One of the pillars of platform gaming is back and it’s About Time...
Everyone’s favourite box busting marsupial is back for Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time.
Crash is one of the godfathers of platform video games, having first burst onto our screens way back in 1996.
Now, developed by Toys for Bob and published by Activision, this is the eighth main instalment in the Crash Bandicoot series, and acts as a sequel to the Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy - so it is the fourth game chronologically.
What happens in the game?
It is set after the events of Crash Bandicoot: Warped and the story follows Crash Bandicoot and his sister Coco (aided by their former enemy, Dingodile, and an alternate-dimension counterpart of Crash's old girlfriend, Tawna) as they recover the all-powerful Quantum Masks in a bid to prevent Doctor Neo Cortex and Doctor Nefarious Tropy from enslaving the multiverse.
I know, it sounds like the same old format for a platformer, but why fix what ain’t broke? And one thing is for sure with CB games - there is never a dull moment.
This time around, there are new elements to the traditional gameplay with the use of powers provided by the Quantum Masks, which can alter levels and provide means to traverse or overcome obstacles.
There are additional game modes for replaying levels and, as touched on above, the ability to control five characters in the game, three of whom have their own gameplay mechanics and even their own levels.
Each level is filled with your standard Crash Bandicoot fare - enemies, crates, Wumpa fruit and plenty of hazards, with the objective, as ever, being to get from the start point to the goal. There is a Retro Mode, which focuses on the use of limited lives that require you to find additional ones during levels, and forces you to restart if you run dry.
Then there is the rather unimaginatively named ‘Modern Mode’ which replaces lives with a death counter that keeps track of each death in a level by its respective playable character.
Levels also feature separate variations, each of which features its own layout of hazards, enemies and objects - main story and 'alternate timeline.'
'The rebirth Crash needed'
This really is the rebirth Crash needed going into the next gen of console gaming. There is life in the old dog (looking creature) yet, and CB4 will delight both newcomers and fanboys and girls alike.
As ever, the challenge is tough. This is no cakewalk, and rivals Donkey King for its difficulty curve.
The game looks absolutely stunning - as you would expect, given the power behind what is a pretty simplistic platformer. But the visuals really pop.
You will find yourself happily replaying levels thanks to the variety of ways to navigate them - the collection of the gemstones, the time trial runs and the creative 'N Verted' mirror levels which, for me, are the crowning glory here.
The game does have the odd - albeit minor - negative.
Chiefly, the fact that it has a rather maddening habit of repetitively cheap deaths. For example, you might hit the edge of a platform, but instead of giving a bit of leeway, you will almost certainly be punished.
That being said, there are plenty of nods to the classic elements that make Crash Bandicoot such an important game in console history. There are also some much-needed twists and updates that keep things interesting, and give plenty of scope for future titles on the forthcoming PS5 and XBox Series S.
A combination of new ideas and excellent but not over the top gameplay tweaks and additions are the perfect marriage, alongside a fun and thrilling platform journey which has plenty of longevity to boot.
Out: NowOn: PS4, & XB1Rating: 8.5/10