Slightly More Fun Than A Car Crash
With each passing year, gamers have grown more accustomed to receiving "me-too" games. Some years, we'll receive a deluge of First-Person Shooters. At other times, we're given dozens of games featuring plastic instruments. Even worse is receiving a landslide of downloadable titles that don't offer much more than standard death-match modes.
One recent PS3 release, known as Crash Commando fits in the death-match slot. This EPOS Game Studios developed title isn't a bad game, but there just isn't enough to draw in gamers who've played hundreds of hours of Call of Duty, Halo, or even Worms. Still, it manages to include some unique features such as being a two-dimensional shooter with dual-analog controls, and there's a sizeable arsenal to test with these fancy controls.
To play Crash Commando, a player simply has to jump in a game full of bots or eleven other players. The left stick moves the player, while the right analog stick aims whatever weapon he has equipped.
Before each spawn, players can choose between an assortment of weapons ranging from sniper rifles to rocket launchers. None of these weapons will surprise you, but they do have different uses on the battlefield. Skilled players will often want to equip the sniper rifle, because it allows them to pick off foes with a single shot. Unlike in First-Person Shooters, you won't find yourself zooming in. Instead, you'll have to snipe your opponent immediately when you see them on-screen. This means that the sniper rifle is more of a close-quarters weapon, but it requires a great deal of skill to wield, so only expert players will be up to the challenge.
A new player on the other hand might want to pick the rocket launcher. The rocket launcher isn't as powerful as the bazookas you'll wield in many FPS games, but if you aim carefully, you should at least be able to cripple your opponent(s) in one shot. Unfortunately, splash damage won't kill an enemy, so it's important to take great care when aiming, so you can take out a foe or two with a single blast.
The other weapons range from shotguns to guns that fire electric pulses, but I found most of them useless when going up against players wielding sniper rifles. A better strategy is to pick two of the weapons I mentioned earlier, or dash for vehicles and turrets littering Crash Commando's maps.
As in the Battlefield games, you can commandeer a jeep, tank, or turret. Each of these vehicles (with the exception of the turret) has thrusters equipped, so you can boost into the air to reach high platforms, or squash your targets below. These vehicles also include powerful weapons, so it's important to requisition one as soon as you can. I recommend going for turrets over the other vehicles however, because they allow you to pick off enemies on the other side of the map. As long as your opponents are in your sights, they're basically defenseless, but you're also in a dangerous position, because enemies can sneak up behind you while you're aiming in three dimensions.
Besides being able to equip a variety of primary weapons, you can also choose a secondary weapon such as a pistol or knife. I'm not sure why you'd want to use one of these weapons when certain long range weapons can kill foes instantly, but they're available for daring players.
Before matches, you can also choose a third piece of a equipment. This third piece of equipment is quite important, as it's the only chance you'll get to use explosive weapons. You can choose between grenades, which can be lobbed at opponents, proximity mines, which are detonated when an object is detected, and C4, which can be remotely exploded. Unlike your secondary weapons, these tools are quite handy.
Now that the basic combat system has been described, I'll briefly mention some of the power-ups you can find on the maps. After you've gotten a certain number of kills, a powerful energy weapon and mini-gun will become available. Unfortunately, these deadly weapons are difficult to find, and they run out of power quickly, so it's important to locate them as soon as possible.
There are also a number of other power-ups that will replenish ammo, give you health, and turn your jetpack into a weapon (similar to Samus' screw attack). These power-ups are sometimes handy, but you'll rarely have time for these extraneous details when you're getting sniped within seconds.
The last unique gameplay feature of Crash Commando that is worth mentioning are the dual-sided environments. As I mentioned earlier, Crash Commando is a two-dimensional game, but each environment has an opposite side. Throughout the courses, you'll find various doors that will enable you to cross over to the other side. These doors are quite handy when you want to make a quick getaway, because the enemy on the other side can no longer damage you. The only weapon that can aim in three dimensions is the turret, and usually that can only target a specific area.
None of these features I mentioned sound bad, but unfortunately, that's all there is to Crash Commando's gameplay. Usually, you'll find yourself entering games filled with skilled players that will snipe you the instant you enter a match. With nearly everyone using sniper rifles, it's obvious that the game is quite unbalanced. Whether you're playing in standard death-match, team death-match, or the objective modes that are similar to capture the flag, you'll find players wielding sniper rifles.
Unfortunately, the lackluster single-player mode is even more disappointing than the twelve-player online games. Basically, each level consists of a simple death-match against bots. The environments may change, but one can only take so much of boosting from platform to platform and shooting enemies with rudimentary weapons.
Crash Commando may have a few unique ideas and a great opening theme, but its tired gameplay won't win any awards. I purchased this game for five bucks on PSN while it was on sale, and I walked away disappointed. I'd heard great things about this title that was supposed to be a "First-Person Shooter in 2D," but the online gameplay put me to sleep within ten minutes of my first match. With much more exciting multiplayer titles out there, no PS3 owners deserve this. Instead of playing Crash Commando, why not crash this soldier's party with a gem like Fat Princess?
· A two-dimensional game that plays like an FPS
· The dual-sided environments give Crash Commando a unique flavor
· Quick spawn times
· Turrets allow you to aim in three dimensions
· Haven't I seen these weapons before?
· Everyone uses the sniper rifle
· New players will find themselves getting sniped instantly
· Each mode is a snooze-fest and lasts far too long
· Aiming doesn't feel precise. Uninspired gameplay and visuals