resolution looked very crisp with no noticeable aliasing, just a stunning game all round.
Gameplay: I feel like this has to be the hardest Crash game in the entire mainline saga. I don’t recall ever struggling as much as I did with this recent entry or having as much anxiety jumping into a level, having to mentally prep myself for the pain I was most likely about to endure. This may sound like a bad thing but it really isn’t, it just requires timing and patience which I feel a lot of us gamers lack sometimes with how easy modern games can be. I will say though that because of the difficulty spike it made it harder for friends who weren’t well versed in platforming games to get into as they would just die repeatedly only 3 levels in. I feel there should have been a better ramp up in difficulty as opposed to punishing so early on.
The level designs are great and well thought out with some tough platforming and enemy placements to deal with. Some levels really shine through whilst others are just frustrating in their difficulty in certain sections. A positive though is you do have the option of modern mode where you can die infinitely on a certain level meaning you will just keep going back to the same checkpoint as opposed to having to restart a whole level once your lives run out, but i’ve seen people post screens of them dying up to 100times on a certain section. Fortunately the most I think I racked up was about 25 but it eventually wears your enjoyment thin and with more frustration comes sloppier playthroughs, so it’s best to take a breather.
The main key I found playing this game is I had to enjoy it in short bursts and just do a couple levels a day because I would just get so frustrated to the point I needed an actual breather, This isn’t normally the case for me in most platformers but something about having to be on the ball to nail the timing of sections just had me pacing myself.
Now apart from just feeling like a traditional Crash game, there’s a few new things for example Crash has a slide spin now, there’s flaming boxes, ropes to swing across, rails to grind on and new quantum masks which grant certain abilities. One mask will give you the ability to slow down time allowing you to jump across collapsing platforms in time, running across nitro before it detonates, to a mask that basically lets you flip in and out platforms at the press of a button. I won’t spoil all the new mask abilities because that’s half the fun of seeing what they do but there’s enough to push the series forward and modernize it a bit more.
Sound: The voice acting for all characters are great and Neo Cortex is just as devious sounding as ever. Crash still sounds like crash with all his weird noises as he is seemingly a mute. Dingodile is so random with his half Australian, half doesn’t know what accent he’s doing vocabulary. It’s cringeworthy but it just works.
The music is fantastic throughout each level but I think what sets this music being a perfect score is that even though the tracks are great, they don’t have the ability to really stick in your head apart from maybe the hub world theme. But in saying that it’s still great and compliments all the environments and worlds perfectly.
Awesomeness: Replayability is a major selling point for the crash games as there are tons of secrets to discover and medals to unlock for completing specific goals in each level. This is now even more robust in Crash 4 with new hidden tape levels to unlock and master as well as the new N.verted levels which are sort of flipped remixes of the same level featuring some cool artstyles like old vhs filters to comic book style complete with dialogue pop ups like POW and BAM when you hit crates and enemies, complimented with the wacky sound effects. These are always fun to see what new filter has been placed over a level to give it a fresh coat of paint and another reason to revisit.
Replaying levels is not only show off your skills by achieving new records and medals but you also amass quite a number of new skins for both crash and coco, and no these aren’t just palette swaps, they are completely new designs from the clothing to the hair and accessories, with some skins being just downright awesome. I found myself constantly going back to try unlock extra skins by finding the hidden gem, smashing all the crates etc, which i normally wouldn’t bother with as a lot of games don’t give all that much incentive to do so.
Final Word: Crash Bandicoot 4 is not a game for beginners and definitely not a nice relaxing game to chuck on to relax. It requires, skill, precision platforming and a lot of patience to boot. If you’ve played the originally trilogy you’ll know what to expect but if you’ve never played a Crash game before then definitely start with the N. Sane trilogy first.
Overall I’m really glad the team at Toys for Bob made a sequel worthy of the main line entries of the past and something that feels like it was made by the OG Naughty Dog team. I look forward to another entry in the series but my only request would be to ramp up the difficulty slower then just smashing people in the face from the get go.
Out of 5 Bugs!