Microsoft October 2002--We took this bugs-in-your-teeth dogfighter for a spin this month and came away impressed. If the sheer amount of background activity doesn't blow your mind, the squadrons of fighters trying to put bullets in your bonnet will. But it's not all twitch action. The swashbuckling storyline, the strategic use of environments and the solid arcadey controls all help Crimson Skies eclipse its PC counterpart.
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Nathan Zachary, gentleman air pirate and leader of the Fortune Hunters, is back at it again. Romancing the ladies and downing privateers is no trouble for this man of adventure, especially when his gang of dangerous rogues backs him!
Crimson Skies is the story of Nathan Zachary and the Fortune Hunters, a band of air pirates in a alternate version of 1930’s America. The United States has fractured into many small states and the federal plans for a highway and rail transportation system lay unused. America has fallen into a deep depression and the economy has faltered from the lack of reliable trade.
In response, people have taken to the air and the zeppelin has become the in-country freighter of choice. With their massive payloads and the advantage of air travel, they can transport supplies to wherever they’re needed. Thieves and cutthroats haven’t ignored the advances in aeronautics either, as marauding bands of pirates take to the skies to steal cargo from unwary transport captains. Along with the rogues come legitimate air security firms and state militia, mobilizing their own attack squadrons to repel the pirate threat.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
An extremely accurate and detailed flight simulation, it isn’t. However, bad grammar aside, Crimson Skies is still a joyous romp into the skies of an alternate 1930’s America and the game makes no excuses regarding its unrealistic and somewhat fanciful view of airplane handling. Performing an immelman loop is nearly as easy as making a banking turn and the learning curve for a new pilot is not very demanding. In some flight games, these features could be seen as a negative, a strike against the designers, but not so in Crimson Skies.
Without a doubt, what will grip you first is the ease of piloting. Banking, looping, and diving all become easy with this forgiving interface and you’ll hardly ever have to deal with the problem of a stalled motor. Guns and rockets abound, spitting defeat at your enemies by the barrel load. In some missions, you’ll even get the chance to leap out of your plane and capture an enemy aircraft. You don’t get to control your pilot as he does this of course, but the thrill is the same nonetheless.
By far the best aspect of Crimson Skies is gameplay. Trailing not far behind are the graphics, with wonderfully detailed and unique designs for aircraft, vivid models of zeppelins and similar airships, and an overall sense of design that amazes the eye. Explosions, model detail, and environment are all rendered wonderfully, providing a detailed and interesting environment in which to fly.
I couldn’t let this review pass without congratulating the Crimson Skies team on translating the bizarre and amazing designs of Crimson Skies aircraft into the digital environment. The first time you see a Hughes Bloodhawk sweep out of the sky towards you, something just feels right in the world and it continues to feel right as you rain a hail of lead into the Bloodhawk’s airframe.
Voice acting for Crimson Skies is well done, but not spectacular. The characters are slightly over the top, especially on the part of some of the mercenaries and militia members you encounter.
The soundtrack is mildly entertaining, but far too short, leaving the bad taste of repetition in my mouth. Triumphant and blustery, this aspect of the game could’ve used more work. As an added disappointment, the engine that Crimson Skies runs is prone to performance issues related to sound.
PII 266mhz, 8MB 3D Video Card (for 3D graphics), 4x CD-ROM, Win95/98/ME/2K, and 32MB RAM (64 for W2K, 96MB for Multiplayer).
Reviewed On: AMD K6/2 400mhz, Win98, 64MB RAM, 4GB HD, Diamond Viper V700U, Creative Labs Soundblaster AWE 64, and a 24x CD-ROM
The campaign included with Crimson Skies was built with an eye to acrobatics and wild stunts. On nearly every mission there are areas you can fly under, around, through, and within. As a bonus to the player, completing one of these challenging stunts earns you a photo and news article, earning you extra cash to equip your crew with.
Well in keeping with the theme of Crimson Skies, the documentation is littered with advertisements and national propaganda, lending to the mystique of an adventurous air pirate.
While suffering from some initial problems with a repetitive soundtrack and audio related performance issues, Crimson Skies makes up for it with strong and unique gameplay, detailed graphics, and a 1930’s feeling that just won’t quit. All of you Rocketeer fans out there better sit up and take notice, this is the closest you’ll ever get.