|System: Xbox One|
|Dev: Groundhog Inc|
|Pub: Microsoft Studios|
|Release: November 22, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Violence, Blood|
For most of the game, you will be flying around on rails, killing enemies, and trying to pick up items before you fly past them. There are points in the game where you are allowed to fly freely, a lot like the free-flying bosses or the vs. mode of Star Fox 64. Unfortunately, you don’t have nearly as much control over your dragon as Fox had over his Arwing. While you can d-d-d-d-do a barrel roll, turning your dragon around and getting a lock on a boss’ weak point is really frustrating. These should be the coolest parts of the game, but you’ll wish for old school, on-rails gameplay after experiencing one or two free flying levels.
The biggest challenges you’ll face aren’t enemies at all but the stage itself. Pieces of the environment love to pop in unannounced when the camera swings around wildly. These rapidly changing camera angles are great for giving levels a sense of scale, but really bad for avoiding that wall that is COMING AT YOU RIGHT NOW! DODGE FOOL! DODGE! As a result, a lot of levels in Crimson Dragon take tons of trial and error to defeat. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it just means that (once again) you’ll have to play these levels over and over again until you can finally proceed.
Crimson Dragon is almost as fun to watch as it is to play, if not more so. The environments that you fly through are breathtaking and make some of the best use of next-generation graphics technology that we have seen yet. Foliage bends and sways with the wind as other creatures fly through it. The sun casts a red haze over the horizon as you fly at high speeds toward your destination. There is an amount of detail in the levels that you just don’t see when you are actively playing the game. The action is too frantic to actually appreciate it.
I had fun with Crimson Dragon, but I’m not entirely sure everyone will. You have to have kind of an addictive personality to really get into it. A lot of the game is propelled forward by its grindy levels and progression system, and if this isn’t your thing, then you’ll likely get incredibly frustrated and just turn the game off to play more Killer Instinct. However, if you are the kind of person who could spend hours raising their perfect dragon, getting S ranks on every stage, and simply appreciating some fantastic graphics, then you will probably have a lot of fun with Crimson Dragon. It’s not the AAA blockbuster that we all thought it was going to be--heck, I won’t even go as far as to say that it’s better than Panzer Dragoon--but it is a solid title that you can pick up for a budget price. As far as Xbox One launch titles go, you can do far worse.
Angelo M. D’Argenio
Date: November 25, 2013