Review: Crash Commando

crashcommando_logocreen.jpg If Unreal Tournament was ever turned into a side-scrolling shooter, it’d probably play a lot like Crash Commando, Sony’s latest (and possibly greatest) PSN download title for the PS3. Crash Commando may not have the loud (and sometimes obnoxious) announcer or testosterone-charged atmosphere of a UT game, but otherwise the styles are very similar. This is a frenetic, action-packed shooter loaded with comically over-the-top gore, punchy gunplay, and rapid pacing all tightly balanced together into one addictive, highly accessible package.

Lovingly crafted by Swedish developer EPOS Game Studio, Crash Commando is a multiplayer-focused side-scrolling platform shooter pitting the Grunts against the Jarheads – think Contra or Bionic Commando (minus the grappling hook) turned into a multiplayer frag-fest. Choose your side and then wage war online with up to 12 players on eight different maps in three play modes, including Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Map Objectives (one team either has to destroy control panels or capture data from terminal and return it to base while the other team defends). Multiplayer is indeed the focus (and sadly it’s online only, just so you know), but there are some options for offline solo play, including 16 boot camp missions to train in and the ability to play DM and TDM battles against bots. But don’t expect a storyline; this isn’t that type of game.

In battle you run, jump and hover around on your handy jetpack blasting away at the opposition with a wide range of weapons, such as machine guns, grenade and rocket launchers, knives, grenades, mines, C4, shotguns, sniper rifles and even limited-duration super weapons like the mini gun and plasma pulse rifle. You can pick up health, armor and ammo power-ups, gain special bonuses like super speed and health regeneration based on your survival and performance, and on certain maps you can also find on-rails vehicles like tanks and jeeps to commandeer and guide along on rollercoaster-like tracks.

The unique thing about Crash Commando is its map designs. Each field of battle consists of two parallel planes or layers, with doors and portals leading to the other layer placed throughout the map. At any given time, players can be battling on both sides, and when you’re on one plane you can see what’s happening on the other plane in the background (there are even turrets you can mount and shoot at enemies on the other side!). It’s a clever concept that functions remarkably well and brings an even greater sense of visual depth and scale to environments that are already impressively detailed.

What ultimately makes Crash Commando so much fun, though, are its pick-up-and-play accessibility and comical tone that instantly brought back memories of General Chaos on the Sega Genesis, one of my favorite games of all time! Words can’t express how satisfying it is pumping lead into an enemy flying around on their jetpack and watching as they explode into a fireworks display of blood and body parts. It’s all done with a great sense of humor, though, which I guess is how the game managed to eek out a “Teen” rating from the ESRB.

I’m a bit surprised Sony waited to release Crash Commando so late in the year. Based on the ease of finding others to play with online I think it’s safe to say the game is doing well so far, which is fantastic to see, but I still can’t help but worry that in the long run it may not get the recognition it rightly deserves solely based on the timing of its launch. Although I’ve read that EPOS has big plans for DLC expansion, so I guess they’ll use new maps and modes to lure in new players over time and keep existing players coming back for more. We’ll see what happens with that.

I honestly can’t praise this game enough. Even compared to many full-priced retail titles, Crash Commando is one of the best pure multiplayer shooters I’ve played this generation… and it’s only $10. This is PSN game design at its finest!

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Pros:
+ Unique dual-layered map designs
+ Intuitive controls
+ Slap-stick gore is hilarious and incredibly satisfying
+ Good selection of weapons, vehicles and power-ups
+ Ranking system and trophies provide a sense of reward
+ Detailed graphics and punchy sound effects

Cons:
– No offline multiplayer

Game Info:
Platform: PS3 via PSN Download
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: EPOS Game Studios
Release Date: 12/18/08
Genre: Side-Scrolling Shooter
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1-12

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!