|Crash of the Titans (2007)
Available for: Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 2
Some may think it silly of me to rate this game so highly, given that most of the other critics have stamped an average score onto it. But as so many people who aren’t critics like to say from time to time: “fuck the critics.” How’s that for irony? Honestly though, it was just damned refreshing at long last to sit and play a good old platform game on my 360. It’s a sad bit of reality to see the platform genre going the way of the dodo these days, as it used to be as grand and glorious as the FPS genre. But times change, as they say, and the kids don’t wanna be stuck in the past. Everything’s gotta be new and improved and look photo realistic and be at least 20 hours long and all that other hoo-ha. Sure. We as a gaming society are becoming more and more jaded to the wonderful games that led us to this point in the first place.
I’ve always loved Crash Bandicoot. When I got my original PlayStation console, the first Crash game was among my initial purchases for that system. Crash mixed 3D and 2D platforming fun seamlessly. There were two sequels and a great kart game as well. Sure, when Crash moved to the PS2 he went into a bit of a decline. But these things happen. Remember how the glorious “Twisted Metal” franchise went straight into the crapper for its third and fourth installments, but then came right back with the most fantastic “Twisted Metal Black” when the guys who did the original two games took back the series from the always-lame 989 Studios? Well there you go.
“Crash of the Titans” is sort of like that. No, developer Naughty Dog isn’t back behind the wheel of this latest adventure, but the fun and mayhem of the original Crash trilogy feels back in place. In this episode, Neo Cortex is back once again with his gallery of goons. Cortex kidnaps Crash’s sister Coco and whisks her away in his blimp apparatus, leading Crash to begin his rescue mission. This time around, though, the game isn’t all about smashing boxes for wumpa fruit and power-ups, but rather “jacking” various baddies with Aku Aku (this time voiced by Greg Eagles of “The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy” fame) and taking control over their actions. Yeah, it’s an old idea that’s been used in other games, but it’s exactly the kind of thing the Crash franchise needed as a good shot in the arm.
Along the way, Crash collects nuggets of mojo, which (when enough is gathered to fill the mojo meter), give Crash upgrades to his actions and combat moves. There are also plenty of nasty evil minions to attack and take down. Destroying a preset number of these minions, as well as performing an exact number of combo hits, are also tallied through each section and help to unlock extra features in the game. There are also bonus side missions hidden in each level that unlock even more content. These missions are timed and have Crash doing everything from grabbing up a certain amount of mojo without being destroyed, to shooting down various targets or bombs while jacking an enemy.
Yeah, okay, “jacking” an enemy sounds about as crude as it possibly could, but all adult humor aside, taking over the bad guys is pretty damn fun. There are different enemies Crash can control, each with its own special abilities. Many of the boss battles find Crash having to work his way up the bad guy ladder, taking control of various types over the course of the battle to finally win the stage. It’s a novel idea, and will certainly keep players on their toes while deciding which specific enemy is needed for certain tasks during the fight.
In the end, though, “Crash of the Titans” is just one of those games that anyone can enjoy. It’s fashionable these days to sometimes deride these sorts of games simply for that fact, but lest we all forget, there was a time when video games weren’t all so adult and grown up and serious. So it’s nice to have Crash back and bringing the missed platforming action back to the new consoles. Sierra has done a great job of keeping the original Crash spirit alive, and made themselves an entry into the long-running series that fans both young and old should really enjoy. Here’s hoping the next installment is just as fun.