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Crash Bandicoot: Warped (PlayStation) artwork

Crash Bandicoot: Warped (PlayStation) review

"Crash Bandicoot Warped hasn't changed much, but arguably it didn't need to."

The Crash Bandicoot series has always been a favourite of the legion of gamers wanting a fast, furious pure gaming experience. It was the anti-mario. But Crash one and two, excellent as they were, both fell short of the mark in one way or another. The first wasn't varied enough, the second was too easy and didn't add enough new stuff. Neither of them held significant replay value. So the third crash was approached with anticipation, but also a mild sense of caution. And yes, it's the same game essentially, same characters same linear paths, but the level design, gaming enjoyment, replay value and style variety was breathtaking. And it still is.

Warped picks up exactly where the last game left off. The Evil Dr Cortex's space station was blown up by his old ally, Dr Nitrus Brio (Sadly absent from this game). The resulting debris was thrown about the universe, and one piece happened to shatter the stone door of a lone prison, releasing a truly evil criminal. Uka Uka. Brother mask of Aku Aku (The tribal mask who helps Crash along in all his games). He is extremely angry that cortex has managed to fail to beat Crash and enslave the world twice, so he comes up with a new plan. To power up some machine of evil destruction (You know the type, emits evil energy, is powered by rare and mythical treasures) 25 crystals are needed, which are strewn through time. So, with the help of an old friend of Uka's, a time machine is built, enabling them (But also Crash) to travel around the world and collect said crystals. You, and your sister Coco, must travel through time and get the crystals before Cortex does.

And so the quest across 25 restricted linear paths begins. Usually the words 'linear' and '3-d platformer' are metaphors for 'cheap' and 'cash in' but CBW is so good because it goes in a straight line. The thing which has put Crash above tepid imitators such as Donald Duck and, well, ALL Disney games is the brilliant level design. CBW isn't here to make you think, it's here to test your reactions, put sweat on your brow and to occupy your face with a smile. Things start off fairly basic in the medieval level. Running across castle ledges and across frog infested puddles isn't too difficult, but it introduces the game's most vital element. Pattern.

Pattern has always been an integral part of CB games but never as much as in this. Enemy patterns, obstacle patterns, environment patterns, it's all about memorising them and sliding through at the right time, you have to have impeccable timing. Contrary to belief, not any old idiot can come in, clock a record time without blinking and leave, all on their first try. It takes great timing, great reactions and a hell of a lot of practice to actually do well. But it's fair, ALWAYS fair. There are some terribly difficult sections in there that will have you screaming, but the rewards come thick and fast. CBW is built simply to entertain, and it does so with a shiningly vibrant soul, a great energy.

Like in the previous game, there's a lot of diversity in environments (But the time-based setting make for less cliched designs than CB2's generic ice worlds). From the comedic, atmospheric, and gorgeously detailed Ye Olde England levels, to the rhythmically mechanical, miles above the ground setting of the space world, the game always presents itself well, but it always goes that little bit extra. Chickens run wildly in the England level (You can't get them, but you can have a lot of fun chasing them) and the delightful Indiana Jones stereotypes are rampant in the pyramid levels. Watch mummies exhume themselves, water pools that eventually rise to a fatal height and poison darts shoot from the walls. One of the levels is even called 'Tomb Wader'.

So it has vastly improved style and design, but can this also beat the predecessor in variety? Of COURSE it can. Not only are the fast paced animal riding levels back (Which introduce not only jerk reaction tests, but also some speedy decision making, do you go the route least likely to result in death, or the route with the goodies to collect?) but also a ridiculous amount of other genre-crossing levels. The jet-ski levels with Coco are magnificent. The control is obviously more simple than a normal jet-ski game, but it's still an entirely new, and deeper, control system to get used to, weaving in and out of mines while dodging cannon balls and flying off ramps is tremendous fun, and worth replaying several times.

And it doesn't stop there. In the same level that crash is chased into the screen by a triceratops (an old favourite level style from the past two games) he gets to ride a dinosaur. The dinosaur doesn't do much, so it's just a cosmetic difference, but it's still a nice touch. One of the best parts though, is when Crash gets to take part in an old War mission, complete with rickety Biplanes and funny looking pilot goggles. It's fairly basic, but the new control system, tense action and tight time limit makes it almost a game in it's own right.

