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January 6, 2004 > Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge

Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge

Platform: Xbox

by Jeremy Inman

Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge is an arcade-style aerial combat shooter that takes place in an alternate 1930s reality. The United States of America no longer exists. Instead, the various states have broken up into small regional nation-states that are at war with one another. Since the war has destroyed most of the ex-country's roads and bridges, cars have been replaced with fighter planes and zeppelins. In the absence of federal law, air pirates flourish, and every man for him self is the new name of the game. In Crimson Skies, players assume control of air pirate Nathan Zachary, the leader of a band of pirates known as the Fortune Hunters, for obvious reasons. Much of the game's entertainment value stems from the 1930s characters and settings. The game has a very Indiana Jones feeling to it. Zachary is a charming but haphazard swashbuckler, and a reluctant hero, and everything from the cheesy dialogue to the adventure-film score fits nicely into this 1930s alternate mythology.

As for gameplay, Crimson Skies is by no means an intricate flight simulator. This is a very easy game to pick up, as there are no complicated flight controls for gamers to have to memorize. Crimson Skies is very much a shoot 'em- up title, as it focuses on the thrilling intensity of aerial dog fighting rather than the technicalities of aeronautics. The result is an incredibly smooth gameplay experience that remains entertaining all the way through to the end. The combat controls are simple and the heads up display is easy to understand, making Crimson Skies a blast to play for any action fan.

Plane variety and upgrades keeps the experience fresh, along with the ability toock your fighter in the bay of a zeppelin to man the anti-aircraft guns. To succeed in many of the levels in Crimson Skies, players will need to exit their planes in order to take control of mounted weapons in order to defend a certain target. These mounted weapons can be stationary, on zeppelins, trucks or boats and even on the back of a moving train. This rail-based style shooting gives the game a welcome level of variety that adds on to the already spectacular gameplay.

Yet another facet of the gameplay in Crimson Skies is its multiplayer capability. Just one Xbox will support up to four players at a time, and Xbox Live subscribers can compete in matches of up to 16 pilots over the internet. Multiplayer gameplay modes range from dog fighting to capture the flag, and even keep-away. In an even further measure to insure the replay value of Crimson Skies, Microsoft has given the game the ability to download new game content through Xbox Live, which will allow players to complete new challenges even after they've completed the game. Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge is definitely worth purchasing for any aerial combat fan, and it is currently one of the most entertaining titles available on Xbox Live.

I give it an "A" because it is immensely entertaining, humorous, and the only worthwhile Xbox title of its class.

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