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Crash Bandicoot 2


He's back. That lovable little marsupial from down under returns with more levels, moves, secrets, and, of course, more fun in Crash Bandicoot 2. Naughty Dog has pulled out all the stops and delivered a superb sequel that excels in all of the key aspects: graphics, control, sound, and gameplay. With better gameplay than the original, Crash Bandicoot 2 is an addictive 3D romp that every PlayStation owner should have.

The story line revolves around the formerly evil Dr. Cortex who is now on a crusade to save the world. That's right: the villain from the first Crash seems to have turned good. He asks for your help in retrieving 25 crystals, which in turn will power-up his Cortex Vortex and save the world. Think you can handle it? Crash 2 features 25 blister-inducing levels, complete with new enemies and bosses.

New features make playing Crash 2 a little easier than playing the original. Players can now save at any point in the game. Instead of getting to various save and bonus points during a game, players can go back to the Warp Room and save. Remember what a pain it was to get three bonus icons during a level and then having only one chance to finish a bonus round? Now there is a bonus round on every level and players just need to hop on a big question mark (you'll know what it is) and go to it. And on some bonus levels, you can keep trying to complete a level until you finally get through it. The downside to this is that the bonus levels are much harder than the original Crash Bandicoot.

The original Crash was a graphical masterpiece, featuring beautiful textures and killer lighting effects; the sequel had a lot to live up to. But Crash 2 surpasses the original with 50 percent more polygons, new transparency effects, and smoother textures. Without a doubt, Crash 2 is one of the better- looking PlayStation games this year. From the reflections on the ice to the incredible water and warp effects, Crash 2 is total eye candy.

As in the original Crash, control is excellent. Furthermore, Crash 2 is one of the first U.S. PlayStation titles to utilize the Sony Analog Controller. It is much easier to complete Crash 2 with an analog controller than with a regular gamepad. A lot of the levels require moving in a diagonal direction as opposed to the typical forward and back. With a regular controller, it is hard to gauge just how close you are to an edge.

Naughty Dog has also come up with some new moves for Crash. Crash can now slide, crawl, high-jump, and belly flop. He can even go underground and hang from grated ceilings. Various levels will have him fly with a jet pack, surf on a jet board, and go cruising in a motorboat.

The first Crash Bandicoot game got a lot of complaints from gamers for being too difficult. Crash 2 has definitely been toned down a bit. The earlier levels are pretty easy and most people should get through them without a problem, but be forewarned: the later the levels, the harder it's going to get. Overall, the level design in Crash 2 is simply brilliant. For example, in Ruination, players not only have to hop on spinning and leaning ruins, they also have to be careful they don't slip off. It's cool level design like this that keeps you coming back for more.

With so many sequels out there not even worth the packaging they come in, it's nice to see one that deserves as much recognition as the original product. Crash Bandicoot 2 boasts many improvements in graphics, gameplay, and control, and it's a title that should please all PlayStation owners.

Overall 8/10