If Crash Bandicoot’s long-awaited sequel hasn’t already made a big enough splash for Activision last year, they’ve been given another chance. Like many games caught in the cross-gen dimension, Crash Bandicoot 4 It’s About Time now offers a free upgrade from PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S, provided you already own a copy of the game, either digitally or on disc.
The upgrade, as with so many of these cross-gen releases, provides a great excuse for those who already picked up the original release to return to the game on new hardware, as well as added incentive for people (like myself) to grab Crash Bandicoot 4 for the first time. Truth be told, there aren’t really a huge number of benefits to installing this version over its slightly older counterpart, but you’ll definitely want to.
The faster loading times alone make this the superior version, along with improved haptic feedback via the PS5’s DualSense controller. The game has also been handed some visual enhancements up to native 4K, and Crash 4 does look sharper when running on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, but it’s fair to say you will only really notice with both versions of the game side-by-side, picking out the minor colour and lighting tweaks.
Having adored 2017’s Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy (and I wasn’t the only one, these remasters shifting 10 million copies as of February 2019) I was naturally thrilled – though not all that surprised – to hear Activision had a new mainline Crash game in the pipeline.
Although I had fun with the pre-release demo for Crash 4, it didn’t stir me enough to go out and buy the game on launch day. A few months later, I’m now gleefully blitzing my way through this superb platforming sequel, smashing crates and wolfing down every bit of Wumpa fruit I can get my hands on.
My love for Crash 4 is undoubtedly galvanised by my recent experience of replaying the PS1 trilogy back to back. During the N. Sane Trilogy’s development It’s hard to imagine Vicarious Visions not wanting to modernise these 90s classics though they ultimately took the right approach, steering as close to the originals as possible.
Meanwhile, Crash 4 has allowed Activision (and Skylanders/Spyro developer, Toys for Bob) a chance to not only play on nostalgia, but craft a new entry that isn’t afraid to redraw parts of the cherished Crash Bandicoot blueprint in the name of smarter, more accessible design.
Crash 4 manages to mutate the series’ core DNA, though not in the same way Cortex may spawn one of his anthropomorphic abominations. It manages to feel like a modern 3D platformer and a natural continuation for the series, picking up after 1999’s Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped.
In those twenty years since Naughty Dog and Sony gave up their prized mascot, the Crash universe has expanded several times, though this has mainly been a case of leaping from one failed experiment or fruitless reimagination to the next. Crash 4 even pokes fun at those two decades in the wilderness, writing them off and returning to what Crash Bandicoot does best.
Scoring a solid 7 out of 10 in our review, the game sits comfortably on an OpenCritic rating of 85 and Crash Bandicoot 4 is easily among the best 3D platforming games of recent years. Making smart additions and revisions, it shrugs off some of those archaic 90s-esque foibles while dialling up the overall complexity with new features.