Republished on Wednesday 29th June 2022: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of July's PlayStation Plus lineup. The original text follows.
After Naughty Dog parted ways with Crash Bandicoot, it's fair to say the quality of subsequent games has been inconsistent. However, Activision finally did right by the mascot marsupial with the N. Sane Trilogy, a remake of the first three titles in the series. It was a massive success, bringing the character back into the mainstream and banking on all that pent up nostalgia. With Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, the franchise is now back in full swing and as strong as it's ever been.
This brand new entry is a fantastic mix of old and new that recaptures the uniquely challenging gameplay of the classics and throws in all kinds of new features. A direct follow-up to Crash Bandicoot Warped, it sees villains Neo Cortex and N. Tropy escape their prison and, of course, plot to take over the universe. As you begin the adventure, it's not long before new ideas are mixed in with series staples.
In order to stop the bad guys, Crash and Coco must track down the four Quantum Masks, with each granting special abilities as they appear throughout the game. The first of these is introduced in the second level, giving you the power to phase certain objects in and out of reality. As you progress, you'll gain other abilities like gliding through the air with a dark matter-powered spin, slowing down time, and reversing gravity. These are doled out at a steady pace, and despite a large number of levels, new concepts and challenges are thrown at you constantly.
Much of the gameplay will be familiar to fans, though. Crash and Coco have an identical moveset — spinning, ground pounding, and sliding all return, and the majority of levels will test your platforming prowess. When the masks show up for certain sections, the difficulty can ramp up as you have that extra complication to think about. Fortunately, everything feels great, with responsive controls across the board. In later stages, even hardened Crash players will be pushed, especially if you're looking to achieve everything.
Part way through the game, it gets a little bigger, too. Timelines are unlocked as you go through the main story, and these stages allow you to play as a trio of different characters. Tawna uses her grappling hook and wall jumping skills for some unique platforming challenges. Dingodile has a vacuum weapon that can send TNT flying at enemies and obstacles. Finally, Neo Cortex himself joins the fray with an air dash and a gun that transforms enemies into platforms. All three of these additional allies control very differently, and are fun in their own right. There are some issues with aiming each of their projectiles, but every playable character adds something unique.
The Timeline stages themselves are a little strange, though. They show a different character's perspective on a stage you've already played. It's an interesting idea, but half way through a Timeline level, you'll switch back to Crash and play the latter half of the level you've been through before. The layout of boxes changes, but it feels strange to play a new angle on a level and then have to get through a section you're already familiar with.
As you progress, you'll also find Flashback Tapes. These unlock a whole other set of optional stages set before the start of the very first game, and they'll really push your skills to the limit. Then there are the N. Verted levels, which flip every stage horizontally, add a crazy visual filter, and essentially double the number of levels to complete and collectibles to, well, collect. Frankly, the amount of stuff to do in Crash 4 is absurd; fully completing this will take dozens of hours, and not just because it's insanely hard.
The difficulty doesn't always come from tricky jumps or tight time limits, however. On occasion, we ran into a handful of issues that scuppered our chances at success. Boxes that only appear for a certain amount of time wouldn't show up at all, for example, and another instance saw the game not registering the wumpa fruit we were collecting. These were rare, but there do appear to be one or two stray bugs at the time of writing.
These won't ruin your time with Crash 4, and to be honest, you may be totally distracted by just how good the game looks. It has a wonderful cartoonish aesthetic with fantastic character design, vibrant colours, and expressive animation. Throw in all the Easter eggs you could ask for and this is a visual treat, whether you're a huge fan of the series or not. It all sounds good as well, with a blend of familiar and fresh effects accompanied by some decent music.
There's almost too much to talk about with Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, but rest assured that this is a return to form for the series. It might be tough, even a little mean at times, but this is the proper sequel fans have been asking for. With so much to see and do, this is a stylish, confident 3D platformer that brings Crash back at his best.
Looks brilliant but bloody hell, that affiliate link is showing it for £55 on Amazon! I foolishly thought that it would be a £40 game at most like Tony Hawk.
Great game but even for £50 from Tesco it left a sour taste. Its crash tho so mandatory purchase was required.
Damn guess Wrath of Cortex and Twinsanity are now non-canon or take place in an alternate timeline
Crisis on Infinite Wumpa Islands
Been playing it the last few nights, having an absolute blast. I love the challenge in the game.
I know I'm going to be cursing a storm when it comes to the time trials though lol. They're always fun but so infuriating.
N.i .c.e. Word up son
@TheFrenchiestFry Yeah I don’t understand why people tend to ignore those games saying that after 3 all Crash games have been thrash but I would say that Wrath of Cortex, Twinsanity and even the Crash game from GBA were pretty good games, after that they did became trash
@GKO900 I think Wrath of Cortex is mediocre but Twinsanity is actually kind of underrated imo
I'll be waiting for a sale but really excited to give it a try at some point! Looks brilliant.
This game is really challenging and the only thing that I hate is the return of Relics I love to take my time in games not been pressured by a timer and thanks to this I would never get the platinum trophy and I also love the skins and flashback levels
Loving it. It is tons of fun.
I'm absolutely loving it, even if though it does drive me crazy sometimes when I'm trying to complete some of the harder challenges.
It's disappointing that the game doesn't seem to be selling well, it's the biggest Crash game and one of the best in the series. I hope it doesn't put them off making more in the future. Price isn't an issue for me at £55 as it's a great experience.
