Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled Review

After almost twenty years, three console cycles, and two overshadowed sequels, Crash Team Racing is back. With Activision’s recent Crash Bandicoot and Spyro remakes having been a romping success, it was only a matter of time before we saw this stone cold classic back out on the track with a fresh lick of paint.

In truth, Beenox has done more than simply remove a few dents and given it a quick oil check. Crash Team Racing has been rebuilt from the ground up for a new generation and with more than a few surprises in tow. Mario Kart 8 has had an easy run to the karting crown these past few years, left almost completely unchallenged. That ends now.

If you put Nitro-Fueled up against the original PlayStation classic, there’s certainly a difference in how these two games play. This modern reincarnation has a lighter, more delicate feel to it all round. As a purist, this was enough to put me off at first, but when Nitro-Fuelled finally clicks, when you’re blitzing through tracks, triple boosting into long drifts and flawlessly smashing those shortcuts, it feels absolutely electric.

Beenox has done an excellent job in rounding out some of those janky edges to create its own unique handling model; this game is both very approachable and yet rewarding for speedsters who learn its various ins and outs.

What set Crash Team Racing apart from its kart racing competitors at the time was a proper story mode, featuring a hub world to zoom around and familiar characters to interact with. Beenox hasn’t cut any corners in bringing Adventure back almost two decades later, cramming in all seventeen tracks as well as the game’s bounty of relic and token races among other optional side content. If you put your foot down, beating Nitros Oxide should only take a few hours, though there’s plenty of reasons to keep coming back again and again.

It wasn’t revealed until some time after last year’s announcement, but there’s also a huge wedge of content here that’s been lifted from Crash Nitro Kart too. While it would have been nice to see Beenox work this into CTR’s Adventure mode somehow, we can hardly scoff at having almost twice the number of tracks to play on.

Then there’s the characters. Nitro-Fuelled has a jam-packed roster of fan favourites as well as those sidekicks and villains who appeared in later Crash games. I’ll probably end up sticking with Dingodile, but it’s great to see Beenox bring aboard so many racers, each with their own unlockable skins and costumes. Having that extra layer of customisation goes a surprisingly long way, especially knowing that new cosmetics are in the pipeline.

The amount of love and attention to detail that has gone into recreating Crash Team Racing is remarkable. Those original tracks packed in so much character despite the limitations of the original PlayStation hardware. Here, in 2019, these same circuits have been given a full-on facelift, yet still burst with nostalgia. The exact same can be said of Nitro-Fuelled soundtrack – it’s a double thumbs up from us.

Summary
First there was the N. Sane Trilogy and now there’s Nitro-Fuelled. Activision’s Crash Team Racing rebirth is more than a quick cash grab – Beenox has modernised an all-time classic with such evident passion, making this the best kart racing game we’ve seen on PlayStation or Xbox for many, many years.
Good
  • Easy to pick up, but offers plenty of challenge
  • Online multiplayer!
  • Bursting with content
  • A jaw-dropping makeover from top to bottom
Bad
  • Nitro Kart tracks are underused
9
Written by
Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualShock at this point.

13 Comments

  1. @Jim enjoying the game a lot,though currently online seems to be broken for me,tried several times last night to get a race lobby would fill then apparently everyone backs out,then just now tried again 3 time same thing then 4th finally got in race for everyone to be warping round the track,they where frozen then i’d pass them and they would be further on down track repeat,I don’t think it would be my internet as it’s usually great for online hopefully it gets sorted or sorts itself :(

    • Huh, that’s strange. The organised online sessions I dipped into were smooth enough. I guess this is a case of waiting for others to get their copy of the game today to populate the servers. Fingers crossed you don’t encounter those same problems again.

      • Yeah I was having to wait a minute or 2 but was getting full lobbies,I did wonder if it was down to geographical location of people I was being paired with,just tried again got a race it actually worked normally,second race crash in lobby reboot 3rd try crash in lobby reboot 4th try back to the warping players.

      • So what is an ” organised online session ” ??
        You mean private match dont you !

  2. Awesome review Jim. Picking this up today and then roll on 5:30pm to race home xD
    Weekend sorted!

  3. I’m enjoying the game, but it’s more of a 7 for me based on the 5-6 hours spent on it.

    – I find the karts lack any weight at all and the handling is too twitchy. No sensitivity options in settings either.

    This makes the arena levels collecting crystals within a time limit really frustrating in particular. So often I’ll misjudge and drive past one, then spend about 20 seconds trying to reverse and turn and get it oversteering or so on due to how sensitive it is.

    – brake button should be brake & reverse rather than down on the d-pad for me.

    – It’s addictive with that ‘one more go’ appeal, but also a highly frustrating game (if you suffer game rage beware). So often you’ll be hit with a homing missile or something just as you’re at the finish line sending you from first to 6th, or you have to race against bosses who have some sort of magical catch up on their karts. no matter how well you drive, in the first two and a half laps, they still catch you on the last straight or similar.

    Also if you’re in second place you never seem to get a missile or any weapon of use that will help you catch the leader.

    – Online is completely broken (at least for me) …I can see my opponents names moving, but their karts are stationary on the track. Also been driving around with a non detonating TNT on my head for several races lol.

    Hopefully this is fixed soon as half the appeal is to race against friends.

    All things aside, it’s still an enjoyable enough title which will hopefully improve with a patch or two. Some balancing and polish and it could make all the difference.

    • There are 3/4 different “types” of kart, based on which character you choose. At the character select screen you’ll see that some have better turning, acceleration, and top speed. The difference is hard to notice at first but certainly has an impact.

      I’m seeing a few people complain about the servers. Hopefully this is a minor hiccup that will get ironed out as soon as the servers become more populated over the next 24 hours!

  4. I got my game early yesterday and the online was broken. I am assuming since today is the actual elevate date, the online won’t have an lagging issues.

    Great game, fun couch split screen

  5. Beenox know about the online issues and say are working on them.

    • There’s just been a patch and it seems (touch wood) the online is fixed :)

  6. My bro and ain’t used to play this couch co op on PS1 and it was brilliant. I wasn’t sure my life (now far less time for gaming) had room for this and Mario Kart but the reasonable price (if you look around), the nostalgia factor and great reviews it’s getting may tempt me to dive in. I find these games, again given my time availability, have enough content just if I’m playing solo or with family members so online is a bonus if it even gets used.
    Anyone know how the switch version fares as that’s probably what I’d get it on? Thanks!

  7. Loving this so far. Yet to dip into the online multiplayer. Also anyone notice that the game is ridiculously difficult? Can’t remember it ever being so tricky to get a win early on.

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