MS just released their sequel to Crimson Skies on the Xbox. Heh heh, they know its a good game and they want it to help drive purchases of the Xbox and subscriptions to Xbox Live. I’ve been meaning to take some notes down about the original for some time because it was a game I enjoyed and I thought it worth reflecting on why I enjoyed it as much as I did.
At its core Crimson Skies is a crappy flight simulator. By “crappy” I mean fun. :) They traded away the realism one can find in the Flight Simulator series for something much more arcade-like. Instead of worrying about aerodynamics, you can worry about pointing your guns at the enemy while the plane takes care of itself. For most people, myself included, easy-of-use trumps realism in the making of a fun flight game.
Ok, so its another flight game, right? Well yah, it’s a flight game, like many, many others before it. Its basically an arcade style flight game. The graphics are nice, but nothing truly spectacular even for the time it was released. But the game is hella fun.
Why Is It Fun?
Breaking down the graphics, the gameplay, the sound quality, and all the technical attributes is very misleading with this game. Everything is pretty good, but nothing it terribly revolutionary…so its taken me a while to figure out how this game pulls of being so fun:
- Its easy to jump into the game and play without much knowledge of the interface. Console players take this sort of ease-of-use for granted, but its not that common on PCs. The low barrier to entry and low time commitment makes me more likely to play between the busy events in my life.
- The story is good! The designers of this game really took the time to come up with a cool story world complete with funky settings, discernible characters, and a plot that keeps things moving. It gives the game great forward momentum and its so well done that I’ve never given its entirely linear nature a second thought. Its so much fun that it transcends its linear plot.
- But what really made the immersion possible was the sound. The voice acting is superb. The voice actors are well matched to their characters and the recordings are high quality. They are used enough within missions and between missions to keep the player immersed. The sound is the real engine of fun in this game…without it youd have a arcade-style flight sim with some interesting models and levels. With it you have a game that I and a lot of different style gamers I know really enjoy.
Its really nice to come across a game as fun as Crimson Skies and its even cooler to realize that its fun not because of some flashy, cutting edge technology, but because the designers emphasized good gameplay and a good story world in order to set the stage for the fun.
Updated on October 5th, 2013
Some of the links were broken. I replaced them with working links to pages with the same or similar content as before.