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The Bandicoot With The Biggest Eyebrows Ever!
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PS)
Member Name: GramiWay
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PS)
Advantages: Good, strong, consistant gameplay with ranging difficulty for all ages
Disadvantages: May seem dated now, some minor glitches on certain levels
My dad recently came home with a Playstation 2 he'd been given for nothing by a friend. I decided to use it to whittle down the time that was driving me bonkers in between work and preparing for university and dug out all the Crash Bandicoot games we used to have on the original PS One.
I stress I'm not a huge video games player as I have little patience and don't always see the appeal in some of the more violent, shooting or racing type affairs. However, what I love about the Crash franchise is that it doesn't take itself seriously. It's a very camp world that is challenging for both young and old audiences alike so I don't feel like I'm playing a child's game when I indulge in it.
- Introduction -
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is the subject of this review. Released just in time for Christmas 1997 it was Naughty Dog & Sony's follow up to the hugely successful first game which was released round about the time of the PS One launch. This platform game can be played on a PS2 as I've already mentioned though you will need a memory card from the first generation console to save your progress.
Crash Bandicoot is the orange marsupial who is the star of the games. He's retreated to a nice, peaceful lifestyle after defeating Cortex in the first game and is only bothered now by his tiresome little sister Coco who is always hacking away on her computer. After pestering Crash to fetch her a new battery for her laptop, you begin a little mini level which ends with you being zapped to a mysterious warp room where Cortex reveals himself. He states that he needs the player's help to gather 25 crystals that are scattered throughout various periods of time [that can be reached through the warp rooms]. He ends by saying that the fate of the world depends on using these crystals to stop a force that will destroy the universe.
You're then left to gather the crystals even though the player is fully aware that Cortex is just using Crash to gather the crystals for his own evil deeds. Along the way you face many of Cortex's old minions and some new faces as well as the increasingly difficult levels.
- Graphics & Music -
Crash 2 was released 12 years ago so the graphics are not going to be as brilliant as the console offerings available today, however they are still easy to adjust to and very attractive. The majority of levels are based on a limited 3D environment and a 2D side scrolling environment. There is also the return of the 'chase' levels from the first game in which a boulder chases Crash and the level sees them rolling towards the camera. This is also done with a giant polar bear! I do find the chase levels extremely irritating as the bear riding ones as you are unable to go back if you miss anything which means you'll have to commit suicide in order to redo a certain portion again.
There's not a lot of difference between the graphics from the last game. The levels are often very colourful and vibrant and very over the top whilst maintaining an air of realism. They work well with the obstacles and various additions to each level though I have encountered a few glitches at times such as Crash will jump somewhere and become stuck causing the game to freeze for several moments.
The music is also similar to the game's predecessor and will irritate you muchly unless you turn the volume down! It's very cheerful and annoying music that plays on a loop and particularly in some of the less hazardous levels, it's very straight forward and boring.
- Features -
Crash 2 contains 25 levels spread across 5 warp rooms for Crash to face. Amongst these levels are the typical wood like area, a snow infested land, a water based level and the exploration of a space station, a sewer and a set of ancient ruins amongst other things. Crash must gather a crystal from each level and upon collecting 5 from a warp room he can progress to the next using the platform in the middle of the room. On the way to the next warp room you will encounter one of Cortex's main cronies such as Ripper Roo, N.Gin or new character Tiny, who will serve as the game's bosses. However, they are pretty easy to defeat and you'll soon get the idea of what to do once you've studied them a few times.
As well as crystals, gems are also available. There are 42 in the game and each level provides a clear gem for breaking all the crates within it. However, you can also gain other clear gems and one of the five coloured gems by taking secret platforms, beating timers or unlocking secret levels. Collecting all of the gems will unlock an alternative ending. A lot of them are fairly easy though you will need a lot of patience and skill at navigating through Crash's world to gather the whole lot.
Crash himself is armed with some new moves to make the game more interesting. He can jump higher, slide under crates or into foes, perform a very effective body slam or simply just crouch. It's worthwhile practising with all of these moves at the start of the game as they will be required at some point in order to progress.
As well as simply working your way through each level and defeating foes, there are a number of vehicles or extras to help Crash out. Navigate a very tricky jet ski, an over excitable polar bear, a very frustrating jet pack which took me ages to navigate or be chased by bees that just can't wait to stick their stingers into you.
The game has also added new crates to help or hinder you. The green Nitro boxes are the worst crate in the game and the creators whore them out like nobody's business in order to complicate your game play. They explode upon the slightest touch and take your life in the process. [However, with an Aku Aku mask they will just steal that]. There's also the strange blue boxes with a cross on. These can only be broken using the body slam technique and will usually contain 1 or a bunch of wumpa fruit, the game's currency.
You can also save the game for the first time with four slots available on your memory card. This is a welcome addition as the password function on Crash 1 was very pointless and irritating and often meant you took two steps back everytime you ceased game play.
- Conclusion -
Crash Bandicoot 2 is innocent and harmless fun. Children can enjoy collecting the easy crystals whilst adults can experience the far more difficult aspect of adding the gems alongside them. The levels range from easy to moderate difficulty, but with various secret passageways and additions there's something to keep most average game players occupied for a few days at least. It's not a ground breaking game but it has very little flaws making it a solid, gaming experience that will just work well at passing the time. You'll find that you really do get involved with game and get frustrated at the annoying foes that randomly just kill you as well as with taking the secret gem paths and confronting their dangers. With the addition of Cortex and other character's cheesy, yet hilarious voices, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back brings together vast and colourful locations, loveable and interesting characters and a good truckload of game play that places it miles ahead of it's predecessor.
If you enjoy this check out Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped. The later additions to the Game Boy Advance and Wii are awful so don't even waste money on them despite the better graphics. Nostalgia is where it's at and this could be a great tool for keeping the kids occupied in the summer holidays and can be picked up from Amazon for about £6 or £ 7 shipping included.
Summary: Sequel to the very successful Crash Bandicoot 1.
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