E3 2001 Hands-onCrash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex

The first Crash Bandicoot game for the PlayStation 2 is playable at E3. We have played the game and now we're delivering our impressions to you.

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Crash isn't ready to leave a PlayStation console just yet. Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex will be released on the PlayStation 2 well before it's ready for any other console. Based upon its playable demo at E3, the first next-generation Crash game will maintain the status quo and retain the same platformer-on-rails gameplay that the series is known for.

Crash must still travel on a predetermined path with a few branching paths to choose from. While the width of the track he treads has widened, Crash still lacks the ability to adventure freely throughout the levels. Crash's signature spin attack has returned, but there are already two new moves incorporated into the game. By holding the X button and pressing R1, Crash will perform a body slam. To perform Crash's superstomp, you must hold the X button and press the circle button. As in previous installments in the franchise, one wrong move can result in instant death. Most levels must be played many times to memorize the actions required to proceed.

There are five playable sections of The Wrath of Cortex included in the E3 demo, and it's a nice cross section of the gameplay variety that its 30 levels contain. As in past installments of Crash, the marsupial will begin each level in a warp hub, where it may choose from five different levels. The E3 demo includes just one hub. Eskimo Roll has Crash trapped inside a transparent ball that must be rolled through a gauntlet of chasms and bridges. The transparency effects used for the ball are impressive--the ball will leave tracks in the snow as it rolls about the level. Banzai Bonsai lets you play as Crash's significant other, Coco. Coco's level is steeped heavily in precision platform jumping. The third selectable level is entitled Tornado Alley. In this minigame, Crash must pilot a glider while dogfighting against Cortex's fleet of fighter planes, avoiding several tornadoes and exploding canisters located throughout the level. Crash and Burn is a traditional Crash level, complete with plenty of boxes to explode with Crash's spin attack and many difficult platform jumps. Aside from the glider, there are more vehicles included in The Wrath of Cortex. Crash must pilot a hovercraft, drive a Jeep, and strap into a robot suit to complete some of the minigames included.

The Wrath of Cortex is looking quite good. The entire level may be viewed at once with no draw-in, and Crash's animations are humorous and smooth. The texture clarity and color palette are especially impressive; Crash's first excursion on the PlayStation 2 is never a strain on the eyes. This is especially impressive, considering the breadth of gameplay types.

While Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex doesn't break any new ground for the franchise, it's difficult to tell that it wasn't developed by the series' creators, Naughty Dog. Fans of the Crash games on the PlayStation should be happy to know that the gameplay hasn't been drastically altered, and those who have passed on the bandicoot's exploits in the past may be enticed by The Wrath of Cortex's impressive graphics.

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