Naughty Dog



Crash Team Racing Review

By: Ace Sky

Bright, colorful, terminally cute; all of these things are found in any Crash Bandicoot game. Any Crash game is a cute romp through some bright and colorful world. Although the series gets more interesting with each new installment, the games can't find a way to make the game appealing to all ages. Crash Team Racing (CTR for short) changes all of that.


Crash is back and in a decent game for once. This new racing installment in the PSX star's long running series is a major change for those Crash fans who enjoyed the romping, jumping, and hopping of the platform games. You can race as one of eight riders from the Crash universe, including the bandicoot himself, Coco (Crash's sister), Polar (that cute little bear from Crash 2 & 3), Neo Cortex (the bad guy from the series), and other wacky entries. Your overall objective revolves around stopping the nefarious Nitros Oxide from turning Earth into a giant parking lot. Yeah, that's what I thought. Each racer is tuned differently from the other, making it easy to choose which one suits your skill the best. There are three characteristic categories for each rider; speed, turning, and acceleration. Though not as complex or deep a racer as Gran Turismo, CTR still balances every rider out for a fair ride.

The gameplay is tight and well tuned. Naughty Dog spared no expense to make every little aspect of the gameplay as complete as possible. The powersliding is exceptionally well tweaked. You have to hit a turn just right and hit the button just right to get that perfect powerslide. This is a real treat for advanced gamers who want a challenge; however powersliding isn't so impossible that a child couldn't figure it out. The track layouts look nice and drive hard, even on the easiest level. I had to replay several of the tracks just to beat them on the medium level.

The controls are easy to pick up for any one at any age. In an attempt to fully utilize the Dual Shock controller, CTR allows for both of the analog sticks to be used. If you're used to the more common one stick and accelerator button elsewhere setup, the two-stick setup will do nothing for you but make the game more of a burden instead of fun. If you're new to the racing genre or want to use both sticks, then the setup will greatly enhance your gaming experience. Unfortunately, there are no options to customize your controls, a feature that would have made the controls a much better experience. You can switch between the stick and the button accelerator on the controller itself; you can't actually customize the buttons. The Dual Shock shakes and rumbles at every possible place, allowing you get into the game more. The controls make the gaming experience much more enjoyable for all ages.

CTR's graphics accomplished everything that should have been done. The riders' models look and move in a realistic way (considering they are fictitious characters). The worlds of the Crash Bandicoot series are well represented. The tracks range from a snow-capped ice world to a space station with air locks out side. The most memorable track, though, would be the sky track, not because of its high-flying stunts but because of the sudden death of the track. You were at risk of falling off the edge at anytime, adding that sense of hurried and fast-pace driving. The character's reactions to the races can also be a delight. Seeing Crash burnt with a wide look on his face just gets me every time. Overall, the graphics fair very well as one of CTR's highlights.

The graphics can also be a lowlight for some. The visuals suffer from a disease I call TC or terminal cuteness. The cute setting and light-hearted characters can and will scare off some potential fans of the game. After hearing Polar squeak for the billionth time, I just hated the little bear with a vengeance. I would go after him even if I was in first place, just to get rid of that annoying squeaking. On an unrelated note, I recently enrolled in the nearest psychiatric hospital. CTR's over zealous cuteness will turn off some "serious" gamers from the most fun the PSX has seen in a long time.

Since CTR is a multi-player game at its heart, I had to play the game with four friends. Luckily, I have a friend with a multi-tap and three other friends with controllers. The game performed perfectly. The graphics stayed almost the same as a normal one player game, only the frame rate dropped a little during intense battles. Since the user sets the options for the battle, the fun never ended and my friends and I played on through the day. Warning to the multi-player mode, though, you may let out a string of language you may not use on a daily basis.

The replay value of CTR stretches to the sky and beyond. You can go back to race the tracks to get a Relic by beating a time or collecting letters and placing first to get a CTR token. With over twenty-five individual tracks, that is a large amount of time spent playing. Each track is a joy to re-race, making the actual racing a bit more enjoyable. Once you get all of the Relics, you race Oxide again to get the true ending. Once you get all of the CTR tokens, you have to race four cups for a gem of each cup. With four secret characters to find, CTR will keep gamers in the game for a long time to come.

Yet, in all its great gameplay and excellent replay value, CTR cannot escape the lowness of its sound. The music is horrible. It constantly drones on through out the race, distracting your much-needed attentions from the race and on how crappy the music is. Each of the tracks has a distinctly terrible tune that you can thankfully turn off from the options menu. The vocals of each racer aren't any better. They say the same three comments through out the race. "Ah!" "Ha ha!" "(Insert stupid insult here)" That is all that the characters say. Though the insult is unique for each character, they all suck. Come on, Naughty Dog. Surely, Crash and the gang have got to have more on their minds than that. Occasionally, Oxide might say a fourth insult but I'm not going to race the boss race to hear one more vocal clip. The options menu allows for the voices to be turned down or even off, one more thing that your ears can be happy about. The only sound plus is the great engine sound of each racer, a minor plus indeed.

Overall, Crash Team Racing is a good game, not a phenomenal game, just a plain and simple good game. Though, a little on the cute side, the challenge out weights such matters. If you're looking for a fresh and fun multi-player game, CTR is it. This game is the most fun that the Playstation has seen in a long time.






Second Opinion

By: John Doe

I'll say this; I never expected this game to be this good. I reeled back in horror when I saw it at E3, because it was such a blatant rip-off. Does everyone have to make these games, I thought? What it comes down to, the big bottom line is; money. Naughty Dog knows this style of game (or at least something different) is what Crash needs right about now, and so they built it hoping you will come. And I almost hate to say it (I hate being wrong; hey what can I say? I'm a guy), but you better check this game out, because it is seriously fantastic stuff.

Everything from the pristine graphics - Naughty Dog knows the PlayStation inside and out - to the excellent level design to the super tight control, makes CTR one of gamings best mascot racers; yes, even beating Mario Kart at his game. Of course, CTR's innovation factor is going to be low, but you have to give Naughty Dog credit; they built a better mousetrap. Check out the dismal South Park Rally if you want to see how not to do a mascot racing game.

I'm even going to rate CTR slightly higher than Ace did. I don't think anyone is going to wring graphics out of the PlayStation like Naughty Dog did with this one. They did a superb job on all counts, except in the annoying voices department. Ace hit the nail on the head with that one. My only other small gripe with CTR is having to come in first to advance, but at least that just forces you to learn every inch of this game to succeed. Always look on the bright side...

CTR's multiplayer is what will help sell this game, and I'm happy to report that having four players go at it is a treat. There is a slight drop in framerate and graphics, but considering what the game started out with, you probably won't even notice. If I were you, I'd hunt out a multi-tap, 3 friends and CTR for this weekend. You won't regret it.

This game is a blast and deserves to live with you at home, unless of course, you are a complete jerk. Highly Recommended!






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