Crash of the Titans - Overview

Depending on your perspective, the second Crash game under Radical Entertainment's belt is either a short-lived semi-reboot or a spin-off. Crash of the Titans has even less in common with the bandicoot's usual adventures than Tag Team Racing, but is it too much of a departure for the series? Let's find out.

Crash sits near Coco in front of their house as she works on a new invention.Crash of the Titans introduces an all-new style and changes up the characters considerably.

Right from the get-go you'll notice that this isn't your typical Crash Bandicoot game. The overall style is not what you've come to expect, and the characters look and act drastically different from usual, having essentialy become self-parodies or something else altogether. Much of the estabilished lore was replaced or thrown out the window, and, most notably, the game is more of a beat 'em up than a platformer. The comedy is still present and in large doses, but the slapstick antics and character-derived jokes are gone in favor of self-referential humor, parodies, and a good chunk of satires that have become dated with time.

The visuals themselves are a significant departure from usual, but they're very pleasing to the eye. Although the frame rate's been halved compared to games like The Wrath of Cortex or Twinsanity, the environments look very nice, with backgrounds that look painted and lots of detail wherever you go (fireflies passing by, geckos climbing up rocks, birds flying up high and more). The game runs in a 720p resolution on the Xbox 360, though this version also adds this ridiculous-looking gloss to all the characters for some reason. The Wii version is the only one to run at 60 frames per second, which is something to consider if you like a smooth frame rate. The PS2 version, of course, lacks both the improved resolution from the Xbox 360 and the smoother frame rate from the Wii version, so get it as a last resource.

Coco is held prisioner by Cortex and Uka Uka on top of a hanging platform. Cortex has a triumphant grin on his face.All cutscenes are rendered in real time and look great, despite being unskippable.

Cutscenes are all done in real time with in-game graphics, but they feature fluid character animations and great performances. Despite this, they present a considerably annoying problem, since like in Twinsanity, you're not allowed to skip them (and most of them are pretty long too). The Wii version adds the silly feature of letting you point with the remote and place props on the characters, so if you've ever wondered what Crash would look like with a monocle or a mustache, this is your chance to find out. Curiously, the intro is a very neat 2D animation produced by Atomic Cartoons (who would go on to create most of the cutscenes in the game's sequel, Mind Over Mutant). The soundtrack is distinctly different from previous games and is also more dynamic, so you'll hear more than just one tune per level, even if a lot of them are generic or subdued.

The game has 3 difficulty settings, and depending on which one you choose, the enemies' aggressiveness and intelligence differs, as well as the number of hits you can take. The "Hard" setting lives up to its name, so be ready for some very tough moments if you pick it. For the first time ever, Crash has a health bar, so he can take multiple hits before losing a life. Indeed, this game goes back to using a lives system, which is an illogical regression and kind of a shame.

Crash uses Aku Aku as a snowboard on top of a large, metallic structure.Crash has gained many new moves, such as using Aku Aku as a skateboard of sorts.

Crash's controls feel very much unlike what you might be used to if you're coming from previous games, thanks especially to how extended his move set has become. He has many more attacks than usual, along with the ability to block, shimmy, slide (using Aku Aku as a board), and more. Defeating enemies is no longer a simple matter of spinning them away. They can take several hits and block attacks just like Crash, so you must make use of various melee attacks and perform combos, kicking and punching your way through the levels. You will often be restricted from moving ahead without beating up all the enemies nearby. These are abundant and much meaner than before. Some are still Crash's size and can't take too many hits, but there are 12 different species of monstrosities that form the game's showcase feature.

After you've beaten one of the larger mutants to an unconscious pulp, you can control its mind and essentially play as it. The game calls this "jacking" and it's a requirement for advancing in the game. By jacking, you can use all the attacks your enemies were using against you, including special moves. Worth noting is that the Wii version of the game makes use of motion controls for special moves, so you perform them by doing the same gestures as them (something that works surprisingly well). Since you can play as Crash and jack any mutant you want (including bosses), the game essentially has 16 different playable characters. On the other hand, none of the mutants have any purpose besides smashing stuff, so there's some missed potential with them and things start getting repetitive after a while. More annoyingly, none of them can jump, so you can never take them far ahead.

Crash hangs on to a magma-like turtle and commands it to attack another one of the same species.Crash will be controlling the enemies he defeats to help him on his journey.

When controlling a mutant, it's much easier to beat up other ones, and the smaller enemies become harmless prey. It's also the only way you'll get to control the biggest creatures and bosses. Think of it as a sort of food-chain: you beat up a medium-sized creature, jack it, use it to beat up a bigger one, jack that one, and so forth. You can unjack a mutant at any time (or you'll jump off if it runs out of health), but it's also possible to jump from one to another, provided the second one's unconscious. You have to be quick about it, because mutants disappear if they remain unconscious for too long.

