Crash 3 didn't improve on as many things as the previous game did, but it still manages to add new things to an already successful formula. While regular levels play just as they did before, half the time you'll be controlling vehicles now. These, along with the inclusion of a time trial mode, are the game's way to prevent things from going stale.
In this new adventure, both Crash and his sister Coco are playable. While Crash does most of the work, Coco will sometimes get a piece of the action in certain levels that Crash can't access. Coco's levels always involve riding or piloting something. Crash has plenty of rides himself, but he also has the usual on-foot levels. These are kept as simple and fun as ever. Crash controls exactly like he did in Crash 2, except inertia prevents him from suddenly stopping in mid-air at will. At first this will probably confuse you when you're trying to land on a specific spot, but with enough practice, it stops being a nuisance and becomes natural. The crate system is mostly unchanged, but now the heads-up display tells you how many crates you still need to break in each level, instead of only when you finish them.
With the aid of scuba gear, Crash is now able to swim underwater in 2D levels. You can move freely in any direction, and the spin remains your basic means of attacking. The scuba allows for some pretty levels under the sea and a nice change of pace.
Motorcycle levels (accessible by Crash) have you racing against foes for a Crystal, which you'll only receive if you finish in first place. Make sure you use the turbo pads along the road and watch out for potholes and police cars, which slow you down. These are fun except when you're trying to break all the crates, because you can't turn the motorcycle around in case you missed any, which happens quite often. This forces you to restart the level and try again, because there are no Checkpoints and you can't die in these levels.
Plane levels let you fly freely as you shoot down blimps and warplanes. Both Crash and Coco are able to fly, but there is no difference between either one of them. Like the Jet-Pack in Crash 2, the vertical controls are inverted, but this time you can't change them in the options menu.
Jet-Ski levels, accessible only by Coco, are the biggest ones in the series so far. These levels are in full free-roaming 3D, so you can backtrack in case you've missed anything or go anywhere inside the boundaries. The boundaries are marked by buoys, red (left) and yellow (right). Not that it matters when there's a giant arrow on the screen pointing at the goal. Jumping off ramps allows you to break mid-air Crates, and also perform stunts for fun. Breaking all the Crates in these levels will sometimes prove to be frustrating since they're quite large.
Coco can also ride a tiger cub named Pura. These segments are just like the warthog and polar bear levels from the previous games. However, Pura is the best rideable animal yet, since he can sprint for as long as you like.
Crash gets a new pet too - a baby T-Rex. You only get to control him for a couple of times (one of them in a secret level), which is a bit of a shame. The T-Rex isn't always moving, so you can walk and stop freely, just as you would with Crash. He is faster and stronger than Crash, and jumps much higher, but has no means of attacking enemies other than jumping on them. If you are hit while riding the T-Rex, he will escape to the nearest nest, where you can get a hold of him again.
After you retrieve a level's Crystal, a yellow stopwatch will pop up when you revisit that level. Touch it and you enter Time Trial mode. In this mode, you'll have to get to the end of the level as fast as you can, in order to get these new prizes called Relics. Relics look like Egyptian hieroglyphs, and they unlock extra levels and passages, so getting them is more than a simple extra activity. Depending on your times, you can get a Sapphire (lowest), Gold (middle) or Platinum (highest) Relic. To make things more interesting, Time Crates are added to the levels in this mode. Breaking them freezes the timer for 1, 2 or 3 seconds, depending on which number the Crates have. These are crucial for getting Relics.
The Coloured Gems aren't half as fun to find as in Crash 2, because they're no longer associated with crazy gimmicks. Getting them is just a matter of going through Death Routes and extra passages, most of which are opened by getting the aforementioned Relics.
Super Powers are your reward for defeating bosses. There's one Super Power for each of them, so when it comes to fighting evil henchmen, gaining access to the next room isn't your only incentive this time. Though Super Powers make the game a lot easier, they're also required if you want to get everything in the game. The ability to run faster is probably the most useful one out of the bunch, since it turns Time Trials into a breeze.
You can get: a belly-flop with a wider range; the ability to jump in mid-air; a longer spin, which also lets you glide in mid-air; a fruit bazooka with unlimited ammo; the ability to run faster at will.
It is safe to say that Crash 3 is not just the prettiest out of the original trilogy - it's one of the best-looking games ever made for the PlayStation, if not the best. Thanks to the globe-trotting time-travelling affairs the plot gives us, the variety of the environments grew even larger, so no longer is the game restricted to the same culture. You'll get to visit places like the Great Wall of China, ancient Arabian rooftops, pirate seas, you name it. As usual, there is associative music to go along with these sets, and it's as fitting and memorable as always.
Some characters have been given a facelift to look more detailed. Crash was already impressive from a technical and aesthetical point of view, so rather than dolling him up, he was given more than 3 times as many animated frames as he had in Crash 2. If you're acquainted with the previous games, you'll know that Crash has always had multiple death animations for different hazards. In this game, almost every single hazard leads to a different humourous death, to the point where you'll want to lose lives just to see what happens to Crash. A really nice detail is that Crash's shadow is no longer an indistinct circle. At the time of Crash 3's release, casting realistic shadows in 3D video-games was a very complex job with invariably poor results, so the development team found a clever workaround - Crash's shadow is an animated sprite and each frame was painstakingly pre-drawn from Crash's own animations. There are many other graphical techniques used to make the game look stunning, and it's thanks to them that Crash 3 was such an impressive technological achievement at the time, remaining one of the few PlayStation games that still looks relatively great to this day.
Crash 3 has more collectibles and replay value than you can shake a stick at. While the core gameplay remains mostly untouched, the new features and the bigger variety in vehicles make it feel like a true sequel instead of a mere expansion. One of the best games for the original PlayStation, period.