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Game Review of:
Crimson Skies


Darren Kressin has been in computers since taking a basic programming course in college in 1986. Presently he is the Network Administrator for the Alamo Area Council of Governments while maintaining a separate computer/networking consulting business.

From the January, 2002 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

Crimson Skies is an Action Adventure/ Flight Simulation game, or in the old way of saying…. an adventure yarn. The manual sets the stage and is presented as a set of magazine articles for the air pirate enthusiast. It is easy to read and had a nice layout and style that reflects the magazines of that era. The video clips used in the story line reminds me of old Flash Gordon movies shown on TV late at night. The bad guys have beards, bad girls have dark hair. The good guys and gals have blond hair and the lighting reflects a friendly fresh scrubbed face with no mustache and the girls have lightly applied makeup. 

The manual sets up the game by providing you a history lesson as to what has happen to the United States following the Great War. FASA/Microsoft has come up with an alternate-reality for the United States. This reality takes place in the 1930’s where the United States has been split up into 23 different countries. War broke out between the different countries and destroyed the highway system. With the highway system destroyed, everything centered on aviation for both cargo and mass public transportation. The giant zeppelins have taking on the crucial role of both, cargo and public transportation. Sky pirates have prompted the major carriers and security companies to provide independent air militias for the zeppelins and to protect the shipping lanes of the sky. This is where you come in as the renowned air pirate Nathan Zachary. As Nathan Zachary, you lead you group of pirates, called the Fortune Hunters, in a non-stop action escapade to gain control of the sky while building a small fortune.

This is more of an action adventure than a flight simulator. Although you still have to worry about flying into the ground headfirst or other planes, the side effects of flying have been toned down. While it is still possible to stall the plane, I have not been able to experience a blackout or red-out. The take off and landing is done automatically. I have been able to fly through trees without sustaining damage. I have hit the ground belly first at 250+ mph and only sustained minor damage and was able to continued flying. However, if you fly into tunnels, building, trains, or other structures, you have a tendency to stop flying for good. At the same time this adds a big advantage to the game. You don’t have to worry about all the controls of the plane and it lets you get straight into the action. 

The missions that you will have to fly have both a primary and secondary objective. If you fail the mission three times in a row, you will be asked if you would like to skip that mission and continue to play the game. This keeps the game moving. Each mission is packed with challenging goals such as parachuting out of your plane inside of a hanger to steal another plane, rescuing people from moving trains, dropping from your plane (while flying) on to another plane to steal it. The list goes on and on. These are all daredevil missions that draw you into the complex and engrossing storyline. All the time you are collecting pictures for the scrapbook that allows you to go back and see how you did on a particular mission. The game also allows you to re-fly any of the missions at any time.

How much fortune and fame you will gain, depends upon how well you do on the missions. The higher the fortune, the faster you can build your custom plane. Crimson Skies has a built-in plane builder that allows you to purchase the plane after you customize the plane to your liking. The program does have a weight limitation on the planes that can be built. If you do poorly, then you will not be able to build or buy your dream plane. 

There are three difficulty settings for the game. In all three setting, the wingman is useless. He is usually shot down as soon as the actual combat starts. You will be left to complete the mission on your own. The only thing that I found the wingman useful for is in drawing enemy fire when you start the mission. With all the missions it is up to you to do all the work. However keep in mind that you are the STAR of the show. 

Before each mission there is a briefing that gives you the details that you need to complete the mission. After the mission you are given your statistics for the mission. In between the missions, there are little skits that play that gives you the story line of the game. This helps keeps up interest in the game and makes the story line very enjoyable and entertaining. I found myself trying to complete the game to see how the story ends. 

I thought the game very enjoyable and borderline addictive, but would like to see some changes made to the game. 

The first change would be to increase the number of missions. The game only has twenty-five missions. I think the ability to skip a particular mission that is giving you trouble was an excellent idea. I would have liked the planes a little more realistic on how they handle while maintaining the simplicity of flying them. The ability to land and take off would be nice due to the fact that you’re based out of a zeppelin. You do both, take off and land while the zeppelin is flying. Having the ability to fire more than one gun at once would have made some of the tougher mission a littler easier. 

The best feature of the game was the graphics and sound. 

Most of the missions are fought at ground level. The graphics were excellent at showing the different terrain. This made the game a little more interesting due to the enemy diving into the building or trees to get away from you. The sound of the crisp gun retorts and the chatter over the radio was a very nice touch. Finally, I would have liked to see a page dedicated to the controls of the game, so I could easily refer to it while playing the game. 

Overall both FASA and Microsoft did an excellent job with the design of this game. I would recommend the game to friends and family for this holiday season. 

System Requirements: PII 266, 64 MB RAM, 8MB 3D graphics accelerator, and Win 95,
98, 2000 or ME.

ESRB : Rating is Teen. Price of Crimson Skies at CompUSA is $19.99.

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