STAFF REVIEW of Crash Bandicoot: Mind Over Mutant (Xbox 360)

Thursday, October 30, 2008.
by Rick Wallace

Crash Bandicoot: Mind Over Mutant Box art Crash Bandicoot and the gang are back for another go on the Xbox 360, and as usual the Activision delivers yet another solid Crash platformer. There are plenty of collectibles, unlockables, upgrading and lots of levels to progress through which will keep you busy for quite a few hours. Overall, the game doesn't bring anything new to the table really for the series and will appeal to more of the younger audience as well as platformer fans.

Graphically, the game is colorful and well done. The characters are drawn very well and give each one a distinctive personality of their own. The game relies on a lot of comedic relief for both young and old and the expressions and movements of the characters portray that very well. The level designs on a graphical sense are extremely detailed, colorful and vast allowing the game to appeal to many folks both new and old to the series. A few times I ran into issues of lousy camera angles for crossing thin walkways or having to jump from area to area and more or less guessing as to which direction I had to jump , run or how far for that matter. That truly is one of the only annoying things I found about the game.

When it comes to the sound department, there really isn't much to say about the game. It has some fairly funny voice acting throughout which adds to the humor of the game, and the voices remain the same from past iterations of the game. The musical score is energetic, but tends to get a little on the repetitive and somewhat annoying side after a while, but honestly with the platformer genre what game hasn't had an annoying soundtrack after listening for a while. Dare I compare to Super Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog? Game actions such as busting crates or collecting orbs is exactly the same sounds you came to know in the last game and the game before, and the game before, etc.

The control scheme of the game can get a little tricky sometimes making it difficult for the younger crowd. At times, the camera angle made it tough to really get a view of the direction you are heading, or trying to view hidden items on levels below you character. Also, there is a specific spin and jump technique that while not difficult for most may be a little on the tough side for the younger audience. This technique is unavoidable as it will need to be used to reach some points of levels or to even proceed further into a level. Other than that, its pretty much spin, punch and jump using the standard buttons making it fairly easy for anyone to pick up and play.

You find a little customization right off the bat with this game as well. So you don't feel like playing as the normal looking Crash? Well then change up the skin. You can change up how Crash looks as you play the game by selecting different skins which basically change his clothes and hair color. You can do this right from your ?House? in the game as well as access other bonus content such as concept art, watch in game videos, view your stats and view monsters you have come in contact with throughout the game.

To me it seems the game follows the base premise set in the previous release ?Crash of the Titans?, but with a storyline change of course. Once again Cortex is out to destroy Crash and his Bandicoot friends with a new elaborate mind controlling system. Your goal is to of course stop his evil plan. As you progress through the game you'll unlock upgrades by collecting the orbs dropped by destroying items and killing enemies. These orbs, known as Mojo, will reward you with such abilities as longer spins without getting dizzy, jumping higher and stronger attacks. You'll also find power ups and collectibles scattered throughout each level as well. All the characters that you have come to know and love as well as the entire evil cast are included in the game.

Once again, as with the last game, you'll be able to ?jack? enemies and control them as you sit atop their back. These larger enemies are used for breaking down walls you couldn't as Crash, or for taking on the bigger and badder creatures of the land. You'll have some special attacks that can be used to destroy your enemies as well as beat some of the bosses. As your ?jacked? creature takes damage you'll be able to jump off and onto another once you see the ?B? icon displayed above their head. To ?jack? a creature you simple have to fight them, stun them and when a ?B? icon appears above their head simply push the B button on the controller and you are now in control. Some areas or items are only accessible with bigger mutants, so if you run across an item or area you cannot access or destroy, then go find yourself a bigger creature to jack.

One thing that does make this game even more family friendly is the cooperative mode. You and another person can sit and play through the game together and work as a team to easily clear each stage of the game. One player will be Crash, while the second player will portray a mask that circles around Crash. The mask will provide magic abilities which should let you easily handle anything that comes your way. If the player portrayed as Crash needs some help battling enemies than Player 2 has the option to jump out of the mask fro double the attack and speedier mojo collection. Sorry, the cooperative mode is only for local play and not over Xbox Live. Bummer, huh?

So while the Crash series really doesn't bring anything new and exciting to the table with this new chapter in the story, its still a fun game to sit down and run through. Achievement folks will probably love to get their hands on this one as the achievements are fairly simple and range from performing certain attacks to destroying a certain amount of enemies. There are a lot of levels to progress through and quite a bit of hidden items to locate. So this should keep one busy for a little while at least and I would highly recommend it to anyone with younger kids as Crash is colorful, funny and appealing to that specific audience. Crash may not be the sharpest tool in the woodshed, but he definitely provides a great fun for any fan of the platformer genre and is the perfect mascot for this type of game. Activision delivers a solid product once again with the Crash series and will probably continue to do so as long as there are platformer fans out there. To me, Crash is out modern day Sonic the Hedgehog or Super Mario Brother.

I guess my only suggestion for the game would be the inclusion of Xbox Live Co-op play as well as some sort of leadervoards online. The game pretty much meets the standards I thought it would for the genre, so honestly the inclusion of Live could push this games review scores higher.

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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