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Crimson Skies: High Road To Revenge Member Review for the Xbox

GAME-QUEST-EX By:
GAME-QUEST-EX
11/06/12
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE Action 
PLAYERS 1- 16 
PUBLISHER Microsoft 
DEVELOPER  
RELEASE DATE  
T Contains Suggestive Themes, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

CRIMSON SKIES: HIGH ROAD TO REVENGE

Console: Xbox (original) and Xbox 360 (Backwards Compatible & Downloadable Game)

Year: 2003 (Xbox) and 2007 (Xbox 360)

Ports: None (An Xbox Exclusive)

Developer: FASA Studio

Publisher: MicroSoft Game Studios

Genre: Open-World Arcade-Style Action Flying Game

Number of Players: 1 to 4

System Link: 1 to 16 Players

Online Multi-Player: Yes (via Xbox Live)

Vibration Support: Yes

Voice Support: Yes

Friends List: Yes

Scoreboard: Yes

Downloadable Content: Yes

Custom Soundtracks Support: No

In-Game Dolby Digital Sound: Yes

HDTV Support: Yes (480p)

Core Memory Size: 8 Blocks of Memory

Data Slot Memory Size: 3 Blocks of Memory

Xbox 1 Memory Card Save Support: Yes

Media Format: DVD ROM

Instruction Manual: 33 Pages in Full Color

ESRB Rating: Rated “T” For TEEN (Suggestive Themes and Violence)

Series Legacy: “Crimson Skies” (for the PC)

STORY

Early in the 20th Century, 3 major events changed history: the Great War, Prohibition and the Great Depression. However, history as you know it changes forever, when, amid the turmoil and hardship that emerges as a result of these events, Texas secedes from the Union. This causes the rest of the states to split apart, effectively ending the United States of America. Each of the states becomes a nation of their own, and decides to isolate themselves from their neighbors, by destroying all of the major roads and bridges that connect them to one another. As a result, airplanes and zeppelins become the main and most reliable forms of transportation in North America. That fact eventually gives rise to the new masters of the sky: the Air Pirates.

Nathan Zachary, a young man who was once a veteran of the Great War, lost a ton of his wealth during the Great Depression. Frustrated and desperate, after the USA split, Nathan decided to form a gang of Air Pirates known as the “Fortune Hunters,” whose main goal was to somehow steal back the wealth they had made, which was lost, and or, stolen from him, during Great Depression.

As a “gentleman pirate,” Nathan has a reputation of being a charming lady’s man, and despite his often criminal enterprises, he manages to not become a ruthless villain, but somehow remains a pirate with a good heart. He never kills any innocent civilians and only seeks to steal from the rich who turn out to be shady criminals, and or, very greedy people.

Life as a fortune hunting air pirate is not easy, as Nathan, “Brooklyn” Betty Charles, Big John, and the rest of his crew are forced to face of against a bunch of bloodthirsty rivals. To complicate matters, Nathan’s good friend and scientist, Doctor Fassenbiender confides a huge secret with him, which puts the Fortune Hunters in direct odds with other Air Pirate groups like the Ragin’ Cajuns, the Red Skull Legion and an extremely sinister organization named “Die Spinne,” whose symbol is that of a black spider.

The storyline of “Crimson Skies: High Road To Revenge” (CS: HRtR) is a very interesting take on an Alternate Reality, in which our past real-world history, dramatically changes in the 1930s, to present the gamer with a title where the planes are more high-tech than we remember they originally were, and where the adventure is fun and over-the-top in a very positive way.

CS: HRtR takes old pulp action stories from the 1920s and 1930s and puts a major spin on them by taking the pirate-craze from previous centuries, and putting an aviation-centered focus on them. It all comes together very well, with great dialogue, cool action, nicely done voice acting, all tied together with awesome gameplay. The further along you get into the game, and the more storyline cut-scenes you get to watch until the fateful finale.

