Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled – An N. Sane Yet Rewarding Challenge

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Credit: Activision

Back in February, I got invited to demo the new CTR remake, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled – or at least that’s what I thought. Fast forward a few months and it turns out CTR Nitro-Fueled is so much more than just a CTR remake! With well over 20 different racers and 30 tracks, this game combines the best from every Crash racing game. Thankfully Activision sent me a copy of the game to review because now I can see that the biggest draw of this game isn’t just the amount of content, but rather how CTRNF presents its varied – and often challenging – gameplay.

Master the Modes, Master the Controls:

When it come to difficulty, this game did not water anything down from the original. As I noted in my demo article, the same portions of tracks that gave me trouble in the original were just as unforgiving here. Though the tracks are only half of the difficulty as the AI of the other racers are what really give you a challenge. There are times when the AI can be brutal and that is just on Normal Mode. So don’t expect to ‘get lucky’ as you’ll quickly need to learn each racer’s stats as well as how to drift and (often) defend against offensive power ups. This can be seen as early as the first race; and as you progress, you’ll need to learn more and more.

Thankfully though, the game’s various modes aren’t just for show; but are also a wonderful arena to hone each set of skills. Do you want to get a feel for how different characters play? Test that out in the hub world of Adventure Mode. Do you need to figure out a track’s layout and/or learn some short cuts? Try a time trial and race against your own ghost to measure your improvement! Still haven’t figured out how to use a certain power-up? Go into the Battle Arena and get a feel for things. This game is wonderful at building upon itself and – despite the aforementioned difficulty – actually encourages you to keep racing.

Credit: Activision

A Rewarding Way to Improve – Story, Coins & Customization:

Full disclosure, I’ve never been much of a fan of racing games. I’m more of a single-player, story-centric gamer; and racing games have always just focused more on the multiplayer racing aspect of it. CTRNF’s dedicated ‘Adventure Mode’ was a breath of fresh air to me not only because it gave me a story-centric reason to race; but also because it kept encouraging me. Each track doesn’t have a story; but each boss does have a fun intro/ outdo cinematic of sorts. These were the moments that pulled me back in and reminded me what I’m racing for. Plus it didn’t hurt that each boss is so distinct in personality and gameplay.

As for how this game kept me motivated for the basic tracks, it helped that – win or lose – you are rewarded with coins to buy cosmetics. This was an important mechanic we were waiting to see as many wondered how ‘obtainable’ the in-game currency would be. Was I upset that I lost 8 times in a row on the same track? Absolutely, but getting a nice stack of coins each time did help! It made me feel like my efforts weren’t all for nothing and I could focus on improving. That being said, the amount of coins for 1st place wasn’t that far off from 2nd and 3rd. Additionally, online races didn’t offer much more than ‘adventure mode’ races. So I could understand how this ‘pro’ for me could be a ‘con’ for others. Though based on how Beenox handled a release issue, I think we’re in good hands!

Openness and Responsiveness – Online Issues & Feedback:

The perk of reviewing after release is I get to see how the game works from a ‘support’ perspective. With the first Grand Prix DLC starting in a few weeks, one would think you’d have to wait till then for problems to be addressed. Well apparently there were some issues with online racing upon release, but within just a day a patch was released for all systems. This might seem small, but it’s actually a great sign since (again) this game is already planning out free seasonal content.

The biggest complains I’ve heard are (1) increasing the drop rate of coins and (2) that Private Matches can be opened up beyond just friend list. Many looking to hold tournaments are hoping for a ‘Room Code’ solution. As for the coins, many are specifically asking that online races and harder achievements like time trials reward far more coins. Though considering the game isn’t even a week old, I think it’s safe to say Beenox is just getting started. I’m sure bigger quality of life changes are on the way – especially as the first Grand Prix is held in a few weeks. Either way, things are looking up!

Overall, CTRNF is a thoroughly enjoyable game for those who enjoy the original or challenging racing games in general. Even casual fans will enjoy its fun and charming style – though I definitely suggest playing on Easy mode. Like the N. Sane Trilogy – and even Spyro Reignited Trilogy – before it, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled shows that our childhoods are not only alive and well; but are also all in very capable hands should the series ever move beyond what our childhoods remember!

 

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