Another downloadable Action RPG?
Yes, Certain Affinity is developing another magic-casting, baddie-bashing action game to the Xbox Live Arcade. If you've put money down on every title in the Summer of Arcade line-up, you'll be able to download Crimson Alliance for free. Still, even if you haven't met those requirements, you should consider the variable entrance fee to next week's XBLA release.
As for class, you can choose from the Wizard, the Assassin, and the Mercenary. While the Mercenary sticks to melee attacks and the Assassin mixes ranged and melee attacks, the Wizard delves solely in long range combat. With a developer playing the former and PlayStation Lifestyle's Cameron Teague on the Ninja, I took over the Wizard.
Crimson Alliance won't limit you by what classes their co-op buddies are playing. If you all want to play the Wizard class, you're more than welcome to. The first level we played pulled our party through a twisting campaign level, filled with loot, hidden areas, and tons and tons of enemies.
Three attacks are mapped to the X, Y, and B buttons while the A button allows you to dodge out of damage. Players can also find pick-ups that they can use with the Right Bumper. These typically consist of powered-up weapons like a one-use Battle Axe to throw or an auto-turret that literally fills enemies with arrows.
The wizard came equipped with a directional freeze spell, an area-of-damage lightning spell, and a long-range fireball attack. I found myself putting tons of enemies on ice, since my co-op buddies were doing a wealth of damage with their melee attacks. These kinds of tactics were a must in the challenge map we tried next.
As you progress through the campaign, you'll find map pick-ups that unlock challenges primarily consisting of enemy waves. You can revive teammates if they should fall in combat, but working together is the only way you can pass the map successfully. At the end, you're given stats, including enemies killed and highest kill streak. You can also see how long it to you to finish the map.
That's how I learned that Certain Affinity has had their hands on quite a few multiplayer maps for the addictive online-shooters that dominate the Xbox Live charts. Both the campaign and challenge maps took us about 6 to 7 minutes to complete. That's the sweet-spot games like Call of Duty use to get players hooked on their multiplayer modes. Jump in, play a round or two, and then move on with your life. Of course, it helps that Crimson Alliance was frantic, frenetic fun too.
Crimson Alliance will make its debut on the Xbox Live Arcade, next week on September 7th, 2011. The full game will run you $15 or 1200 Microsoft Points or just $10 (800 Microsoft Points) if you only want to play as one character.