Review by Darkside721
"A sequel that accomplishes the impossible. . .it is better then the 1st game!!!"
My Review of Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. . .
Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back is an action/platformer that was developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment of America. It was released (in America) on Nov. 5th, 1997, and is the second game of the Crash Bandicoot game series.
Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back makes a huge leap over its predecessor in the department of graphics. This is no small feat as Crash Bandicoot was no slouch in the graphics department. . .in fact, it featured some good, solid visuals for a game made at that time. This just goes to show you how spectacular the graphics of the 2nd Bandicoot game is. Again, there is no CG cinema in the game (all animations and cut scenes are done w/ the real-time engine). . .however, this does not detract from its graphics draw as the real-time engine looks quite nice. In the game lvls, you will notice a huge improvement in the environments in which Crash travels through. To start w/, the blockiness of the first game has been cut down dramatically. Also, there is a great more variety and detail in the environments themselves. For instance, in the first game, while running through a typical jungle lvl, you look at mostly trees and leaves. However, in this game (in a typical jungle lvl), you will notice not only a greater variety of greenery, but also native statues and totem poles. Not only that but there is a much greater variety in the environment themes themselves in this game ranging from jungle to river to ice cave to snow to woodland to space age. . .the list goes on. Gladly, the wonderful cartoony colorfulness of the surroundings makes a second appearance in this second game. The character models themselves have also made large improvements. Not only are there many more characters (mainly enemies), but they all look much more detailed then in the previous installment. They are also not as blocky and just as colorful (if not more) then the previous installment. The animations of the characters (Crash himself in particular) have made drastic improvements. For instance, in the last game, Crash only has a select few death animations (read 1 to 3). . .now he prob has more like 10 or 15 (never really counted). Overall, Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back, is superior not only to its predecessor, but to many (if not all) the games of its ilk that were around at this time in the field of graphics. Everything from the environments, to the characters themselves are highly detailed and colorful (again for a game at this time).
Total Graphics Rating: 9/10 (superb)
The music in Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back is much more varied then the music in its predecessor. However, more varied doesn’t mean better. I, personally, found the tunes in the original game more catchy then the ones in this game. Yet, the first game only had very similar tunes throughout the game, while Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back has many different tunes which all relate to and enhance the area that they are heard in. It is quite an accomplishment to find music that illustrates the surroundings in the game as the games environments are quite varied. Also, while not as catchy as the tunes in Crash Bandicoot, the music in Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back, is still enjoyable overall and sometimes worth stopping and listening to (I personally loved the tune from the jet board lvls). The music doesn’t blast you away w/ its loudness nor does it leave you straining to hear it. . .its sound lvl is just right. So, for the enjoyable quality of the music, the solid sound lvl, and its great variety, Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back gets a 8.5/10 (great) for music.
The sound FX in Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back make a great leap over the original’s sound FX. Again, many of the average sound FX from the previous game return. . .such as the breaking of boxes, explosions, and spinning, etc. There are also some average additional sound FX such as buzzing bees and the jet ski. However, the sound FX of Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back really make an improvement over the previous Crash in the category of voice-overs. In the last game there were very little voice-overs. In this game, however, there are several scenes that contain in-game dialogue and more characters that have dialogue. Again Crash is mysteriously silent for the most part, but that is made up for the voice-overs by the evil Cortex, the concerned sister, and my fav, Dr. N. Brio!!! All over these voice-overs (and others in the game) are solid, humorous at times, and correctly represent their character. Overall, b/c of the additional voice-overs, which are solid, and the average sound FX of the rest of the game, Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back gets a 6.5/10 (fair) for sound FX.
Total Sound Rating: 8/10 (great)
Thankfully, the storyline of Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back, makes a huge leap (maybe even an air flight) over the stinky storyline of the original Crash. The story starts immediately after the ending of the first game. Cortex crash lands in a cave and finds a powerful crystal. . .which gives him an idea which eventually creates. . .his new space station equipped w/ a new and improved Cortex Vortex!!! However, it seems that his ‘master crystal’ also needs the support of the other 25 slave crystals in order to fully power the machine. So, since he has no more henchmen left, Cortex turns to Crash to help him. He tells Crash that he has changed his ways and that soon the planets will align and create a solar flux capable of destroying the planet!!! In order to contain this deadly energy he needs Crash to collect the 25 crystals for him. So, begins the Crash story. Although it ends quite predictably w/ a predictable plot twist. . .the gamer is kept informed of the story’s progress throughout the game (unlike in Crash Bandicoot) and thus gets more in tune w/ the story. This leaves the gamer satisfied w/ the story that the game provides. Overall, the storyline is predictable yet satisfying.
