Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Crimson Skies

Crimson Skies
Crimson Skies
by Microsoft
Platform:   Windows 98 / Me / 95
4.2 out of 5 stars(55)

Buy new: $24.95 $9.00
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Hearkening back to the days when flight simulators had story lines and gamers valued playability over flight model fidelity, Crimson Skies is one of the more unusual games to appear in quite some time. The game is set in a fictional 1930s America, where sinister air pirates threaten both the sky and the ground and only you (playing the role of intrepid air adventurer Nathan Zachary) can save the day.

Both the premission briefings and the missions themselves play out like the campiest of Hollywood cliffhanger serials. Everything from the music to the way the dialogue is delivered evoke memories of the few episodes of Mystery Squadron and Tailspin Tommy we've seen. It's the kind of game where your enemies taunt you while you're flying, stately zeppelins float through the sky, and stunts are encouraged--the crazier the better. In fact, every time you perform an aerial feat that is particularly skillful (or stupid), the game automatically takes a picture of the dramatic event for your photo album.

Graphically, things couldn't be much better. The various planes are fanciful caricatures of real models of the period and are very detailed. The terrain and ground objects look amazing and are packed with little details. Mission environments are relatively small, but we never felt confined, thanks to the well-crafted mission objectives.

So is Crimson Skies an action game or a flight simulator? If it's this fun and stylish, who cares? The flight model is realistic enough that dogfights and canyon runs are challenging--speed bleeds off as you climb or tighten your turns, and the planes actually feel like they have some mass and inertia. On the other hand, missions are so over the top that you can't help but feel like you are playing an arcade game. Whether you are squeezing through mountaintop tunnel or barnstorming a hangar (and watching hapless pursuers smack into the sides of said objects), Crimson Skies is more reminiscent of Star Wars than of an episode of Wings on the Discovery Channel. However you want to categorize it, one thing is clear: Crimson Skies is a high-flying blast. --T. Byrl Baker

It's 1937. Air pirates roam the skies over a shattered America. You are Nathan Zachary - dashing air pirate and ace pilot. Lead a squadron of privateers in thrilling ground level missions. Along the way romance a bevy of dangerous femme fatales, but be warned - these beauties can turn on you faster than a Fairchild in a terminal tail spin.

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