Tag Archives: platformer

Game Comment: "Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath Of Cortex" (PS2)

24 Nov

Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex is the first instalment of the bandicoot series on the PS2. I never played the other games so I can’t say how it compares to them. Crash Bandicoot: TWoC was one of the first games we bought for the PS2. I found it rather difficult and didn’t bother long with it (stopped after the second boss). Some days ago (weeks?) I stumbled on it and thought “Maybe I should try again”.

And so I did. And yes, I didn’t find it too difficult the second time around.

What I liked:

  • I liked the varied surroundings of the levels: there are snow levels, water levels, futuristic levels, “Wild West” levels, …
  • I like the idea to go back to a level and collect the crystals, relics, gems. It is fun trying to figure out how to get them and then trying to get them.
  • I liked that there are a lot of different “vehicles” to go through a level: a truck, a sub, a plane, a kind of sphere, … You even get to play as another character, Coco, in certain levels.

What I didn’t like:

  • Loading time: I remember that I was fairly shocked about the loading time when playing this game for the first time. Do all games take this long to load, I wondered. The good news is: no. The bad news: Crash Bandicoot: TWoC is still the game with the longest loading time I know. After playing games for some years now on the PS2 and before that on PC, I’m pretty sure that says something. It’s not only that it takes long to load, the loading screen comes up after nearly all the things you do. I sometimes thought that the time it took me to beat the time trial of a level is shorter than the loading time before and after that level.
  • Camera: The camera can be annoying sometimes when you don’t see clearly where you’re going. It can be downright frustrating when you’re running away from something (happens a lot) and you can’t see where you’re running because Crash is running in the direction of the player = you see his front, not his rear. These chase sequences are very frustrating because you have to memorize the way in order to not run into enemies or obstacles and take a hit. They pop up in front of Crash and most of the time there is no time to try and change your path. So you have to repeat.
  • Instant deaths: Going too near to an enemy, you’re dead and have to start over. It’s not always clear when near is too near and it seems to vary with the kind of “vehicle” you’re moving around. I also thought that Coco’s more prone to that. Extra annoying points in connection with the chase sequences.
  • Controls: Overall, the controls are rather smooth, but for some vehicles (well, I would say most) they are sluggish which makes, you guessed it, for frustrating moments when you bumped into something because of it and – instant death.
  • Underwater Levels: This one gets a special mention. I hated them. Never bothered to come back. I found the controls here just too …

Did I mention the loading times?

Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex is an entertaining game despite all the flaws I listed here. It’s just a question of whether you can get used to them or not. But hey, they provided you with the necessary time for that. Remember the loading time? If you get used to the flaws, there are some fun levels without annoying and frustrating moments. And they make one wonder what could have been with just a few little tweaks.

I didn’t mention the bosses (five in all), although I should have, but more important …

Did I mention the atrocious long loading times?

Did I enjoy playing this game? It was okay, sometimes even good.

Would I recommend this game? For fans of platformer maybe.

Grade: 3 / 5

Game Comment: "Ratchet And Clank 3" (PS2)

26 Aug

Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal is the third instalment of the adventures of Ratchet and his Robot Clank. Characterization is not a big concern in this series: the main story is straightforward and linear, with some funny scenes thrown in. Like in the two previous games, Ratchet and Clank have to go from planet to planet with a spaceship, accomplish missions there, get coordinates for other planets, go there – rinse and repeat until they fight a boss at the end of the game.


Far from it.

Ratchet and Clank is just so much fun to play. That’s mainly because of the near perfect gameplay mechanics. There are no frustrating moments because you have to repeat things over and over again due to wacky controls. Later in the game, you might have to repeat some missions – just running in and shooting at all things moving won’t get you very far. But that’s not because it’s just difficult to do or luck dependent, it’s because you have to think which of your many (crazy) weapons (up to 20 are available) is best to use in this mission. This adds a lot to the playing experience.

