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The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan

Until Dawn is one of this generation’s most influential sleeper hits. Beginning its life as an ambitious PlayStation Move title, it evolved into a visually captivating survival horror experience that subverted expectations in the most wonderful of ways. 

The Dark Pictures is the next evolutionary step for developers Supermassive Games, building upon its suspenseful chops with a collection of horror adventures that will presumably jump between ghosts, aliens and axe murderers alike to spook players into submission. 

Man of Medan is the first chapter in this new venture, taking players on a brief yet enjoyable journey aboard a haunted ship where nothing is as it seems. While it doesn’t boast the budget or creativity of Until Dawn, it remains a solid outing in its own right that’s an absolute blast with a friend by your side. 

Not that I’d want to play something like this on my lonesome anyway… 

Related: Marvel’s Avengers Preview

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Control Review

Long before Control, Remedy Entertainment built its reputation on abstract storytelling, leaning into paranormal themes that define its adventures with unwavering dedication. For the most part, it’s worked wonders, with projects such as Max Payne and Alan Wake remaining beloved until this very day – others, such as the polarising Quantum Break, somewhat less so. 

Even if it failed to capture the magic of Remedy’s best work, Quantum Break still innovated with spectacular shooting mechanics, making use of time travel in a way nothing in the medium has before. The environment shifted and fell apart around you, timey-wimey nonsense making each firefight a joyful exercise of mayhem. 

While it doesn’t delve into the convoluted nightmare of time travel, Control builds upon many of the ideas introduced by the studio’s predecessor. The reliance on environmental destruction and abnormal storytelling is bigger and better than ever, thrusting the player into a world that continuously changes before them. 

This unpredictability is both Control’s greatest strength and most damaging weakness, making it impossible for everything I love about it to find a common ground where it truly excels. Instead, we have a solid third-person shooter that never quite reaches the heights it’s aiming for. 

Related: Marvel’s Avengers gameplay preview

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Borderlands 3

Borderlands 3 Preview: Our thoughts after a few hours with the game

The RPG shooter (or “shlooter”, as I’ve come to call it) formula has evolved massively since Borderlands 2 launched back in 2012. It has practically grown into its own genre with the likes of Destiny 2, The Division 2 and other mixed attempts such as Anthem trying to dominate the minds of players with oodles of content. Oh, and loot. Lots and lots of irresistible loot. 

Gearbox Software might have helped pioneer the genre and its inner workings all those years ago, but it has plenty of ground to cover if it hopes to once again reign supreme among some genuinely stellar competition. Following a few hours of play, it appears Borderlands 3 is taking the right steps to engage players in a way the series simply hasn’t done before, and that’s definitely a good thing.

A shooter experience once considered archaic in the eyes of modern spectators is now fresh and filled with life, dripping with activities in which to partake that extend beyond the excellent main narrative. Combine that with plentiful character classes, a huge world and you’ve got an eclectic recipe for success.

However, it’s a shame the writing remains as a goofball and scattershot as it has always been, although that’s a matter of personal taste. 

Related: Upcoming Xbox One games

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Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

It’s still hard to believe that Monster Hunter World is now Capcom’s best-selling game of all time, eclipsing the likes of Resident Evil and Devil May Cry by a significant margin. Initially a niche franchise that seldom broke ground outside Japan, the series is now having millions poured into it as the publisher’s flagship product.

This reputation is deserved, since the original release is positively fantastic. While some niggles remained, it did the impossible and translated a previously impenetrable formula into an absorbing adventure that everyone could enjoy. Every monster you bested was a thrilling achievement in itself, with many on Team Trusted losing days to earning their hunter rank.

Capcom aims to continue its streak of brilliance with Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, the first and only expansion, which will strive to deliver as much content as a full release. It will take players to a luscious new landmass drenched in snow, with endless plains of ice transforming all we’ve come to know of the continent.

