Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge Review
The story of Crimson Skies starts in a different America. An America engulfed in the times where words like manifest destiny, great depression, and expansion were common terms in a lot of people’s minds. This America is a bit different from the one you learn about in history books in the fact that the United States of America is no longer united. America has divided into several smaller regional nation-states. As this struggle continues, each region tries to further isolate themselves with their own armies, and by destroying roads going in and out of their respective regions. The zeppelin has become the main mode of transportation since each region is destroying the roads. America is now the land of the pirates and the home of whoever can survive as there is no more federal law. This is where you come in, Nathan Zachary. You are in this only to even the score for the underdog. You and your gang, the Fortune Hunters, are looking for a little adventure and a little money along the way. What else could someone ask for after being stuck in a German POW camp? After being shot down by a lucky shot in the Great War you seemed pretty upset. Even after all of that, you still managed to escape, get an Oxford education, and make it back to America in one piece. Sadly, shortly after returning, the great depression struck you down. So far down that you cannot go on living a normal life. This is when you decide to take matters into your own hands, and you created the Fortune Hunters. Unfortunately, yours is not the only gang of its kind. There are also the Red Skull Legion and the Rajin’ Cajuns who are also looking for a fortune. You can be sure that, at some point in time, your gangs will meet and it won’t be friendly. So, let’s go get that treasure back and oh yeah, help the underdog.
As far as actually controlling your plane and moving about, all I can say is astounding. Every aspect of the game’s control is ergonomically perfect. You can pull off everything you need to do without holding the controller a certain way so your plane flies smooth and natural. What’s also pretty cool is how you can hop out of your plane and shoot off a stationary gun. These guns allow you to have a little more firepower and the ability to zoom. The only problem with this is that you’re stationary and an easy target for the planes so use these guns wisely. These guns can be located on zeppelins, on docks and on buildings.
The single-person game is amazingly addictive. I started playing the single-person game first, for the sole purpose of not going into an online dogfight unprepared. Next thing I knew, it was two hours later and I was almost late for a movie. I had only wanted to play for about thirty minutes, but wound up being glued to my seat for two hours! The game only took ten to learn. Needless to say, after the movie, I plopped right back down in my chair and pushed the ‘on’ button. Anyway, the story is fantastic as you go about earning back your fortune and fighting the Rajin’ Cajuns. Remember to do the missions with the dollar sign first. These missions earn you money towards upgrading your ships, you’ll also need a certain amount of “upgrade tokens” that can be either earned or found in hard to reach places on the map. Also, you can steal other planes if you see a little green circle on the map with a white plane in the middle. When you are ready for the actual story to advance, do the missions that look like an axe inside of a blue circle. These missions are where the ‘meat’ of the story lies. Remember to listen carefully when the dialog is explaining the current situation or you’ll find yourself stuck. The dialog does a very nice job of telling you exactly what to do; it’s up to you after that point, to get it done by any means necessary.
The menus are straight and to the point. The main menu consists of three choices: Single-Player, Multi-Player and Options. If you select Single-Player, you can choose any previous game or create a new game. If you select Multi-player the usual options come up (Split screen, Xbox Live, etc), and the options menu is self-explanatory. The interface is laid out so simple that even newcomers to the gaming world will easily be able to understand it.
The overall look and feel is very appealing. Each plane and level has it’s own unique look and feel. The plane’s rudders and brakes move accordingly, the engines flare when you use turbo, and everything else about the planes is eye-candy. When you shoot off your secondary guns, the sparks come out and the turrets move, etc. Even the small things are nice. For example, after you shoot a missile off and it’s and its way to the target, the turret closes. Small things like that can be found all throughout the game. The levels are real eye-poppers too. The terrain is laid out very nicely and smoothly. You can actually see the texture of the ground and wooden docks. All in all, Crimson Skies is a beautiful game. It is one the most gorgeous games I have had the pleasure of playing on Xbox. The only small thing I can say about the layout is that the map isn’t very useful outside of pointing you in the right direction. You can’t really judge distance with it. Either you’re far away from an enemy (meaning there’s a red dot on the edge of the map), or you’re really close to an enemy. Even so, once again, a very eye-pleasing game.