Crash of the Titans
Review posted December 2007 by Jacob Spindel
It's not easy being a mad scientist. Dr. Neo Cortex, for example, has repeatedly failed to defeat a cute little marsupial called Crash Bandicoot. In fact, in Crash of the Titans for PSP, the doctor's incompetence has become so legendary that his niece Nina and his partner Uka-Uka have usurped his power and embarked on their own attempt to kill Crash. The result is a rich, three-dimensional action/adventure game with a degree of cleverness and wit rarely seen in video games. In short, Crash of the Titans is not only fun to play, but it also has a storyline that is actually entertaining to watch as it unfolds.
Crash Your PSP!
Uka-Uka's latest creation, the Evolve-o-Ray, turns ordinary creatures into vile mutants capable of carrying out vicious attacks to fend off Crash. Even worse, Nina Cortex has kidnapped Crash's sister Coco and is forcing her to work on the "Doominator" meant to destroy Wumpa Island. Taking on the role of Crash, you will have to find a way to rescue Coco and stop the Doominator.
The game consists of 20 "episodes," or levels, which primarily involve defeating waves of minions and mutant enemies, although some platform-jumping stunts will also be required. Crash has a low attack and a high attack and can put together combos to score multiple hits against his enemies, but this alone won't be enough to destroy the massive mutants out to stop him. That's why Crash also has an innovative new ability called "jacking," meaning that once he has defeated a mutant, he can take control of the mutant and use it to battle and jack other enemies. The numerous mutant types each have their own attacks and abilities (a handy tutorial for whichever creature you have jacked is available by pressing Select), although the different attacks generally follow the same pattern and are not really that different from one mutant type to another.
Crash can upgrade his abilities by collecting pieces of "mojo," which are available throughout every episode, Each level also has a Mojo Room (essentially a bonus game) and a few other collectibles (and "destroyables") to locate, but for the most part, your progression through each episode follows a fairly linear path. There aren't any secret areas to unlock or additional quests or goals to pursue; the focus is simply to battle your way from the beginning to the end.
It is always frustrating when a video game expects you to perform elaborate stunts and then provides you with only loose controls to perform them with. Fortunately, Crash's controls are responsive and accurate. There are numerous special moves to learn, but clear documentation is always easily accessible from within the game. The only aspect of gameplay that doesn't work very well is the loading delays, which can appear at just about any time - even in the middle of a battle. A few of the load delays can take a very long time to finish, and I even encountered a couple of instances where the game went to the loading screen seemingly forever, until I finally gave up and reset the game. (Luckily, this issue never occurred at a time that caused me to lose any progress.) However, despite the "Crash" name, the game was otherwise stable and didn't have any other noticeable bugs.
Crash of the Titans is a good-looking game. The lush, 3D environments are colorful and detailed, and the characters (and even many inanimate objects) are smoothly animated. There aren't many "Wow" moments that will make you feel like you're seeing something you've never seen before, but overall, the graphics are solid throughout the game.
I do have one quibble with the game's graphics, though: the characters don't seem to cast any sort of shadow. Although this doesn't really affect the game's visual appeal, it does eliminate a common strategy gamers use to make sure they land in the right place by keeping an eye on their shadows when they jump.
The game's audio is one of its strongest points. The music is fine and keeps up the suspense (including one track that seems to draw some major inspiration from "Philadelphia Freedom"), but the voice acting is what brings the game to a whole new level. Video game voices have a reputation of being just awful, but Crash of the Titans features about 7,000 lines of dialogue, with some characters voiced by professional voice actors like Futurama's John DiMaggio. The characters make a wide variety of clever remarks, quips, and pop culture references, some of which is really hilarious (like when you defeat a Bratgirl and she screams, "WHYYY??? ...oh, right"). Instead of resembling something that was just barely translated into decent English, the characters' banter is like a real cartoon that you would actually want to watch.
Is Crash Worth Your Cash?
Truly elaborate action/adventure games with real depth are few and far between, especially for the PSP. Let's face it - creating a vast, interactive world that is actually appealing takes a LOT of work. Crash of the Titans is a rare example of a game where the designers have not only completed this level of work, but have also made the game a fun and entertaining experience. The replay value is a bit low due to the episodes each essentially consisting of only one objective, but overall, even though it may be hard to be a mad scientist, it is easy to get hooked on battling against one.
-If you are attacking a mutant you want to jack, but the mutant is blocking your attacks successfully, don't just keep hitting - not only will it not work, but also the mutant will soon strike back. Instead, try to break the block, or move away from the mutant and try something else.
-Speaking of which, if a rapid series of light attacks is failing to jack a mutant, try a less-rapid series of charged up, heavy attacks.
-In some areas, you will face a series of platforms to jump across, and you may find that the next platform in front of you is swarming with minions. If so, don't jump directly into the melee and endanger yourself; instead, stay on the platform before the one full of minions and simply run and jump around. Minions are stupid and will charge toward you anyway, causing many of them to plummet to their deaths.
-Pay attention to the camera angles during the cut scenes. The camera often provides subtle hints by aiming directly at whichever object you need to take notice of (or destroy) in order to proceed.
-If you abruptly encounter a very strong mutant that seems impossible to jack even though you need to jack it in order to continue, there is a good chance that you are overlooking a nearby FreeJack.
-If you want to listen to characters' dialog during gameplay, be careful not to get too close to them, since they will stop talking if they see you or start fighting. The dialog segments don't really contain any critical info, but they are certainly amusing.