Gaming

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time review: Worth the 22-year wait

This should have been the proper sequel to the trilogy

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When Crash Bandicoot resurfaced in 2017, I felt utter joy and nostalgia at the same time. Even though Crash Bandicoot: Warped was the first Crash game I ever played, the franchise became a great part of my childhood. With the release of the N. Sane Trilogy, it now gave new players an opportunity to experience some hardcore platforming that most late 90s kids remember.

Earlier this year, they announced the arrival of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. Activision, Vicarious Visions, Toys For Bob, and Beenox all came together to work on the trilogy’s “proper” platforming sequel. When I heard about this, I dropped everything and waited for as long as possible to get my hands on the game.

After finally playing, it’s honestly the Crash platforming sequel I had always wanted. There’s a big reason for that.

The original “Crash Bandicoot 4” just didn’t hold up well

See, before It’s About Time, there was actually another Crash Bandicoot dubbed as the fourth title: The Wrath of Cortex. It was released on the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube back in 2001-2002, almost 3-4 years after the original trilogy. For this game, the story centered around the presence of Crunch Bandicoot, another bandicoot creation of the game’s main antagonist, Dr. Neo Cortex.

Crash in The Wrath of Cortex for the PlayStation 2

The game itself received relatively average reviews, with most people simply feeling like it was a downgrade from the original. I tried playing the game again recently, and by 2020 standards, it feels unpolished. Gameplay as a whole was fairly janky, the story just doesn’t seem to add up, and it’s just a carbon copy of Warped but more slippery.

Level design for Tornado Alley in The Wrath of Cortex

So when Activision and Vicarious Visions announced that another Crash Bandicoot 4 was coming out, I had hoped that it wouldn’t end up like Wrath of Cortex. And boy, was I ever relieved that it didn’t.

Taking the premise of Wrath of Cortex, but making it better

It’s About Time takes place directly after the events of Warped — specifically the secret ending of the game after getting all the collectibles. Essentially, Cortex and his crime partner, Dr. Nefarious Tropy decide to simply open time rifts across the continuum. Aku Aku, the all-powerful mask that protects Crash, senses the impending danger and alerts Crash about it.

The whole game takes you through different time periods, even going as far as more recent events in the Crash universe. You are tasked to awaken different Quantum Masks that will help you in your quest to stop Cortex and N. Tropy. I honestly thought that they did the masks thing better than Wrath of Cortex in this regard.

As you progress through each level, you face a ton of challenging platform segments and waves of enemies and death-inducing obstacles. Within every other time period, you have boss levels with major recurring characters from all other past Crash games. In essence, it tries to incorporate the classic Crash formula, but enhances the experience. 

Plus, you get to go on adventures as either Crash or Coco. In some cases, you even get to play as Tawna Bandicoot, Dingodile, and Cortex himself! 

Gameplay that’s as smooth and difficult as the N. Sane Trilogy

One of the main things I was looking for in It’s About Time was consistency. I wanted this new Crash game to remain consistent with the remastered trilogy in terms of gameplay, character movement, and relative learning curve. See, the original trilogy was not an easy set of games to get around, especially if it’s your first time playing.

For long time Crash fans like myself, I felt that this game was more pain-staking yet just as smooth to control as the trilogy. Crash keeps some of his skills that he earns from Warped like the Super Body Slam and Double Jump, which I thought were the two logical ones to keep. However, you’re going to need more than just those abilities since the game throws so many obstacles later on.

It’s a painful grind to finishing the game at 100% completion this time around. Instead of collection crystals, you collect gems from accomplishing certain tasks within each level. From breaking every box to not having more than three deaths, these would require several perfect playthroughs. Honestly, that’s just insanely difficult to accomplish, and I’m all for it!

The most vibrant and creative game design in any Crash game

The moment you start your adventure to N. Sanity Peak, you’re already greeted to the gorgeous and colorful level design. I felt that Toys For Bob took a page out of their work on the Spyro: Reignited Trilogy with all the colors for each level. As you progress through the game, you’ll have brief moments to just take all of that in.

In terms of overall level design, it is a big step up from the N. Sane Trilogy in my opinion. For the most part, it gives you a different variety of level styles you haven’t seen in the original trilogy. From vine-swinging to rail-riding, the developers went all out to give you a different Crash game all together.

Furthermore, they even managed to sneak in similar obstacle patterns from the previous games. Something silly like timing challenges or platforming segments are just a few examples of these. I felt that these were put in here to cater to the long-time or hardcore Crash platformer fans.

Great deal of fan service and easter eggs

Apart from the sneaky insertion of familiar segments from older games, they also added a ton of small details referencing other games, as well. I mean, I wouldn’t call the giant Spyro float or the Spyro inflatable by the beach small details. However, the developers really threw in a ton of easter eggs.

Because I took my sweet time trying to get through every level, I noticed most of these the moment they came up. Most levels are sprawling with references to the purple dragon, or characters from older Crash games like Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure. They even went all out to promote Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled in one time area.

