- Crimson Skies (PC game)
title= Crimson Skies
Microsoft Game Studios
Jordan Weisman(Creative Director)
John Howard (Lead Game Designer)
engine= Enhanced Zipper Interactive GameZ enginecite web | date=2000-08-04 | author=
IGNStaff | title=Crimson Skies Interview | url=http://pc.ign.com/articles/083/083122p1.html | work=IGNPC | accessdate=2008-03-02]
version= Version 1.02
released=vgrelease|NA=September 17, 2000cite web | title=Crimson Skies Release Summary | url=http://www.gamespot.com/pc/sim/crimsonskies/similar.html?mode=versions | work=
Gamespot| accessdate=2008-04-19] |EU=October 13, 2000cite web | title=Crimson Skies Release Summary | url=http://www.gamespot.com/pc/sim/crimsonskies/similar.html?mode=versions | work= Gamespot| accessdate=2008-04-19]
Microsoft Windows95, 98, ME, 2000
requirements= 266 MHz processor 64 MB RAM 675 MB
Hard diskspace 8 MB graphics card
input= Keyboard, mouse,
"Crimson Skies" is a arcade flight computer game developed by
Zipper Interactiveand published in 2000 by Microsoft Game Studios. Although a flight-based game, "Crimson Skies" is not a genuine flight simulator, as the game is based less on flight mechanics than on action. According to series creator Jordan Weisman, "Crimson Skies" is "not about simulating reality—it's about fulfilling fantasies."cite web | year=2000 | title=Crimson Skies Interview | url=http://pc.ign.com/articles/083/083122p1.html | work= IGN| accessdate=2008-03-02]
The game is set in an
alternate historyof the 1930sin which the United Stateshas balkanized into a number of smaller sovereignties, and in which air travel has become the primary mode of transportationin North America. The game centers around Nathan Zachary, an adventurous air pirate seeking to rob the affluent of their wealth and power."I attack the rich and powerful of any nation and take what they treasure most—their money. In doing so I may bring them down a notch and show them they are not untouchable."cite book | editor=Zipper Interactive | title="Crimson Skies" Instruction Manual | pages=5 | publisher=Microsoft Game Studios | language=English] Throughout the campaign, Zachary leads his gang of air pirates, the Fortune Hunters, on a quest to gain fame and fortune.
"Crimson Skies" is often regarded as a "cult success," commercially successful only to a limited extent. The game has received generally favorable reviews; it has been noted for its high-quality voice acting, gameplay, and atmosphere.cite web | date=2000-09-22 | author=Butts, Stephen | title=Crimson Skies Review | url=http://pc.ign.com/articles/164/164175p1.html | work=
IGN| accessdate=2008-03-02] cite web | date=2000-09-22 | author=Geryk, Bruce | title=Crimson Skies for PC Review | url=http://www.gamespot.com/pc/sim/crimsonskies/review.html | work= Gamespot| accessdate=2008-03-02] Notable technical issues, however, have been known to plague the game, the most notorious of which was the tendency to delete saved game files until a patch was released.cite web | date=2000-09-28 | author=IGN staff | title=Crimson Skies Patch | url=http://pc.ign.com/articles/085/085699p1.html | accessdate=2008-04-19]
"Crimson Skies" is a cross between an authentic
flight simulatorand an arcade flight game. Although flight mechanicssuch as lift are still present, the game's planes are generally overpowered, allowing them to perform aerobaticmaneuvers impossible in reality under similar circumstances.cite web | url=http://www.gamespot.com/pc/sim/crimsonskies/news.html?sid=2574890&mode=recent | title=Crimson Skies (Preview) | accessdate=2008-05-25 | author=Geryk, Bruce | date=2000-05-23 | work= GameSpot] cite web | date=2000-09-22 | author=Geryk, Bruce | title=Crimson Skies for PC Review | url=http://www.gamespot.com/pc/sim/crimsonskies/review.html | work= Gamespot| accessdate=2008-04-19] According to lead game designer John Howard:
We're not trying to build a realistic flight simulation, but at the same time, "Crimson Skies" isn't a cartoony, arcade-type game, either. We had to find a middle ground, where the planes were more powerful, more responsive and more intuitive to fly, so that the player can just concentrate on being a hero.cite web | title=John Howard: Lead Designer for Crimson Skies | url=http://www.microsoft.com/games/crimsonskies/johnhoward.aspx | work=
Microsoft Game Studios| accessdate=2008-04-20] GameSpothas stated that "the flight model in "Crimson Skies" is light on the physics and heavy on the barnstorming." In this way, the site likened the game's arcade flight model to the "stunt-flying heroics of pulp novel fame," in which "daredevil pilots performed unbelievable (and quite impossible) feats of showmanship and gunnery." To this effect, the game features select "danger zones"—difficult spaces situated throughout the environment through which the player can fly to dissuade pursuing aircraft.cite book | editor=Zipper Interactive | title="Crimson Skies" Instruction Manual | pages=11-15, 19-20, 22-26, 27-30 | publisher=Microsoft Game Studios | language=English] Such stunts are also documented in the player's "scrapbook," which is the game's record of the player's accomplishments throughout the campaign.
