Crash Commando

Imagine playing a game of Worms, with each little critter equipped with a rocket booster and pumped full of a potent stimulant, and you're part way to imagining what it's like playing Crash Commando. The game involves well-armed troops jetting around large 2-D arenas, flinging lethal weaponry at eachother, and battling in the name of insanity. Basically, it's nuts, and that's exactly why it's brilliant.

To look at, it's slightly like a zoomed-out Bionic Commando. You control a character moving across large 2-D sections of worlds, but there are frequent doorways and paths that lead to a seperate layer of the level, giving the game a "2.5D" feel. Further augmenting that pseudo dimension is the graphical style of the game, which lends every object a three-dimensional gloss, through clever use of textures and lighting. As a result, you, and up to 11 other soldiers, can battle it out in impressive jungle and urban arenas for, on the whole, no better reason than it's fun to blow stuff up in this game.

Crash Commando

There are numerous modes available, with the most obvious being Boot Camp, where you play against AI soldiers in pre-specified levels, with particular kill targets. They're actually near-impossible to fail, since you can keep getting shot, then simply respawn and try again until you reach the target. However, the mode sets the additional target of trying to achieve a Commando score on each level (requiring swifter kills), and arguably the main point of the mode is simply to prepare you for online fighting, by exposing you to the various weaponry, bonuses, pickups and tactics on offer. It's with the weapons that the game really starts to come to life, with a terrific array of varied and comically-over-the-top guns that inevitably lead to tears when any unlucky commando passes a little too close. Even the basic machine gun, the default weapon, is slightly on the mental side, and by the time you've tried out the grenade launcher, sniper rifle and laser powerups, you know that the game has had a few lines of code re-written by a barking nutter.

Importantly, though it might not feel it at first, the weapons are well balanced, with no gun proving to be an obvious choice for shooting superiority. The most powerful guns often have short range or tricky aiming mechanisms, while less powerful weapons allow accuracy at great distance. Once you learn how to control your character, making use of the handy jetpack that comes as standard, each weapon can be just as effective. The balance does shift, however, when your character receives bonus powers or finds pickups. The latter are fairly standard, with body armour, ammo and other standard augmentations positioned around the level, but the bonuses can lead to slightly one-sided gameplay. While it's true that massive firepower will lead to the demise of almost every on-screen character within a very short period of time, no matter how skilled the player, the bonuses make successful players very tricky to beat. For instance, following a number of kills, a bonus bar charges, allowing the activation of a power such as flame jets (as the name would suggest, jets of flame, fired from your character's jetpack). This means that the player already doing well is now able to wreak further havoc against any player straying to close, in range of the fearsome flamejets.

Crash Commando

To be honest, that is perhaps the only major criticism that can be levelled at the game: it's not interested in making the experience fair for new players or keeping people on a level playing field, this game wants to know who's good so that it can pat them on the back and make the even more untouchable. It's very much like the perks system in Call of Duty 4, where differences in skill are amplified by the game. This isn't something everyone likes in games, simply because losing is made all the more frustrating, while winning becomes far less rewarding, but for some reason it's becoming more and more popular in combat games.

Learning to use these bonuses, weapons and pickups is essential though, for any player wishing to go online and compete against other people. With online matches featuring up to 12 players, Crash Commando is an energetic and exciting addition to the PSN. There are several modes to try, with data hacking and bomb planting providing extra objectives for those bored with simply shooting other characters. In objective matches, one team aims to hack data or lay bombs, while the other must defend computer terminals or defuse the planted bombs. Reaching the objective locations isn't necessarily hard, but for the moment of activating the objective, your character is immobilized, leading to numerous tense moments and an intense need for cooperative play with teammates.

Crash Commando is an excellent package for the PSN. The pride-filled music, crazily-exaggerated sound effects and sharp, colourful graphics add to an excellent gameplay experience. The online modes are also sure to add a significant amount to the lifespan of the game, particularly with a decent range of trophies to aim for. It's worth setting aside compassion, generosity and all that sort of sensitive stuff, and then simply settling down to enjoy one of the more insane experiences on the PSN, with Crash Commando.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Sony

Developer:

EPOS Studios

Players:

1-2

Online:

1-12

Release:

2008-12-18

Trophies:

22

Review summary

Gameplay:

Excellent comedy fighting and fun

Graphics:

Decent for a store title; sharp and colourful

Sound:

Meaty effects and comic noises

Lastability:

Plenty of challenges and online games to try

8.0

Pulsar

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