GRAPHICS and ANIMATIONS

Overall, the visuals are very colorful, without putting you off. The colors are very clear, so you know which objects are red, blue, green, brown, and so on. Some stages have their own colors, based on themes and concepts. Desert stages, like Arixo, obviously have a lot of brown colors, because of the sandy mounts and valleys. The Lost City is located in a heart of a jungle, so there are a lot of green colors, reflecting the surrounding vegetation.

The mechanical devices, contraptions, weapons, and ultimately, the vehicles, all look awesome. Each Air Pirate gang has their own specific aircraft types, colors, emblems and banners. They all have very nicely crafted details on their bodies, so you can see the details of their designs, logos, screws, nuts and bolts. The airplanes look believable, but at the same time, their designs are somewhat “hyper-real,” in the sense that they look possible to make, but still have a cool, almost sci-fi style look to them.

Buildings and structures look solid and convincing as well, from the desert mountains in Arixo, to the skyscrapers in Chicago (located in the Industrial States of America), and to the pyramid structures in the Lost City further in Central America. All the necessary detail you need to be convinced that they are good looking building and structures (windows, gates, doors, facial features, etc) are all present, and very visible.

Buildings are also “hyper-real” in the sense that many of them have airplane runways, so that you can actually land your craft on or beside many of the buildings! This cool feature adds to the overall “diesel-punk” look and feel of CS: HRtR.

And speaking of diesel-punk, machines in this era are more advanced than what we currently have recorded in our history books, but that is all intentional. In CS: HRtR, if you play long enough, you will encounter giant robots, mechs, and other monster-like bosses, which are actually very high-tech machines your enemies try to put in your part to stop you. Despite their advanced nature, they look like they do belong in that past pulp era of high adventure.

Shooting down airplanes and zeppelins produces cool looking explosions, in which each of the flying vehicles fall down to the ground in a burning, crumpled heap. The graphics and animations for the destruction of flying machines looks great on the original Xbox, and playing through the game will yield for you many of these scenes over and over again.

Shooting down enemy planes (or in some cases civilian blimps), usually means that they will drop some power-ups or money respectively, for you to fly forward in your plane, so that you can pick them up. You will notice that most items actually have parachutes to slow their descent, so you have time to catch up to them. You can’t catch the enemy pilots who jump out of their burning wreckages, but then again, you don’t really need too. These visuals and animations are a welcome addition to the various on-screen actions of CS: HRtR, as they add a nice touch to the whole theme of aerial combat.

Aerial dogfights means that bullets, missiles and even energy beams fly through the air, from one aircraft to another, or from the Anti-AirCraft Guns to whatever their targets may be. The screen never gets too cluttered with flying projectiles, but the scenes they present gives you a good sense of the intense aerial combat in this title.

Certain actions in CS: HRtR have different animations during active gameplay. For example, if you want to steal another plane that is parked on an airstrip, fly near to the Green and White Plane Icon on the airfield and press the X-Button when prompted. An animation will play, which will show Nathan Zachary quickly land his current plane, climb out of it, and then board the next plane, before flying off with it. Similarly, watch out for a Green and White Gun Icon, and press “X” near it to also have Nathan land his current aircraft, disembark, before climbing into the Anti-AirCraft Gun Turret, ready to fire at enemies from there. These are all short but cool animations which are all very welcome to look at, and add a nice touch in CS: HRtR. If you tire of watching them later on, just press “A” to skip those brief animation sequences and get back into the action.

The landscape is designed to actually be flown around, as well as into. In other words, if you have the right plane, and the right piloting skills, you can maneuver your plane into, through, and out of buildings and structures, to pick up Plane Power-Ups, Money Bags, and Upgrade Tokens, or perhaps just to evade heavy enemy fire. The landscape and structural designs are very well done, so you don’t just admire them, but you can make use of their complex, twisting shapes and various sizes, in very strategic ways, during active gameplay, which is a definite plus.

The one downside on the visual presentation, points to the character designs. They are not bad, but some of them don’t look as good as they could be. For example, the facial features of some of the characters look too rough, which can sometimes make them look a bit odd, or even ugly.