The gameplay of "Crimson Skies" takes place through the player controlling an aircraft through the game's various environments. The game offers three cameras during missions: first-person perspectives with or without a cockpit visible, and a third-person view. The game's heads-up display features basic flight instrumention such as the compass, altimeter, and speedometer, as well as a damage indicator for the player's aircraft and ammunition displays for the plane's primary and secondary weapons. The game also provides the player with a feature known as the "spyglass," which provides a magnified image of the selected target and indicates its current heading.cite book | editor=Zipper Interactive | title="Crimson Skies" Instruction Manual | pages=11-15, 19-20, 22-26, 27-30 | publisher=Microsoft Game Studios | language=English] cite web | date=2000-07-28 | author=Stephen Butts | title=Crimson Skies Preview | url=http://pc.ign.com/articles/134/134175p1.html | work=
The game features eleven different playable aircraft, each of which can be customized. For any aircraft, the player can select its
airframe, engine, armor, weapons layout, and paint scheme, although customization is limited by the weight capacity of the airframe and—in the single player campaign—the player's cash on hand. Outfitting an aircraft with different components affects its performance in terms of speed, maneuverability, stamina, and offense. The player is also able to equip his/her aircraft's guns and hardpoints with different types of ammunition and rockets, respectively.cite web | date=2000-07-28 | author=Stephen Butts | title=Crimson Skies Preview | url=http://pc.ign.com/articles/134/134175p1.html | work= IGN| accessdate=2008-04-20]
The game's single player campaign has three
difficulty levels,cite web | date=2000-09-30 | author=Lally, Will "Rhoam" | title=Gamespy.com - Reviews: Crimson Skies | url=http://archive.gamespy.com/reviews/september00/crimsonskies/index.shtm | work= Gamespy| accessdate=2008-04-20] and spans twenty-four missions. Before the start of a mission, the plane and ammunition for both the player and his/her wingman can be selected, although wingmate commands are not available during gameplay.
In addition to the campaign, an instant action mode is availible which allows the player to play individual missions or customized scenarios. Multiplayer is also available through the
MSN Gaming Zone, over a LANor the Internet, or via a diret serial connection. Players can host games or join existing ones; the host selects the game's victory conditions and allowable aircraft components/ammunition. Multiplayer game modes include dogfight, capture the flag, and zeppelin-to-zeppelin combat.cite book | editor=Zipper Interactive | title="Crimson Skies" Instruction Manual | pages=11-15, 19-20, 22-26, 27-30 | publisher=Microsoft Game Studios | language=English]
The "Crimson Skies" universe is set in an
alternate historyof the year 1937. According to the game's backstory, factors such as the growing strength of the "Regionalist Party," the division between "wet" and "dry" states, and a quarantinecaused by an Influenza outbreak resulted in a general shift in power from federal to state and local levels. After the Wall Street Crash of '29, states began seceding from the U.S. A number of independent nation-states form from the fractured United States; hostilities between these sovereignties eventually escalate into outright war.cite web | title=Microsoft Game Studios - Crimson Skies - Story | url=http://www.microsoft.com/games/crimsonskies/story.aspx | work= Microsoft Game Studios| accessdate=2008-04-20]
After the breakup of America, the former nation's
railroadand highway systems fell into disuse as they crossed hostile borders. Consequently, the airplaneand the airshipbecame the primary modes of transportation in North America, which in turn gave birth to air piracy. Although air militias formed to defend against the air pirates, continuous brushfire wars between the nations prevent the established governments from effectively repelling the pirate threat.cite web | title=Microsoft Game Studios - Crimson Skies - Story | url=http://www.microsoft.com/games/crimsonskies/story.aspx | work= Microsoft Game Studios| accessdate=2008-04-20]
