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Well those wacky developers from Naughty Dog are back with another Crash Bandicoot outing only this time we aren't getting a Crash Bandicoot 4. Nope, instead we are being treated with Naughty Dog's swan song Crash game and it's none other than a kart racing game!
Hell, if you think about it, it all really makes sense. Take all of the characters from the Crash universe, stick them all together in one game throw them in a bunch of go-kart style vehicles and bang you can potentially have one hell of an enjoyable title. Does the formula succeed? Well yeah pretty much. Read on to find out just what I thought of Crash Team Racing.
Sound and Vision:
If there is one thing that we have come to expect from a Crash Bandicoot game, it is the gloriously displayed graphics. Crash games have always been like a work of art with rich and vibrant color schemes, creative environments and cutting edge character designs.
Well luckily CTR follows right along in the footsteps of its predecessors and actually may very well be the best looking Crash game to date. Naughty Dog just seems to understand the inner workings of the Playstation and really plays off of the strengths of the system.
Characters have a nice sharp, crisp look to them and they make the transition into the world of Kart Racing quite gracefully. Environments are superb with rich vibrant colors and creative designs. There is also no hint of pop-up or drawn-in to be found as you are racing around the tracks .very nice indeed.
About the only drawback is the fact that when you go into the multi-player mode and start splitting up the screen, the frame rate appears to take a hit. In single player mode the game moves fast but in the two player plus modes I often felt that I aswell as the rest of the pack was running with a speed restrictor on my kart. Don't get me wrong gameplay doesn't slow down at certain times and the speed is not erratic, the games starts out that way and stays steady for the duration. Obviously this had to be done to at least keep the frame rate constant (albeit lower) in multi-player modes while still keeping the graphics up to par.
Sound effects are straight from previous Crash games as is the music. Many of the sounds will be quite familiar to past Crash gamers like the breaking boxes, the fruits dumping into your inventory and Crash's weird snickers. The music is somewhat goofy and of course fits right in with the overall theme here folks.
Well, the Playstation has seen its share of kart racers recently with many falling by the wayside with the notable exception of Chocobo Racing which just squeaked in as an acceptable kart racer which kinda grew on me the longer I played played. CTR on the other hand was instantly addicting with its involving Adventure Mode and all of the wonderful eye-candy being thrown at the viewer. The good news is that the game also has a good deal of depth and while others have failed in the single player mode, CTR actually excels.
CTR has a nice selection of modes to choose from. The first is the single player Adventure Mode. In this mode players get to first select from a field of eight racers. There are some that are balanced more towards the beginner, others towards intermediate players and still others towards more advanced drivers. After making your selection you are dropped onto a world track that you drive around on which will bring you to warp pads, locked doors and save points. There are four "sections" to the world map in total, with only one section being available at the start of the game. The initial world map will contain Warp pads, a locked door that requires one key to open, a boss challenge and a save station. You will need to win four races and then defeat the boss of that part of the world to unlock the next section.
As you drive around you will notice that some Warp pads are glimmering these are the open pads, while others require certain items to activate them. There is also a map display on the screen that will help you find your way around the area and will also show which area has open pads. Jumping onto an active pad will bring you to a track that you will race on against seven other challengers. If you successfully win the race you will collect a trophy. As you acquire trophies, you will be able to activate additional Warp pads. Once you have won four races it's time to face off against the boss for that section which in this case is Ripper Roo who throws down a steady stream of TNT crates in the path of your kart. Defeat this zany villain and you are awarded the key to the door. You will also notice that other Warp pads may have become activated in addition to the four primary race pads. These other pads will bring you to bonus courses that you can race on to collect Relics and CTR's (Crash Team Racer initials). These bonus tracks are killer and can be won only by mastering your racing kart.
Other bosses that you will encounter in the other sections include Papu Papu, Komodo Joe and Pinstripe. Once you take these bosses out and win all 16 of the races, it's time to face off against that bad ass Oxide.
Each of the tracks in this crazy world are works of art and requires different strategies and maneuvers to be victorious. Luckily the kart that you will be driving is totally up to the task at hand that is once you learn to use all of the features of these little beasts. Karts can be made to jump, power slide and launch weapons. While this may not sound like a lot options, it all comes down to how you use them. Jumping at the right time can lead to some significant hang time. The longer you hang out in the air the bigger the turbo boost you'll get when you land. Hopping around a tight turn can also result in a small boost of power if you manage to pull it off just right. Now of course there are also power items strewn around the course that are hidden inside crates that break once you hit them. Some items are defensive such as turbo boosts, Aku Aku masks and bubble shields but the majority is offensive like TNT, Nitro, missiles, rolling bombs, potions and warp orbs. Of course any one of these handy little items can cause havoc on other players, it's when and how you use them that will ultimately lead you to victory. There are also crates that you can smash that will give players Wumpa Fruits. Once you collect 10 fruits you are considered "Juiced Up" and all of your power-ups become more powerful. Needless to say, the action is fast and furious and players are rewarded for their cunning as well as their skill.
Now if you think the single player game sounds good (and it is!), just wait until you jump into the frantic multi-players games! CTR offers up a virtual bonanza of two to four-player offerings starting out with the Arcade Mode. Here one or two players can jump right in, select a single track to race on or enter into a Cup series where you race on four tracks in a row for points. In the single race mode it's you, another player and the remaining grid of computer controlled drivers all vying for a first place finish. The number of laps can be set at 3, 5 or 7. In Cup races it's one or two players and four computer controlled races.
Vs. Mode pits two to four players against one another in either single or Cup races. This mode is similar to Arcade expect you must have human players and there are no computer controllers drivers to race against.
Next up is the Battle Mode. Here two to four players can select a kart, choose one of seven special battle arenas and lay waste to the competition. Interestingly enough, if four players are in the game players can choose to team up instead of going solo. Your call nice mode with lots of options and settings to choose from!
Overall, this is certainly the best kart game to cross my path including those from the Big 'N'. Crash Team Racing has brilliant track designs, engaging gameplay, gorgeous graphics and robust sound effects. The game just does so many things in this genre that it's a "can't miss" title. Yes, there is a frame rate hit in the multi-player modes, but that does not equate to slowdown, the whole game just plays out at a more leisurely pace. Also keeping this game from perfection is the fact that it basically just took an existing idea and got it right this time! It ends up being a surprisingly involving and enjoyable single player game and a non-stop action packed "crashfest" in the multi-player modes.
This is a 1 disk game for 1- 4 Players (2+ requires a multi-tap). It is compatible with the standard (digital) joypad and the analog stick controls of the dual shock joypad. Games can be saved via memory card (1 block per save).
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