The gameplay is similar to its predecessor, Crash Bandicoot: Warped, with a couple of new gameplay styles added. Such as new vehicles, level themes, and much more. Crash can now obtain a power-up called "Tip Toe sneakers" which allow Crash to walk on nitro crates without the risk of losing a life or an Aku Aku mask. Coco has her own levels, too, much like Warped, except that the levels are on foot, not a vehicle. If the player presses triangle on their controller, they can bring up an HUD showing their Wumpa Fruit counter (100 gives you an extra life), how many crates the player has broken out of how many crates there are in the whole entire level, and the players life counters.
Despite mixed reviews, Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex sold quite well. The game also made Greatest Hits.
- Crunch & Rok-Ko: In a style of the atlasphere levels with Crunch in a much larger atlasphere made of rock.
- Crunch & Wa-Wa: Crunch is in water form and can attack using power beams.
- Crunch & Py-Ro: In a style of chase and mech levels with Crunch throwing flaming boulders at you, he needs to 'cool' down.
- Crunch & Lo-Lo: Crunch is a tornado and has a lot of power moves Crash is in his glider.
- Dr. Neo Cortex, Crunch & the Elementals: Cortex does not attack you, but, Crunch jumps on four buttons of an Elementals color sending their powers: Rok-Ko sends flaming rocks raining down, Wa-Wa just sends a few ice cubes that freeze Crash for a second, Py-Ro sets the floor on fire so watch your feet, Lo-Lo uses electricity that come from the front and back.
This game has more vehicles than before, in fact, most of the levels in the game involve riding vehicles, and there are lots of variants;
- "Crash-Glider/Coco-Ship": The glider is playable in Tornado Alley and the boss Atmospheric Pressure while the Ship is only playable in Crashteroids. Both can Barrel Roll like planes from Warped but the Ship can shoot lasers where as the Glider can shoot Flaming Wumpa Fruit in Tornado Alley and lasers in Atmospheric Pressure repetitively.
- "Atlasphere": A large blue hamster ball big enough to fit Crash, this vehicle only can move and it has no attacks but is strong enough to break crates and fling away small enemies (like penguins) , just by simply running over them.
- "Minecart": This is used in Compactor Reactor and for the race in Ghost Town, its moves from side to side to smash crates on those sides, down to go slower and up to go faster.
- "Jeep": A camo colored jeep which is driven in to escape a herd of rhinos in Jungle Rumble and and to race in Smokey and the Bandicoot, the Jeep can't stop in the chase in Jungle Rumble, but can oddly stop in Smokey and the Bandicoot. Also the Jeep has no attacks.
- "Submarine": A yellow sub is used to navigate the depths of the sea in Seashell Shenanigans, H2 Oh No, and Coral Canyon, the sub can drop mines and shoot Torpedoes.
- "Firefly": This flying firefly-like plane is only playable in That Sinking Feeling, the firefly has a lock on target missile system.
- "Scooter/Snow Board: The scooter is only used in Tsunami, it has no attacks. The snowboard controls just like the scooter and is used in Avalanche and Forces of Nature. Both are only used by Coco.
- "Heli-Pak": A helicopter pack which control just like the jet pack from Crash Bandicoot 2 used maneuver the volcano in Fahrenheit Frenzy and race through rings Ice Station Bandicoot just like Rings of Power from Warped only there's 10 more rings in this course, Crash can spin while using this.
- "Mech": There are two mechs; a red one only used in the boss Crashes to Ashes and the yellow one that is playable in Droid Void and Crate Balls of Fire, the red one can spray water, and the yellow one can shoot Wumpa Fruit.
- This is the only game in the Crash series that makesthe player battle the same exact boss over and over again.
- This the only game in the main continuity that introduces masks other than Aku Aku and Uka Uka.
- If Crash is left alone for long enough, he will start to juggle a Wumpa Fruit.
- Switch Crates and Nitro Switch Crates now count towards the crate count.
- In the Atlasphere levels, the bosses of the original PlayStation games are used as obstacles.
- Ironically, on the back of the case, it says that Coco is playable for the 'first time ever on foot', she was playable on foot in Crash Bandicoot: Warped before riding Pura and was playable on foot in Crash Bash while in the warp room and the Crate Crush games.
- In Arctic Antics and all other snow-themed levels, whenever Crash stands on the moving Bonus Platform, he will start shivering after a few seconds.
- Wa-Wa is voiced by R. Lee Ermey, who is known for playing Gunnery Sgt. Hartman from Full Metal Jacket and Sergeant from Toy Story.
- Py-Ro is voiced by Mark Hamill. Hamill is best known for his role as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars franchise and the voice of The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, marking the first celebrity voice role of a character in Crash history.
- Lo-Lo was voiced by Jess Harnell who was once the voice of rival mascot Spyro the Dragon in Spyro: A Hero's Tail and Spyro: Shadow Legacy and is now the voice of Crash Bandicoot.
- In Crash Twinsanity, when Cortex is talking to his angry minions (because of low pay), Cortex says: "Well the past few years were rather slow, Wrath of Cortex didn't do as well as we'd hoped."
- Coco is voiced by Debi Derryberry who also voices Jimmy Neutron in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and the Little Green Alien in the original Toy Story.
- In Crash's house during the opening cutscene to the game, a ringtone-esque recording of the Wrath of Cortex theme plays in the GameCube version before Aku Aku makes his appearance. In the PS2 American version, the music does not play, however, it does in the European PS2 one.
- In Tornado Alley, Coco can be heard saying "Looks like Neo's using them to make the tornadoes!" this marks the first and only time that Dr. Neo Cortex is mentioned by his first name.
- Originally, there was going to be a Dreamcast version of the game.
- This is the first Crash Bandicoot game ever to verbally mention Aku Aku's name.
- The music published in the game does not loop smoothly. It only has a track with an end that loops. This is different from most video games who have the music loop in time with the beginning and the end.
- On the NTSC PS2 version of the game, pressing SELECT as the player grabs the stopwatch in Wizards And Lizards will teleport the player to the end of the level. This does not work on any other level on the PAL PS2 version of the game.
- Many returning characters received a dramatic makeover; Pura has whiskers; Uka Uka and Cortex are shorter; Tiny's eyes show only pupils; Aku Aku got more feathers on the top and is shaped like a trapezium/trapezoid, instead of a rectangle.
- Error: When Aku Aku arrives at Crash's house in the introduction, he opens the door, but the door can be heard about a second later.
- In Crash Tag Team Racing, the first Battle Arena is called Jungle Rumble, possibly a reference to level 6 from this game.
- Every chamber except the fifth and the hidden one has one level with a laboratory theme that represents the element of the boss. Compactor Reactor is a lab inside a cave and represents Rok-ko. H2 Oh No! is an underwater lab and represents Wa-Wa. Fahrenheit Frenzy is a lab inside a volcano and represents Py-ro. Weathering Heights is a lab inside a plane and represents Lo-lo.
- Level 13 is titled Smokey and the Bandicoot. This is a reference to the movie Smokey and the Bandit.
- Level 28 is titled Ice Station Bandicoot, which is most likely a reference to the movie, Ice Station Zebra.
- This is the only Crash game to have Coco playable in 2 of the levels in the 4th and 6th warp rooms.
- The 4th level of the first warp room, Wizards and Lizards, was supposedly a reference to the Komodo Brothers.