Crimson Sea 2
It seems a little weird for an Xbox-exclusive game to get a PS2-exclusive sequel, but thats exactly what happened with Crimson Sea, Koeis futuristic, sci-fi take on the Dynasty Warriors franchise. Dont worry if you missed the first game, though, because Sea 2 is pretty much a bigger, better version of the original, with a bit more of everything: missions, moves, play modes, and, most notably, a second playable character. Sea 2's action-packed combat is surprisingly satisfying, and the new time-extend feature (basically a take on Max Paynes bullet time) provides added incentive for racking up major league combos. But fortunately, its not all mindless button mashing you need to power up your weapons often to survive, and hardcore players will have a field day trying to achieve straight S rankings on each mission. My only gripe is that combat can feel a little repetitive after your gazillionth 100-hit combo, but the varied mission objectives help keep things fresh. If nothing else, itll make for a great holdover until Samurai Warriors shows up in May.
Like most of Koeis games, Crimson Sea 2 (not a submarine game, by the way) has a learning curve as steep as a black-diamond slope. But put in the training time, and Sea 2 plays like a faster-paced Phantasy Star Online. Its solid in the face of intense mayhem, with tons of great-looking characters on the screen and no big slowdown problems. One substantial flaw: Camera control on the right thumb-stick, far from the face buttons youre relentlessly riding to fend off baddies, is a bad idea I had to settle for target-lock to swing the view.
Youll drop a deuce in your long johns the first time a door locks behind you and hundreds of insectlike creatures descend from the ceiling, fixin to carve you up like a turkey. (One of your missions should be to hunt down and kill whoever taught these bugs how to lock doors.) Thing is, once this happens for the 80th time, it starts to wear a tad thin. Still, theres a lot to like beautiful graphics, a huge number of missions, well-designed environments, a hint of puzzle gameplay every so often, and that sweet Dynasty Warriors combat system. Theres a bit of Phantasy Star Online flavor to Sea 2 as well (always a good thing), only this is more of a bug hunt and the storys not quite as interesting.