E3 2019 - Hands on with Crash Team Racing

Crash Team Racing was never a game I played much, only if I went to my mates house, I was always a Mario Kart kid, but while I was not an owner of the game, I could always appreciate what it was, which was a solid kart racer, something PlayStation has not had for a while, with the Nitro-Fuelled release, not only are they keeping things the same, but they are turning the dial up to 11.

Before we were given the chance to play, Stephane, the executive producer of the game from developers Beenox, gave a quick rundown on what players can expect. All the content from the original release of Crash Team Racing is here, including some new additions, like characters and tracks from Nitro Kart, the sequel title. Players can also experience the game with the same controls that the original had, meaning less worry about having to learn things over again, if you have that muscle memory built in. In addition to the original content being included, the game offers full online support, including online leaderboards, letting you post your best times to challenge your friends with.

The game now also has a new mode, Pit Stop, which allows you to customise your karts, with such items as new wheels, stickers, paint jobs and more. In order to do this, you need to earn Wumpa coins, which you can get as you win races, so the more races you win, the more coins you earn and the more content you can unlock for your kart. There are also alternate skins for all the characters to unlock in Pit Stop as well, so Crash might get a skin to make him look more like a Skunk, if you so desire, the choice of what you get is up to you. But that was the quick recap, we were there to learn about Grand Prix an all new post release mode, starting in July.

Grand Prix will be timed events that allow you to race upon new tracks, as each event will include a new track, with the first Grand Prix being called Nitro Tour. Each of the Grand Prix will give players a new track yes, but also a new series of challenges to attempt to conquer, as well as new items for the Pit Stop, including skins and decals, but also new racers to unlock, with the first being the Nitro Squad. The first one kicks off on July 3rd, with the track being called Twilight Tour, which is all new and made for the game, the characters in the first pack are lead by Tawna, who players might recall from the original game.

Each of the new characters comes with a variety of skins that you can unlock, but they also come with a legendary skin, which have new and unique animations. So not only do you get a skin that makes the Nitro Squad look like a race car driver, but they will set themselves even further apart with new ways of reacting on the track and more. Each set only runs for a limited time, before being phased out, but when it does, another will take its place soon after, there is no timing on the delay between them yet. The second one, which will add another new track Prehistoric Playground and even more new characters in the form of Baby versions of some classic characters.

Playing the game though, that will require people to think a little, while the tracks we played were fun and provided many short cuts to find and take, plus a host of visual wow moments around them, the controls are a little odd. While one might think that you need to use a trigger to drive, on the PlayStation 4 version, the X button is used and while that is not odd, the strangeness comes from the boost mechanic, which is tide to the R2 button. In order to earn boost, you need to drift, which is straight forward, however pressing the button causes you to jump first, and as long as you are holding it when you land, you will drift.

The trick though is that in order to earn the boost, you need to press the L1 button at the right time to collect it, if you don’t then you will lose it and you need to drift again, in order to start building it up. The system takes fair to much practice to get used to and by the end of my hands on with the game, I never managed to initiate a single boost once, unless it came from a power up. Speaking of them though, they are the usually fair that players will have come to know, first place seeking orbs of death, nitro boosts, missiles, all making a return from the original game.

Anyone who has played Crash Team Racing, will find themselves at home in this remake, while newcomers will find an easily approachable kart racer. But no matter how much experience you have with the series, there is a lot of depth on offer, so now it is a matter of waiting a few weeks.