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Crash: Mind Over Mutant

 

Crash: Mind Over Mutant

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Platformer
 
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Developer: Radical Entertainment
Publisher: Activision

Features

Players: 1
Co-Op: 2
80KB to Save Game
HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p
Custom Soundtracks

My first thought when the latest Crash Bandicoot game, Mind Over Mutant, arrived on my desk was “Oh no, another mascot platformer”. So have to admit I did not have high expectations for it given that I am slightly tainted by these types of games. It is a good thing I kept my expectations to a minimum too as Mind over Mutant has a few too many issues for my liking. That being said it does have many enjoyable aspects and young Crash fans may just enjoy his latest outing.

Graphics

Crash Bandicoot is one of the best loved characters in the game industry and he is just as recognized as Mario and Sonic, and one look at the funny looking fox-like character and you can see why. In Mind Over Mutant he continues to look great in high definition and fans of the franchise will be pleased with his overall appearance and how the Crash universe continues to be brought to life. Mind Over Mutant is definitely a colorful and energetic looking game. Howeve for those that played the previous Crash instalment, Crash of the Titans, not much has changed in terms of the visuals.

Crash and his supporting cast of characters all look good. The facial expressions are very suitable to their given scene(s) and their movements are also very smooth and well animated. They definitely move like any computer generated cartoon character would. I was also impressed with the lack of framerate issues. Even when Crash and his sister Coco were frantically fending off several enemies at once everything ran very smoothly without any noticeable hiccups.

Also worth mentioning is the games cut-scenes. The game flows nicely from in-game action to cut-scene and back and the transition is equally impressive. Of course there is lots of entertainment value as some of the scenes with our hero had me chuckling quite a bit. The production value is top notch and only had me wishing that some of the resources spent on the cut-scenes were redirected to make the gameplay a better experience.

The environments found in Mind over Mutant are visually appealing as well as they manage to create a good atmosphere. Granted, the games open-world environments seem a little on the small side and they are not nearly as detailed or picturesque as they are in other games such, but they do manage to do what they are supposed to and it definitely feels like a Crash Bandicoot game. Bottomline, the visuals work in Mind over Mutant but I doubt you will be using this game to demonstrate the capabilities of your High Definition display.

Sound

As far as the sound is concerned, Mind over Mutant is decent but not the best we have seen in recent months. The best comparison I can offer is that the game’s sound is on par with other Activision based games, which are aimed at the younger crowd, such as Kung Fu-Panda or Shrek the Third. The voice acting is decent but the soundtrack is forgettable and the sound effects are typical of games in this genre. Although the sound does get the job out nothing really stands out and for the most part fails to impress.

Gameplay

The story in Crash: Mind over Mutant has a rejuvenated Neo Cortex taking over the world one brain at a time. Cortex and N. Brio devise a new kind of evil; a text-messaging, do-anything device which controls both mutant and bandicoot minds alike. Armed with his quick-wits and lightening agility, Crash must free his friends, the titans and save the day.

Mind over Mutant will remind you of those earlier Crash Bandicoot games as it is an action-based platform game set in an open world environment. You go through the levels collecting gems, breaking destructible objects, navigating high platforms, pushing buttons and beating up baddies. On the surface Mind Over Mutant sounds like a heck of a lot of fun but the troublesome issues really hinder the overall experience. Yet before I get into the negatives, I will start with some positives that this game offers.

One of the highlights in Mind Over Mutant is the ability to ‘jack” another creature. You can take over control of a large beast by jumping on its back and essentially ‘jacking it’. You can plod along the level bashing enemies or store him for later use by simply clicking one of the bumper buttons. This aspect of the game was truly satisfying as enemies stood no chance against your beast and the mechanics of such worked really well. ‘Jacking’ also adds some strategy to the game as you figure out how to advance past the various levels.

The upgrade system also works really well. One of the main objectives throughout the game is to collect the gems. These gems are magical mojos and they are located everywhere throughout the games environments. Additionally when you take out an enemy mojos come flying out and you have to collect them. Combinations of moves resulting in kills will also yield more mojos as your multiplier kicks in. The mojos are eventually used to upgrade your characters abilities. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before as other games like Shrek the Third or Lego Batman employ similar collectable functions. Collecting these mojos does manage to make for more of an enjoyable experience though. I should also mention that during the game you can also unlock items such as concept art, cut-scene videos, and a collection of Crash-terpieces. So needless to say, there is much more depth in Mind Over Mutant than we have seen with other games in the franchise.

On the downside, the camera angles are horrendous. Unfortunately, you cannot control the camera and as a result you are at the mercy the games camera view. Often you wish you could just swing the camera around to get a better angle but sadly this is not the case. There are times in the game where you have to move Crash towards you and it just seems awkward. Why the developers did not employ the use of a controllable camera is beyond me and I think that this is a huge omission.

Another issue is the repetitive nature and the amount of backtracking in the game’s missions. As you progress you will find that you are making your way around the same environments over and over again. Often I questioned whether I was going in the right direction as I would say to myself “Wait a minute, I think I have been here before. This can’t be the right way!!!” But low and behold I was going the right way. Even great games such as Dead Space feature a certain amount of backtracking where you go back through areas you have just ventured, however Mind Over Mutant seems to have gone overboard. Granted the game wants to take an open environment approach but that should not mean going through areas multiple times throughout the game.

New to the franchise is a co-op mode and it amazes me that is has taken this long. You can now take control of a second player who can eventually (unfortunately not from the get-go) take control of Crash’s sister Coco. This all takes place on one screen and it does not split the view into two. Overall, it is enjoyable and I had lots of fun playing with my daughter. However, if one player starts to venture way ahead there is no teleporting feature to get the second player back on the screen. Instead they will stay off the screen not able so see or do anything. The game would have been better served going split-screen in order to avoid some of these issues. Another downside to the multiplayer is that you cannot play with a buddy online as Mind Over Mutant features no online component.

The controls in Mind Over Mutant are pretty straightforward and easy to pick-up. The single player game should take you anywhere from 9-13 hours to complete depending on how much mojo collecting you are obsessed with. There is some replay value considering there are 48 achievements and the unlockables to consider, but after all that there is not much reason to keep playing this game after you have completed it.


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