Crash tag team racing was released in 2005 and is 12th creation in the Crash bandicoot series, and the 3rd racing game to be made. The game is mainly a 3rd person racing game, but it does have a story and platform elements thrown in for more depth and excitement.
The story precursing the game is that Crash is trying to win an abandoned fairground and collect the power gems before his old enemy DR. Cortex does. The theme park used to belong to a fantacial Von Clutch, but not much is really explained about the story as it's just a reason for the race setting, seeing as it's a racing game I don't think I can be too harsh on the narrative.
What's different and sets itself apart from competitors in this game is its exciting gameplay elements, that are set to reinvigorate the old arcade racers and show Mario kart a trick or two.
The main gameplay behind the racing is that you must collect the power gems through 5 different area's of the park, as well as this you need to collect coins along the way as currency to buy upgrades and customisation bits.
As well as the conventional races you also have minigames and special events, these include a stunt mode, deathmatch areas and time trials. They are quite fun and let you take a break from the normal lap after lap races, whilst they clearly havn't had as much work put into them as the conventional races they still manage a small charm and show that Crash wants to try and offer more than its competitors.
But as well as racing their is the platform element which lets you walk around inbetween races, talking to characters which unlock cars and weapons or open up minigames. This isn't exceedingly difficult or totally useful, because it isn't the main area the developers have cut corners with the camera and the hit detection against enemy penguins. Although the level designs are fairly good and would have made a nice setting for a true platformer.
The big and new attraction to this racer is of course, Clash racing. When near to another car you can press a certain button and the two cars will "Clash", this then combines the two vehicles and you will then be on the back of an opponents car controlling a 360 degree turret gun to wipe out other racers as well as attacks. This is different for every character meaning there are a lot of combinations depending on who clashes with who, although all turrets are as powerful as each other.
Thrown in are also the kart racing stable diet of power ups. Crash's power up's lack the appeal and simplicity of Mario kart and tries to use them as some element of strange comedy, monkey dynamite and exploding chickens are only two of the ones available but they are no where as exciting as the red turtle shell.
The tracks aren't overly difficult either to be honest, most of them lack a passion or real memorable moments. There are shortcuts but these are very obvious and I sometimes wondered wether It was even meant to be hidden, drifting is used quite a bit in the game allowing you to build boost. However I rarely had to use It as It was pretty easy to get ahead of the pack, although the top difficulty gave a fair amount of challenging play.
Customisation allows you to buy new clothes and weapons for the characters, these are quick and easily picked up as the games currency can be found in abundance by going Zelda style and smashing everything to peices, I wouldn't reccomend trying to collect every coin in the game as it will surely drive you round the bend.
AI is very good in the game, but this leads to a problem as you can just Clash at the beggining and ride the AI as it dodges every obstacle like It's programmed to, before jumping out with all the other vehicles blown to peices by rockets and shotgun pellets. Now the game is often meant to have a tactical feel but this is way too easy and feels like a cheap shot, you can only Clash for 30 seconds but you can keep doing it.
The game does feature a Multiplayer mode and it does run smoothly, their is an issue with track selection though as in order to race on a track you must have unlocked it in single player. This is a little annoying as the better tracks are right near the end,leaving players a little cheated as they have to play through the whole game to play with mates on a good track.
Throughout the game you can also collect things called DIE-O-RAMA's, these show short clips of Crash dieing in humourous ways. There are 30 to collect in all and they add some true comedy moments to the game.
You have 8 playable characters in the game including Coco, Cortex , Von clutch and obviously Crash. They don't feel individual and all that's different is the cars they drive and the weapons, It would be nice for the characters to have more abilities and style like Mario kart and some being faster or have better handling.
I really liked the whole feel of the setting, I feel It could have been put to better use in a true Crash platform outing and hopefully It may return as there was a lot of atmosphere and promise in the theme park.
The controls were really easy to pick up and an easy game to pass on to new gamers, the cars handled relatively well and drifts could be held with ease, just dont try an look for the racing lines.
The graphics are pretty good, with a lot of colour and vibrant action happening on the screen. The level designs are wasted on the game as you dont get to see the detail enough, there are loads of sculptures and art works made to fit the themes but these are easily missed in running to the next race. The frame rate is generally okay excpet during heavy attacks, like knocking out all the opponents with a grand piano in which it slowed slightly.
Although it is of note that the cut-scenes are of a worse quality than the actual game which I find quite strange as it is usually the other way around.
Audio is pretty bad, the characters voices are annoying at times and the soundtrack is short to songs soon become repetitive and tiring.
My final issue is that the loading times are pretty bad, and just the wrong side of bearable on occasions with it being nearly a minute to load a track. When you think most races last 3 minutes you can easily weigh up wether the experience was worth the wait.
On Amazon the game can be bought used for £2 , it seems they no longer sell it themselves and at this price you are getting a lot of game , just not a lot of good game. Maybe 15 hours or so tops for gametime although 100's if you want all the coins.
In Crash Tag Team Racing, players can clash their car with an opponent's mid-race to make a super-car equipped with a powerful turret gun. When clashed, players can either get behind the wheel and drive, or fire an onboard weapon. Each character has his or her own uniquely deadly 360? rotating turret. Players can continue the action out of the car where they can explore the entire world on foot and collect upgrades for their cars and unlock bonus tracks.