Fly the not-so-friendly skies! Preview

Fly the not-so-friendly skies!

Like most relatively normal gamers, I have an avid disregard for hardcore simulations.
When I see the words ‘flight sim’ included in the mention of a new game, my eyes
glaze over and I suddenly get really tired. Visions of 200-page game manuals overflowing
with words like “aileron” and “induced drag” cloud my fragile gamer’s head, prompting
my eyelids to grow heavy and my daydreaming to reach new heights. Piloting a Harrier
sounds like fun, but not on my computer. Learning to land a 737 at LAX could prove
useful in a made-for-tv movie crisis, but
that doesn’t make it a good game.

So what does makes a good game? How about frantic action, excellent
control, tons of tricked out muscle planes, and a hefty dose of humor? Well,
you’ll find all that and more in Microsoft’s upcoming flight “un’sim, Crimson
Skies
. Combining the best old-time Hollywood cliches with a brilliant game
engine, Crimson Skies oozes fun and style out of every death-defying
bank and roll.

Crimson Skies draws heavily from the board game and comics of the same
name. It’s America in the 1930’s, though not the version described in the history
books. It seems that the country is in turmoil due to economic strife and prohibition.
Transportation systems decay, leaving the skies the only means of profit. You
play the swashbuckling Nathan Zachary, leader of a gang of pirates with intentions
to cash in on the chaos.

You’ll fly 11 ridiculous aircraft over the course of 24 single player missions,
each with various goals and objectives. In addition to the typical "shoot
to kill" dogfights, you’ll find yourself swerving inches from the top of
a speeding train to rescue a damsel in distress, or pumping round after round
into full-sized enemy zeppelins in the name of good piracy. The game plays like
a top notch action movie.

The planes themselves look more like something out of Twisted
Metal
than Combat
Flight Simulator
, with spoilers, wings, flaps and all manner of propeller
mishmashed into bizarre yet effective fighting machines. Outfitted with guns
and missiles akimbo, you’ll be hard pressed to run out of firepower.

With a fantastic balance of realism and arcade fun, Crimson Skies is
the kind of game that was created for the gamer, not the grognard. The physics
engine is reminiscent of Driver
for the PSX; spot on in parts, but bending the rules in others to accommodate
movie-quality moves and action sequences. While you do need to keep track of
your throttle, you don’t need to worry about cockamamie real-world flight dynamics.
Just don’t crash into anything and you’ll be fine.

Tying this all together is a retro-hip swing soundtrack and hysterically accurate
voice acting. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to be Errol Flynn, here’s
your answer.

The game will feature full multiplayer support via the Zone, from one on one
deathmatch to all-out squadron conflicts. You’ll even be able to pilot the zeppelins.

There’s no two ways about it – Crimson Skies is just a total blast.
In addition to the hordes of enemy planes, I find myself fighting off the other
GR editors to play more. At last, a flight game for gamers!

Air pirates rejoice! Crimson Skies is due out September 2000 for the
PC.