AUDIO and SOUND

The voice-overs are done to match the pulp era of the 1930s, as if it was a big budget adventure film. In other words, the dialogue is very impressive, and very professionally executed.

The Communications Radio, which the pilots use to talk to one another, becomes one of the main instruments that actually convey the storyline to the gamer. The pilots use their comm-radios to give and receive instructions to one another, and to their crews. In that back-and-forth communication, you actually hear everything from the various personality-types of each person talking, to hearing parts of the storyline being described to you, sometimes done in interesting detail. So, it can be to your advantage not to skip over the radio-comm dialogue, so that you can hear useful hints and tips you just may need to complete any given mission and to succeed in playing through the game.

Nathan Zachary also gives his witty verbal boasts and taunts to enemy aircraft pilots that he has just shot down after they have challenged him to an aerial dogfight. Your Fortune Hunter crew and your allies also tend to shout out positive comments when you accomplish something great, or they may shout out a warning to you when things go bad during a mission. Your crew and allies also tend to verbally brag when they get the better of their foes. All of these various spoken audio lines add immensely to draw you deeply into the world and the storyline of CS: HRtR. They are typically well voiced, and well-timed, and all occur at the correct time during a mission or as part of the game’s plot.

Music is pure adventure stuff, with movie-style orchestra sounds, backed up by many musical instruments to give the storyline setting a very grand feel. The action-oriented gameplay, is backed-up with urgent-sounding music, which kicks in when enemy airplanes start to attack you, your flying headquarters, the Pandora, or if the enemy attacks an ally or friend of yours. The urgent music is never annoying or boring; far from it. It all sounds very exciting, fast-paced and gives you a sense that you are indeed playing through a thrilling adventure game. Once you have defeated all your enemies in a particular area, or during a particular mission, there is an “All Clear” tune which lets you know that there is no more danger to you or your allies anymore (at least until the next mission or action scenario).

Gun shoots, missiles, energy beams, and explosions all sound very clear and very convincing to whoever is listening. Machine gun fire appropriately stutters and stammers at a rapid fire pace. Missiles have a swooshing or whooshing sound as they are fired off towards your target. Shot Guns mounted on your planes make a sudden and quick blasting sound as the bullets burst out to your enemies. Energy Beams make a very loud zapping sound, which remind you of high-voltage electrical discharges. Explosions have appropriate “boom” audio effects to them, especially since vehicles, blimps and structures you destroy tend to blow up in segments, and have several booming sound effects to accompany each of the blasts.

Each airplane sound different from the other. This is, of course, in terms of their various engines sounds. According to the storyline in this game, each aircraft is built, and or, modified by different people or by different companies. Therefore, each plane tends to have a slightly unique sound. In the end though, they all sound like planes, so once you hear the engine of each one long enough, they no longer sound too different from one another. Still, these subtle audio differences in the engine sounds are a nice touch.

Occasionally, the in-game audio all cuts out (the spoken dialogue, music and audio effects) during certain missions, or during certain portions of the game. These instances are very rare, and may occur if you constantly and rapidly keep on repeating or retrying a mission that you just failed.

GAMEPLAY

CS: HRtR is an Arcade Flying Game, so you can expect the controls to be easy and fun to handle. In fact, the absolute best parts of this title involve the GamePlay Mechanics.

LEFT ANALOG STICK: Steer and Fly your plane

RIGHT ANALOG STICK: Roll your plane Left or Right

DIRECTIONAL PAD: Change your Side Views

RIGHT TRIGGER: Fire Your Primary Weapon/ Fire Anti-AirCraft Guns

LEFT TRIGGER: Shoot Your Secondary Weapon (Limited Ammo)

Y-BUTTON: Accelerate (Speed up your plane)

B-BUTTON: Brakes (Slows down Your Plane/Move from one AA Gun to the next one)

X-BUTTON: Action (Activates Missions/Automatically Land Your Current Plane/Exit the Pandora/Exit Anti-AirCraft Guns/Visit a Service Station for Repairs)

A-BUTTON: Zoom-In/Zoom-Out (Use in Mini-Gyro/Anti-AirCraft Guns)

BLACK BUTTON: Lock the Camera onto the nearest Enemy AirCraft (not a weapon lock-on)

START BUTTON: Begin Game/Pause/Un-Pause

BACK BUTTON: Not Used

WHITE BUTTON: Not Used

The Arcade-Style Gameplay in CS: HRtR handles like a dream. It works so well that the learning curve isn’t high: you will be able to pick up and enjoy the high-flying antics of this title in short order.

