The Playstation store is rapidly becoming a requisite part of the PS3 experience. Releases such as Everyday Shooter, Flow, and the PixelJunk titles have offered Sony owners engaging, bite-sized experiences that gamers can experience without ever leaving the comforts of their couch. For the past few days, we have been enjoying the latest addition to the respectable PSN roster- Crash Commando.
Developed by Digital Illusions (DICE) cofounders, Staffan Langin and Olof Gustafsson, the title is a delightfully simple 2D shooter that recalls a time when skeletal narratives were all that was needed to push the adrenaline-pumping action along. With nary a glance at a virtual instruction manual nor a playthrough of the in-game tutorial, we understood the games core concept- decimate any color of an opposition color.
Players move their on-screen killing machine with the left control stick, while the right stick rotates your visual weapon trajectory indicator. R1 fires your main weapon, R2 sends out an explosive round, and the square button fire a handgun round or swings the knife as a last resort. The L1 button is used with regularity to give a jetpack boost; often the game’s combatants resemble a hive of swarming wasps. With the multitude of twin-stick shooters on now-gen system, our initial tendency was to fire by moving the right stick in the desired direction. However, after less than ten minutes with the game, we adapted to Crash Commando’s effective control scheme.
When not buzzing around the screen, players can take refuge in a jeep or tank. Each playfield contains a rollercoaster-like track were vehicle can trounce upon unsuspecting enemies. Conveniently, even the transports feature jetpacks, however, their air speed is significantly reduced. Players can also use a remote powered rocket, or launch a mortar barrage across the screen.
The four levels included within the game are both distinctive and large enough to delay ‘map fatigue’ from setting in too quickly. We appreciated the ability to adjust the level of camera zoom via the game’s menu system, although we were saddened to see the game’s typical speedy framerate occasionally plummet for a fraction of a second. Having gameplay on two planes was an inspired bit of genius; instead of skirmishes spread out across an expansive map, players can quickly identity where the key battles are taking place.
While Crash Commando offers a gratifying experience, we can’t help but think the game could have offered a bit more innovation. We would have liked to see a greater risk/reward element added to the game. For players with just a speck of health, a suicide button that could injure or kill nearby foes could have offered a mischievous tactic. We would have like to see an option to trade a bit a health for say, acid blood.
Overall, Crash Commando complements the admirable Playstation Store quite well. It offers an accessible diversion with four play types and a handful to ways to demolish your rivals. Players looking for a fully-realized single player experience may be disappointed by the lack of solo option. However, gamers craving a light-hearted online fragfest should be delighted by the game’s virtues.
Crash Commando is currently available in the Playstation Store for $9.99.