Crimson Skies

Date: 2008-11-02 11:52:02 Created: null

Some games just make you wish all games were as good. This is one of them. This is what flying is all about. This is the way all games should draw you in, the kind of attention to detail all games should do. If I seem a bit enthusiastic here it's because, well, it happens sometimes :-) ...

Crimson Skies takes place in an alternative 30's northern America, and right from the intro the wonderful attention to detail is evident. A long black and white newsfilm, complete with scratches and the sound of rolling film introduces the gameworld and the characters. Then you arrive at the main menu, options on a background of a waving red flag accompanied by some wonderful matiné adventure style music. At this point you might think to yourself "Wow, I sure hope the game itself lives up to this".

Don't worry, it does. Like I mentioned above, Crimson Skies is about flying, action and stunt flying. And damn, it's wonderful! No stupid precautions about taking it easy or anything, the daredevil style is built right into the mission objectives. These objectives are also wonderfully varied, interwoven into the story and all out cool. How about searching for a lost treasure, picking up people from speeding trains and zeppelins, take out military zeppelins bombarding your own, attack mountaintop airbases or compete in a race through tight spots over a movie studio? It's all in there, and more. Some missions will make you grit your teeth and fail over and over, but in general the difficulty (and mission length, something I think few games do as well, especially among those that don't let you save in-mission) is just right, and there's always room to show off.

Showing off, yes. In every area you can fly in there are a number of "danger zones", like tunnels, bridges and caves. Flying through these not only impresses people and feels cool, doing it during a mission also takes a screenshot that is placed in your mission scrapbook. In this book a lot of other stuff is also collected, newspaper clips, designs for new aircraft and equipment, photos and other related things. It does a great deal to immerse you further in the gameworld and widen your views of it.

Something else that helps the immersion no end is the sound, and the voice acting in particular. All the sound effects, guns, engines and explosions, are great, as is the music, but the voices and the amount of mission unique talk really shines. Sure, if you have to replay a mission a couple of times some comments start to get repetitive, but there are no lines that keep bugging you all through the game, not even close. And the voices are perfect for the game too, the actors deliver their lines perfectly. Our own hero and alter ego Nathan Zachary is the gentleman pirate all the way through, you won't doubt it for a second when you hear the voice (or when you play him either for that matter). I don't know if the developers helped their voice actors more than average, hired better people or were just lucky, but every line is a pleasure to hear. That everything's very well written in the first place doesn't hurt either.

But back to the air, that's where you'll spend all your mission time after all. The flying mostly reminds you of Rogue Squadron or some other Star Wars game, only even better. The sound effects, the mission objectives, the graphics and all the chatter from friends, foes and yourself all combine to get you totally immersed (and addicted). Engines rumble, giant zeppelins loom among the clouds, with gun hatches opening and closing, accompanied by warning whistles, damaged planes leave long trails of thick black smoke and pilots jump in parachutes when their planes are downed. And the variety of mission objectives just can't be beaten.

Oh, and the characters are of real flesh and blood too, not just empty paper cutouts. Many thanks to the excellent writing and voice acting again of course. Meeting Ace Dixon a couple of times, and the smiles that brings to your hardened pilot face, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Everybody wants to be a hero, right? This is the best and most entertaining chance to come along in a long while. When it came out it appearantly had large bugs, but this far past release there's a patch out that I got and installed, and I've never had any problems. Joystick hugely recommended of course.

If you like action flying, get Crimson Skies.

If you don't, it's time to start!