previews\ Aug 13, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge - XB - Preview

Nathan has a bit of a problem. Well, not a bit, a big problem. He got into a little gambling difficulty at a high stakes game and awakes the next morning with a naked woman sleeping beside him and a big gun, with a large man sporting a bad Russian accent, standing over him.

They tried to take his plane to recover his debt. A little wing-walking got the plane back. But to get the Pandora, a zeppelin, back it is going to take more - like a dogfight over towering stands of island rock in the middle of the ocean.

This is Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge, a pending Xbox release from Microsoft Game Studios. was invited to preview a beta build of the game and flew at the offer.

Crimson Skies is a mission-based aerial combat adventure game. It is played from the third-person perspective, and features sterling graphical elements. Not only is the scenery especially well rendered, but the special effects, such as the smoking and then exploding planes, air turbulence as you brake the plane in a dogfight, or bullet casings flying back over the wings, are wonderful bits of eye candy that bring this game to remarkable life.

Nathan’s primary plane is the Devastator, a bi-winged jet propelled aircraft that initially features guns and missiles as the weapons. As you move along the path, you can collect tokens and cash, which can be used to upgrade your ride.

Some of the missions are straight destroy while others are along the lines of protect, with destroy as a fun sidelight. In one of the earlier missions, you will be asked to protect Doc from several planes bent on shooting him from the sky. You must keep him in your sights at all times because if you get distracted chasing a plane that is almost destroyed, two other marauders can jump on him and shoot him down. You will hear a disappointing, "Oh, Nathan" just before the mission failed message pops up on the screen.

Saving Doc is important because tucked away in the belly of those towering island peaks is a repair shop. If you have the money, you can land there anytime to get your plane fixed.

The nice thing about this game is how it can distract your from your primary mission. While looking for Big John in Sea Haven, you may notice that the Pandora is taking some shots and is starting to look like Swiss cheese. Well, maybe you need to zip over there and gun down those fixed wing jets before the reason you are looking for Big John (he is the captain of the Pandora) - the Pandora - no longer exists.

Go here, protect that, shoot this, pick up this cash mission - yep, this game will keep you hopping.

The controls have been configured for ease of use. You have a primary and secondary firing system, an action button, brake and turbo. Later you will get a sniper scope. One thumbstick is for the direction controls and the other allows you to roll the plane - a nice feature to have for evasion when being shot at.

The backdrop to the game feels like a 1930s, early 1940s Hollywood B movie with some big differences. Of course the planes are a product of another era altogether. Nathan’s planes and zeppelin boast a skull and crossbones emblem, and the cast of characters feels like they stepped off the silver screen. Nathan is a mercenary of sorts, with a crew of followers each blessed with personalities that are slightly grating but totally in line with the sort he would associate with.

The game’s sound features solid voice acting, and upbeat and appropriated musical score, and satisfying sound effects. From the rockets leaving the rails to the pounding of the machine guns and even the differing engine sounds, this is a solid adjunct to the game’s visuals.

However the star of this game is the graphical elements. This is a game that looks terrific. The only thing that almost ruins the luxurious graphical elements are the targeting icons - necessary and typical of flight-combat sims. However, this game may boast a lot of aerial dogfights, but it is not strictly a flight sim - it is more an action-adventure tale that just happens to take place primarily in a plane, which happens to be in a lot of aerial combat.

Another interesting element, which may or may not be exclusive to the beta, but the game loaded into the Xbox and could be played without a disk in the drive.

Crimson Skies High Road to Revenge is a wonderful mix of time periods, with enough of a plot to sustain the action. The game is immersive and entertaining. It has a solid sound track and amazing graphics. This is a game likely to soar high when it hits store shelves in October.

About The Author
In This Article
From Around The Web
blog comments powered by Disqus