Basically, you fly out of your zeppelin headquarters, named “Pandora,” and you take your plane to fly around a given area, seeking missions and shooting down bogey fighters.

Control and handling in CS: HRtR is so good that you can fly your plane extremely fast or travel very slow, to the point that you can make your aircraft almost hover! So, you can choose the best speed to fly at for combat scenarios, or the most ideal speed for exploring smaller, narrower areas like buildings, canyons and valleys.

What makes CS: HRtR very interesting is that in many ways, it is an Open-World Arcade-Style Flying Game. You are allowed to freely fly around and to explore each area for as long as you like, seeking out ways to make money, acquiring any Armor and Ammunition Power-Ups for your AirCraft if you happen to need them, as well as to also find and steal new airplanes you don’t yet have in your hanger back in the Pandora. Once you take it, that plane is permanently added to your collection, and you can use any of them in future Missions and Races.

CS: HRtR is divided into different stages, and each stage contains a variety of Missions you have to undertake and successfully complete, before you are able to advance the storyline forward. Each Mission is indicated by a Blue and White Icon, with a Dollar Sign in the middle of it. Fly your plane close to the icon and press the X-Button when you are prompted to do so. You will automatically trigger a dialogue with a person, who tells you what the Mission is all about, and what you need to do to successfully complete that Mission. Don’t forget to pay close attention to your on-screen Map, as it will have Yellow Markers to indicate Mission Locations to visit, and Red Markers to warn you of approaching Enemy Vehicles. These typically pop-up shortly after you activate and accept a Mission.

Missions can include everything from Cargo Pick-Ups, Escorting Ally’s Vehicles, Destroying Waves of Attacking Enemy Vehicles, Mounting an Anti-AirCraft Gun Turret Defense to protect the Pandora, an ally’s train, boat, blimp or building, to Destroying Enemy Bases. When you successfully complete each Mission, you earn Money and Upgrade Tokens, both of which you will need to upgrade your planes and make them perform better.

Speed is encouraged in your Race Missions, since you need to beat the set time in order to create your own record time. Here you are required to fly from one Checkpoint Gate to another before time runs out. If you finish on time, you win the money you wagered before the race started. If you lose, you lose your wagered loot to your rival. There is no shooting required in races, but your steering skills and your ability to fly fast and carefully are all premium requirements to successfully complete any race safely.

Combat has you downing enemy flyers with your guns, missiles or electric blasters. The arcade controls in CS: HRtR work very well to make your dogfights intensely fun. When you turn on the analog stick, your plane turns smoothly and precisely in the direction you want.

But there is more: Press in the Right Analog Stick, and then push both the Left and Right Analog Sticks, at the same time, in a combination of different directions, to make your plane perform a bunch of very cool looking, and very different flying stunts. These maneuvers can help you to turn your plane around almost instantly without slowing down, so that you can turn the table on your evil pursuers, and blast them to pieces before they get a chance to kill you. These aerial stunts also allow you spin, rotate, side-roll, barrel roll, dip, dive, climb, and drop very suddenly, enabling you to dodge enemy fire, avoid booby traps, avoid solid structures, evade enemy aircraft and not crash into dead-end walls. These aerial stunts are very easy to do, control-wise, but you have to learn exactly when you should perform them, so as to make the absolute best use of them. If you execute the wrong aerial stunt, at the wrong time, in the wrong aerial space, then you risk literally crashing to your death, or flying right into a hail of enemy fire, and losing a big chunk of your plane’s “health.”

