Does Crash 2 improve on its predecessor?
Developer: Naughty Dog
Genre: Adventure/ Platform
Crash Bandicoot, besides spawning the PlayStation's mascot, was a solid platform game. It wasn t the 3D game everyone was hoping for, but it did bring enough great ideas to the plate to make it a very good title. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is the obligatory sequel, and while it isn t a major departure from the first game, it has been infused with plenty of new elements to make it worth checking out.
To begin with, the game is much less linear than the first. Each level is comprised of several sub-levels, all accessible from one common starting point. All sub-levels must be completed to move up to the next tier, but thankfully you can now save after any run. The bonus levels are more intuitive, set at specific points in the game. If you die in a bonus level, you won t be penalized, but they are set up to teach you how to use Crash s new moves (more on these later). This is a sure sign of a well-designed game, with a learning curve that goes steadily uphill, but not punishingly so.
The non-linearity of the game extends to within the levels as well. Many require the player to choose from two different paths only to hit a dead-end. The player must then backtrack to the fork.
Unfortunately, level design isn t as varied as it could be. If you ve played the first Crash, you ll recognize the same environments used again. Jungle, snow, and water all make encore appearances, which are then used multiple times throughout the game. However, they re always challenging -- I just wish there was less reliance on the same old tricks.
As for those new moves, Crash now has a slide and belly flop to use against Cortex s minions. They may not seem like much, but there are times when only the correct move will get you through. Many levels also have vehicles for Crash to pilot, such as boats or rockets. These break up the run and jump gameplay well. The boss levels, however, are insultingly easy. After barely making it through a tough run, I would ve liked to have been challenged a little more by an end-boss.
Crash 2 s best asset, though, is the control. Any platform games needs spot on control, and this game definitely has it. The Sony Analog Controller is a must for the game, but I needed to switch back and forth between analog and digital depending on the make-up of the particular level. This, of course, as easy as hitting a button, and is not a slight on the game. The high-res graphics are, of course, beautiful as well.
Ultimately, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is a splendid game. It s tremendous fun, but it also could ve used a little more variety. On to Crash 3!