Every once in a while we find ourselves paralysed by indecision. PlayStation or Xbox? Fortnite or Apex? Charmander or Squirtle?
Over the next couple of months, gamers of a more thrifty ilk will have to make a tough judgement call between two beloved franchises, both of which are launching colourful racing games. First we have Team Sonic Racing due out on May 21st across all platforms, closely followed by Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled on June 21st. Now not everyone’s going to want to play both, even if they have unlimited time / money / powerrrrr. For some, this will be the ultimate race to the cash register: Crash Team Racing vs. Team Sonic Racing. But which way should you bet?
Why buy Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled?
Okay – Crash Team Racing was a huge success when it originally launched in 1999, and beloved by many. For those who grew up during this time period – and indeed have fond Crash-karting memories – then this ‘remastered’ title will be big in the nostalgia stakes. And although I must confess (sentimental as I am) that I’m starting to get a liiiiitle tired of hearing “relive your childhood!” as a USP, there’s no denying the fact that a huge number of people are interested in doing prexactly that. So, if you’re one such individual, then it looks like Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled will satisfy this craving, especially as Sony has just announced that the PS4 version will include optional retro skins for certain characters.
But that’s not to say that CTR will be pulling any punches in terms of cosmetics. By all accounts, the game is dripping with artistic loveliness, so even if you don’t enjoy the driving experience, you will at least have a scenic ride.
And what of the driving? Well, those of you who’ve enjoyed Mario Kart will notice much of the same iconography: special crates, power-ups, weapons, speed boosters. There won’t be a huge amount to get your head around; the main thrust of the game is a straight-forward race to the finish and winner takes all, so if you’re looking for a title that you can pick up and play when your uninitiated friends are over, you’ll be fine.
More complex gameplay details are a little on the scant side, at the time of writing. Maybe Activision is keeping the finer details under wraps? It’s possible, although I don’t expect CTR to go all Gran Turismo in its vehicle customisation options anytime soon. The impression I get is that Crash is aiming more at fun and simplicity as opposed to hardcore racing strategies.
That said, for those of you who are seeking a little more depth – or indeed, value for money – Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled will also include all of the tracks, battle arenas, kart customisations and combat modes from 2003’s Crash Nitro Kart, so it’s fair to say that the game will not be lacking in content or variety.
Why buy Team Sonic Racing?
Then we have Team Sonic Racing – a franchise that isn’t lacking in nostalgia either. But of course, this is an entirely new title, so the gameplay will be fresh and original. It’s being developed by the same studio that produced the successful Sonic and All Stars Racing titles, so the bar is set quite high.
Of course, there will still be plenty of throwbacks for those players who are feeling sentimental. Many of the tracks are modelled on classic levels from Sonic history – including such locales as Market Street (based on Rooftop Run) and Wisp Circuit (based on Planet Wisp) – together with updated and re-arranged soundtracks. So although this game will be a slight ‘break from the norm’ in Sonic terms, there will still be plenty of content to root you deeply in its anthropomorphic universe.
Now, it’s when we reach the question of gameplay that the road starts to diverge, as Team Sonic Racing offers a new take on the go-karting genre. Yes, players can still choose an ‘every man for himself’ approach and boost their way to victory, but TSR encourages drivers to race more co-operatively, as it rewards points depending on how well people work with their teammates. As such, there are opportunities to share items such as power-ups with fellow drivers, and in doing so fill up the Ultimate Meter to deliver a critical speed boost.
Moreover, TSR is more team-focused than Crash, and the player will have to make a strategic decision as to which clan to race for: Team Sonic (Sonic, Tails, Knuckles); Team Dark (Shadow, Rouge, E123 Omega); Team Rose (Big, Amy, and a chao); Team Vector (Vector, Silver, Blaze); and Team Eggman (Eggman, Metal Sonic, Zavok.) In addition, the characters themselves will be categorised according to either speed, power, or technique, and there will be a strong emphasis on vehicle customisation for those racers who want to fine-tune their performance. Indeed, a total of 135 vehicle parts can be unlocked over the course of the game.
Crash Team Racing vs. Team Sonic Racing vs. obsessive indecision
Obviously, I’ve not played either of these games yet so my summaries are simply based on what’s been announced so far. But on the surface, I think it would be fair to say that Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled will be in a more ‘traditional’ karting vein. Yes the player can be strategic in terms of which character they pick (Crash, Coco, Cortex and Ripper Roo, to name a few) but it seems to me that CTR is positioning itself more of a party title that’s accessible to all.
Now that’s not to say that Team Sonic Racing is doing the opposite of this, but it’s arguably trying to offer a more thoughtful experience, and something a bit different. Quite how successful that will be, I’m not sure, but if originality is something that you’re craving, then you might want to take a closer look at TSR. Either way, I think both of these games look great and both will offer a considerable amount of fun.
And I still haven’t decided which one I’m going to pick! Damn it.
What about you? Where do you stand in the death-match that is Crash Team Racing vs. Team Sonic Racing? Will you go for both? Neither?? Let me know in the comments below.
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