When it comes to Crash Bandicoot I'll be the first to admit playing the three main games on the PS1 in reverse order was probably a bad idea. The thing is Warped was the only one I had on hand when the urge to play these titles struck, and well, it completely spoiled me. I'm sure people are probably sick of me gushing over it but Warped was an excellent product and it was refined to the point of near perfection that I honestly wouldn't hesitate to give it a ten out of ten in a conversation or review.
The problem with Cortex Strikes Back is it isn't as polished as you'd expect. I don't mean this in a superficial way like graphic fidelity (which is superb for when it was released) but a "streamline all the cheap-shots out of the experience" way. The level of cheapness ingrained in Crash 2's gameplay is simply astounding and it comes from a variety of places. Things like the hit detection on the belly flop are in dire need of work and the bonus areas are usually the furthest thing from fun when that's the exact opposite of what they should be. Worse yet are the game's hidden paths which are essentially sorry excuses to throw everything but the kitchen sink at the player. The kicker to is just when you think you're done and your guard is down - that's when they throw the kitchen sink at you.
The above situation is a real shame because when you get right down to it Cortex Strikes Back is a beautiful game. The level design and music are excellent as are the graphics which I feel even give Nintendo 64 games a run for their money. But every time the game turns a corner and those memories of the game's stubbornness start to fade something (again, there is always something) shows up and makes it take center stage once again. Compounding the situation is the fact there really isn't enough variety in the levels. Seriously, if I see another level with the words "Crash" or "Bear" in it I am going to scream and the same goes for the jet pack levels.
Annoyances aside, if your a fan of the PlayStation having the three main Naughty Dog-developed Crash titles in your library is a no-brainer. If you haven't played them and want to do yourself a huge favor and play them in order so you'll be able to appreciate the improvements each sequel brings with it. Unlike some franchises the first three Crash games get better and bolder with each step. As for the game being discussed here, Crash 2 leaves a lot to be desired to in my book but then I can't really say I dislike it either. I do wish it was a little better (polished) than where it stands now but then that probably a part of why Warped is so good. So while I would definitely warn others of game's cheaper side I'd still recommend it to anyone with an interest in platformers.