One of the most solid, memorable racers of all time
Bad: - bosses have unlimited items – no crash detection when bumping other karts -
Crash Bandicoot was one of the leading franchises on the PlayStation, and for good reason. A few top-notch games rightly earned him the position. After a few great 3-D platformers, Naughty Dog decided to take Crash to the racetrack in Crash Team Racing (CTR): a solid kart racer that has much more to it than your average Mario Kart.
CTR is a blast to play. The controls are great and there is much to master if you want to race with the best methods. If you play as a character like Crash or Cortex, you can make it around most curves by simply turning. However, proper use of drifting can become extremely beneficial, and it is a much harder technique than in Mario Kart and takes a lot to fully master.
Jumping is also a key to winning races. By pressing R1 at the top of any kind of bump, ramp, etc. you can get a boost upon hitting the ground (provided you manage to get enough air). This element is really cool and certain courses require lots of strategizing with the jumps to make shortcuts and get the most boosts possible.
The weapons are also great. They are mostly modeled after basic weapons found in most racing games (homing missile, bomb that rolls in a straight line, potions and TNT to drop behind you, shield, etc.). However, you have the opportunity to upgrade your items within the race by collecting 10 fruits. This puts all items you get in an upgraded form as long as you have the fruit; it's a neat element.
Believe it or not, CTR actually has a story. An alien named N. Oxide has decided that he wants to turn the world into a giant parking lot. Therefore, it's up to your character of choice to save the world from too much asphalt and a lot of white lines. You race against 7 other characters on 16 tracks and 4 fast bosses to become the world champion who gets the opportunity to challenge the alien invader. The story is played out in the Adventure mode, which is the main part of CTR that puts it above the competition.
In the adventure mode, you have to win a race on all 16 tracks (thereby collecting all the trophies) and then finally face Oxide. Along the way you'll race four bosses too including the classic Ripper Roo and the Komodo dragon Joe, each of which give you a boss key allowing you to reach the next area of the game.
What did I just say? Area? That's right, Naughty Dog found it impossible to stray entirely from platforming with Crash. The game actually has a pretty big world containing five areas, and you get around by driving. You enter a level on warp panels (or something of the like) and race from there. It's really neat way to do a racing game and it's much more fun than picking and choosing what to do from a menu.
The Adventure mode also has extra stuff to get. You'll be about 38% done with the adventure if you quit after getting the 16 trophies; each level also has a CTR token and relic. There are also four battle courses to get CTR tokens on plus a handful of gems. So as you can see there is a lot to do in the main mode, but to be honest it's not all that difficult to complete overall. Still, it's fun to do and lasts a while, and does present a few challenges. I can almost guarantee you'll play through this mode more than once if you own the game.
Almost all of the game's 16 courses are really great. They're not exactly creative for the most part, but they're extremely fun. It's hard to choose a favorite when they're all so awesome! Most of the tracks are dedicated to one specific character. Several of them have shortcuts that can be taken by jumping with perfect timing and they can be quite difficult to make, so more advanced racers can take the lead with ease (provided they're really good at getting the shortcuts, that is).
Of course, there is also a regular Grand Prix mode like any other racing game. You probably won't get around to it until you've beaten the adventure but it's there. There is also a battle mode also like most other racing games as well as multiplayer (of course).
The time trial mode of CTR is really good. Not only do you go for the best time possible, you can stop the clock by hitting yellow boxes with numbers on them. This adds a cool element to the time trials and makes it so that you can get huge cuts in your times.
There are quite a few characters in the game. You start with eight: Crash, Cortex, Coco, Tiny, N-Gin, Dingodile, Polar, and Pura. You can later unlock the adventure's bosses too, as well as a couple other characters. The original eight characters can be used in the adventure but only one per save file and you can't change them. Weight isn't an issue in the game, but turning, speed, and acceleration are the main statistics.
Graphically, CTR kept up with the times. They're really not bad at all and playing it today isn't an eyesore. The sound effects have always been a strong point in Crash games and CTR is no exception to the rule: everything from shooting a missile to getting hit by one has a great sound effect. The music is pretty good too and you'll undoubtedly agree that it's a true classic in that sense.
Overall, CTR is an excellent game. It's the most solid racer I've ever played, and it adds more to the normal racing formula with a great adventure mode, a neat time trial method, and having everything else your average racer of the day should have had. I highly recommend you get this game if you have any of the PlayStations, it's one racer not to be missed.