Crash of the Titans (Wii, PS2, Xbox 360) - Wii version reviewed.

Vivendi Games graciously sent us this game for review. Thanks a lot!

Crash of the Titans is Crash Bandicoot\'s fourteenth game since the first in 1996 for the original PlayStation. The premise here is that Dr. Neo Cortex comes and visits Crash in his blimp-thing and steals his friend Aku Aku and his sister, Coco. You also uncover that he is using the island\'s abundant supply of a newly discovered substance called \'Mojo\' to create a huge army of loyal mutants out of the local inhabitants. Bandicoots are immune to these effects, so you set off to destroy his army and defeat his evil plan.

Crash of the Titans is a 3rd person 3D action game where you traverse a mostly linear path in a mostly vertical orientation (Crash moves away from you into the screen) from the beginning of each level to the end, while beating up any enemies that get in your way. There are also some platform elements where you jump, swing on rope, shimmy your way along cliffs, float your way across large chasms, and even skateboard to the bottom of pipe courses.

Crash starts with the simple abilities of jump, double jump, light attack, heavy attack, and a few more. As the game goes on, you collect Mojo to upgrade Crash\'s abilities, as well as read the occasional tutorial stone. After you rescue Aku Aku early in your adventure, you gain the ability to \'jack\', or hijack, enemies. Aku Aku also doubles as your skateboard in later missions, as he is shaped like a face mask.

Jacking enemies plays a really large part in the action, and becomes required to progress. When you attack a larger enemy, depending on their size, you damage them by raising a star meter above their head. When they are all full, they get knocked unconscious - they see stars. It is at this time that you can use Aku Aku\'s spirit power and take control of your enemies. Once jacked, all damage taken goes to the creature you control, which is really handy. Each attack they do you can as well, often through some Wii remote gesture. Each creature has a light and heavy attack, a block, and often a special attack or two that uses up a special blue titan meter. One creature, the Spike, can bring up spikes from the floor by raising up both the remote and the nunchuck, while another, the Scorporilla, can do a powerful ground pound by first pounding your chest like a gorilla and pounding down afterwards. There is a good variety of enemies to jack into, with several ranged attackers where you point at your target with the Wii remote and fire, as well as several really large titans in addition to ones of varying speed and composition - which can be important because most titans can\'t walk on lava, but Magmadons can! I found this aspect of the game to be a lot of fun, and as soon as you get the hang of it after unlocking some of the more powerful attack combos, jacking into titans and working up the food chain to really big beasts is a blast. Pounding on large numbers of little enemies with the massive Scorporilla is really satisfying.

The Wii remote is used well. A majority of the standard actions do not require motion, though you can point to any Mojo on the screen left by defeated enemies and collect it instantly. As mentioned before, there are several special titan moves that use motion, as well as Crash\'s classic spin move, and a hover jump that he can do also utilizes motion control. I found it to be fun, and more engaging. I would hate to see some of these moves on a standard controller, in particular anything involving pointing.

I would say that the graphics are perhaps slightly above average, but not spectacular. I never noticed a major frame rate slowdown, and all of the animations that you will be dealing with are plenty smooth enough. I have seen probably a dozen or more characters on the screen with no problems. Each character seems to have a decent number of polygons to render them, and some nice electrical and fire effects on occasion, and the draw distance isn\'t too bad. Nothing mind-blowing, though. Overall, decent but not exceptional for Wii games nowadays.

The music is nothing too special, but not annoying. The sound effects are fitting, with decent attack noises that don\'t seem too far off what you would expect. The voice acting is sometimes really funny. If you wait and allow the minions to speak instead of running up and attacking them right away, you can catch some really silly conversations. It\'s pretty funny in that the game doesn\'t take itself very seriously, and this is especially evident in the script. Your friend and commentator Aku Aku also says some really silly stuff. While nothing groundbreaking as far as plot goes, the script has its moments of amusement – if you are as easily amused as I am, anyhow.

The game really has all kinds of goofy stuff in it. Several of the mission titles are silly references to pop culture, with some examples being \'A New Hop\', or \'The Temple of Zoom\'. During storytelling sequences, your Wii remote cursor becomes one of several objects that you can change with a button press. So you can point at your on-screen characters and make silly faces out of them. It brought back memories of old school Sierra adventure games like King\'s Quest, with cursors like fingers, hats, lips, and other silly actions, but I guess I am just showing my age. And as alluded to before, the enemy cast takes plenty of opportunities to make good fools of themselves.

