Yo ho! Yo ho! A pirate’s life for me.
Okay, when I say pirates, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Chances
are, you just pictured the skull and crossbones, some dude that looks like Captain
Hook, or even that drunk guy hanging out with a pig in the Pirates of the Caribbean
ride at Disneyland. But what if the path of history took a different course
and pirates turned out to be smooth talking, fearless warriors of the air rather
than liquor-guzzling sea ruffians? Well, Microsoft and Zipper Interactive have
imagined just that and cranked out a game worthy of an old Hollywood studio.
It is a world of gutsy pilots and high adventure. The Great Depression has
struck, destroying the progress of all ground transportation, leaving the skies
to serve as the ultimate roadway of the future. Here, survival means gripping
the flight stick of a tricked-out muscle plane and letting your guns do the
talking. Fly or die with the guys and dolls of Crimson Skies.
Crimson Skies is a beautiful, guns-blazing, lip-biting, heart-pounding
flight action game. Packed with plenty of attitude, the game’s combination of
sim elements and arcade hijinks sets it apart from the rest of the field
One of Crimson Skies‘ biggest assets is the universe that it is set
in. Starting off as an air-combat based board game, the world of Crimson Skies
is intricately detailed and well chronicled. Everything about the game, from
the characters to the movies to the sound, simply screams romantic era 1930’s
You are Nathan Zachary, the heroic Robin Hood of the skies. With your band
of merry men and women known as the Fortune Hunters, you’ll fly over 24 missions
to defend justice, honor, and a fat wallet. I mean, what is piracy without a
little booty here and there?
The FMV cut scenes lend a hand in creating the tone of the game by taking on
feel of watching an old feature film from Hollywood’s early days. Run in black
and white with all the static of the old films, these movie sequences are like
something out of a History Channel documentary.
With all this good stuff going for it, the only thing that could shoot down
this game would be bad gameplay. Fortunately, gameplay is where Crimson Skies
truly soars. In much the same way as the Playstaion smash hit Driver,
the game does a marvelous balancing act between flight sim realism and in-your-face,
frantic action. Players can jump into the thick of things without reading volumes
upon volumes of flight manuals. While you don’t need to boggle your mind with
thoughts of ailerons and HUD’s, you do need to watch out for engine stalls and
that pesky gravity, which will cancel your flight faster than a rogue hurricane
off the Florida coast. This is definitely a game for gamers, not flight school
all this goodness isn’t enough, the Crimson Skies crew keeps it coming.
The game runs on a tweaked version of the Combat Flight Sim engine
to bring you some superior visuals. The graphics are excellent, with smooth
textures and plenty of details everywhere. You’ll see your plane take damage
and catch fire when the action gets hot and heavy, witness wing flaps move as
your plane changes directions, and delight as stray shots hitting the water
send splashes skyward.
As you progress through the missions, you’ll gain money that can be put towards
the purchase of your very own custom plane. We’re not just talking about a new
coat of paint, we’re talking about a choice of engine, armor, style and payload.
Of course, your new frame must be able to support the weight of it all, so don’t
get too carried away.
For those of you that just want to jump into the fray without any of this
“story” business, Crimson Skies also includes an Instant Action mode.
Want to dogfight a squadron of enemy fighters? No problem. Try to hijack a zeppelin?
You got it. If time is short or you just feel like blowing stuff up, this mode
has what it takes to fulfill all your piratical needs.
The game’s music also immerses you completely in a 1930’s mindset with authentic
sounding swing music. The Grade-A voice acting is terrific as well. Pilots banter
through battles and give your friends and foes more personality than any computer
controlled character ever deserved.
The loading times for each mission are extensive. Mission briefings build
up some anticipation for the action to come, but the amount time it takes for
the mission to load will inevitably shorten your adrenaline rush.
The learning curve also poses a problem for any would-be hero. You’ll go through
the first dozen or so missions without too much trouble, bu then all of the
sudden your flying and dogfighting skills will be pushed to the max. This is
definitely a challenge for some and a catastrophe for others.
It is also important to note that as I was playing this wonderful game, a
few problems popped up that may or may not be addressed in your own boxed copy.
I had progressed through sixteen missions only to lose my save game file upon
attempting to join a multi-player game. Also, while some people were able to
get the multi player working with no problems, I was unable to join or even
host my own game. Thankfully, the saved game problem has been addressed and
fixed in the latest patch,
so make sure you pick that one up.
When all is said and done, Crimson Skies turns out to be one hell of
an action game. Take a combination of realism and arcade action, add a large
helping of 1930’s romantic attitude and a healthy dose of humor, and you’ve
got all the pirate treasure you’ll ever need.