While not transformative, this stark change of aesthetic makes for a wonderfully refreshing return. Monster Hunter World has been out of the spotlight long enough to make me genuinely excited about jumping into Iceborne. As for hardcore hunters, they’ll be drooling over everything on offer here. 

Related: Upcoming PS4 Games

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Audio Technica ATH-G1

What is the Audio Technica ATH-G1 Gaming Headset?

Landing as a mid-tier offering within Audio Technica’s selection of gaming headsets, the Audio Technica ATH-G1 is a competent peripheral in all the areas where it really matters, but it never quite managed to blow me away thanks to a lacklustre design and lack of value for money. 

It’s largely passable thanks to a mixture of impressive yet pedestrian audio, but has a build quality that doesn’t gel, at least in my eyes, with the £159 asking price. It lies in the same ballpark as the Razer Nari and SteelSeries Arctis 7, both of which offer superior performance and aesthetic appeal for a similar investment.

So, we’re left with a gaming headset that manages to impress with its relatively simple design and healthy feature set, but it’s sadly nothing special, leaving players in limbo as to whether or not it’s really worth forking out their hard-earned pounds. But first, let’s delve into the specifics. 

Related: Best Gaming Headset

The Audio Technica ATH-G1 looks fine, but doesn’t really stand out of the crowdDesign and build – The Audio Technica ATH-G1 is attractive, but inconsistent build quality brings it down

For over £150, I approached this gaming headset expecting a certain level of quality. In a market where peripherals are enhanced with all manner of unusual attachments and fluorescent RGB lighting, the ATH-G1 is arguable subdued with its plastic shell and predominantly black colour. 

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Mad Catz Strike 4 Keyboard

What is the Mad Catz Strike 4?

The Mad Catz Strike 4 – stylised as ‘S.T.R.I.K.E. 4’ – is Mad Catz’s latest flagship model of the famed Strike series of mechanical keyboards. It’s the bigger brother of the much cheaper Strike 2, and comes complete with Cherry MX Red RGB keyswitches.

Priced at around £130, the Strike 4 sits in a mid-range price bracket for mainstream mechanical keyboards, along with the likes of the Razer Blackwidow 2019.

Related: Best gaming keyboard 2019

Design and build – The Mad Catz Strike 4 looks both premium and flashy

The Strike 4 is presented in a fantastic manner, opting for a ‘skeleton’ open-housed design. The 16.8 million RGB colour radiating from the backlight look all the more visible thanks to the skeleton design, which looks great when synced with all those RGB fans and RAM inside your gaming PC.

Lock lights are in the typical top-right location you’ll find on most keyboards, but Mad Catz has been smart with its design. As opposed to having the quite frankly useless ‘Scroll Lock’ light in its typical place, it has been replaced with a ‘W’ lock light, designed to signify the Windows keys being locked or unlocked, which should make life a lot easier for gamers.

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PNY GTX 1650 XLR8 Gaming Overclocked Edition

What is the PNY GTX 1650 XLR8 Gaming Overclocked Edition?

The PNY GTX 1650 XLR8 Gaming Overclocked Edition is a new graphics card based on Nvidia’s cheapest 16 Series GPU. With no Founders Edition model of the GPU, we’ve instead tested the third-party PNY variant. 

The 16 Series graphics cards are aimed at those not willing to shell a significant amount of cash on fancy features such as ray tracing and DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling), but still want to see a decent performance for Full HD gaming. The GTX 1660 Ti is our current champion for that criteria, but the GTX 1650 here sees the price hammered down even further, consequently seeing a diluted performance.

The PNY GTX 1650 graphics card is absolutely tiny and will fit in almost any PC case

The GTX 1650 is effectively a replacement for Nvidia’s GTX 1050 graphics card, delivering boosted specs and performance without seeing a major price increase. The most notable difference between the GTX 1650 and its GTX 1050 predecessor though, is the jump to the new Turing architecture known as TU116.

