Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time review: A fun, frantic platforming classic

Fans of old fashioned platform games are in for a treat with this long-wanted new title in the Crash Bandicoot saga.

The cartoon hero was a standout star of the original Playstation console back in the 90s.

It made developer Naughty Dog a big name player in video games and set them up for the world-beating future where they made global hits like The Last Of Us and Uncharted.

The Bandicoot games’ trademark style was being tough and unforgiving to the player and fans of the originals will be happy to hear that continues in the fourth instalment It’s About Time.

But with a new developer in hand, revamped modern visuals, a tweaked play style and lashings of fun, this is a great first-party studio send-off for the PS4 console as gamers prepare for the swanky new Playstation 5 machine.

Crash 4 is now a cross-platform title and available on Xbox as well as the PS.

As the first original Crash Bandicoot title in more than a decade, and the biggest Crash game ever in level size, Crash 4 is built from the ground up and brings with it an onslaught of absurd challenges for players to conquer.

In the game, players uncover four powerful Quantum Masks, the guardians of space and time, that must be reunited to restore order to the multiverse after some familiar baddies from yesteryear create a rip in dimensions.

Fans can play as newly designed Crash or Coco on their journey to save the multiverse and can even play as the fiendish Dr Neo Cortex, and side characters Dingodile or Tawna, each equipped with their own unique play style.

Many of the levels in the game feature the perspective-shifting, core precision platforming that fans know and love from the originals.

So one minute it’s a side-scrolling classic platform game, the next you’ll be running towards the screen away from a giant skeleton or monster truck being driven by a maniacal baddie.

The game is neatly broken up in this way regularly so you don’t have time to get bored.

For every tricky run, jump, stop type platforming section there’s a belt-it style run for your life fast paced action sequence to mix up play.

The gameplay is sublime, with plenty of twitch-style button bashing keeping you hooked to the screen.

This title is all about deaths and you’ll slowly see the amount of times you’re killed by the clever platform design rack up as the levels get harder.

While it’s a source of endless frustration it’s also a way of keeping you addicted and you’ll be coming back time and again to try to conquer the levels with as few deaths as possible.

The boss fights are mega and incredibly difficult too in a hard game to beat. So steel yourselves for that.

But when you do overcome, say, a giant drum playing robot monster then that feeling of success is hard to better.

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The levels aren’t linear either, they spring off of a Mario-style game map with Flashback Tapes, which are tough side levels harkening back to the games of yesteryear, bonus areas as well as character specific takes on more general levels.

An all-new style of play called N. Verted mode gives players alternate perspectives, sound effects, music and in some dimensions, additional transformations to experience.

This is where the masks come in, so for example, one of the masks allows you to switch between realities allowing you to jump from one platform in one realm to another in a separate, alternate realm.

That means nimble button work on the controller as you switch mid-jump at points to make the next ledge.

It can be near genius when the level design is at it’s best and incredibly fun to play.

The characters themselves are well fleshed out in their animations and have a lot of nuance about them in the Disney-like cut scenes.

The voice work is sound and the story is as silly as you’d expect it to be.

There’s a lot of humour injected in this game and it makes things even more fun to play.

Fans can also try their hands at Modern and Retro modes or compete head-to-head with up to four players in either Bandicoot Battle competitive mode or Pass N. Play co-op mode – sharing the controller on the sofa like the good old days of gaming.

Overall, Crash 4 is a cracking platform game and an excellent way to start saying goodbye to the current console generation before the inevitable switchover to PS5 and Xbox Series X.

It’s great fun, feels classic and most importantly plays brilliantly.

VERDICT 5/5

  • Crash Bandicoot
  • Playstation
  • XBox

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