Press the Right Trigger to shoot, but just make sure your target is in range before you expect to get any significant damage. Long Range Weapons are fired with the Left Trigger (your Secondary Weapon), and those can destroy targets further away. Secondary Weapons also tend to do more damage, especially to larger targets like boats, trains, gun turrets and blimps. Excessive use of your Primary Weapon causes it to over-heat, and making it to jam temporarily. Secondary Weapons have limited ammo, which needs to be replenished from time to time.

All of the weapon-firing functions work very well; just bare in mind that each plane has different sets of weapons. One plane might have a single cannon blaster and a missile launcher, while another plane might have a sub-machine gun, backed-up by a more powerful full auto-machine gun. To win aerial encounters using each fighter, you have to learn which Primary and Secondary Armaments they have, and how they can be put to use in the Missions where they will be best suited for.

Certain stages and missions require you to fly very carefully, or you will crash, burn and die. There are some structures and building you have to fly into, fly through and fly out of, but you have to do so with care. If you don’t, your plane will bounce off the floors, the walls, the ceiling or pillars, and you will watch helplessly as your plane loses energy and explodes. If you are constantly reckless in how you fly in these areas, you will become frustrated as you have to repeat the Mission over and over again. Don’t forget to fly carefully around and away from booby traps, which are big and bad enough to annihilate your dog-fighter, or you will also get annoyed trying to run through the gauntlet of traps over and over again. Checkpoints are available in CS: HRtR, so you can re-start any failed Mission from that point, instead of going all the way back to the beginning of the entire Mission. This is a good thing, as trial and error factors into the gameplay, which tends to increase in occurrence later on in this title.

Health Power-Ups and Ammo Power-Ups help to keep you in the game longer. Shoot down enemy planes, and they will drop one or both of these items and you will need to fly towards these power-ups to pick them up. Don’t let these power ups fall all the way down to the ground, because if they do, they will vanish forever, and you can’t use them at that point.

These power-up effects are instantly activated on your plane. For example, the health power-up automatically fixes up your damaged aircraft, while the ammo power-up refills the ammunition of your Secondary Weapons. Your Primary Weapon is unlimited, though it will over-heat if you keep on shooting. If your Primary Weapon overheats, then your gun will jam and stop working altogether. Ease up for a few seconds on your main gun, and it will return to functioning like normal. Also, pay attention to the environmental hazards like the ground, buildings or other structures. You may spot some Health and Ammo Power-Ups lying in theses areas, just waiting for you to pick them up.

Service Stations are repair centers which will completely fix up your damaged airplane, and restock all of your spent Secondary Weapon Ammunition. Look for the Blue and White Spanner/Wrench Icon, so that you can fly near it and press “X” in order to automatically land your current plane and get 100% repaired and restocked. The only catch is that using Service Stations will cost you some money. They may not be free, but they become essential recovery zones to visit, especially in a full-scale aerial conflict in which you are constantly taking damage from enemy fire or environmental hazards. In other words, you will have to factor in using Service Stations for your airplanes combat strategy, otherwise you won’t last long in a heavy fire-fight.

In some Missions and some Locations in CS: HRtR, you get the chance to land your plane, and mount an Anti-AirCraft Gun Turrets. Once inside them, you now have command of very large and extremely powerful Cannons, which you can use to shoot down enemy fighters, zeppelins, gun boats, land vehicles and opposing gun turrets. The controls are also very simple in terms of operating the AA Guns. You swivel the turrets left or right, up or down with the Left Analog Stick, and press the Right Trigger to fire off your unlimited supply of cannon shells at your selected targets. With the AA Guns, your main disadvantage is that you lack speed and mobility, both of which you have with your airplane. However, the AA Guns are super powerful and tend to destroy your targets with less hits, and in less time. That is, provided that you hit them. Enemy planes tend to skillfully dodge your AA fire, so you have to be very careful and very patient in order to blow them to pieces. Also, other large structures like buildings and mountains can come between your AA Guns and your target, and prevent you from getting a clean hit.