This Turing architecture gives the GTX 1650 new Turing shader innovations, using the card’s GPU grunt more efficiently to drive up frame rates. But despite how impressive and effective these smart shading techniques are, they can’t quite make up for the underwhelming specs. 

Related: Best Graphics Cards 2019

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Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Intelligent Systems’ RPG series has been a niche effort for much of its history, with releases outside of Japan quickly falling into obscurity as rare copies sold for ludicrous prices online in a matter of months. It never quite found its footing – that is, until the release of Fire Emblem: Awakening in 2012. 

The Nintendo DS exclusive kicked open the floodgates, welcoming millions of fans into a strange, wonderful world of political espionage and adorable anime boyfriends (or girlfriends; Fire Emblem isn’t picky). The rest is history, with the franchise now cemented as one of Nintendo’s flagship names alongside Zelda, Mario and Metroid.

Fast-forward seven years and we have Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the series’ first entry to debut on Nintendo Switch with the exception of a Musou spin-off. It’s a brave evolution of an established formula, moving the series forward while never forgetting what made it so special in the first place. That, and I got to fulfil my dreams of going to war with a bunch of gay warriors. What’s not to love? 

Related: Upcoming Nintendo Switch games

I’m the last person people should be asking for advice, but Three Houses puts a lot of responsibility on the shoulders

As is the series’ tradition, Fire Emblem: Three Houses takes place in a world of political and religious turmoil. Throughout the continent of Fodlan, regal families communicate through peaceful diplomacy or all-out war, seldom finding compromise in a spitefully unpredictable society. You act as a mercenary in these lands, exploring them with your father and taking on odd jobs to make ends meet. 

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Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Wolfenstein: Youngblood is an anomaly. A co-op focused shooter with players taking control of series protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz’s twin daughters Soph and Jess, as they tear their way around a Nazi-occupied 1980’s Paris. 

It’s bonkers, even by the tongue-in-cheek standard Wolfenstein set in its 2014 reboot, The New Order. Nazi-approved nu-wave kicks out of boom boxes while the Nazis themselves flee from Soph and Jess’ assault. You and a buddy tear through crowds of fascists, giving a thumbs-up at each to increase each other’s respective health and armour. 

Wolfenstein: Youngblood, crucially, isn’t the sequel you might have been waiting for. It’s a weird mix of spin-off and experimental sequel, which keeps the pulse-pounding combat, but also flirts with elements from live games and Dishonored-style level designs, courtesy of a collaboration with Arkane Studios.

Some of these elements work, while some fall flat, but Wolfenstein: Youngblood is good enough (and weird enough) that fans of the franchise, or shooters in general, will find plenty to love – and it’s rare that shooters of this ilk let you bring a friend, in this case a wisecracking Jade King, along for the ride.

Related: Best FPS Games

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Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

“I don’t see any other doors,” says Iron Fist, as we come up against one of the ninja clan The Hand’s nefarious traps. “We’ll have to solve this puzzle if we want to get through the door.” 

The statues are a few centimetres away from glowing floor tiles. Push the statues onto the lit-up floor and before you know it, the door is open. I guess The Hand’s grandmaster of puzzles was dealing with some budget cuts. 

He isn’t the only one. While there’s a certain charm to Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, it reeks of cut corners and systems not explored. It’s a game that will provide fan-service to supporters of Marvel’s recent output in comics, films and TV, but will leave those old enough to remember the stellar X-Men Legends and earlier titles in the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance franchise with disappointment of superhuman proportions. 

It’s been a decade since our previous entry in the Ultimate Alliance franchise, and the reason for its rebirth – and soft reboot – now is simple: since 2008 Marvel has been taking the world by storm, acting as a cultural colossus in the minds of millions. Ultimate Alliance 3 focuses more on the comic books, but pulls in references from all over: the plot of Infinity Stones falling to earth and bringing about a Thanos inspired punch-up fits with the recent movies, even if the execution is different. 