But Naughty Dog hasn't just put a load of new levels into the mix, they've also introduced BRAND NEW moves! And they really are excellent ones too. You have the super body slam (Fairly crap, just like the normal body slam but harder) then you have the super spin, the double jump, the very fast run and then you have the wampa fruit bazooka. This is possible one of the greatest moves of all time. It allows you to take out a HUGE fruit launcher, and aim it at any target in sight. It makes the remaining levels after you learn it a tad easy but it's an absolutely sublime addition.

And adding to the replay value is the excellent time trial mode. Once a level is completed, you can return to it, and pick up the gold clock at the beginning. Once that is collected the timer will start and it's a race to finish the level. Some crates (That usually hide 100-and-you-get-a-life fruits or extra lives) will be turned into time crates that will freeze the timer for a little while (for one, two, or three seconds depending on how the crate is labeled). Losing lives won't count, and any protective masks you have before collecting the clock are abolished. A set time is given for each level, which you have to achieve to get a platinum relic, there are also slightly more generous times that will give you silver and gold relics.

In turn, these relics can be used to open up the secret warp room. Which holds secret entrances to already existing levels or entirely new secret levels. One of them is an add on to the fantastic motorbike racing levels, except this time you are racing UFO's, and due to the dark you can only see where you are going about half a second before you get there. And this isn't even mentioning the two ultra secret, VERY well hidden levels.

This is also the best looking crash yet. Everything is crisply defined and realised with stunning personality. Characters are animated well, and some nice little effects like water reflection are thrown in for good measure. Everything is amazingly detailed, runs smoothly and is full of colour and atmosphere.

Sound is also brilliant. I've always loved the crash theme and level music that accompanies it, and CBW is no exception. The theme is maybe too 'futuristic' and therefore a bit tinny, but it's catchiness and simplistic nature isn't loss. The level tunes are better than ever. Medieval England and the futuristic levels have especially fitting tunes, and nothing gets annoying. It's all basic, catchy and energetic. Voice acting is also excellent. Clancy Brown returns as cortex, and there's some excellent stuff from the actors who play Aku Aku and the arrogant N Tropy as well. Sound effects are the usual overblown cartoon madness. All very good fun really, matches the game superbly

And due to the time trial mode (And general higher difficulty level than the other games) Crash 3 will last much longer than either of the previous installments. There are also so many levels that demand replay though. Jet-skiing, motor-biking and riding a tiger along the Great Wall of China doesn't get old in a hurry.

Overall, Crash Bandicoot Warped hasn't changed much, but arguably it didn't need to. It adds enough new features to make it worth buying to owners of the last two games, and it perfects the formula exactly. Nothing is new here, but also nothing is missing. This is really what Crash should have been the first time around, a wildly varied, deeply fun, long lasting exciting thrill of a game. A gorgeous one too.

Crash hit
+ Smooth, frantic, intelligent level design
+ Style, personality and atmosphere are in abundance
+ Loads of variations on the main theme
+ And those variations actually WORK. Some are astoundingly good fun.
+ Extra moves add replay value and depth
+ Secret levels better than before
+ Overall, everything is more polished than crash 2
+ A well thought out time trial mode adds hours of replay value
+ For once, the end boss is suitably dramatic.
+ Voice acting entertaining
+ Typically groovy tunes
+ Well detailed, highly refined visuals

Crashed out
- Pretty much the same as before
- Linear structure may not be for all
- It's generously long, but it still doesn't match the time consumed by the Spyro games.
- Music not quite as good as the last one.

If you like this....
Crash Bandicoot - Playstation: It's got a lot of challenge and is very fun to play, not as good as this though.
Crash Bandicoot 2 - Playstation: More variety than the original, but too short, a bit too similar. Still essential for Crash lovers and platformer fanatics alike.
Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of cortex - PS2: It's fun as ever, and If you like this you'll lap it up. But nothing's changed; it's fairly pointless.

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Community review by maxh (Date unavailable)

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But really, on the parts of the buyer and the developer, what's the point?


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