After its announcement in 2022 at the Game Awards, many were excited about the new chapter within Crash Bandicoot (Come on guys, Spryo 4 could be RIGHT HERE). Crash Team Rumble adds a whole new meaning to ‘CTR’ once beloved as Crash Team Racing. Step aside, as Crash Team Rumble has dropped on our consoles this Summer.
Crash The Party
If you were keen enough to pre-order or be on O2’s phone network, you would have had access to the beta. I played the beta when it released for the weekend and have to admit, I had a lot of fun. The beta offered up a handful of characters you could play as and a taste of a few levels to start on. It certainly gave me an appetite for the game, but there were things I was hoping they would fix before the game’s release in June.
For those of you who have not played the game, let me take some time to explain what the rules are. You are in a team of four, against four other players and your teams main aim is to be the first to gather 2000 wumpa fruit to your goal. Different characters will have different roles in your team depending on the character you choose to play. Crash is a goal scorer and therefore his main aim is to collect as much wumpa fruit as possible to the goal. As he is a scorer he is able to hold more wumpa fruit than the other characters.
Coco, for example, is a booster. There are up to three boost platforms per level, any character can claim them as their team’s own, which leads to a short time boost for holding and scoring wumpa. However, by being coco you can communicate to your group you will be concentrating on not only obtaining these boost platforms as they stack % boost level but also defending them from the other team from being able to claim them. Once claimed they remain locked for a short time, but once your boost expires the other team can claim them if they are able to hold the ground for a set amount of time. Boosters can also hold more relics than other characters. Relics can be used as currency to gain different short powers that may defend your team for a short while, or attack the other team. Aka Aka Uka Uka attacking the other team being an example of what your relics can buy you.
Dingodile and other various characters are blockers. Blockers are essentially more offensive and heavyweight than other characters: Dingodile has a wicked spin that can fly you off your platform. The usual tactic for blockers that I have noticed is to camp in the opposing team’s goal and essentially block them from scoring. When attackling other characters you will cause them to use Wumpa. Every character can attack in some way, but having characters that communicate to your team what your focus is in the team can allow for that non-communicative signal that you may need to balance your team to win if you have too much of one character.
With each character you can choose a special powerup to bring with you in the game. These can range from healing fridges that will heal your teammates in a small radius for a small amount of time, from fly traps attacking the opposing team, as well having an extra hundred wumpa if you can stay alive whilst it is powering up. It is up to you what you play and how you play it.
This game is very satisfying to play, Rossko, Josh and I jumped on and we had a lot of fun playing as a team. Josh took the role (very seriously may I add) of boosting whilst I thoroughly enjoyed throwing my weight around as a villain and Rossko scoring wumpa as the titular Crash.
It is great to get back into the franchise and I hope it is something that stays constant. The consistency of quality is still there and gives me an itch to go back to Crash 4: It’s About Time. My first highlight was how crisp the visuals are. You know exactly what you’re playing getting into this and you can immediately see the power of Toys for Bob and the magic they hold within the production of the game.
Whilst I am not disappointed with the game itself, I did hope they would have refined the matchmaking element of the game. The game can quickly become quite fast paced, the rounds can be over in a matter of minutes. This was something in the beta which ended up in frustration for myself and Miles, constantly being matched with people far above our level and essentially getting railroaded because we are not as familiar with the game as they were. As the game is simply just one mode of Crash Team Rumble, the more you play, like anything – the likelihood you are going to know all the tricks of the trade. It’s really important in any live service game that the game takes into consideration new starters. I quickly ended my time with Crash Team Racing because the matchmaking was something that frustrated me to no end. I want to enjoy a game and not be sweated on within the first couple of plays. Equally, I want to be able to explain this game to my buddy Rossko whilst he is playing it without him having to be bodyslammed 50x by a level 65 before I can finish my sentence.
It’s easy to shout ‘skill issue’ when reading the last paragraph and that isn’t the case at all. How does any game expect to continue live service and continue to access waves of new players if those new players will be up against teams either of friends or random individual players who have played for months. There is a difference between a ‘skill issue’ and game comprehension. Fall Guys is a perfect example of when matchmaking doesn’t necessarily matter. You’re up against 59 other people: there is no offence, no tactics, no defence (unless the mini-games call for it; and your selection of games is random). Games like Dead by Daylight, Mortal Kombat, newer Call of Duty games, the list goes on that need to have various thoughts put into their matchmaking to stay alive.
It quickly becomes not fun when there is no balance. I did however notice that some players would be swapped to other teams after a match, but I don’t think this is realistically enough if you are allowed to party up and you are all at a similar level. There were countless times at the beginning of me playing CTR that I would leave matches in the lobby and re-matchmake myself, because a team of level 1,9,12 and 3 are going to have little to no fun in a lobby against levels 32,73,21 and 15.
That being said, this game is easy enough to grab the rules after a few goes but the tables can be turned if the lobby becomes unbalanced. If you have bought the battlepass this will also immediately start you in the twenties level wise which will obviously look more off putting to those earlier players. I took this into account myself when playing to not leave the lobby if someone was in the twenties. Battle pass moves quite slowly and so it can take a while to move up the ranks. The battle pass consists of fun cosmetics inclusive of hats, backpacks, skins and top performer music that wil play if you were deemed the top performer from the game. The music is a solid highlight to the game, capturing all the big favourites from the very first Crash onwards.
I have also come across no crashes or bugs within the game which is impressive for a live server that has just launched. I do question the longevity of this game with only one game mode. There were rumours future characters will be launched in the roadmap such as Ripper Roo, but I do query how long a short game like this can survive on its own. Even Rocket League, a game quite similar in premise, has different game modes.
Overall, I am having a blast. Aside from the matchmaking, this game is fun to play either alone and with friends by your side. It rewards you well by taking your time in the battle pass so your achievements feel well earned and has loads of Crash Bandicoot series easter eggs to keep your appetite satiated. I am not sure anyone would have guessed Crash evolving into a team sports game eventually, but for sure, I am pretty glad it has!
Crash Team Rumble shows off the crisp visuals and beautiful design we know and love from Toys for Bob and continues to capture the essence we adore from the Crash Bandicoot series. Whilst filled with easter egg fun and nostalgic highlights such as the music, the gameplay suffers from balancing issues that are vitally needed within a live server sports-like game.
Crash Team Rumble is available now for PlayStation 4 and 5 (review platform), Xbox One and Series S|X.
Developer: Toys For Bob
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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