Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time was the long-awaited direct sequel to Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped – a game released in 1998! This game was the second to be developed by someone other than Naughty Dog and has a generally positive critical rating, but our own Adam found it to be frustratingly difficult. He found that the level design was too reverent of the past with the hard as nails platforming as well as some iffy controls, especially the analogue stick controls. These issues combined made for a frustrating and not fun game.
Adam found that there was an unacceptably high level of lag in the controls making timing of jumps and movements to avoid enemies and traps that much more difficult – more difficult than it need be. I am happy to report that the update to a next gen version, in this case Xbox Series X, has corrected this as I found Crash to be far more responsive and even I cannot blame the controls for my many, many deaths. That is all the fault of my old man reflexes.
Where I do agree with Adam is in the level design being overly beholden to the past to the detriment of the game itself. The switch between 3D platformer and side scroller is smooth but can be jarring and making that transition on the fly will lead to deaths and unnecessary gamer anxiety as you move between sections. The 3D platforming becomes fiendish and not just a little unfair when Crash moves deeper into the screen. Even on my 55” TV seeing what I am aiming for and where to land is a chore. I found myself having to stand up close to the screen to prevent rage-inducing frustration from continuous failures. Adam’s review goes into more detail, so I suggest you check it out here.
The art design and graphics are gorgeous. There is no disputing the fact that developer Toys for Bob spent a lot of time and a considerable amount of their AAA budget on lovingly evoking our childhood memories of afternoons spent playing Crash in front of the TV. But more than that they spent time and effort in making this game run like a dream on the Series X. The 4K visuals are superb and the effort put in to make sure the game runs at 60FPS pays off. This may also explain the easier time I had with the controls than Adam has on the PS4.
I am also happy to report that the games costumes for all the characters are not locked behind microtransactions. After what can only be called a bait and switch with Crash Team Racing when the microtransactions were patched in a few months after the game release and reviews came out there is thankfully no sign of that here. It is natural to think that Activision would have mandated that Toys for Bob patch in a store, after all cosmetics like costumes are a staple of in game stores and microtransactions, but it seems as if that has not happened yet.
If you already own the game having played it on your Xbox One series of consoles, you will be glad to know that Microsoft’s Smart Delivery applies to this game. So there is no need to buy the game again. Simply pop in your disc and download the patches to upgrade the game to the Series X version. No worrying about having to choose the right version, it just works.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time on the Xbox Series X makes some much-needed improvements to the controls and the performance is silky smooth and what we had hoped next gen would deliver. Sadly, the game is still, as Adam put it, not fun due to the level design making things too difficult and not in that “it is challenging and tests your skills” way. It is difficult because it frustrates through poor design and that just is not fun.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft Windows
This review is based on the Xbox Series X/S upgrade which can be purchased here for 59.99.
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