Following Activision and Beenox’s release of Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled last 21st of June 2019, comes its first major update which adds a multitude of improvements to its already jam-packed slew of content. For a total of 25 days starting from the 3rd of July, long-time fans and series newcomers will be able to experience the Egyptian and Arabian themed track taken inspiration from the original trilogy, specifically from the third Crash game which has sections with daytime and night time. Equipped with a few easily seen shortcuts, narrow pathways stringed to wide roads, super turbo pads in multiple areas, some traps in the form of holes in the ground as well as a roaming person in a flying carpet, it achieves an unmistakably fun power sliding fiesta that gives a nice opportunity to practice going insane speeds for newcomers.
The idea here is simple, a month-long seasonal event for exclusive rewards including the rare Champion Kart which is only achievable by climbing the ranks of the top 5% of the food chain of either the Championship or Nitro Leaderboards. Aside from this bad boy, the Pit Stop would cycle through new content from the Le Chaux Kart pack, new playable characters such as the four of the formerly known Trophy Girls rebranded to be the Nitro Squad, new skins for already available characters like a Pharaoh Cortex, Crash Test Dummy N. Gin, Painter Dingodile, Crash Biker and Tiny Biker, new wheels of different color patterns somewhat similar to the electron wheels but instead offer particle effects while driving as well as paint jobs and stickers sporting the national flags.
Then there’s the Nitro Gauge similar to what free-to-play games have in terms of a reward system. The more nitro points you earn unlocks new stuff from the karts and accessories for the Bandibuggy and Rocket to the playable character Tawna and her motorsport skin as well as Crunch’s new threads and some stickers to complete the theme. Nitro points are earned by simply playing the game whether in online or single-player modes as well as going through the newly added challenge lists going from quick and easy, dailies, weekly challenges, themed and lastly pro challenges.
So with all that said and done, let’s get to the nitty-gritty details. And let’s start it off with the challenges. Having gone through three days’ worth of it, most challenges offer a reasonable yet somewhat exploitable clear condition. One good example is clearing Coco Park’s relic race which only requires you to obtain all the time crates meaning you really only need to get them all and finish it at your own pace. On the other end, a lot of challenges can be done with two players like, reverse speeding which only requires you to plug-in a second controller while removing the AI on an easy track of your choosing. This gives you an unlimited amount of time to finish the track while going in reverse for the entirety of the last lap with the only condition you’d want to move the other player as well even for a while so it counts the race. There’s a lot of things that simply requires you to be creative on bending the rules like playing in a private match with a friend to do the necessary wins on the new track, Twilight Tour, or getting all placement positions in Crash Cove. But you already get the point.
The thing is, challenges are very limited in scale and exploitable with just a bit of thinking. Maybe providing more fun yet unnecessary challenges like performing a total accumulated jump height from hopping on the turtle in Mystery Caves or outrunning the mine cart several times in Dragon Mines to get incremental rewards for every threshold achieved. Given the fact that Beenox has made so much added details to the game from ’99, I would’ve really wanted to see a more creative and robust challenge mode from Beenox. Like taking a picture or at the very least stop for a few seconds and embrace the view of Dingo’s Diner in Dingo Canyon every lap and win the race with Dingodile.
However, it is applaudable given that the challenges offer a variety of game modes to otherwise stuffs you won’t touch until mentioned. Steal the Bacon in the Battle Mode was actually something I’ve only played due to the challenge and have never played the mode beforehand. It just definitely needs more of that… even if the challenges tend to have similarities after every refresh of the quick and daily like doing a specific Cup Race, doing the battle modes like Capture the Flag and Crystal Grab among a few others. And as for quality of life improvements, an option to view challenges from anywhere in the menu would be nice or simply show updates to the challenges that made any progress on the results screen like “Crystal Gatherer 25/100” and in case a lot has made progress, only the closest ones to completion are showed.
Next on the agenda would be the Nitro Gauge meter. Oh boy! That meter sure has some pretty steep slopes to conquer with the very minimal of rewards. Going straight from 0 at bronze tier, you first unlock a Bandibuggy body and its other components in the later stages which is great for now. Silver-tier starts after earning over 5000 nitro points which should be doable with the number of challenges you start with but after earning as much as 17,000 to complete the mid-tier, Gold is where it really goes bonkers. Having done all or at least most challenges, the only things left to do in the second or even third day onwards of the Grand Prix is putting in unsurmountable hours to get ahead of the pack of the 5% of total eligible players until the quick and daily challenges refresh to earn them nitro points much quicker. While that in itself isn’t something worth batting an eye for as it is meant as a 25-day event, what makes it a letdown is the downtime for earning rewards. There should at least be something every now and then. One example would be additional nitro points or wumpa coins when certain thresholds are met. Maybe even, I don’t know, a “surprise mechanics” reward box for completing certain conditions or part of the nitro gauge reward list that could give you nitro or wumpa coins with random amounts.
Lastly, let’s get down to business. Nitro points and even wumpa coin acquisition rate is just straight out unfair in my opinion. One example of this is earning 1st place in a race in Easy mode would also give you the same amount of both Nitro point and Wumpa coin in medium or hard. Meaning if you’re grinding for either of those things, why bother spending your time in hard or medium when you can easily play with little effort on your part. Although the more weighty example of this is the battle mode. Let’s say you get to play a point-based Team Limit Battle with a goal of 5 points with 7 Easy AI. You get 7 Nitro points and 20 Wumpa coins for your win and 15 Wumpa coins if you lost. However, on the other end of that spectrum is a time-based Team Limit Battle with a nine-minute duration. What if I told you the entire nine minutes you spent having fun in that game mode, win or lose, is just the same amount of rewards you get doing a point-based battle with the minimum points possible of 5, would that sound fair to you? Would you still spend another nine-minute battle or take your eyes to a more efficient but less fun way of playing the game which can be over in around 30 seconds? Not to mention the mode can be AFK-farmed given the fact that a player owns a controller that allows turbo spam of a button to auto-retry repeatedly once a game is over and has some duct tape lying around to have it held indefinitely while the person in question sleeps or does anything like let’s say write this particular article? Although it does stop giving you wumpa coins, nitro points are still earnable for hours on end easily netting you over thousands of them without even touching your controller while you do other chores in the house or leave to do something that is less grindy and more on the fun side.
All I’m really saying is, there has to be a better way of rewarding both points and coins in the future. At this rate, it’s only going to be a race of which mode finishes the fastest and give you the biggest bang for your buck. And I’m not even going to mention how the leaderboard is more on who grinds the hardest than who’s actually the fastest. No sir, I am leaving that one alone. Despite my excitement prior to the game’s announcement towards its release, I am loving it but it’s hard to look away from its missed opportunities at making it a better game than it already is.
“You can disregard the grind and just have fun like what games are meant for but missing out on an exclusive kart is something a person has to weigh in if it’s worth the trouble.”