Even if you’ve never played any Crash game before, you’d dart your eyes at them. I think Toys For Bob and Beenox made it a point to spoil you with all of these references. 

How things should have been

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time served its true purpose as the official fourth chapter of the Crash universe. It takes the core Crash formula and throws it into a brand new world, with a plot that makes sense in the grand scheme of things. I’d like to think that this whole game is just much more enhanced than the original trilogy all in all.

From the fantastic visuals to the difficult gameplay style, It’s About Time goes for an authentic yet novel approach. It will make you feel a great deal of awe while you constantly try to die less than 20 times every stage. It sticks to the brutal platforming mechanic it’s known for, while improving the experience.

I can honestly say that the absurdly long 22-year wait for a sequel to the trilogy was worth it. If you want to experience rage and fulfillment all in one game,  I highly suggest you pick this up.

Gaming

Cyberpunk 2077 gets delayed, once again

Fans are fuming with anger

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Cyberpunk 2077 has been delayed again, this time by 21 days. The game was supposed to launch on November 19, but the developer has announced a slight delay, and it’ll be releasing on December 10. Rest assured, fans are furious.

Gamers have had enough of delays and are fuming in anger right now. The game’s initial launch was scheduled for April 2020, but the Coronavirus pandemic radically changed plans. Furthermore, fans are disappointed because the developers had made it certain that the November deadline will be respected.

The reason behind another delay is its compatibility with the next-gen consoles from PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series hitting the markets next month.

“We’re aware it might seem unrealistic when someone says that 21 days can make any difference in such a massive and complex game, but they really do,” director Adam Badowski and CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwinski said in a release.

Keep in mind, the developers are working on the game entirely from the work-from-home model. However, CD Projekt Red is indicating the added development time will be all worth it.

The most frustrating part for fans is, the game has been in development for eight years. Apparently, the game was ready-to-play in January itself and has gone Gold already. Going Gold means that the master disc is ready, indicating it’s also ready for release.

So technically, they’ve already created Cyberpunk 2077, and it’s ready for distribution. But, the game awkwardly still isn’t finished. Let’s hope the game released as planned, and there are no more delays. Because, looking at the anger online, another delay could doom the game even before anyone plays it.

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Gaming

Garmin launches an Instinct smartwatch for esport athletes

Comes with exclusive features too

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Garmin Instinct Esports Edition

Garmin’s line of Instinct smartwatches traditionally caters to outdoor sports, with variants built for running, swimming, and even golfing. Now, the company is introducing a new smartwatch variant that caters to e-sport athletes and gamers  — Garmin Instinct Esports Edition.

For some skeptics, this is not just another Garmin smartwatch though. It actually comes with a unique set of features for esports athletes and gamers. The most unique feature of the smartwatch is the ability to live stream the health data of a gamer to audiences.

Thanks to a dedicated esports activity tracking function, gamers can keep tabs on their heart rate and stress while in a gaming session. A PC tool called STR3AMUP! broadcasts these data to live stream platforms, allowing audiences to see a gamer’s vital info too. That tool also allows customization so gamers can personalize the data to their own liking.

Now, some might be skeptical about this. After all, health data are sensitive information and some audiences might not really find those data useful.

However, Garmin sees potential with their smartwatch all the more thanks to an exclusive live broadcast feature. During a game, gamers can tune in to the new Body Battery  Energy Monitor reading, which combines heart rate, stress, and sleep data to determine their body’s energy.

Same specs as other Instinct smartwatches

Besides those unique selling points, Garmin Instinct Esports Edition is no different from the regular Instinct smartwatch. As such, it has a heart rate monitor, all-day activity tracking, and some smart features like receiving and viewing notifications.

Unfortunately, there is no support for third-party apps like other Garmin smartwatches. Support for music storage isn’t here too.

On the bright side, the smartwatch can stand the extreme elements thanks to a fiber-reinforced polymer body and a water rating of 10ATM. Garmin’s official battery figures are 80 hours in esports mode and 14 days in smartwatch mode.

As for the pricing, the smartwatch starts at US$ 299.99 and comes in a sole Black Lava configuration. Gamers can now purchase it directly from Garmin’s website.

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Deals

Lenovo Legion: The Empire Christmas Sale

Lotsa gaming treats

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Have you always wanted to be part of the Legion? Now’s your chance with The Empire Christmas Sale.

The massive promo is open to customers who will purchase qualifying products from October 31 to December 31, 2020.

To enter, gamers must sign up and upgrade their account in Legion’s The Empire websiteLenovo’s exclusive gaming community and rewards program. Members are granted special perks including access to Legion merchandise, VIP entry to Legion gaming events, and more.

Members earn corresponding Empire Points for every product purchase which they can use to redeem exclusive Legion merchandise or products. Points may also be obtained by joining weekly missions posted at The Empire website.

Participating models for The Empire Christmas Sale include:

For the full mechanics, ‘like’ the Legion official Facebook page.

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