Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex

What do a new development team, publisher, and hardware mean for Sony?s former mascot? Turns out it?s not a whole lot.

A new publisher, a new development team, and a shiny new next-gen playground all pointed to new, different horizons for Sony?s ex-spokesmarsupial. Yet, through some fascinating quirk in the evolutionary process, Crash?s first outing on the PS2 reveals that the steadfast Bandicoot is, for better or worse, a creature remarkably resistant to change.

It?s Evolution, Baby?
Anything new in Crash for the PS2 comes in the form of a few level types that range from wickedly fun (Marble Madness?style levels that boast the game?s tightest control) to alarmingly mediocre (a mixed bag of plane-flying levels) to just plain obnoxious (pretty-but-painful underwater shooter stages); though in the end they all play out mostly as gimmicks. The bulk of the game is still comprised of the same old straightforward, box-smashing, platform-leaping, solid-yet-simple-to-a-fault stuff Crash has been tackling since his birthday. Whether that?s ?true to the original game?s spirit? or ?alarmingly outdated? all depends on your point of view.

How Crash Got Some of His Groove Back
Where Crash shines most is in the graphics department?the game?s 25 worlds are extremely vibrant, the animation is fluid, and the frame rate is consistently high. Uninspired sound effects, however, are forgotten in the wake of cool, rhythm-happy music and a Mark Hamill cameo that satiates your inner dork. Former Coot-masters will notice that?thankfully?the game isn?t as difficult as some of Crash?s previous excursions, though time trials and repeated instances of ?now go through the level again, only this time get all the boxes? are around for the obsessive-compulsive completists.

If you?re frightened of things that change, or are one of those Nintendo fans who called out for blood when Nintendo unveiled Link?s new fashion sense, then The Wrath of Cortex will likely be a welcome breath of stale air. If you were hoping the new management would give Crash a big kick in the pants, however, this is one pair of pants you will find quite unkicked.

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