How good does Crash look twenty years on from his debut?
Crash Bandicoot was a revelation for the original PlayStation back when it debuted two decades ago. With the trilogy of platformers, Naughty Dog not only delivered three excellent games that would be remembered as some of the system’s best experiences, but also provided a mascot for the PlayStation brand in its early days that allowed Sony to go toe to toe with Nintendo. Succumbing to popular demand, the first three Crash Bandicoot games have made a comeback, and if you’ve read our review, you know that they’re just as good today as they were twenty years ago.
And they’re not just your typical remasters either. As we discussed in our review as well, N. Sane Trilogy is closer to being a remake for all three games than it is a remake. While developers Vicarious Visions have kept the gameplay and game design from Crash, Crash 2 and Warped exactly as you remember it, the audio and visual aspects of the game have been rebuilt from the ground up. So just how good does N. Sane Trilogy look? How much of a leap is twenty years for Naughty Dog’s Crash trilogy? We decided to run the game on our PS4 Pro and find out just what the differences are.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, unfortunately enough, runs pretty much the same on both, the base PS4 and the PS4 Pro. You’d imagine that developers Vicarious Visions would want to take advantage of the 4K resolution and 60 frames per second capabilities of the PS4 Pro, but that isn’t the case. On the PS4 Pro, you do get a higher resolution of 1440p, as opposed to 1080p on the base PS4. The frame rate, however, remains steady at a locked 30 frames per second on both variants of the PS4.
When you compare N. Sane Trilogy with the trilogy on the original PlayStation, though, you realize just how much work developers Vicarious Visions have really put in. Everything has been remade from the ground up. Vicarious Visions have taken the structure, the skeleton of the original games, but the meat surrounding the bones is all completely new. All the assets, from the character models to the environments have been remade from scratch.
Grassy areas look more authentic because there are actual, individual blades of grass everywhere, whereas the snow levels also look better, because rather than having blocky textures, you get actual snowy visuals and ice that has proper reflections. Coupled with dynamic lighting and proper shadow maps, the game ends up looking much more beautiful than you’d imagine. Reflections are crisper, shadows are more detailed and more believable, even fur looks much more detailed.
As far as the animations go, this is another area where N. Sane Trilogy does a lot of upgrade work. Water has ripple effects, the animations of different enemies have been smoothened and edited (which also has the effect of them having more easily readable tells), and cutscenes show great lip syncing. Crash, as always, is very expressive, and seeing him run forward and looking back over his shoulders with wide eyes at an oncoming rolling boulder will surely bring a smile to your face. The animations also look a lot smoother and fluid than you’d think, in spite of the fact that the game runs only at 30 frames per second. That is thanks to the fact that developers Vicarious Visions have added motion blur to the game. The effect is used with great balance, so that it doesn’t ruin the quality of the textures, but makes motions look much more fluid.
It’s disappointing that N. Sane Trilogy doesn’t take advantage of the PS4 Pro’s 4K capabilities, or that it doesn’t run at 60 frames per second, but even with that said, Crash, Crash 2 and Warped are still gorgeous looking games. There isn’t much noticeable difference between the PS4 and the PS4 Pro versions of the game, but regardless of that, you have to give credit to Vicarious Visions for the work they have done here, having implemented major improvements and upgrades to make sure they don’t feel outdated or aged even twenty years on from their release.