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Product: Crimson Sea
Company: KOEI
Website: http://www.xbox.com/crimsonsea
Estimated Street Price: $49.99/£39.99
Review By: Byron Hinson

The Features

I have to say that Crimson Sea took me by surprise, not in quality terms mind you, but the fact that it was hardly mentioned anywhere right up until its release date. KOEI certainly kept things to themselves in the run up to the games release.

With amazing visuals, often up to 1000 enemies on the screen at one time and highly detailed and original reflective, liquefied ďMutonsĒ, as well as 5.1 channel Dolby Digital Sound, Crimson Sea is tipped to be the start of another sure and successful franchise. Various mission goals, customisable weapons and improving character abilities make it more than a simple action game.

Gameplay

Review Quotes
"Now the graphics, excellent, some of the best on the Xbox so far, some brilliant character models and textures have been used throughout the game and there is never any hint of slow down whilst you are taking on literally hundreds of aliens on the screen at one time."

The game lets you take the role of Sho, who becomes the head of a group called G-Squad, a group of agents who work for the IAG (Intelligence Agency of the Galaxy), as part of this group you must try to stop an Alien take over attempt by the Mutonís whoís basic aim is to take over the galaxy! Although this is nothing new in story terms, there are a number of good pieces of dialogue and the cutscenes all work quite well.

But weíre not here to talk about cutscenes; I guess you will want to know what kind of game we have here. Well letís just say there is a lot of running around and a heck of a lot of shooting/fighting. There are a number of missions in the game, starting with a basic run up to the story via a simple level that can include a tutorial if you want it to (good idea KOEI), after this the missions get more involved, such as keeping members of your team alive whilst battling loads of alien enemies, protecting and moving a president of a company through a level to safety, and using your radar to find hidden Mutonís who have disguised themselves as humans. Although the premise of the game continues to be killing as many aliens as you can, the levels have enough variety so as not to get too boring or tedious. There are problems though, one of the banes of some arcade console titles, the timed levels are here and have to be completed in a set amount of time, if you donít manage to do it by the time the clock meets its end, you have to start over from the beginning. One other good point though is that once you have got past the first few early missions you get to choose what missions you want to take on and they can be picked in any order.

So now onto the weaponry, you begin the game with the most basic of weapons, a simple gun, during the game killing enemies means you gain money which can then be spent later on to purchase new weapons and upgrades, Crimson Sea has a lot of depth when it comes to its upgrade system, there are effectors, barrel and generator changes that can be made and weapons can be combined to create the ultimate weapon if you want it to. The more often you use the weapon you pick the more experience you get and the higher your level goes. At the end of your gun you get a blade, the blade on the gun has different stats too and it affects how well you can do melee attacks during the game, I seem to make use of the blade more often than I do my gun. Finally we have what I would class as a special move called Neo-Psionics, this causes damage to enemies that are close by, or can heal teammates, and be used as a shield. Just like your weapons, the Neo-Psionic experience can be raised and levelled up.

So we have a very good game donít we? Well just about, the problem here is that we have what can only be classed as a bloody annoying control system, and one that nearly ruins what is, as mentioned, a very good game. With the left control pad you move your character forward, back and around the levels in a style that can only be compared to Resident Evil, with the right you get the move the camera, but alas unlike most good cameras in games, this one doesnít stick to where you face it Ė it swings back to the way you are facing. The one good thing I can say about the controls is that a number of settings can be changed, but it takes a lot of time and effort to learn and stick to the controls in Crimson Sea, which is a shame when there is such a good game behind them.

Graphics & Sound

Review Quotes
"The game lets you take the role of Sho, who becomes the head of a group called G-Squad, a group of agents who work for the IAG (Intelligence Agency of the Galaxy), as part of this group you must try to stop an Alien take over attempt by the Mutonís"

Another place that Crimson Sea shines in is the Graphic department, but let us start with the sound first. While I have to mention the great soundtrack to the game and the excellent fact that it support Dolby Digital 5.1, I have to state that the voice acting is quite poor, and the young guy who follows you on your journey called Yangqin is possibly the most annoying piece of voice acting I have ever heard in a game, the fact that I thought he was a girl for most of the game may give you some indication of how bad that piece of voice acting was.

Now the graphics, excellent, some of the best on the Xbox so far, some brilliant character models and textures have been used throughout the game and there is never any hint of slow down whilst you are taking on literally hundreds of aliens on the screen at one time.

Final Comments

How It Grades
Controls: 60%
Gameplay: 89%
Presentation: 80%
Graphics: 91%
Multiplayer: N/A
Sound: 75%
Manual: 85%
Interface: 78%
Price/Value: 80%
Overall: 78%

Well what do we have here, an excellent game that has had some of its shine taken off by some pretty awful controls, a real shame when you consider how good this could have been. The game is open for a sequel so lets hope they do one and that they fix the controls next time. I recommend the game even now though, especially if you can rent it first and then perhaps buy it later.

Specs & Package
Overall Score 78%
Version Reviewed Crimson Sea (PAL)
Release Date Out Now
In The Box? 1 Crimson Sea DVD-ROM
1 Set Of Instructions
The Good Points Excellent Graphics
Great Music
Good gameplay
The Bad Points Awful Controls
Annoying Voice Work
Xbox Live! Enabled? No
Widescreen Support No
PAL 60 Support (Europe) Yes


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