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Crash Bandicoot:
The Wrath of Cortex
Preview By: Siou Choy
Developer:  Traveller's Tales
Publisher:  Universal
Genre:  Platform
# of Players:  1
Est. Release:  Fall 2001
Posted:  4-10-01

For those who haven't already heard, everyone's favorite bandicoot is getting a bit of a facelift.  Sony Playstation mascot Crash will be making his debut on the Playstation 2 this November in Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex.  Along with a new platform, he'll be getting a new development team - Traveller's Tales, a British company specializing in the production of children's games such as Toy Story, Muppet Race Mania and A Bug's Life.

There has been quite a bit of murmuring in fan circles about the notable absence of Crash creators Naughty Dog Studios on this latest release in the series.  Universal Interactive Studios, who own the rights to the character, have given the creative mantle over to Traveller's Tales, whose output has been thus far limited to cartoon-inspired children's games, which is unfortunately quite evident in promotional screenshots released thus far.  More disturbing to the Crash connoisseur, said games have generally been rated "fair to average" by consumers of such things. Nonetheless, early reviewers have offered some guarded praise to the look and play of the game (which is still in the mid-development stages), calling it at least equal to its PS predecessors graphically. 

Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex gives you the opportunity to play as Crash and his sister CoCo.  Once again Dr. Neo Cortex has come up with one of his ingenious plans to get rid of Crash: with the aid of Uka Uka, Dr. Cortex plans to somehow harness the power of "four ancient elementals" (earth, air, water, and fire) to use against Crash in a weird hybrid of science and metaphysics (or science fiction and fantasy, if you prefer).

Using both Crash and Coco (one of the game's "innovations" is that CoCo is featured as a playable character in her own right), players will get the chance to explore 30 levels within 6 worlds (not to mention 5 "bonus levels"), and face over 30 bosses.  In the game's supposed 40 hours worth of gameplay, you'll have to dispose of the usual assortment of baddies, avoid obstacles, jump platforms, ride and pilot vehicles, find hidden items and stop the evil plans of Dr. Cortex - in other words, the usual, and exactly what you'd expect from a Crash game.

In keeping with the style and format of the first three games, Crash/Cortex utilizes a straightforward side-scrolling game design - in other words, while the game's levels appear to be in 3D and feature some limited exploration potential, you are essentially required to travel in a linear path to see each level to completion.  And of course, to aid the gamer in his/her mission, Crash and CoCo will be able to pilot and control jeeps, mechs, gliders, helicopters and sundry other aircraft. Crash will also have a few new moves in his repertoire this go around, but fear not, he still retains series-standard moves such as spin, slide, and the ever popular "butt stomp".

Regardless of gamer concerns, Traveller's Tales will assuredly be putting its best foot forward, and do it's part to carry on the standard and legacy of Crash Bandicoot.  Whatever one's personal opinions on the matter, the simple fact remains that only time will tell just how well the series holds up in unfamiliar hands.  Breathlessly, we await its scheduled release in November.

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