One really nice feature is the game\'s co-op mode. While playing, a second player can grab a second Wii remote and nunchuck and press plus at any time to join. Another white Crash shows up, and he helps out a lot. They even include the ability to jump into the other Crash\'s backpack, so those tough platform areas only have to be completed by one player. This is called \'Piggyback\' mode. There is also available a really crazy Leapfrog mode, where each and every jump, swing, etc. the active Crash switches. It\'s nuts, but lots of fun and requires intense concentration from both players to see who exactly is jumping next. Co-op is a really nice touch, and makes the game a lot easier, and I found it to be really fun, also.

The overall length of the game is a bit on the short side, though it offers opportunities for more if you would like to. First time it took me around ten hours, though I did make sure to get a few extras I didn\'t need to. Each level has a set of goals to complete, which includes a minimum max combo, a minimum number of minions to defeat, and destroying all three of the spybots on each level. There are also a few voodoo dolls and Mojo rooms you can find on each level to unlock concept art or other things. The game also rewards you based on how many times you jack a certain titan, or defeat a minion. There are a few other hidden unlockables as well. If you wanted to, you could go through the game a second time on hard to unlock everything, or get good at it the first time around, as the last unlockable is only available on hard.

There are three difficulty levels of easy, normal, and hard. I did not test easy, but the main difference between them that I saw is that enemies tend to be much more aggressive in hard than normal, and they tend to attack more often - closer to the speed you as a player can attack with the same character. If there is more than one enemy on the screen, they will gang up on you in hard mode. In normal, they may, or they might just sit there until you get a little closer. It works, and it\'s nice that tactics you learn in one don\'t need a complete rewrite because a monster takes more hits; they just get smarter.

I do have to register a few complaints. The first one is that there is a lot of load time. Navigating between levels in the menu screens as well as even getting to the load game screen takes a bit more time than I am used to. Nevertheless, once you are in the game, it it just fine. There is no saving during a level, but any accumulated Mojo, even if you die, is saved, which is of great benefit if you need just a little bit more power to beat a level - the collected Mojo might push you over the edge. I found a few areas substantially harder than the rest, and not necessarily in the expected order. Three levels in particular were brutal – so much so that the next few levels after that were an absolute breeze. There is also no manual camera control, so sometimes it can be a bit frustrating, especially if you like to collect absolutely everything like I do.

From an appropriateness perspective, this game might be more or less typical for a non-bloody beat \'em up game. You do perform presumably deadly violence on your enemies, but they just disappear into a pile of Mojo; there is no blood. Language is typical PG, with nothing much worse than \'butt\' or \'sucks\'. In one area of the game, you see enemies on the toilet, who quickly jump off to engage you in battle. Of course there is nothing to see. Another area has a conversation that is a little.. funky. One boss character, after you defeat him, starts having a conversation with himself in an obviously multiple personality sense. One thing he says is (taken from the Wikipedia article on Crash of the Titans, downloaded 3-24-2008): "Nina" N. Gin: You don\'t have any friends!! He always kicked you in the tokus, and other... very... gentle spots!! / "Neo" N. Gin: But I liked it when he did that! (Crash and Aku Aku look on confusedly) Yeah.. okay. But in the end, it\'s not too bad overall.

Crash of the Titans is a fun, not too complex platformer/beat up the bad guys game with a few flaws, but I enjoyed it. It\'s probably reasonably safe for older children, if cartoon-style violence is acceptable as well as a little toilet humor. It\'s not all that long, but it\'s reasonably fun for what it is. I would recommend it if the price is right and this is the kind of game you are looking for.

Appropriateness Score:

Violence 6.5/10
Language 8.5/10
Sexual Content/Nudity 10/10
Occult/Supernatural 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical 8.5/10

Appropriateness Total: 43.5/50

Game Score:

Game Play 15/20
Graphics 8/10
Sound/Music 9/10
Stability/Polish 5/5
Controls/Interface 3/5

Game Score Total: 40/50

Overall: 83.5/100

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