Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PlayStation & PlayStation 3)

Developer(s) – Naughty Dog

Publisher(s) – Sony Computer Entertainment

Director – Jason Rubin

Producer – Mark Cerny

Following the overwhelming success of the first game, a sequel to Crash Bandicoot was inevitable, and hopes were high;. Naughty Dog didn’t disappoint, as Crash Bandicoot 2 was met with many favourable reviews from critics and also went on to become one of the best-selling PlayStation games of all time. Though I think the series would go on to reach greater heights in the future, the second game is a slight improvement on the first for a fair few reasons.

Graphics – 8.5/10

Inevitably, the first improvement on the first is the visuals. Though they’re about as diverse as in the first game, with it taking place in many different environments, such as jungles, ice caverns, and even sewers, as the developers wanted the game to have more of a gritty feel to it at one stage, the technical side of things were greatly improved, as there is a lot more textural detail added to both the characters and environments, with experiments being made with things such as light mapping.

Gameplay – 8.5/10

The gameplay is also a very positive departure from the original, as not only does it feel less linear with the inclusion of various overworlds, which the player can explore at will depending how far into it they have progressed, but there are also many more side quests to complete, and even an improved ending for doing all of them. It’s not quite as radical a departure as Super Mario 64 was to the rest of the Super Mario series at that point, but it would go on to change the formula of the series for the better.

Controls – 10/10

As in the first, there are no issues with the controls whatsoever. Still being one of the better 3D platformers for the PlayStation at the time, Naughty Dog were able to rise above many developers for the console and make a control scheme that worked to adapt to the controller’s lack of an analogue stick.

Lifespan – 7/10

The second game can take as long as the first if rushed through, but if the player wants to do everything, it may end up taking around 10 hours to complete, which for a semi-linear platformer, isn’t too bad. Along with Symphony of the Night, this game would be instrumental in establishing that other games of its kind can be made to last longer than what was the industry standards for platforming games at the time.

Storyline – 6/10

Whilst on his way to retrieve a new battery for his sister Coco’s computer, Crash is then kidnapped by his arch nemesis Dr Cortex, who requests that he help him to recover 25 crystals under the pretence that Crash can use them to prevent an unknown impending doom. Whilst its still nowhere near the standard of storytelling that Naughty Dog would later become renowned for, it was still something different to what was normal at the time, which made it unique from not only other games, but also from its predecessor.

Originality – 7/10

By changing the format as radically as the developers did, they also kept the series particularly fresh, and made this game stand out amongst even the great plethora of 3D platformers that were being released at the time. It felt a lot more open than the first despite overall linearity, which was most probably the bulk of the challenge they faced without them having to make a carbon copy of Super Mario 64.

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Happii

Overall, Crash Bandicoot 2 was a massive improvement on the first game, and one of the more entertaining gaming experiences on the original PlayStation. Though I think the series would get even better with the introduction of the third game, this was certainly a worthy sequel.

Score

47.5/60

7.5/10 (Good)

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