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Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time (PlayStation 4) artwork

Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time (PlayStation 4) review


"Teaching an Old Bandicoot New Tricks"


Crash Bandicoot has been smashing through crates for nearly a quarter century, fighting back against Cortex’s plot for world domination. Developer Toys for Bob brings Crash and company back for an all-new entry in direct continuation of the initial trilogy. A clean transition for recent fans of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, while subtly dropping references from over two decades of the series history for longtime fans. Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time has evolved from its origins to fit a modern era without compromising its identity.

Crash has had an abundance of redesigns in his lifetime, some more controversial than others. The 2017 remastered trilogy appeared to capture the ideal high-definition version of the orange marsupial, but Toys for Bob has achieved the personality of the originals by turning Crash into an interactive cartoon. Bright and vibrant colors have the world pop and exaggerated animations envision the marsupial as a living caricature.

Dimensional rifts are torn open when Cortex and N. Tropy return with plans for world domination and the destruction of Crash and friends. Discover the ancient Quantum Masks that grant unique abilities from dimensional shifts to the slowing of time. Reunite with Tawna and Dingodile as their journey parallels Crash’s path. The overworld expands between individual dimensions set in different time periods, giving each new area a unique theme.

Jump in and play as either Crash or Coco Bandicoot. The platforming is responsive and fluid while still offering the challenge the series is known for. A new “modern” difficulty strips away game overs and replaces it with a death counter. This removes any frustration or anxiety of repeated failures without affecting gameplay. A “retro” difficulty allows players to enable the live-based system if desired. Additionally, dynamic difficulty works its magic behind the scenes. Frequent deaths will grant an Aku Aku mask and additional checkpoints will spawn to assist in progress. Failing bonus levels can be of annoyance as you are removed from the bonus level and must enter again to retry, severely hindering the flow of gameplay.

Incalculable crates to smash and bounties of wumpa fruit to slurp down there is no shortage of collectibles. Mastering jumping, sliding, spinning, and other abilities are required to gather everything successfully. Some crates are devilishly hidden, requiring a leap of faith off screen. Collect enough wumpa fruit, smash all crates, or avoid dying and unlock gems. Gems unlock skins for Crash and Coco purely for cosmetic purposes. Inverted levels are introduced allowing levels to be replayed in a flipped version with different filters or world effects providing the opportunity to gather more gems. Flashback Tapes can be collected revealing bonus levels focused on the experiments and trials Cortex performed on Crash and Coco prior to their escapes in the original games. Flashback levels focus heavily on crate navigation and precision, one mistake may mean going back to the start.

Platforming and collecting are foundations of Crash, but Toys for Bob has added their own spin to the series. The Quantum Masks offer gameplay abilities new to the series introducing fresh puzzles to navigate. Receive the ability to spin glide over large chasms or invert gravity to reach new heights. The masks are restricted to specified areas to prevent abusing their powers. The most memorable and tense sequences occur when masks must be chained together in rapid succession, requiring precision platforming. A multiplayer feature is present but adds very little to the overall game. Passing the controller between players to determine who collects the most crates or completes levels the fastest.

Crash and Coco will encounter old friends and foes from their past. Tawna, Doctor Neo Cortex, and Dingodile intersect pathways as they all converge together, each wielding a unique skillset. Levels curated for each character are unlocked along the main path. Tawna is a platforming master capable of wall jumping and using a hook shot to zip to designated points. Cortex lacks the refined jumping skill the bandicoots possess and is required to use his ray gun to transform enemies into platforms or bounce pads. Dingodile has a unique vacuum that allows him to pick up and launch TNT crates. Tawna is a clear standout of the three, as the pacing of both Cortex and Dingodile are much slower to clear or setup a pathway. These character levels reveal how they intersect with the main path. Unfortunately, halfway through these character levels the perspective switches to Crash forcing you to replay through part of the main path that are redundant.

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is an old formula that has been updated for success. This is the good old Crash everyone knows and loves, but also something new. The remastered trilogy could rely on nostalgia, but Toys for Bob proves Crash has a bright future. As in the words of the orange marsupial, Crash 4 left me with one word, “woah!”

4/5

KevDaSuperb's avatar
Community review by KevDaSuperb (February 04, 2021)

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honestgamer posted February 05, 2021:

This is not a bad first effort. I think your text does a good job of demonstrating your familiarity with the series as a whole and your ability to turn that experience into an asset while looking at the newest release in a familiar series.

As far as critiques go, my main one is that the review is rather disjointed throughout, with quite a few sentences reading like they were copied and pasted from a press release listing game features. Between those sentences, a number of sentences employ passive voice, so the disconnect is sometimes jarring and there doesn't seem to be a lot of discussion of how everything works together to ultimately provide a good or bad experience. The resulting writeup feels more like an overview on the game than it does a critical review.

Here's an example of a sentence you might wish to revise:

Incalculable crates to smash and bounties of wumpa fruit to slurp down there is no shortage of collectibles.

This particular sentence combines the two chief flaws I mentioned above. "Incalculable crates to smash and bounties of wumpa fruit to slurp down" is a compound subject that feels like it belongs next to a bullet point listing game features on a press release. Adding "there is no shortage of collectibles" just mashes that together with a separate sentence together without the required bridge. A possible basic rewrite would be: "Incalculable crates to smash and bounties of wumpa fruit to slurp down ensure there is no shortage of collectibles." However, you also have to look at the surrounding sentences to make sure it fits and flows. Sometimes, fixing one sentence breaks something else in a paragraph.

This is all stuff that you can work out with revision, as most of us tend to do. I myself spend probably at least half my writing time revising a draft. As you grow more practiced, less of this stuff happens even in rough draft form. You'll fall more comfortably into writing insightful, cohesive reviews. However, revision is how a review generally goes from readable to great. I hope you'll stick around and continue to contribute and participate in discussion related to the writing craft that we sometimes have around the site!

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