Related: Upcoming Nintendo Switch games

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Oninaki

While it hasn’t been subject to the critical acclaim of classics that inspired it, Tokyo RPG Factory has been waving the flag of traditional JRPG design for many years now, producing efforts that echoed the golden age of Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. 

I am Setsuna and Lost Sphear struck a chord with genre purists, awash with impressive storytelling and robust, traditional mechanics that would’ve fit right in 20 years ago. This dedication to such a specific time in gaming history was a double-edged sword, drawing in the familiar while doing little to bring newcomers into the fold. 

Now, in comes Oninaki, an experimental foray into the JRPG landscape that once again bathes freely in tradition, yet isn’t afraid to dip its toes into more daring waters this time around. It’s a tragic, emotional and wonderfully thoughtful adventure, placing a focus on mortal themes that will resonate with everyone. 

But is this enough? From what I’ve played so far, it just might be – striking a careful balance between the annals of history it draws from so gleefully, while looking forward at progressive ideas. Obviously this isn’t the most visually spectacular and mechanically transcendent RPG of the generation, yet is still shaping up to be a melancholic adventure worth taking. 

Related: Upcoming Nintendo Switch Games

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MSI RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Trio

What is the MSI RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Trio?

The MSI GeForce RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Trio is a third-party version of Nvidia’s RTX 2070 Super card, a specced-up edition of the standard RTX 2070. 

With the older vanilla RTX 2070s being pulled from stores, new Super editions are filling the void it left behind, boasting superior specs – and slightly steeper prices. Nvidia has almost definitely made this move to counter the arrival of AMD’s new RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT graphics cards, providing a blitzing performance and fancy features such as ray tracing, instead of offering bargain-tastic value. 

The MSI variant on test here further increases clock speeds, while also optimising overclocking potential with a triple-fan setup to prevent the GPU overheating. But with all of these modifications comes a hefty price, which could well be a deal breaker with its AMD rivals priced so competitively. 

Although, don’t forget, the MSI RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Trio is both more expensive and more powerful than the Founders Edition RTX 2070 Super, so don’t take this review as a complete reflection on Nvidia’s own vanilla version. 

Related: Best Graphics Card 2019

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The Surge 2

When The Surge launched back in 2017, developer Deck13 was afraid that its sci-fi adventure would be branded as a cheap imitation of Dark Souls, little more than a reskin with mechanics that didn’t match up to the masterful original. But once players delved into it, what awaited was something far more complex. 

A layer of strategy sat beneath the combat system that made each and every encounter an exercise in finesse. Each limb could be dismembered, weakening enemies or leading them to drop equipment that would soon prove valuable in your own quest. It felt excellent to play, taking place across a bleak, intertwining world that was a joy to explore.      

However, it was a tad generic, confined to industrial facilities which largely all felt the same. Seldom did you venture outside them, unable to discover a wider world filled with alien technologies. The Surge 2 tackles this criticism head-on, taking us into the sprawling metropolis known as Jericho City. It’s massive, and filled with far more variety from the outset. 

A new setting isn’t the only enhancement Deck13 brings to its ambitious sequel, seemingly tightening all the screws to deliver a deeper, more concise trip to its mechanical hellscape. 

Related: Upcoming Xbox One Games 

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Dragon Quest Builders 2 Review

At first glance, you’d be forgiven if you labelled Dragon Quest Builders 2 as a rather shameless Minecraft clone. Its world consists of endless cubes making up sprawling deserts and dense forests, filled with iconic monsters from decades past that the series has come to call its own. Fans of the franchise will feel right at home here. 

The idea of building your own place of belonging is eerily similar to Mojang’s effort, but the JRPG flavouring that surrounds it is what sets Dragon Quest Builders 2 apart in so many brilliant ways. Outside of constructing buildings, farmlands and bathhouses you’ll embark on an epic world-spanning journey, making plenty of friends along the way while completing quests and other missions. 

It’s carried by a sharp variety of dialogue and oodles of tutorials, some of which drag on a little too long if I’m honest. It can take a while before you’re unleashed into the thick of things. That aside, Square Enix has crafted yet another fun, accessible journey of creativity I was more than happy to embark upon. 

