Last time we saw him, in Crash of the Titans, Crash Bandicoot was a brainless chump, lacking both charisma and charm. The game wasn’t much better either. But things are definitely better for both parties this time around. Everything here says ‘Saturday morning’, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Judging by the fully animated cartoon cutscenes, fast-talking bad guys and pop-culture references, that’s exactly what the game intended to mimic and it’s done it well. Fans of the PS1 original haven’t been left out either, with several in-jokes and cameos to keep everyone happy. But seeing as they’re likely in their late twenties now, this definitely isn’t aimed at them.
The graphics are superb, with huge draw distances, detailed environments and lavish special effects. The water and reflective ice are particularly snazzy and the frame rate never lets up. You can tell Mario Galaxy was an inspiration for the design team. There’s surfing on icy water, spin jumping for extra height… you can even use the remote as a pointer to collect Star Bits. Yep, this game really wants to be Mario Galaxy. But that’s not going to happen. For every applause-worthy moment there are too many annoyances. The jumping mechanic feels woolly, ledge-grabbing is finicky, fighting is simplistic and you’re often left wondering where you’re supposed to go next. While we’re at it, we’re not too sure about the ‘violence solves everything’ attitude either.
It’s unquestionably well designed, with loads of hidden bonuses for those who master the controls and the abilities of the Titans. But then there’s the fixed camera which, while faithful to the original, is far too restrictive when the environments are so big and items are hidden everywhere. Mind Over Mutant is a lot better than Crash of the Titans and the world is probably a slightly better place for its existence. But it’s not quite slick enough underneath all those pretty visuals to earn essential status.
Dec 3, 2008