Shooting is the main word to describe the third part of the Ratchet and Clank series. It’s important to understand that R & C 3 moved away from its origin as a mixture of action game and platformer. Now there are only very marginal elements of a platformer. For the most part, you play Ratchet, run through the level and shoot at enemies. Shooting makes your weapons level up (version 5 is the highest for the first time playing). So all this shooting serves something. (And what 100%-gamer would want to face the last boss without all weapons at the highest level?)

Combined with these missions are some kind of mini-games to get access to an area now and then. They are only playable during a mission, and once a mission is cleared, you can’t return to these games. They are quite fun, and make for an interesting diversion. The same goes for the Clank-missions. Clank’s missions have more emphasis on puzzles and there is no shooting involved, but you’re able to punch enemies if needed.

Then there are some missions with space rangers, which provide a change of pace and they even give you some bolts after completing. That’s good, since you need lots of bolts to buy ammunition, weapons, and armor. The normal way to get bolts is to kill enemies and smash things with your wrench. But beside repeating the space rangers missions, you can do arena challenges or collect crystals to get bolts. They are nice, too, if you want to do something different. Or you can take a break from the main story line by playing Captain Quark video games, short sidescrolling platformers in 2D. To make the list of what to do beside following the main story line complete, there’s even is a multiplayer mode in the game (not tested, so no comment).

To sum it up: Ratchet and Clank: Up your Arsenal is a good game – not too difficult, not unfair, not frustrating. It’s just plain fun to play.

I think I start the challenge mode now, so that I can get the last missing skill points and trophies, which are only available there. Everything else I have.

Did I enjoy playing this game? Yes, very much.

Would I recommend this game? Yes.

Grade: 5 / 5

Game Comment: "Jak 3" (PS2)

9 Aug

One comment comes to my mind when I think about Jak 3: “meh” – which means it left me kind of cold. I don’t know how else to describe it and I’m not sure why I had this kind of reaction, because Jak 3 was fun to play.

Jak 3 is a good game: impressive graphics; different locations (two cities, a vast desert, some smaller areas); a balanced difficulty level (no “spikes” like Jak 2) and sometimes even save points during missions (which made for an easier difficulty level); good gameplay overall; some funny scenes with Daxter; and it concludes the storyline of the two previous games, which should generate some interest in itself to play the game.

It starts interesting: In the opening cut scene, Jak and Daxter are left in a desert after Jak was banished from Haven City. The question is, can they get back? With such a start and the factors listed above, a game should reasonably produce another response than a mere okay. So what’s the matter?

There’s smaller and bigger stuff that bugged me. Some of the smaller things I didn’t like was that I sometimes had to do a mission when I rather wanted to do some of the challenges. I can’t remember if it was like that in Jak 2, but I think in Jak 2 I could choose when I wanted to do/start a mission. Another thing are the vehicles. They seemed to lose their grip a bit too easily, which lead to some frustrating moments during vehicle missions (at least for me). But although I found myself more often than not repeating a mission because of this, I think in comparison to the vehicle missions in Jak 2 I really can’t complain.

The biggest complaint I have about the game is the rushed feeling I got from several things. There were slowdowns, I had rather frequently some kind of graphical error (a line running from the bottom of the screen to the top), and the games crashed three times (PAL version). Also, I sometimes wondered what I had to do or why I had to do it – I had the feeling that there were some scenes missing which would explain it more. This is connected to my complaint about sometimes having to do a mission without me actively choosing it. Some elements, like Jak’s special powers, were introduced but rarely needed. This seems like lost potential to me. The story line was a bit contrived, and most of the characters were a bit undeveloped with Keira being nearly non-existent. To round this “there-are-some-things-missing”- feeling up, the last boss came out of the blue, sort of like the developers said:

– “It’s time to end this game.”
– “Well, we need a boss for the end fight.”
– “We could use ….”
– “Oh yes, saves time and all, and comes as a real surprise. Great!”

I think it’s this rushed feeling – the feeling that the game could have been better with a bit more time for developing – why Jak 3 left me kind of “meh”.

Did I enjoy playing this game? More yes than no.

Would I recommend this game? Probably yes.

Grade: 3,5 / 5