reviews\ Jan 14, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Crimson Sea - XB - Review

When you hear the developer KOEI, you might think of games that are set in medieval Japan, such as Dynasty Warriors. However, they decided to twist things up a bit and make a game that is based in a futuristic space setting. Crimson Sea is an action RPG, similar to Phantasy Star Online, without being online. Will their knowledge of creating such games as Dynasty Warriors help them cross over to this different genre and setting? Read on to find out!

The game takes place in a solar system called Theophilus. Players take on the role of Sho, who is a bounty hunter for hire. In the beginning of the game, a beautiful lady asks him to retrieve an item for him, once he accomplishes this mission; he finds out that he has ”recruited” with the IAG (Intelligence Agency of the Galaxy). After his first mission, he proves himself in battle and becomes the squad leader of the G-Squad, which contains a bunch of washed up recruits. The player’s job is to completely irradiate the growing Muton (hostile aliens) invasion. As time progresses you will find out there is more to Sho than meets the eye. Will you have enough talent to save the world, or will you cower in fear?

From the beginning players can defiantly notice that Dynasty Warriors has an influence on this game, with the linking combos, hordes or enemies, and powerups. The mission structure is very nice, since players can pick and choose where what to do, when they want to do it. There is a lot of mission variety in the game, some missions will have you retrieve an item, kill hordes of enemies, or escort people to a designated area. Besides the different mission types, Crimson Sea is further expounded since it some missions are linear, some are timed, and others have puzzles to solve. This adds great replay value, and keeps the game from becoming repetitive. Between each mission, players will have the chance to regroup at the base to get supplies, train, and do variety of other things.

There are a lot of ways to level your characters in this game. One way is to buy new Neo-Psionic powers (a powerful super move) that can cause immense damage to the enemies. The weapons used in the game are two fold, a long-range projective and a short-range melee weapon. The twist to this is that all weapons are extremely customizable. Each weapon has three different parts: Barrel, Effector, and Generator. This level of customization allows for numerous weapons to use throughout the game, and it gives the players a chance to find their favorite type. The more players use all of the weapons at their disposal, the more experience they revive, which makes the characters more powerful.

Controls for the game are good and are very responsive. There are two huge complaints that I have with the controls, they are not customizable, and players have no control over the camera. The game offers players a sniper mode, but it is essentially useless since you cannot invert the aim, this would not have been so bad if it was not really sensitive. Having full control of the camera would have been exceptionally nice. It seems like during boss battles, when players have to move around a lot, get a bad view of the boss and end up getting damage that would normally be avoidable. This is a shame to see KOEI not include this in the game.

Another interesting thing about Crimson Sea is that it allows for a great amount of strategy. During the course of the game, players will pick up several new teammates. Once they join your team, you can put everyone in a formation that will be most effective while taking on the hordes of enemies. The sad part about this is the players can only play as Sho, but the developers made the AI smart enough to actually be helpful instead of a burden. The enemies also have their own AI script, to prevent the game from becoming repetitive. The swarm of enemies will come in at different directions, try to get behind you, and use many different tactics to defeat you, other than blindly charging to their death.

The game sports a really nice and detailed graphics engine. During any point in the game, the players will find themselves surrounded by hundreds of aliens, and there will never be a hint of any slow down! This is one of the best points about the entire game! The character models are highly detailed, and contain a lot of textures. The models look really nice, and seem like something seen out of an anime cartoon. The cut screens and FMV’s are also done with high production values, similar to Final Fantasy CGI movies. The environments player’s fight contains as much detail as the players. Each place looks nice and really keeps any sense of repetition away.

The sound in this game is phenomenal! Everything from the voice-overs to the soundtrack has a very professional feel to it. The music is composed with great care, and really fits the entire game. Crimson Sea supports Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, and it adds a whole new layer to the game. If players are fortunate enough to have a setup that has this, they need to listen to it, and see how it drastically affects the game. It will really knock your socks off once heard through a surround sound set up!

Crimson Sea is rated T for Teen for violence and suggestive themes.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 8.7
Crimson Sea is extremely fun to play, but the camera can become more of a hamper than help, especially during boss battles. No inverted angles while sniping, what where they thinking? Other than shoddy camera angles and no inverted mode for sniping, the game is a blast to play, and will provide hours of entertainment.

Graphics: 8.9
The game looks extremely well. The thing that is most impressive is that the graphics engine can handle a lot of enemies on screen, with no slow down at all!

Sound: 9.1
If you have a home theater system (with Dolby Digital 5.1) you MUST hook it up to it, because the game sounds extremely awesome!

Difficulty: Medium
The game offers a few difficulty modes, and each of them provides a greater challenge than the previous. The AI in the game doesn’t cheat, and is usually fair. Players might feel overwhelmed by the site of 100+ enemies to defeat at once, but once they master the controls, they will not prove to be a problem.

Concept: 7.5
Save the world from hordes of aliens? This theme has been played to death! That does not mean that the game does not introduce anything new. The game has a great combo system and gives players many unlockable secrets.

Overall: 8.8
Lets face it, on the Xbox there is an extremely low selection of quality RPG’s released. Even thought Crimson Sea has a few quirks, it is still a really great game to play. If can forgive a few bad camera angles, and a shoddy sniper mode, than you will derive great pleasure from this game.


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