Crash 4: It’s About Time is an interesting take on the long-running franchise. Not only does it stay true to the standards of the original, PS1 classics, with all the chaotic, over-the-top madness we all know and love, but it also has a few extra tricks up its sleeve that help transition our favourite bandicoot into the modern era.
As expected, the overall experience is top-notch. It’s chock-full of all the excitement and danger that’s expected from a mainline Crash game, and then some. In fact, I’d say it arguably has the best level design and controls in the entire series. That being said, you’ll still most likely die in the most bizarre circumstances at times, due to some weird hit-box placements and perspective issues, but its addictive gameplay loop compels you to keep retrying, again and again.
It’s About Time… For Innovation!
On the newer side of things, the quality of life enhancements like the jump circle that shows up underneath an airborne character’s feet, or the Modern mode inclusion which provides the player with unlimited lives, slots seamlessly into Crash’s pre-existing game design. And the various mask abilities interspersed throughout the game like the phase switch, which swaps out certain physical objects or the dark matter spin that gives Crash a longer vertical leap steadily maintain that feeling of ‘Ouuuu, I wonder what’s around the corner’ throughout the 43 level campaign.
The four mask gameplay debuts also act as great tutorials that slowly introduce their abilities at an even pace, before suddenly throwing the player in the deep end. Easily cutting out a tonne of guesswork that other platformers would have issues with. It honestly makes me wonder why they haven’t been implemented the aforementioned features before.
It honestly makes me wonder why they haven’t been implemented the aforementioned features before.
Even the rest of the playable cast: Tawna, Dingodile and Cortex, never lose sight of what Crash truly is. Sure, it may take a second to adjust to their distinct abilities and form, but they’re such awesome inclusions nevertheless. Tawna was definitely my favourite though. She can jump from wall to wall, grapple enemies from afar and fling herself through the stage with lightning-fast pace.
Even More Platforming Goodness In Crash 4
Another major aspect I loved was how all 43 levels could be replayed in remixed, higher difficulty versions. The devs at Toys For Bob even went the extra mile and threw in these awesome-looking visual effects and filters to make the N. Verted stages completely stand out from the rest of the adventure.
One level starts off as a blank canvas, then suddenly has colours beginning to fly off and explode across the screen like an ink-wash painting. Whilst another contains a sonar-like effect that shows just enough visual information for the player to get by. That’s some ultra-cool presentation here. Unfortunately, a few of the visual effects can become a little frustrating from time to time. But all in all, it’s these little touches that make the whole playthrough so N. Joyable… Ok, that’s the last pun.
It’s these little touches that make the whole playthrough so N. Joyable… Ok, that’s the last pun.
The unlockable side-scroller flashback levels, the side-character stages and the optional time-trials again further help change up the pace and increase Crash 4’s longevity. What starts off as a breezy 6-8 hour main run, slowly warps into a countless hour 30+ hour affair. And if you’re one of those completionist-types… Oh boy, do I feel sorry for you.
A Completionist’s Nightmare
This is the one aspect of the game that I have a real problem with. If you try and complete Crash 4, then this game will end you, Thanos-style. No, but seriously, to sum up why it’s so bad is because it forces you to replay levels over and over. Often requiring 10+ attempts to collect everything and fully master a stage, even if you’re using a guide or are one of the elite Crash 4 players… Does that sound like fun? Yeah, probably not.
What’s also super annoying is that when you’re looking for Crash’s iconic crates, a few of their locations will be way too far off the beaten path, or the game camera itself will hide them behind geometry that the majority of players would not even fathom to check.
This is absolute trash. It’s sometimes even more difficult than finding the actual hidden gems in each level…
Crash 4’s ‘Saturday Morning Cartoon’ Feel
Ok, ok let’s focus back on the positives, the cutscenes. Continuing on from Crash 3, the narrative is basically what you’d expect from a Crash title. Though the way the characters move and jolt around the screen really hits that perfect mark of silly, yet not excessive over-animation. Making the cast stand out with a heap of attitude and bravado, without even saying a word.
The way the characters move and jolt around the screen really hits that perfect mark of silly, yet not excessive over-animation.
In a similar fashion, the voice-acting is just as on-point. Cortex has this dynamic, evil presence. Coco is cheerful, yet seemingly aloof. While the mask, Lani-Loli comes across as panicked and erratic, but surprisingly never reaches that point of irritation. Straddling the line of over-the-top comedy without feeling like that super freaked-out robot from Disney’s, Treasure Planet.
I also really admired how Toys For Bob threw in these little references and nods to past series lore all over the place. Even from outside the other three numbered entries. It just goes to show how much respect and care the devs have for creating an authentic Crash product. Great stuff here.
A Decent Soundtrack
In regards to the music, the Crash 4 soundtrack doesn’t stand out much compared to its predecessors. There are some exciting jams to be found throughout the adventure. Though at the end of the day, I mostly found myself mostly gravitating towards remixes of older tracks in the series. Not a bad effort from the composer, Walter Mair at all. The OST just needed a few more punchy melodies to fully grab the listener’s attention.
Crash 4’s Enhancements For PS5
Now, what’s new for Crash 4 on PS5, you ask? Well, not too much if I’m being honest. It’s more about the visuals and sound. Launching with enhanced 3D audio and 4K resolution at a smooth 60 FPS.
They’ve also implemented the PS5’s ‘adaptive triggers’ for those who just love fighting with their controllers. But what’s most exciting is the load times. Restarting a level on PS4 took AGES and kinda soured the overall experience in my opinion. So, it’s very encouraging that the waiting times have essentially been removed…
Crash 4: It’s About Time is such an excellent game. Even if you’ve never touched a Crash title before, the main campaign is just too good to pass up. All the classic gameplay from the originals returns and is refined to near-perfection here. While the completionist side of things is bloated to the extreme, and there can be some frustrating deaths that are completely out of your control, Crash 4 more than lives up to its series name.
Crash 4: It’s About Time knows exactly what made the originals great, whilst further expanding upon the established formula. It looks, feels and controls superbly and may even have the best level designs yet. Though the completionist side of things is hyper bloated, the main game is more than worth your time.
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