Video Game Review: “CTR: Nitro Fueled”

   It has taken me longer than expected to write a review of Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled. Sometimes on Nickelbib, it might feel like I’m a little behind as far as reviewing the latest videogames in a timely fashion.

   In-fact, most of my recent reviews only exist because they were added into Xbox Game Pass either on-launch or a little way down the road. This is because I try to be selective with what I buy, knowing how little time I have to allocate between movies and gaming, respectively. That, and a lot of what I buy on-launch tends to be videogames like Agony or Shadow of the Tomb Raider, ones up to their gills in glitches and bugs, which has cost the industry a lot of my trust.

   The thing is though, I actually bought Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled on-launch. It wasn’t that I didn’t play Nitro Fueled either. Thing is, I really love Crash Team Racing, and, in-fact, only a couple months prior to the remake’s announcement, I had replayed through all of the original PlayStation classic, naming it my highest-rated of the Crash Bandicoot game-series. When Nitro Fueled was released, I played through the campaign and I explored all the additional features included.

   Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled not only remastered Naughty Dog’s 1999 game, but they brought over all the tracks from Vicarious Vision’s Crash Nitro Kart on the PlayStation 2, and content from Radical Entertainment’s Crash Tag Team Racing. The videogame did reportedly well for developer Beenox and publisher Activision, garnering a strong critical reception and continuing the ongoing resurgence of the orange bandicoot.

   The reason it took me as long as it did to review Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled is because I hadn’t yet felt like I’d really ended my play-through of it. As it stands, I still don’t feel that I have either. Nitro-Fueled embraces the original classic-games and faithfully brings it forward to the next-generation. The gameplay had aged-well already, but Beenox’s contribution helped tighten the controls and allowed the Kart Racer an aesthetic more attractive and aesthetically appeasing than ever prior.

   The inclusion of Tag Team Racing and Nitro Kart’s content contributed a lot to the experience as well. Although they weren’t adapted by Naughty Dog and, ultimately, weren’t on-par with the original CTR, I feel like both racers had been overlooked. Everyone had moved on from Crash, and I appreciate that the remake offered a chance to look back at a lot of fun tracks that Nitro Kart had to offer. They may not have been as iconic and nostalgic for me, but I think you could even argue a lot of them were as inspired as its predecessor.

   The added Game Modes in Crash Team Racing are appreciated and fun, with a lot of them finding their way over from the later series entries. Nitro Fueled allows you to play the CTR challenges and Relic challenges on-command from the Local Race menu and features other Modes like Capture the Flag and Last Kart Standing as well. Most of them are unoffending and not really something I found myself returning to, but I still really enjoy the Time Trials and Relic Race options.

   The Adventure Mode remains straightforward and simple. I don’t have a lot of complaints about it, only that it has never felt more inconsequential. The story-mode was always one-dimensional, but, with how robust everything else now feels, it feels especially unappetizing. It’s perfectly fine, but it’s no longer a main course. Personally, I think it would have been an enjoyable addition for them to include the story-mode from Crash Nitro Kart, as well, but beggars can’t be choosers, that’s merely something I want and not a criticism of what we received.

   What Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled does bring is the Grand Prix mode, an original concept from Beenox, that offers optional objectives and challenges for players to gain points and unlock new content. It can be as simple as racing a Time Trial that day or a monthly challenge that requires a little more time and assertion. The Grand Prix offers a lot of new ways to approach Nitro Fueled and is a lot of the reason I spent so much time revisiting the game, even after having recently re-played the base-game.

   Activision recently received a criticism in-regards to the inclusion of optional Microtransactions, allowing you to buy in-game currency to unlock items in The Pit. The Pit is a traditional store-mode for you to buy items with Wumpa Coins and is separate from the points from the Grand Prix. I’m actually not upset about it like many are, because I don’t feel like I’m being treated unfairly by this inclusion. On-launch, I bought Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled at Wal-Mart for thirty-four dollars, discounted from the normal retail price of forty bucks. A lot of new releases go for sixty bucks brand-new, and while Nitro Fueled is a remake, I feel it would have been worth that amount.

   Since release, Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled has done something really cool. When it was first released, the roster featured twenty-six characters, that number has since shot up to forty-seven total characters, which include characters like Spyro. That, and it has added six themed tracks to the circuit, free-of-charge. In-order to unlock each character, you must first purchase them in the Pit or through participation in the Grand Prix. This can be a grind, especially if you’re like me and you burned yourself out early-on, but I can’t say I fault Activision.

   If we’re honest, I think Activision could have released everything as downloadable content behind a pay wall and it would have been worth at least twenty-something dollars. I wouldn’t have wanted that, because, as a player, I like to maximize content and minimize expenditures, but I feel like I’m receiving a fair shake on this. Especially with quiet additions like Ring Rally mode, or subtle changes like allowing players to choose their driving style instead of having each character tethered to certain attributes. Activision’s a business and they loaded-up Nitro-Fueled to the very brim with content, with tons of customization and alternative character costumes to choose from, and while I would love to cry foul, I’m mostly complimentary, all in all. I would even say I’m grateful given how they’ve stuck with updating Crash way beyond what I expected from them.

   I had a lot of fun with Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled and it’s only now, so much later on, that I feel like I’ve had my fill and am ready to shelf the Kart Racer for a rainy day. It’s a blasty-blast (a term I don’t use lightly, I have you know), and it’s, without a doubt, the best racing game I’ve ever experienced and among the best highlights of 2019 in gaming, I can’t wait to vroom, vroom down-the-track with Crash, Cortex, Coco, and friends again soon, be it through a direct-sequel or the speculated Crash racing, plat-forming hybrid.

Rating: – 4.5 out of 5.0