Another cool feature in CS: HRtR is that you can fly your plane in a dogfight, then land your plane either in the Pandora or on an airstrip, exit your plane, and enter an AA Turret. This can only occur in certain Missions on certain stages, but it can become very fun, alternating between flying your aircraft and manning a powerful AA Gun. In fact, some Missions might require you to switch between the two (your aircraft and the AA guns), just so as to get the best results destroying all the enemy targets. You will need your nimble plane to fly out and destroy the smaller and faster bad guy aircraft, while you will also need the AA Guns to nuke the larger monstrosities such as blimps, boats, trains, buildings and other gun turrets. AA Gun Turrets are mounted on the Pandora, on allied vessels like motor boats and trains, or strategically located by other airfields at different parts of the stage, or in tall buildings. A Green and White Gun Symbol means all you have to do is fly near to that area, press the X-Button, and you will automatically land your plane, before boarding the AA Gun Turret, ready to use it on the scum of the skies.

GAME CONTENT

The following modes and features are available in CS: HRtR.

SINGLE PLAYER: The Main Story Mode, in which you play as Nathan Zachary in his many Adventures and Misadventures with his Air Pirate Crew, the “Fortune Hunters”

MULTIPLAYER: Play with or against other human players on Xbox Live, in a variety of Multiplayer Match Types

DEMOS: Free Demos or Video of other Video Games Available on the original Xbox

You gain access to the Options Menu in the Single Player & Multiplayer Modes. In Single Player Mode, you can adjust the Volume, Vibration, Difficulty and Invert Controls Settings.

In Multiplayer Modes, you can adjust the variety of Match Settings available. Select from the following choices: Xbox Live, System Link, Split Screen, Quick Match, Opti-Match Create Game, Friends List, Stats, Download, Online Options and Sign-Out.

In Multiplayer Matches, you can pick from the following Match Types: Dogfight, Team Dogfight, Flag Heist, Keep Away, Team Accumulate and Wild Chicken.

There are a number of Stages in the world of CS: HRtR, some of which are available in Single Player Modes, while other stages or variations of other stages are available in Multiplayer Modes.

Sea Haven is a part of the Hollywood Nation, and it’s something of a zeppelin graveyard and a bit of a Pirate hang-out. It’s composed of smaller islands, which house wrecked air and see vessels.

Arixo was once called Arizona and New Mexico (hence the new combined name “Arixo”), and it now belongs to the Arixo Indians. Pirates love this desert zone because of the many sneaky spots for them to hide out.

Chicago is slap in the middle of the Industrial States of America, and you can expect extremely tall buildings within the Windy City. There are rival gangs, corrupt cops and mobsters, all vying for power in this urban landscape.

The Lost City is much further south, and it was created centuries ago by a mysterious and long-dead civilization, which used booby traps to hide all of its various dark secrets, some of which villains like Die Spinne are thirsty to uncover and use to gain real power.

Select from a variety of planes to pick form and fly with. These include Devastator, Brigand, Desert Fox, Seaplane, Bulldog, Piranha and the special Mini-Gyro, which acts more like a small helicopter. There are other aircraft you can find and steal as you advance in the game, and each one has its own strengths and weaknesses.

You can collect a significant number of aircrafts, and you can actually use the Tokens you find hidden throughout the various stages, as well as the money you accumulated, to upgrade your flying machines. This means making them fly faster, having stronger body armor, and gaining increased firepower. Your plane upgrades will benefit you in terms of making your machine stronger, faster and deadlier. Missions will then become a bit more manageable as a result.

In total, you get 10 planes: the first one is the Devastator, which belongs to Nathan Zachary. That the default plane you start with in your hanger. Along the way, you steal, recover or discover other aircrafts, including a Mini-Gyro, which acts like a helicopter.

After you complete the game, you are allowed to keep all of your planes. In fact, you can replay the entire game, using all of your unlocked aircraft, provided you use the same Save File. This allows you to accumulate more money, as well as to collect more Tokens, both of which will enable you to finish upgrading all of your airplanes (except the Mini Gyro, which can’t be upgraded for some reason).

