Crash Team Racing or CTR follows in the footsteps of the excellent remaster Crash Bandicoot N-sane Trilogy. Like that game, it is more challenging than many of you may remember.
More than just a standard Mario Kart derivative, CTR actually shares more in common with another Kart classic, Diddy Kong Racing. Like that game, you have the single-player adventure campaign which combines challenging races with timed token collection, relics and boss races. This is more than enough to be getting your teeth into as the racing itself is very competitive from the beginning.
On the track, CTR may look like Mario Kart, but the subtle differences in powersliding and track design make this stand out. The powersliding mechanic in CTR involves you using the bumper to initiate the slide then when a meter has built up, hitting the other bumper to trigger the boost. This can be done up to three times if timed correctly. The difference in Track design means that there are no natural positions to use this, corners are never quite open enough, never inviting enough and sometimes too tight. Whereas Mario Kart encourages the use and abuse of the powerslide boost, CTR makes you plot it and use it only where possible. Because of the competitive races, the boost is essential if you want to win and sometimes it can come down to not hitting your powerslide triple on one of the final corners.
Weapon crates offer your usual mix of shields, heat-seeking missiles and speed boosts and all of them are used on repeat by the AI. You will need a lot of luck to get around a course without getting hit by something. Like Mario Kart, your ability to keep going until the end is usually what gets you the best results.
The characters featured are a mix of the main characters and lesser bosses from the Crash Bandicoot series and fall into the classic Karting stereotypes. All-rounders like Crash Bandicoot himself, smaller characters have quicker acceleration but lesser top speed and of course the larger characters are slow to get to their top speed but once they are there it is the fastest.
The graphics are beautiful and many tracks echo the designs from the platforming trilogy. The character models and carts are detailed and fully up to modern polygon count. Just select the retro skins to see how far the game has come from its original state. There are tons of customisation options including decals, tyres and cart shapes and colours to unlock and even the expert will need to put in a lot of time to get most of these.
Of course, Karting games are best played with friends and CTR has a full online mode and local split screen. Despite some server issues over the launch weekend, there is already a fiercely competitive scene online and of course, nothing compares to hitting someone on the sofa beside you with a rocket as they are about to win a race.
In all this is another brilliant remaster of a classic game. There isn’t a lot more to say about this other than to go and get it if you need a new kart racer. Some will prefer Mario Kart, but there is enough difference in the racing to recommend CTR as well.