Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled Review – Karting and Crashing (PS4)

Crash Team Racing is almost 20 years old. To say it has been a long time since the original game launched on the original PlayStation would be an understatement. In this industry, two decades is ancient history. Activision tapped Beenox to handle development of the remaster, and after spending many laps on some classic courses, our Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled review is finally crossing the finish line.

More Glorious Pixels

Crash and team look as good as they ever have, just as was the case with the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled scales well up to 4K, and runs at a locked 30 frames per second, which is just fine when you consider the original release ran at that rate, and probably much slower in times of high on-screen visual effects or in split screen.

One thing that will be obvious to veterans of the series is that Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled hasn’t changed the core experience of the racing mechanics. Handling is different depending upon character, as opposed to karts. Drifting and boosting involves the same sort of awkward mechanics as in the original release, but it is relatively easy to get the hang of. Everything may look more detailed, but it all feels the same as before.

A Tough Challenge

Games from two generations ago were tough. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled has brought along the same difficulty as in the original release. For the main campaign, this means that progression can only occur when the player wins a race. A 3rd or even 2nd place finish won’t cut it. This form of difficulty is a double-edged sword. While it’s faithful to the original release, often times winning a race comes down to the luck of the pickup draw, and sometimes the game feels unfair in its treatment of the player when they’re winning. On the other hand, if the distance between first place and the rest of the racers is large enough, most items will not affect the leader. So, knowing a particular course’s layout can help to tilt things in the player’s favor.

There are two main options for the campaign that the player can choose from: normal and Nitro-Fueled. Nitro-Fueled allows for players to play as any unlocked character, racing with any unlocked kart, customized or otherwise. There are even three difficulty levels this time around, so for those who conquered the original, they can set up a modest challenge for themselves by cranking it up to hard. It seems that the normal difficulty level is what the original Crash Team Racing launched with, while the hard setting is very punishing – expect to be tossed around by the CPU as you jockey for position, and replay levels that you missed winning by a hair (or by a lot).

This remake includes an online mode, something which was almost inconceivable when the original Crash Team Racing was released. While your experience playing online will vary based on your own internet connection and other variables, generally it ran just fine during our time with the game. There’s really not much to it, as online choices are to make private matches, random matches, or join friends who are also online. Beenox did push out an update to help improve online stability, so it does seem that some players have been having difficulties as of the time of this writing. Beyond online racing, there are also going to be online events, which will not only introduce new courses, but special challenges to earn Nitro Points. These points will unlock various characters, karts, stickers, and more. All of these online events are completely free, and all unlockables are earned in game just by playing and earning in-game points with no monetization in sight.

Tons of Content

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled contains 31 tracks at launch, all from the original Crash Team Racing and Crash Nitro Kart, plus a platform-exclusive, retro-inspired track. There are also a large number of unlockables outside of the online events. This should provide replayability for those who have mastered the campaign. For a budget-friendly price of $39.99, there is a big chunk of content for not a whole lot of money.

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is a faithful remake of a classic karting game, with extra content from across the franchise to boot. Whether playing the respectfully challenging campaign mode to unlock all kinds of parts, stickers, and more, or skirmishing with strangers and friends both online and off, those who have fond memories of the original will get their money’s worth out of the racer, without a doubt. The sliding mechanic still takes some getting used to after all these years, but it just wouldn’t be CTR without it.

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled review code provided by publisher. Version 1.02 reviewed on a PlayStation 4 Pro. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.

  • Fantastically upgraded visuals
  • Rock-solid performance
  • Tons of tracks and unlockables
  • Four-player split screen support!
  • Drifting still feels weird at first
  • Difficulty can get pretty tough, almost unfair at times