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Head 2 Head Review: Crimson Skies

The Match-Up:
Name: Mark B. (a.k.a. OverKill) e-mail me

Favorite Genres: All types of simulation, strategy & RTS, FPS

Favorite Games: Need For Speed, Rogue Spear, SimCity 3000, StarLancer, RC Tycoon.



Name: Sean B. (a.k.a. Paladin) e-mail me

Favorite Genres: RPG , Space/flight sims, Turn Based Strategy(some RTS), Sims

Favorite Games: "Everquest, Starlancer, Baldur's Gate, Rogue Spear, Diablo"

OverKill: For many years now, we have seen many types of flight simulators, everything from Jet Fighters/Bombers all the way to WWII Fighters. Zipper Interactive has decided to re-write the history books with a new type of flight simulator. Crimson Skies places the player as the head of a group of air pirates.

Paladin: Fear not sim-enthusiasts, the notion of a 'fun' flight sim has been materialized. Remember what it was like to play games such as Strike Commander? Well Crimson Skies not only builds upon this genre, it also revolutionizes it.

OverKill: Crimson Skies also has a twist to it. The setting is in the late 1930's in an alternate universe. North America is made up of many small countries including Hollywood and Manhatten. And currently the best way to move cargo and people is through airships (Zeppelins).
"Fear not sim enthusiasts, the notion of a 'fun' flight sim has been materialized"

Paladin: And with such dependency on the airships to move the cargo, the air pirate is born. That is where the story begins. You are Nathen Zachery, daring air pirate commanding the Treasure Hunters. From here, you will partake in such missions as rescuing buried pirate treasure, saving a movie actress from her ruthless employers, competing in an air race, and trying to rescue people off of a train while flying. In one mission, I actually had to get close to an enemy plane and try to commandeer it. It was cool to see my character jump down and kick the enemy pilots out, stealing the plane. The different missions make this game worthwhile and fun to play.

OverKill: And to make all of these amazing missions work well are the graphics. Note, you need a really good processor and video card to play this game. The graphics are extremely detailed. The land is 3D (Not flat) allowing the player to fly through tunnels, valleys and under bridges. The clouds are the most realistic I have ever seen in any game. You can be under the clouds and it will be grey and raining, but above the clouds, it's sunny and clear. The clouds themselves are 3D also. This makes it challenging as you can be in part of a cloud that is higher up then others, fly out of it to see either a mountain or an airship right in front of. It's very intense!

Paladin: On top of that, the detailed planes and zeppelins are amazing. It's great to see so many fantastic designs of the airplanes and to see the small little details on the zeppelins themselves. With this in mind, the designers added a small bonus within the game. Not only are there so many planes to choose from, you can also build one from scratch. (Using an existing airframe). You can choose the engine and weapons, either wanting speed over firepower, or vice-versa. When it's complete, you can then choose a paint scheme for the plane. You have the choice of an existing paint scheme or designing your own. These little details further enhance one's enjoyment of the game and gives it a more personal feeling.
"little details enhance one's enjoyment of the game and gives it a more personal feeling"

OverKill: Also you have the ability to destroy things on the land. For instance on the Hollywood level, you can destroy parts of the Hollywood sign. The amazing thing was on the next mission on this map, the sign was still destroyed. It's nice to see detail like this from mission to mission. The sound like the graphics is top notch. Everything from weapon fire, explosions to pilot chatter that sounds like you are in the 1930's. And not only that, your co-pilots do not annoy you by saying the same thing over and over again. Some of the chatter is quite catchy, especially when you destroy an Ace, and you radio to the crashing plane, "When you reach hell, tell them Nathan Zachery sent ya."

Paladin: While there were no live actors and few computer generated cut-scenes to explain the story, it is easy to follow and understand. Sometimes I find that with certain games, they spend too much time on these cut-scenes (Wing Commander 3 and 4) and less time on the game. It is nice to get away from such trinkets. A game doesn't need such things to make it great. Such things can take away from a game. Crimson Skies with the sounds and images that are provided both in game and out, really immerses the player into the role as an air pirate in the 30's. It is great to finally see a game that truly delivers what the designers have promised.

OverKill: I must admit though, I would like to have seen sharper images for the few cut scenes that were in the game. But they were great in moving the story forward. With all of these nice features, the controls were simple. You only needed to know how to shot, target, and adjust your speed. There were not a lot of controls like F-16 Falcon 4 to confuse the players.

Paladin: I have to agree with you there. I didn't have to move my hands around a lot. One hand stayed on my joystick while the other stayed by a few keys on the keyboard. While it is not exactly a 'flight sim', most sim enthusiasts enjoy certain games that break away from this type of mold. Some of the flight physics seemed to have been relaxed to allow for some cool maneuvers. This does not take away from the difficulty of the game. Try dog fighting between the buildings of New York City, and you will be glad that the physics were relaxed slightly. :)

OverKill: I found that the biggest disappointments in this game were all found in the multi-player modes. For instance, there is no co-operative mode. This would have been a perfect game to have a co-op mode. Second, during deathmatch, once someone dies, they start above and behind you. This just meant that he will blow you up, and then you blow him up...BORING! There should have been some predefined start positions.

Paladin: Hehe, I have to disagree with you there. I thought that the multiplayer was well done for the most part. Although it would have been nice for a co-op option, I can understand why they didn't put it in. Who would have been Nathen Zachery? The designers over at Zipper Interactive made ensure that there wouldn't have been any fights over this one. I did find the fact that in death match, the spawning over your enemy's head was kinda boring, but with enough pirates, it was still cool.
"a lot of people love playing in co-op mode...i really hope they add a patch..."

OverKill: If they really wanted to do co-op, they would have made the story line slightly different to include two pilots. Maybe one male and one female team would have worked well. Alot of people-myself included-love playing missions in co-op mode. I really hope they add a patch or something and add co-op to the game.

Paladin: Yeah well, I still thought that the multiplayer version was cool. :p All in all, this game was just fantastic and didn't have any major downsides what so ever. I have to give it the highest mark that I have ever bestowed upon any game, 98%!!!!! This is definitely one that should be looked at for best flight sim of the year, maybe even be considered for best game of the year.

OverKill: This game requires a good computer. Let's just say to those mid-lower users out there that it's choppy on a 350Mhz with a Voodoo 3 3500 video card (we took the shots on that card though to give you an idea of what to expect on that sort of system). To combat that during the Manhattan level, buildings appear alittle to close. I have to give it a 90%. It should have better multiplayer settings and start positions, plus the building appear out of no where (Some were quite large) will annoy people. Aside that, Manhattan is not the only level, there are many well designed levels and I totally recommend this game to everyone out there.

OverKill's Mark
OverKill's Final Words
Paladin's Final Words
Paladin's Mark
there are many well designed levels and I totally recommend this game to everyone out there
This is definitely one that should be looked at for best flight sim of the year

Where the quality is 'sky high'...