Activision impressed us with the brilliant Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 and with the new Crash Bandicoot 4 – It’s About Time, it looks like a pattern is forming. The firm looks intent on mining its exhaustive IP, delivering remakes then moving onto brand new sequels. Based on the quality of this release, it’s a strategy that may well play off – Crash Bandicoot 4 is a solid game and an authentic series entry, with numerous improvements and upgrades that pay off while respecting the original formula. The new release also makes use of Unreal Engine 4, offering numerous technical improvements over the recent remakes including a much higher frame-rate – at least if you’re gaming on the right consoles.
Crash 4 perfectly captures the look and feel of an animated film – expressive character models stretch and squish in a cartoon style in both cinematics and gameplay, while gorgeous per-pixel motion blur accentuates every movement. The UE4 motion blur is one of my favorite things here – the shutter speed settings are just perfect. That said, you can disable this from the options menu if you’re not so keen on the effect. The point is that the quality of the animation work is truly on point here, the visuals are first class and the overall package is excellent in presentational terms.
Background detail is ramped up across the board too with beautifully off-kilter models lending the game the exaggerated look you expect while still offering a lot of detail – and I mean a lot. It’s still very much an on-rails experience, but that’s perfectly fine and allows the developers to build some stunning looking worlds to explore. I especially appreciate the materials quality and lighting – it’s a cartoon-like game for sure, but everything has that tangible feel you’d expect from a pre-rendered CGI film. To see it all play out in real-time in a fully interactive format is a real treat.