Related: Best PS4 Games 

One of your first major tasks will be planting dozens of essential crops. Cherries, anyone? 

My adventure in Dragon Quest Builders 2 begins as a prisoner aboard a ghostly pirate ship. A crew of skeletons, bats and other nasty creatures have taken me into captivity, fearing the one thing I was born to do – build. The art of building is forbidden in this world, with its inhabitants content with living in misery as their crops wilt and farm animals fail to produce anything. 

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Asus Dual RTX 2060 Super O8G-EVO Review

What is the Asus Dual RTX 2060 Super O8G-EVO?

The Asus Dual RTX 2060 Super O8G-EVO is Asus’s third-party version of Nvidia’s RTX 2060 Super, an upgraded edition of the original RTX 2060. 

Coming in the wake of AMD’s new Radeon RX 5700 and Radeon RX 5700 TX, the new RTX 2060 Super very much feels like a reaction from Nvidia, possibly spooked by the excellent value the new Navi-based graphics processors offer. 

The new RTX 2060 Super should offer performance that not only supersedes the previous RTX 2060 from six months ago, but also sees off the fresh challenge from AMD. 

The Asus Dual RTX 2060 Super O8G-EVO is an incredibly large graphics card, so it might not be the best fit for small cases

While the only version we’ve been able to get our mitts on so far is the Asus Dual RTX 2060 Super O8G-EVO, it shares the same design and many of the core specs announced by Nvidia, and supports Nvidia’s current trump card feature – real-time ray tracing. 

Of course, be aware the Asus Dual RTX 2060 Super O8G-EVO is more powerful and more expensive than the Founders Edition RTX 2060 Super, so don’t take this review as a complete reflection on Nvidia’s own vanilla version. 

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AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT Review

What is the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT?

The AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT is one of the very first graphics cards to launch with AMD’s long awaited Navi architecture, which uses 7nm process technology. With the AMD Navi architecture touted to be the foundation of the custom-built GPUs for the PS5 and Xbox 2 next-gen consoles, this is an extremely exciting addition to AMD’s graphics card lineup. 

AMD has positioned the RX 5700 XT graphics card as a competitor for Nvidia’s RTX 2070 graphics card, with similar specs and performance for Full HD and Quad HD gaming despite being £70 cheaper.

The one massive issue for AMD’s RTX alternative though, is that it lacks the technology required to enable ray tracing, which sees games treated to stunning and more realistic lighting and reflection effects. 

The ‘Radeon’ lettering glows red when plugged into a motherboard and turned on

To compensate, AMD has added a slew of extra features to its RX 5000 Series cards, including Radeon Image Sharpening and Radeon Anti-Lag. The former feature looks to restore clarity to in-game images that have been negatively impacted by other post-process effects, while the latter claims to reduce the time between player input and display response by up to 31% which should please competitive gamers. 

But let’s be honest, the contest between graphics cards is largely going to come down to raw performance and value for money, both of which AMD seems confident as it faces off against Nvidia’s RTX range. 

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AMD Radeon RX 5700 Review

What is the AMD Radeon RX 5700?

The AMD Radeon RX 5700 is currently the cheapest graphics card sporting AMD’s new Navi architecture, offering a budget alternative to the rest of the line up. 

Like the RX 5700 XT, the more powerful sibling, the RX 5700 is capable of playing modern AAA games in Quad HD at 60fps. That said, by opting for this cheaper model, you may struggle to consistently hit that target frame rate for the most demanding of titles, such as The Division 2, but a little fiddling in the graphics setting will certainly amend that. 

The RX5700, sat in our test rig and paired with a Ryzen 9 3900X, with a Wraith Prism fan sat on top

But while you might have to sacrifice a bit of performance power by picking the RX 5700 over the more powerful XT model, you’re not losing out on any of the features. The likes of Radeon Image Sharpening, Radeon Anti-Lag and Radeon Chill are all present and accounted for, but sadly there’s still no ray tracing in sight. 

