Gaming Today Reviews Crash of the Titans (Xbox 360)
Crash of the Titans has the distinction of being the best game to date that I have received a review copy for while working for this site. In that regard, you can rest assured that it is much better than a World War I submarine simulator or a cheap Diablo knock-off. I know a title like “Crash of the Titans” seems more fitting for an action game set in ancient Greece, but it turns out it’s the newest installment in the Crash Bandicoot franchise. I should probably also note that my only previous experience with a Crash Bandicoot game is from the five minutes I played one almost a decade ago in a Toys R Us. That whole experience pretty much steered me away from that particular series up until now. With that said, on with the review:
Once again, Dr. Cortex is up to his old tricks again, kidnapping Crash’s sister and trying to destroy the world by transforming small animals into giant, rampaging monsters. So, of course, Crash sets off to stop him by pummeling everything in sight. At first glance, Crash of the Titans seems remarkably similar to the old Crash game I briefly played so many years ago. However, after *ahem* “crashing” through the first few levels, it becomes apparent that the developers really made a serious attempt to ease the franchise into the next generation. Whether their attempt succeeds though is another point entirely. While the graphics and the gameplay have been given an extra level of complexity, the game still seems to lack the substance of other platformers, like Jak and Daxter or Ratchet and Clank
I was impressed with the scale of the game, particularly in areas where you can see where you’re going half an hour before you actually get there. Unfortunately with an increased scale comes an increased chance for camera issues. You can’t control the camera at all, which works okay most of the time since the game is entirely linear. Unfortunately, a fixed camera also means it can be hard to guage the distance between some jumps, and if you fall out of sight behind a large object, you’ll most likely find yourself getting beat up by an unseen enemy.
One of the game’s main shortcomings however is the humor. The characters throw out lines that are meant to be funny, but just fall short most of the time, relying on childish jokes or lame pop culture references. Watching the cut scenes can become a chore simply because of the forehead-slappingly stupid lines that keep getting dropped. It’s even more annoying during levels where you have bad guys shouting horrific one-liners over and over. Plus they rip on Andrew Lloyd Webber, and that just ain’t cool.
Besides all that, this game is really short and will only take experienced gamers around 10-15 hours to complete. Personally, I beat it over a weekend, and I wasn’t even trying.
Graphically speaking, Crash of the Titans stands out with its environments. They’re extremely detailed and can feel simply massive at times, which is impressive. They’re not going to give God of War or Ratchet and Clank Future a run for their money, but the settings certainly don’t wear out their welcome. They’re one of the few elements of this game that keep it feeling somewhat fresh throughout. Otherwise, the character graphics aren’t the best around, but they get the job done. They seem like mostly smoothed out versions of the character models in previous games.
Most of the sound seems to fit fairly well within the game, with one major exception: the voice acting. While feeling spot on at times, it was mostly a collection of standard cartoonish voices that get tiresome really fast. Cortex’s henchman, N-Gin, for example, is just a blatant (but much more annoying) rip off of Frankenstein’s Igor. Crash’s sister’s voice was especially hard to listen to; I just wanted to let Cortex have her. It probably didn’t help though that even the voice actors that weren’t so bad were forced to say such terribly unfunny lines.
There’s music in the game as well, but not much variety of it. Most of the songs sound almost identical throughout all the levels, so it will get old fast. The only song that stood out while I was playing was in the last stage, and that’s only because it sounded eerily similar to the “Imperial March” from Star Wars. All in all, the sound in this game isn’t bad, but it’s nothing special.
Like many platformers, Crash of the Titans will have you traversing linear levels, beating up bad guys, and collecting power-ups. Combat is pretty straightforward as Crash, since he’ll automatically lock onto enemies and beat them senseless. Unfortunately, it’s also incredibly simple, particularly when all your combos consist of “hit X repeatedly.” You only get more complex combos near the end of the game. You’ll also collect “mojo” (glowing blue orbs) from enemies and destroyed objects. These allow you to gain new attack combos, health upgrades, and extra lives.
The main gameplay feature that makes this game stand out though is the ability to “jack” the giant creatures and take control of them with Crash’s magic mask friend, Aku Aku. Each creature has it’s own distinct set of abilities that will sometimes be required to solve puzzles or jack larger creatures. It was pretty fun to encounter a new large enemy and think, Oh you are mine, when you first see them. This is mainly what kept the game feeling somewhat fresh from beginning to end. The combat dynamic changes significantly with the larger monsters, since you can change which monster you control with a simple button press and kill your former host. The AI for these monsters can be downright stupid at times though, especially since they only seem to have two modes: blind rush and waiting. This means you’ll always either be mobbed by every single monster in sight or completely ignored by all except one of them. They also have a tendency to run into lava or off a cliff and die a lot.
One of the major flaws of Crash of the Titans is that there is absolutely no online support whatsoever. For Xbox 360 owners, this might seem a little strange; I mean, even Dead Rising at least has a leaderboard and some DLC. Basically, the game on the disc is all you get. There’s also a co-op mode, but good luck convincing a friend to play with you when there are so many other titles out there that are much more enjoyable.
There are a number of achievements to be collected, and most of them are easy completion or collection goals. I completed over half the achievements and got almost 500 points added to my Gamerscore during the course of the game; again, without even trying. I could probably get the rest by playing through the game a second time, but I don’t particularly have any desire to. So, on the plus side, this game is an easy way for achievement whores to bolster their Gamerscore.
Crash of the Titans isn’t a bad game, but it does feel really dated and lacking in the substance found in most platformers today. It’s the sort of title probably best suited to small children, especially given the cartoonish humor. The most I can recommend this game for is a quick rental, but even then I can think of plenty of games that last around 10 hours and are probably more worth your time. On the plus side, this is certainly an easy way snag some easy Gamerscore points for those who care about that sort of thing.