Despite being much sparser than usual, platforming is still present. Crash will sometimes need to make his way across treacherous paths and moving platforms, something that is made easier by gliding with the hover spin or doing backflips to go higher (you'll actually find yourself doing these a lot by accident). There are a few sequences where you'll need to use Aku Aku as a slide-board to travel across long valleys and tunnels, including a particularly long one early in the game that feels like a refreshing change of pace. Some rails require grinding to get across, but Crash does that automatically and it's mostly for show.

Crash rides on top of a large, fuzzy, bear-like creature as it walks slowly on top of a mountainous region.The environments look beautiful but are more linear than ever.

Levels are at their most linear yet, thanks to the return of a fixed camera, points of no return, and a complete lack of alternate paths. Collectibles are still around, but they don't work like usual. For instance, instead of Wumpa fruits being scattered throughout the levels, you get glowing spheres of Mojo, which the game refers to as the essence of life. Mojo can also be collected from defeated enemies or completing challenges in optional Mojo Rooms (there's one for each level). If you're playing the Wii version, you'll be able to point at Mojo with the remote to collect it instantly, without having to run up to it. Collecting Mojo permanently upgrades Crash's combos and makes him stronger. If you find a Mojo multiplier, pick it up to make every ounce of Mojo worth twice as much for a short while.

Wumpa fruits are still around, but they're rare and their purpose is to refill your health bar (golden ones give you an extra life instead). You won't be seeing a lot of crates either, and like in Tag Team Racing, they're completely inert and you can't bounce on them, which is just another thing that makes this game feel like an alien in the series. You'll occasionally come across freejack masks, which make you run fast and defeat anyone in a single kick, regardless of size. The effect is temporary and it will instantly wear off if you use it on a jackable mutant. By defeating a large number of enemies or jacking a lot of mutants, you'll unlock costumes that allow you to defeat anyone from a specific species in a single hit, so you can use those if you're having trouble in an area with too many enemies of the same type. There are also voodoo dolls that you can find lying around or get by doing certain tasks. These unlock concept art and enemy profiles.

You can get one of four possible rankings in each level, represented by different idols: completed, bronze, silver, or gold. For 100% completion, you'll need to get all of the gold idols, which require you to defeat a preset number of small enemies, perform a long combo, and get all of the 3 toilet-like spybots during the same run in each level. In addition, the Xbox 360 version has, like every other game for the system, achievements, which are optional tasks you can do to improve your Gamerscore (a first in the series).

Crash rides on top of an giant, icy rat, while a white-colored copy of him uses a second rat to attack some nearby monkey enemies.For the first time in a main game, multiplayer co-op is a possibility.

Lastly, there is pure, fun, drop-in/drop-out multiplayer co-op. This long string of words means that a second player can join in or leave at any time during the game by simply connecting a second controller. Co-op is one of the best features in the game, and therein lies much of the game's enjoyment. The second player controls a white copy of Crash (aptly nicknamed Carbon Crash) and, thanks to a surprising advantage from having a fixed camera, the screen doesn't get split in two, so both players can see their surroundings normally. This also means both players need to be on-screen in order to go through the level, so they can't get too far away from each other, but there's never an occasion where you'd want to do this.

In co-op mode, both Crashes gain a backpack with which to carry the other one around. This means one player can jump inside the other one's backpack if things get too rough for them, then jump back out once it's safe. You can change the backpack options from Leapfrog to Piggyback. Leapfrog is set by default. In this setting, the control is alternated between players every time they jump, so this is the best choice for cooperating in jumping segments. With Piggyback, you can just carry your partner or be carried for as long as you like, which is best used for when one of the players can't jump for beans.

When either of the Crashes dies, the player controlling him will have to wait 5 seconds before respawning, but it only counts as a lost life if both Crashes die at the same time. This gives you an opportunity to be a jerk and attack your partner for fun, which can sometimes lead to mindless brawls (just remember to do this in a safe place where you and your friend won't die at the same time). In other words, if you have the game and someone to play with, you really have no excuse not to try out the co-op mode. This is a rare example where co-op makes everything in a platformer better, and you don't need to have the same skills as your partner to have fun.

It's not inaccurate to call Crash of the Titans a radical departure from the rest of the series up to this point. It has a lot of enjoyable stuff in it and the multiplayer mode makes it all better. The return to linearity and the repetitive combat are a downer, but the ability to control your enemies is a nice little gimmick that makes the game more unique. In the end, however, it has little in common with what Crash Bandicoot is about, and would have been better off as its own thing.

The good

  • Easy to pick up
  • Jacking is an innovative and interesting mechanic
  • Most mutants can be controlled (including bosses)
  • Great co-op mode
  • Entertaining cutscenes with great animation and voice acting
  • Beautiful scenery brimming with detail

The bad

  • Extremely linear
  • The repetitive combat makes up a large chunk of the game
  • Titans can't jump
  • Unskippable cutscenes
  • Very little in common with the franchise

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