Such an omission may well swing the advantage over to Nvidia’s RTX graphics cards, especially following the launch of the RTX 2060 Super card, which inhabits the same price point. However, if you’re not bothered about the new light rendering technology, the AMD Radeon RX 5700 looks to be our top recommended Quad HD card. 

Related: Best Graphics Cards 2019

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The Sinking City Review

It’s hard not to appreciate what The Sinking City, Frogwares’ latest detective-’em-up, has tried to achieve, even if it flubs the execution. 

The Sinking City seeks, primarily, to link up the gameplay of Frogwares’ own Sherlock Holmes franchise with the writings of acclaimed (and controversial) horror writer H.P Lovecraft, trying to play with the world of cosmic horror he created. 

Indeed, fans of his work will find plenty of small references. Meeting a man clad in a yellow suit in the opening moments, you share a nod before soon after being introduced to Robert Throgmorten, who resembles Lovecraft’s own Arthur Jermyn in all but name. These references come in thick and fast, and they go a long way in establishing the world — and a tone — in the opening hours.

The Sinking City’s biggest success is the mood it creates. The half-submerged city of Oakmont is being torn apart by colossal storms while strange creatures, known as Wylebeasts, skitter and slime in the darkness. There’s no reason any sane person would choose to loiter here, and as a result it’s a fascinating portrait of ruin. Many of the inhabitants either can’t or won’t leave, as the city is slowly overcome by an unsettling pressure.

Related: Crash Team Racing – Nitro-Fueled Review

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Roccat Kain 120 AIMO Review

What is the Roccat Kain 120 AIMO?

The Roccat Kain 120 Aimo is a gorgeous gaming mouse, boasting a luscious colour scheme and sharp, comfortable form factor. 

I’ve been using this mouse for a couple of weeks now and it’s a tantalising bit of kit, and I’m not just talking about the simplistic yet effective implementation of RGB lighting. Its buttons are responsive, movement deft, and overall design fits in nicely with my current setup. 

Related: Best Gaming Mouse

Mixtures of white and black alongside punchy RGB lighting help the design shine even brighterThe Roccat Kain 120 AIMO is a visually spectacular gaming mouse

Weighing in at just 89g, this mouse is absurdly light. It glides across my workspace like a feather, offering an impressive degree of accuracy both during everyday tasks and a variety of gaming experiences. Whether you’re into shooters or strategy, the Roccat Kain caters to all tastes effectively. 

The outer shell is made of plastic, but Roccat has ensured this mouse isn’t forgettable by jazzing things up with its own advanced coating technology. It’s designed to prevent dirt and other debris from getting in between the buttons, which is definitely a concern after months of use.

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Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled Review

Mario has long reigned supreme in the kart-racing genre, its mixture of accessible racing and abundant creativity returning each and every generation to blow rivals such as Team Sonic Racing away. Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled arrives as yet another contender for the podium.

Bringing with it a remastered vision of the PS1 classic alongside a welcome handful of new bells and whistles, this new kart racer adopts a similar visual makeover to Crash and Spyro’s recent efforts. Crash Team Racing proves to be both gorgeous and challenging, with the latter arguably being a detriment in the end. 

Crash Team Racing is a wonderfully charming racer that’s a blast alone and with friends, although it never quite achieves greatness with a blueprint that sticks a little too closely to the original’s iconic experience. 

Related: Super Mario Maker 2 Review

The setup for Crash Team Racing is rather simple. An alien overlord known as Nitros Oxide has chosen Earth as its battleground to prove his kart-racing prowess. If Crash and friends fail to best him, their planet will be the next in a long line to be destroyed by the evil menace. If only all hostile invaders were down for a cheeky race or two before destroying civilization. 

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tynmanz Monthly Studio Report: May 2017
11 June 2017
I don't think they should continue to put features into it. They can add them later.

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