Total Storyline Rating: 6.5/10 (fair)
To start off w/, I feel as if the controls for Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back are extremely responsive. . .which is a must for a game in the platforming genre. While playing I experienced no probs at all w/ control responsiveness. . .what I pressed is what I did. . .immediately. However, the controls are not as simple as b4. Naughty Dog has added a crouch button. This button added a whole new dimension to this game as you may use it to crouch, crawl, slide, super jump, and belly flop. Some of these are necessary to use while others can be done w/o. . .however, together they take Crash to a new lvl. . .which should be a must for a sequel. Not only that, but all the button are easy access. . .that is to say that you don’t have to be pressing anything awkward like start to perform a move. Altogether I was extremely pleased w/ the controls as they did everything that they were supposed to do in the best of ways. Thus Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back gets a 10/10 (perfect) for controls.
Many people say that Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back is much easier then Crash Bandicoot. . .I agree and disagree. If you say that it is easier to beat (finish the game w/o getting everything) then I agree. That is not necessarily a bad thing as the younger gamers who are bound to be drawn to Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back are not going to have to be put through frustratingly difficult lvls which are designed for experienced gamers. Yet, if one wishes to win everything. . .that is a different story. I feel as if, to get everything, just as much skill, if not more, is required to accomplish that (in comparison to getting everything in the first game). This game features more lvls where you will not only have to severely test your skill. . .you will also have to test your wit as you have to explore more thoroughly in order to find the secrets. So, basically this game has been made both easier and harder at the same time!!! For this appeal to both younger and older gamers, Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back gets a 8.5/10 (great) for challenge.
Honestly, I was not able to play Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back continuously (as I am a busy person). So, I had to play it in small bits and pieces. So, as the game doesn’t record your time spent playing I cannot give you an absolute numerical value for my total play time. However, I think that it would take an average gamer just trying to beat it a week at most (playing everyday). Yet, trying to get everything. . .is harder to judge. You would have to at least double your playtime unless you have ungodly skill and a guide to help you. Again, I would have liked a little more lvls. . .but this time I felt much more satisfied w/ the lvls provided (25 and 5 secret entrances/lvls), mainly b/c the lvls where generally more expansive and required a more thorough search of them to find everything. So, for play time, I give Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back a 7/10 (good).
The basic lvls of the original Crash were taken and improved upon. Then there were more innovations added to the game. That basically describes the lvl design in this game. There are less 2D platforming parts (hardly any for that matter). Most of the game involves corridor platforming. However, b/c of additional moves, as well as additional brain cells in the developers. . .the lvls in the game have more things added to them. For instance, the jungle theme was prevalent in the previous Crash. . .there are some lvls w/ the same theme in this Crash. However, added FX such as mud, rain, pits, and such have been added. Also, in the previous Crash there were hog riding lvls (my fav) and lvls where you run away from a bolder into the screen. In Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back a baby polar bear has replaced the hog and a humongous polar bear has replaced the bolder (in one lvl at least) and the two lvl designs have been combined (read you ride the baby bear into the screen away from the big bear). There are also added innovations to the lvls. These include the highly publicized jetpack and also the jet ski. Also, you have to run away from bees and you can also burrow underground!!! I felt as if the lvl learning curve was great as well. It starts easy and gradually moves on and up to difficult. Also, some lvls have been designed so that you can more then one route to complete the lvl. All the lvls feature hard and easy elements. . .the extremely hard elements are left to the secret lvls and areas. Overall, for its innovation, variety, improvements, and just good design, Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back gets a 9/10 (superb) for lvl design.
Total Gameplay Rating: 9.5/10 (superb)
Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back is a fun game to play. It is rarely frustrating. . .like the first game. There are challenging parts. . .that keep you interested and striving to beat them. There are also several lvls that you can just play over and over b/c they are just that fun to play (such as all of the bear riding lvls). Sadly, there is no multi-player. . .but its single player experience is quite enjoyable by itself.
Total Fun Factor Rating: 8.5/10 (great)
If you don’t get everything on your first go through the game, you can always go back and try to find and get everything in order to view the best ending. However, if you have gotten everything, then there is nothing to draw you back to the game other then the fun of just playing it. There is no multi-player (as stated above), and no secret mode or harder difficulty lvl. So, if the only replay factor would be b/c of the fun lvl of the game.
Replay Value: Moderately Low
I would recommend Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back to anyone. . .not just platform genre maniacs. It is fun for younger and older gamers. It is not offensive or too kiddie either. It is great fun to play for anyone. Also, the current price is under $20 I believe (in my area anyways).
This game is the kind of game that you can just pop right in and play. . .for long times and short. You don’t have to learn anything or get into a story. . .and you don’t have to wait around for a big long cut scene to end or get to a save pt. (a flaw in the last game was that you had to complete a bonus round to save. . .a flaw that has been addressed and corrected in this game). Some people say that this game is a repeat of much of the same from the first game. . .I agree the basic gameplay formula hasn’t changed. . .but it’s a sequel (read a game made to be like the first)!!! This game takes the original formula and makes numerous improvements and corrections on it. There are jetpack lvls, a new lvl select hub, a better storyline, better save feature, jet ski areas etc. etc. etc. Basically, this game is what sequels should be.
Overall Rating: 9/10 (superb)
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 03/27/03, Updated 03/27/03
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