CRASH BANDICOOT N SANE TRILOGY

Pub­lisheR Ac­tivi­sion / De­vel­oper Vi­car­i­ous Vi­sions / For­mat Xbox One / re­lease date June 2018

XBox: The Official Magazine - - CONTENTS - Alex Nel­son

There’s noth­ing quite like wrap­ping your fin­gers around the brightly coloured resin holds of your lo­cal climb­ing cen­tre, and this year I’ve fallen in love with ‘boul­der­ing’. De­spite be­ing a solo sport, it takes on a team-based as­pect when you and a group of friendly climbers tackle a new route – or ‘prob­lem’ – to­gether. It’s not just about if you can reach the top, but also how you might do it, and you must think about what moves you will need to reach your goal. Col­lab­o­rat­ing on a prob­lem’s so­lu­tion, and try­ing ideas out one by one, turns the ex­pe­ri­ence into a truly so­cial one.

But what is a lengthy pre­am­ble on the joys of the climb­ing wall do­ing as the in­tro to a piece on the much less phys­i­cally ac­tive pur­suit of videogam­ing? Well, play­ing through Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy re­minds me a great deal of my new pas­time, and the game re­ally shines as a mul­ti­player ad­ven­ture. You’ll have to set a few rules for your­self, but play­ing Crash in con­troller-swap­ping, turn-tak­ing co-op is un­de­ni­ably the best way to play the game. My part­ner and I set­tled on a player hav­ing con­trol over the tit­u­lar mar­su­pial un­til they fell foul to an ingame haz­ard, or aced a level, at which point the gamepad changed hands. Crash team The con­trols can be finicky, and with Vi­car­i­ous Vi­sions do­ing ev­ery­thing it could to keep the re­make as faith­ful to Naughty Dog’s orig­i­nals as pos­si­ble, Crash’s jump is still one of the most frus­trat­ingly twitchy things in gam­ing. But if any­thing, that only adds to the mul­ti­player ca­ma­raderie.

When your part­ner fails a par­tic­u­larly tricky plat­form­ing sec­tion, the con­troller lands in your hands, slightly clammy and loaded with the weight of ex­pec­ta­tion. It’s up to you now to take on the Man­tle of Re­spon­si­bil­ity. You’ll need skill, tim­ing and pa­tience to make it through a level in one piece and, just like work­ing out a climb­ing prob­lem, the col­lec­tive de­light of see­ing your best laid plans come to fruition is a lot sweeter than any white gem. The feel­ing of joy when you scrape through a daunt­ing area by the skin of your Aku Aku mask will have both play­ers fling­ing their arms up in glee. It works the other way too. When one of you messes up with one life left at the end of a gru­elling level that’s been dili­gently mas­tered by the other player (here’s look­ing at you, ‘Road to Nowhere’), it can feel like a be­trayal, the un­do­ing of what feels like hours of hard work. With an al­most ob­ses­sive ap­proach to smash­ing all the crates in each level, we came across some puz­zling set-ups, with some high out of reach boxes re­quir­ing mo­men­tum and the use of ev­ery trick in Crash’s arse­nal to at­tain. These usu­ally ap­peared in the lev­els’ bonus sec­tions – where a float­ing plat­form lifts you away to an in­tri­cate car­ton-smash­ing caper – with po­ten­tial so­lu­tions tried out one by one, each of us tak­ing it in turns and tweak­ing what we thought was the an­swer un­til some­thing clicked.

Like the best co-op games, re­la­tion­ships will be tested, and friend­ships strained, and as the amount of ‘true’ couch co-op games con­tinue to dwin­dle, now’s a good time as any to start look­ing for al­ter­na­tives. A sin­gle-player game that can be turned into mul­ti­player ex­pe­ri­ences with some self-im­posed rules, played with a friend is the best way to re­visit these plat­form­ing clas­sics.

“The col­lec­tive de­light of see­ing your best laid plans come to fruition is a lot sweeter than any white gem”

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