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Review

Crash Team Rumble Review

Crashing onto shelves

Crash Team Rumble offers its best and most in the first half hour of play. A strictly online and shockingly lean competitive game, it pits teams of four against each other in ostensibly frantic point collecting matches. Small arenas play host to rounds during which players gather up Wumpa Fruit and deposit them into a designated red or blue platform, a primary goal that is altered somewhat player to player based on the character you take into battle. Maps are littered with Relics that can also be collected and spent to unlock temporary power-ups, as well as large gem platforms that when held for a short amount of time, allow for a team boost. It is, to my limited understanding of the genre, a loose interpretation of a MOBA and it’s not all that fun.

Teams are comprised of three self-explanatory roles – Scorers, Boosters, and Blockers. The first offers a balanced build between speed and strength (characters can use basic attacks to damage and block opponents), the second is designed to whip around the stage and unlock boosts, and the last are offensively minded and a giant pain in the arse. The game gives you one of each from the jump with better versions locked behind medals you can earn while playing. These delineations are largely smoke and mirrors though, as each character can effectively work as any given role, Blockers especially feeling like the only role worth rolling.

Crash and his mates are back, just not in the way you might want

Once you’ve gussied your chosen character up in a limited variety of cosmetic items, unlocked via the Season Pass’s linear progression, you’ll be dropped into hefty load times before landing in one of the game’s small maps. While there’s a decent amount of environmental variety in map art, the limited size and awkward verticality of these play spaces makes them largely forgettable. The game’s art direction is bright but hardly vibrant, a pastiche of series staples and arenas that feel ripped from a classic title but without the mechanics needed to traverse them with any sense of satisfaction. Characters have a double jump, but you’ll still find yourself careening off edges resulting in a short but noticeable wait period to rejoin the battle in spaces that feel like you should be warped right back onto the stage with a small animation like days of old.

Player-on-player engagement feels sweaty too, a mildly panicked deployment of tail spins and special moves to desperately try and either knock someone off a ledge or deplete their health and steal fruit from their pockets. Almost all instances of direct combat I found myself in were unfulfilling for one reason or another, the most common being effectively stun locked by another Blocker or one of the many unbalanced power-ups found around the map. Likewise, I would go shithead mode and camp an enemy deposit point, wildly swinging to create a barrier between players and goal but in such a way that made me want a shower afterwards.

There are short bursts of…well, not fun, as such, but there is an undeniable human lizard brain thrill to competition and even the dullest setting can’t entirely wash that away. When your team manages to work together you can find something of a rhythm in matches, but these instances are fleeting. Elsewhere there’s nothing else to really do in Crash Team Rumble, a training mode and private matches the only other ways to engage with it. All of this is wrapped in a numbing pseudo-competitive vibe complete with canned crowd cheering and announcer. The score is an inoffensive loop of quirk too, melding into the ghost-crowd white noise in these empty spaces.

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Stages are small and not all that fun to move around in

That is essentially all there is to this $50 retail product with additional purchases available via the game’s Season Pass. It’s difficult to unpack Crash Team Rumble if only for how little there actually is to sift through, a casual and easily dismissed free-to-play title dropped onto store shelves as a retail product with nothing but iconography and a prayer in its sails. Having never played the original titles and only dabbled in the opening hours of 2020’s beloved Crash Bandicoot: It’s About Time, I have no real affinity for the swirly marsupial. But even I can’t imagine a world in which fans who’ve followed the franchise’s sporadic – and often varied – output connect with Crash Team Rumble.

Final Thoughts

The highest praise I can muster is that it’s functional, while slow to load it is at least a steady performer. Roping mates into matches with you will undoubtedly inject some life into the thing too, and the aesthetics of Crash and co. do a lot of heavy lifting to give this very basic experience the appearance of fun at least. On its own merits, it’s aggressively fine, but considered as a shelved product, Crash Team Rumble feels a little like it’s taking the fruit right out of your pocket.

Reviewed on PS5 // Review code supplied by publisher

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Crash Team Rumble Review
Expiring Wumpa
Crash Team Rumble is too lean an experience to foster the community needed for a multiplayer-only experience, trading on the iconography of the series to bolster an otherwise forgettable game.
The Good
Colourful Crash iconography
Can be fleeting fun in the right circumstances
Expressive animation work
The Bad
Extremely limited play modes
Small and unexciting maps
Combat and movement are clunky
Questionable product pricing
5
GLASS HALF FULL
  • Toys for Bob
  • Activision
  • PS5 / PS4 / Xbox Series X|S / Xbox One
  • June 20, 2023

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Crash Team Rumble Review
Expiring Wumpa
Crash Team Rumble is too lean an experience to foster the community needed for a multiplayer-only experience, trading on the iconography of the series to bolster an otherwise forgettable game.
The Good
Colourful Crash iconography
Can be fleeting fun in the right circumstances
Expressive animation work
The Bad
Extremely limited play modes
Small and unexciting maps
Combat and movement are clunky
Questionable product pricing
5
GLASS HALF FULL
Written By James Wood

One part pretentious academic and one part goofy dickhead, James is often found defending strange games and frowning at the popular ones, but he's happy to play just about everything in between. An unbridled love for FromSoftware's pantheon, a keen eye for vibes first experiences, and an insistence on the Oxford comma have marked his time in the industry.

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