Toys for Bob returns with an online multiplayer variation of Crash Bandicoot, which however did not fully convince us.
After giving us a fourth numbered chapter of Crash Bandicoot (here the review of Crash Bandicoot 4 It’s About Time), Toys for Bob is back at the helm of a new project dedicated to the most famous video game peramele. This time, however, we are faced with a title exclusively devoted to online multiplayer. Crash Team Rumble, in fact, does not include the traditional level structure seen in the various incarnations of the saga: it is instead a four-on-four brawler which has mechanics similar, in some ways, to those of MOBAs, without giving up a rather recognizable identity.
On paper, it’s a potentially interesting concept, also strong in an irresistible imagination, but in reality the situation is more complex. In a historical period in which multiplayer products rely on ‘Free to Play’ distribution, Crash Team Rumble has been priced at €29.99 for the standard version. It’s a choice that can leave you perplexed, because it impacted the population of servers (a vital element for the success of these operations). And it’s a real shame because, at his heart, the game is also characterized by a number of good design ideas that would have deserved the largest possible audience to be developed properly in the long run.
The categories of challengers
The formula maintains part of the playful foundations that one would expect to find in a classic peramele adventure. it is still a 3D platformer in which you move freely to destroy crates, obtain power-ups and defeat enemies in an attempt to accumulate more and more Wumpa. Unlike in the past though there will be other players, including allies and opponentswho will participate in this boisterous competition.
The goal of the games is to store the fruits scattered around the settings and deliver them to your team’s bank: the first of the two teams to reach quota 2,000 will bring home the win. Whereas it is possible to carry some a maximum of 130 at a time, it will be necessary to always keep active in collecting to cross the finish line before the challengers. To speed up these dynamics, however, Toys for Bob has well thought of introducing the Gemswhich in Team Rumble go from being treasures to collect to real platforms to be conquered in exchange for a temporary increase of the number of transportable Wumpas.
However, it is good to keep in mind that cooperation between the various members of the group will be vital to the success of the mission. The characters included in the roster at launch are divided into three categories, each with its own specific role. The Markerslike Crash, Tawna, and the all-new Catbat, boast superior speed and agility, making them perfect for sprinting across the field and hoarding fruit. The Potentiatorsfor their part, are currently represented only by Coco and Dr. Neo Cortex, on the other hand, however, they have a leading role in the match economy (at least on paper).
Thanks to their gadgets and a peculiar passive ability, which allows them to get double the Relics contained in the scenarios, are particularly suitable for providing constant boosts to your team. In Crash Team Rumble, in fact, the Relics can be acquired exactly as happens with the Wumpa and delivered at certain collection points to unlock temporary aids that vary according to the map. They range from the classic beach balls and scrap balls with which you can overwhelm your opponents, to tools such as shields, which prevent enemies from accessing allied banks to block the deposit phases. We then move on toOxide UFOs, which can chase and incinerate challengers or the inevitable mask of Aku Aku, which makes them almost invulnerable. At least from this point of view, the assortment is not lacking. The Defendersfinally, include three of the most famous antagonists of the saga: Dingodile, Dr. N.Brio and the iconic N.Tropy, at the center of the events of both the third and fourth chapters. Despite their perfidy, these villains not only have the task of defending their team or bank, but also that of invading the base of the opposing team in order to make it difficult for them to score points.
Members of this class, at the expense of movement speed, can count on a significantly higher damage output compared to the other heroes, therefore their presence is a source of fear for the unfortunate rivals.
Barrel from… marsupials?
Let’s be clear: the eliminations in Crash Team Rumble are certainly not a focal point of the experience, since they do not give points useful for grabbing victory. Still, they can be a useful weapon to slow down the rush of enemies, as each blow we land will steal a few Wumpas from their current loadout. Once enough damage has been dealt to a character, these will be deleted and will have to wait a few seconds before getting back on track.
The strategic management of battles, as well as understanding the right moment to beat a retreat or enter the fray, will be elements of fundamental importance to triumph. Each of the protagonists possesses a specific set of skills. The iconic Crashesfor example, can rely on the timeless spins, slides and dunks from above, factors that make him versatile and unpredictable. Tawna unleashes powerful uppercuts to damage enemies in flight and uses the typical grappling hook with which he can quickly navigate across the map. The Dr Neo Cortex he uses his laser gun which can even transform targets into animals, neutralizing them for a few seconds.
In short, it is a rather diversified roster in gameplay mechanics, but at the same time reduced to the bone. The just eight characters included in day-one are not enough to guarantee enough options in team composition or to devise sophisticated group strategies. Within a few games you will have the feeling of facing a routine that is all too similar to itself, which ends up turning off the enthusiasm for the game after a handful of hours.
Furthermore, as if that were not enough, there are significant balancing issues, which in our opinion require a fairly quick intervention on the part of the developers. The beloved Crash, in its current state, seemed to us much superior to the other heroes in terms of adaptability to all situations. The result? We have often seen teams take the field with four copies of the marsupial and easily conquer the victory. An authentic scourge for a product that makes tactical vision and the division of roles one of its strong points. At first, the Team Rumble gameplay works and is fun, thanks also to the limited duration of the individual matches and their frenetic pace. That said, the balance of the fighters – also given their small number – had to be treated more carefully: we are still talking about a competitive online multiplayer experience.
Contents and graphic sector
Version 1.0 of Crash Team Rumble brings with it a single game mode, called Competitive, which can be played on one of the nine different maps included in the pack. The latter, while presenting common characteristics such as the presence of Gems and Relics, are distinguished on the basis of Unique Upgrade Stations or some peculiarities in terms of level design (think of the ramps and geysers useful for reaching elevated areas).
The settings have impressed us positively on the artistic front but on balance we would have liked more articulated and varied internships, to the advantage of keeping the experience. The progression system relies, as usual, on the well-established structure based on 100-level seasonal Battle Passes, through which you can unlock a plethora of cosmetic items. They range from emblems to emotes, from hats to backpacks, up to the coveted skins, indeed all quite pleasant.
The first Battle Pass is included with the purchase of the title while the subsequent ones, in all likelihood, can be bought individually at a price that has not yet been confirmed at the moment. For completeness, the Deluxe Edition of Team Rumble also includes the Season 2 Pass. Fortunately as of today there are no upgrades exclusive to the Premium Pass or items that can lead to advantages for those willing to pay extra money.
The real problem of the package, we reiterate, continues to be its glaring lack of content: 8 characters, 9 maps and a single game mode, moreover no ranking system that can incentivize users to spend a good number of hours on the battlefields. In short, we hope that Toys For Bob (here the review of Spyro Reignited Trilogy) will run for cover with constant updates aimed at guaranteeing a future for its product. Based on the evergreen Unreal Engine 4, Crash Team Rumble offers chaotic games but without failure or uncertainty. On PS5, in fact, it runs at a granite 60 fps and features a visual presentation capable of faithfully reproducing the atmospheres so loved by peramele fans. The design of the protagonists owes a lot to the style of It’s About Time, which is only good. Also the music comes directly from the glorious past of the series and they won’t fail to elicit some nostalgic smiles, between one challenge and another.
Crash Team RumblePlayStation 5 Analyzed VersionCrash Team Rumble left us with mixed feelings. Although it is able to entertain for a few hours, with its frenetic games that see the confrontation between the beloved protagonists and villains of the saga, it is impossible not to notice worrying lack of content and a balance that would require a lot of additional work. If we add to this a non-optimal server population, it is really difficult to foresee a bright future for the new work of Toys for Bob, especially if we consider how rich and qualitatively surprising the market for free to play competitive games is.