You have a selection of 10 flying machines (nine planes and one gyro-copter) to get you through the game. The planes are divided into four categories, dogfighters, interceptors, zep-killers, and specialty planes with each category specializing in a combat role. The Interceptors are the fastest but lack some agility. Zep-killers feature the best weapons and armor but lack speed and the dogfighters are a mix between the two. The two specialty craft (a water plane and a gyro-copter) are very useful for certain missions but creative people will find other uses for these aircraft. New aircraft can be picked up during missions by simply landing and swapping out aircraft. This can be handy as it allows you to have multiple planes available for some missions, so you can wipe out escort craft with an Interceptor and then swap over to a Zep-killer to take out some of the heavies.
All of the planes can be upgraded during the game by spending tokens and money. Tokens are earned by completing certain mission objectives or by collecting the ones that are scattered about the map. You really have to explore the maps to find them all but given how much fun flying is it’s really not that bad of a thing. Money is a little easier to find as the game offers several ways to earn it. All of the levels contain a racing circuit where you can bet on how fast you can complete a course. Of course, those with a Grand Theft Auto mentality can go after the civilian Zeppelins and collect the money they are transporting.
You face a nice variety of enemies in the game. You have the afore-mentioned planes and zeppelins but you will have to take out guard towers, gun trucks, gun boats, and armed trains. The Zeppelins come in a variety of sizes and shapes but they are all big and heavily armed. Luckily you can disarm the zeppelins by taking out their AA gun and missile launchers before finishing them off. Clever pilots will remove all of the guns from one side of a Zeppelin in order to create a clear side to attack on. It takes a lot of shots to take a zeppelin down but you do get a nice, satisfying explosion when you finally do.
The first thing you notice when firing up Crimson Skies
is the gorgeous graphics. Microsoft and Fasa Studios have done a great job of creating wonderfully detailed worlds for you to fly around in. The desert levels that start the game are beautiful but the game really shines once you get to Chicago. The buildings and architecture of the city are amazing and it’s a trip chasing planes through the buildings at the top levels and then following them down to the city streets (dodging civilian planes and bridges on the way down). Crimson Skies
has some amazing water effects, from the rivers in Sea Haven to the lush waterfalls of the Lost City the game has some of the nicest water I’ve seen in a game so far.
The planes in Crimson Skies
are well designed and keep well with the 1930’s theme. In keeping with the 1930’s era planes, you won’t see any jets but there is a nice variety of single wing planes and some groovy looking bi-planes (as well as a small gyro-copter for you helicopter fans out there). While each plane is well rendered, I do wish there had been more of a difference between a standard plane and one that was upgraded (the paint color changes but that was about it). It would also have been nice to have a few more damage states for the planes.
Page 2 of 3