You cannot save or replay any of the Storyline Cut-Scenes, which is a strike against CS: HRtR. To see these cool animations, you are forced to play through the entire game, because each of the scenes appears at different points in the game. It would be cool if you could Save the Animations and Cut-Scenes and replay them at your own leisure, in a separate mode, but that feature simply does not exist in this game, which is a shame.

These are basically no unlockable modes or features of any kind in CS: HRtR. Once you beat the game, you don’t get to unlock a Concept Art Gallery, or a Video Theatre of the Story Mode. Also, there are no other Single Player Modes of any kind. It would have been awesome if some of the in-game Missions and GamePlay Features like Checkpoint Racing, Escorting Allies, Cargo Pick-Ups, AA-Gun Turret Defense and Defeating the Waves of Enemies, were actually available outside and independent of the Storyline. This way, you could just pick a separate Gameplay Mode and enjoy playing another single player experience for scoring, earning money and winning Tokens. However, the developers of CS: HRtR did not see fit to include any such extra gameplay features in this title, which is a loss for the gamer.

SUMMARY and CONCLUSION

The storyline fuses the idea of Pirates becoming the new scourges of the air, and combines that with “diesel-punk” science fiction. Add in diverse characters, backed by great voice acting talent, and you have a very enjoyable narrative in CS: HRtR.

What ultimately ties together all the audio and video presentation features of this title has to be the stellar gameplay. It is an Arcade-Style, Airplane-based Adventure, with simple controls which are very easy to get into, but takes time to master. Accelerating, slowing down, turning, barrel-rolling, dive bombing, intentionally spinning and rotating your aircraft to evade all manner of danger around you, adds to the overall fun. Just remember when its best to perform these aerial stunts so as to avoid disaster befalling you.

The mixture and variety of missions from escort, to cargo pick-up, to turret defense, to racing, or just plain destroying waves of enemy aircraft and blimps, are all very fun diversions to have. Often, you will find yourself flying in a dogfight, before landing your plane to mount an Anti-AirCraft Gun Turret, just to gain a bit more firepower against larger more powerful enemies, or maybe just to have a bit more of an edge blasting away waves of pesky enemy fighters.

The open-world stage design, combined with arcade control mechanics, only helps to invite you to explore the stage you are currently visiting. You will find yourself alternating between flying in the wild blue yonder in your slick aircraft, and climbing into a massively destructive AA Gun. This bit of variety is very welcome in CS: HRtR and it helps to keep the gameplay interesting, so things never get boring for you.

Some rough facial character designs make for some odd-looking personas, but that’s not a deal-breaker, considering how good the graphics are on the whole. Vehicle and structural designs, such as buildings, steal the prize for the visual presentations. Weather effects, like rain water dropping on the game screen to simulate your plane’s cockpit getting wet in rain are just some of the eye-catching visuals this title has to offer. Giant tornados that can disrupt the flight path and flying stability of your airplane are also visual moments in CS: HRtR which will bring a pleasant smile to your face as you watch the chaos unfold on-screen.

The Storyline ending is a bit disappointing especially after all of the high points leading up to the grand finale. It seems that the developers either ran out of steam, gave up on  worthwhile plot-related content, or just they figured that the earlier portions of cut-scenes are enough to please the gamer. However, a better ending, one that focuses on the characters and all of the events they went through, would have really gone a long way in making an even bigger impression of the overall storyline.

The voice dialogues always serve more than just idle chatter. Almost every time a character speaks over their radio, you are given an insight into their personality type, and their characteristics: what kind of a person they are. Also, the characters communicating between each other also fill you in on the ongoing storyline, without ever really interrupting your GamePlay. Witty verbal remarks or desperate alarms by Nathan Zachary and other concerned characters, let you know how well you are succeeding in your Mission, or how badly damaged your plane has become, and that it needs to be repaired as soon as possible. Yes, the lively audio greatly compliments this game.

To sum up, CS: HRtR is an extremely fun to play original Xbox classic. If you don’t already own it, consider this review as a very welcoming invitation for you to experience a nearly perfect video game.

9.5 Out of 10!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Reviewed by Game-Quest-EX


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