@TheFrenchiestFry Well I feel like they took a some inspiration from Wrath of Cortex like the 4 quantum masks instead of the elemental masks from WoC
Sounds like it's basically everything I wanted from a Crash game, along with a lot of content. Once I've finished Crash Warped and had a small break from this series, I'll get right on It's About Time.
Reviews were this generous for CTR too and then they changed the game. The sales for this game are poor for a reason. Once bitten twice shy. Shame because we all should be excited by this game.
Hard pass until sales for me
@TheFrenchiestFry Really? I thought Wrath of Cortex could have passed as a Naughty Dog game, I enjoyed it at least.
I will get Crash 4 when it's under $30, I think Mario games are the only platformers worth full price imo although if Rachet is considered a platformer then that too.
Shame it’s £50 as I did read it’s only 7 hours long.
With a campaign that short i’ll Wait until 1/2 price.
@Juanalf Ratchet is definitely a platformer adventure game as well. It's less accessible than something like Mario but it definitely uses a lot of the groundwork and fundamentals that were established by earlier 3D platformers, injected with its own concepts like weapon trees and systems surrounding that.
@Thelegend159 You could blast through the story fairly quickly, but if you want to see and do everything, this game will last you a long time. There's lots of value here.
i think as a game its worth the price it carries. The only things i dont like are:
Some times the game is quite hard and the check points are not perfectly placed.
Tawna's hook or whatever really needs improving.
Looking forward to it when the price drops a bit.
I’m a one and done single player campaign kind of guy.
Can't wait to get it but i'm going to wait and get it on sale.
Price is a bit expensive as it will probably drop, but I still think it's somewhat worth it as the game is great fun and has tons of replay value.
Anyone else spot the Smash Brandi's Cooch tape in TLOU2?
I’ll get it when it’s £70 on PS5 thanks.
One of my favorite games on the PS4 and I wasn't the biggest fan of the earlier Crash games, even the original trilogy. Toys For Bob really delivered with this one though. For a long time it's just been Mario and Ratchet & Clank for my platforming fix, happy to have another game join that group.
Not willing to pay full price as I am not a fan of time trials and apparently the story is short. They should open up that stupid preorder demo so we can all try it.
I do love they added the option to play with infinite lives like Rayman Legends.
This looks great. Graphically it looks stunning.
One question: how are the load times?
The load times in the N.Sane Trilogy were so bad I stopped playing. I’m on a Pro.
@sinalefa by the sounds of it there is a lot of end game content and it looks like a lovingly made and polished game.
Just curious why you wouldn’t pay full price?
@Juanalf Wrath of Cortex on ps2 was a very popular game even in the resale market.
I once ran a games business and I could sell second hand copies of it for $25 AUD many years after even the PS3 was done with!
@JapaneseSonic why? It seems to be well reviewed and popular. To me this seems like a full price game. But each to their own!
I am not dying to play it and I have a ton of backlog and other expenses so I can wait for a price drop. I see several comments here of people also not willing to pay full price for it.
@Thelegend159 Fair enough!
@Arnna Load times aren't too bad, but they're relatively frequent. It didn't really get in the way for me personally.
@DotM I agree with you. About the checkpoints, if you die enough, new checkpoints will be added to help you just like in the old games. I think you need like 5-10 deaths at the same part for that.
@Stocksy CTR was a very good game even after the microtransactions were added. It was dishonest of Activision, but very minor in the end. I mean, they are only cosmetic and the game was supported with load of new contents for over a year after launch.
@Turbodream yes i noticed that. at first i thought i was going crazy
@Starkei I had a good laugh off of that.
To each their own, but I hope the sales are good enough in the end so we can have a Crash 5 in a couple of years. Also, a new Spyro game would probably be out of the question if Crash fails.
I seriously wanted to buy this day one, but my PS4 backlog is still massively big and I haven't even beaten Crash Bandicoot 1 yet.
@KidBoruto So how do you feel about 2 year old replies? 😉
If you never bought it and you have PS+ Ess now's your chance.👍
I've seen the word "challenge" a lot w/ this game but I'll give it a try until I get stuck.
@rjejr I did indeed never buy Crash 4, since I am still stuck in trying to beat Crash 1 lol.
Already knew this would be a free game in July, but thanks for the heads up .
@KidBoruto You're welcome. My oldest kid was going to get the trilogy remake but read it was difficult so never did, so I never played it. Not really a fan of linear running into the camera, more a Jak & Daxter guy, but I'll give the new 1 a shot since my youngest kid has my PS+ account. Stupid PS5 themeless home screen. 😝
@rjejr I hear Crash 2 and 3 def improve on 1...but who knows when I'll be able to finally play them lol.
Sadly I'm OCD and must beat the 1st 3 games, but I will still be claiming Crash 4 regardless.
@KidBoruto I'm so OCD about gaming my kid just bought the Devil May Cry trilogy on Steam for $10 and they only played 3 b/c they heard bad things about 1 & 2. I'm basically just short of yelling at them to at least play 1, 2 isn't that good, but how do you play 3, 4 & 5 but not 1!?!? It' sonly like a 6 hour game too, it isn't Final Fantasy, they finished DmC 3 in 3 days. Killing me. 😂
@rjejr I've only beaten DmC and Devil May Cry 1, but enjoyed them.
I started playing 2 ages ago but got distracted and stopped XD.
@KidBoruto If you distracted and stopped playing a 9 hour action game I don't see how you're ever going to finish all of those JRPG. 😉
@rjejr Haha nah, it doesn't happen all the time. It's random and rare thankfully.
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