Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time Review
Everybody’s favorite orange marsupials are back for a new generation with the release of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time on the PlayStation 5. Crash, Coco, and the wumpa fruits look better than ever on Sony’s shiny new system – does it have the gameplay to match?
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time Review
True to their nature, the bad guys are up to no good once again. After Neo Cortex and his band of malcontents rip a hole through reality as a means of escape, time and space are out of whack. With the Rift Generator causing even more chaos, it’s up to Crash and Coco to smack these ne’er-do-wells back to their rightful place.
However, these two orange creatures have some allies in the form of the Quantum Masks. By finding each of these four masks, players will be able to traverse each level with ease and find a method to the madness. Each possesses a different ability: Lani-Loli can make matter appear and disappear, Akano provides a dark matter spin that allows for a hover jump, Kupuna-Wa can slow down time (perfect for dodging explosions), and Ika-Ika can defy the laws of gravity.
Appearing at select times, their abilities are interwoven into the design of each stage. With the core gameplay altered ever-so-slightly, players will have to break bad habits and get their head around each perk. Thankfully, they don’t overstay their welcome, making themselves scarce before they are played out.
For those weaned on the PlayStation 1 antics of the series (or, more recently, the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy), much of Crash Bandicoot 4’s formula remains the same. The spinning, jumping, sliding, and slamming are just as you remember them, with its physics engine providing (and demanding) pinpoint precision. The controls worked well back in the 90s, and they certainly work well here – they crib notes from what made the series such a runaway success and hold on to what works.
Of course, being a sequel, our protagonists also possess some new abilities. Much like Sonic and Ratchet, players can now grind on rails at select points of the game. These segments feature tight controls, and the ability to spin, hang, and jump from rail to work works exactly as you’d expect them to. A wall jump also provides some parkour antics at select spots.
It’s not just Crash and Coco that will be traversing the Dimensional Map; a number of new playable characters also have their own timelines. The lone wolf Tawna has her traversing stages with a hookshot, wall jump, and kick. Meanwhile, the diner owner Dingodile packs a vacuum and a hover ability. Finally, Neo Cortex packs a blaster that can turn enemies into platforms of both the normal and bouncy variety. Each of their abilities alters the flow of each stage a fair amount, but they do spice things up and provide a different perspective.
Just be warned that Crash Bandicoot 4 lives and dies by trial and error. Though there is a new Modern Mode that allows players to always resume from their last checkpoint, there are countless threats to contend with in nearly every level. When paired with their long length, it can oftentimes feel like a gauntlet to get to the end in one piece. Love them or hate them, the segments where players run toward the screen return in all of their glory. When you can’t see what threats lie ahead, it often means that Crash and Coco will be done in by a bottomless pit or an inconveniently placed Nitro Crate. Expect to play the same segments again and again and again before reaching a much-coveted checkpoint.
Some people may be eager to rise to the challenge – it has been a staple of the series, after all – but it most certainly isn’t for everyone. For those with an eye for more rewards, a Retro Mode with limited lives is also present.
Though the main game clocks in at around six hours, collecting all of the gems will take far longer than that. Players can nab these dazzling beauties in levels, by breaking crates, by collecting wumpa fruits, and by limiting the amount of times they bite the dust. It really requires absolute mastery of the game, and those who collect them all will be able to dress their Bandicoot of choice up in dozens of different skins. There’s also an N. Verted mode, Time Trials, and Flashback Tapes to keep players going.
It should be worth noting that the presentation in Crash Bandicoot 4 is at the top of its class. The dimensional hook has allowed Toys for Bob to have some fun with the formula – Mardi Gras-style celebrations, snack food cities, and Mad Max-style wastelands rarely appear in the same place, but that is certainly not the case here. The 4K graphics pop on the PlayStation 5, with its Saturday morning cartoon vibes maintaining a constant 60 frames per second. While the snappy load times are a game changer, the DualSense’s haptic feedback doesn’t have a huge impact on play.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time carries the torch for the series, providing a worthy follow-up to Crash and Coco’s adventures. The trial and error gameplay isn’t for everyone, but those eager for a challenge will enjoy doing so with the next-gen prowess of the PlayStation 5.
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