player characteris Nathan Zachary, a man well known in the game world as a reputable ladies' man and a notorious air pirate.cite web | title=Microsoft Game Studios - Crimson Skies - Features | url=http://www.microsoft.com/games/crimsonskies/features.aspx | work= Microsoft Game Studios| accessdate=2008-09-13] He is the leader of a group of sky pirates, the Fortune Hunters. Zachary dislikes the wealthy and privileged, seeing them as selfish and insensitive towards the less privileged; as a result, Zachary and his gang have a penchant for stripping the rich of their money and influence."I attack the rich and powerful of any nation and take what they treasure most—their money. In doing so I may bring them down a notch and show them they are not untouchable."cite book | editor=Zipper Interactive | title="Crimson Skies" Instruction Manual | pages=5 | publisher=Microsoft Game Studios | language=English] Zachary's "articles of piracy" insist that his gang are not to harm the innocent, and that they steal only from those who can afford the loss.cite web | url=http://firedrake.org/roger/csarchive/universe/piracy/fortune.htm | title=Fortune Hunters: Summary Info | accessdate=2008-05-27 | work=Crimson Skies Universe website | publisher=Microsoft Corporation | archiveurl= | archivedate=] cite book | last=Coleman | first=Loren L. | title=Crimson Skies Rogue Flyer, Wings of Justice: Book 1 | edition= | series=" Crimson Skies" | volume= | year=2000 | publisher= FASA Corporation| location= Chicago, Illinois| isbn=1-55560-406-4 | pages=114, 141-42] IGNhas stated that the Fortune Hunters are "wonderfully ambiguous […] in the moral sense," qualifying that "It's always great to see heroes […] who aren't too good to be true."cite web | date=2000-08-02 | author=Butts, Stephen | title=The Characters of Crimson Skies | url=http://pc.ign.com/articles/082/082982p1.html | work= IGN| accessdate=2008-04-20]
The Fortune Hunters are based off the zeppelin "Pandora", and comprise the airship's crew as well as six pilots—Nathan Zachary and his wingman Jack Mulligan, "Tex" Ryder and her wingman "Buck" Deere, "Big John" Washington and Betty "Brooklyn" Charles. Later joining Nathan and his gang are Dr. Fassenbiender, a scientist and friend of Nathan's since the
Great War,cite book | last=Kenson | first=Stephen | title=Crimson Skies Pirate's Gold, Wings of Fortune: Book 1 | edition= | series=" Crimson Skies" | volume= | year=2000 | publisher= FASA Corporation| location= Chicago, Illinois| isbn=1-55560-406-4] as well as his daughter, Dr. Ilse Fassenbiender.
Opposing the Fortune Hunters are rival pirates and
privateers, such as The Black Swan, Jonathan "Genghis" Kahn, and Ulysses Boothe. Also fighting Zachary and his gang are private security firms such as Blake Aviation Security and militia squadrons such as the Hollywood Knights. Many of these opponents are old rivals or former love interests of Nathan Zachary.cite web | date=2000-08-03 | author=IGN staff | title=The Characters of Crimson Skies, Part 2 | url=http://pc.ign.com/articles/083/083051p1.html | work= IGN| accessdate=2008-04-20] cite web | title=Microsoft Game Studios - Crimson Skies - Gallery | url=http://www.microsoft.com/Games/crimsonskies/gallery_pilots.aspx | work= Microsoft Game Studios| accessdate=2008-09-11]
Nathan Zachary is a great war hero pilot. Before he meets up with his crew and forms the Fortune Hunters, he saves damsels in distress and fights enemies. Until when he arrives in New York he and his three other wingmen present (Jack, Tex and Buck) hijack the Empire State Zeppelin the FULCRUM and reconstructed it, to the current PANDORA. Three of the FULCRUM's crew also joins the Fortune Hunter (Big John, Betty and Sparks).
Soon later down south in Cuba, Nathan and the Fortune Hunters fight against the British and the Medusas in Cuba. He also finds that his former partner, Lucas Miles betraying him. Just as well he orders the crew to open fire on his (Miles') zeppelin where it burns and crashes, while the Fortune Hunters flee to safety.
Soon later, the Fortune Hunters and Medusas are chilling out, while Nathan is stuck in the PANDORA. He refuses to come down, until when he mentions of a gold steal he tells to Jack. They then head to a group of Hawaiian islands, where they successfully find the treasure, though facing resistance from the British, who plans to take over the islands and the Medusas, who plan to take the treasure all for themselves. The Fortune Hunters prevail, surviving the attacks.
On the trip heading away from Hawaii, Nathan receives a call from Dr. Fassenbiender, an old friend he met during the Great War. However it turns to be his daughter Ilsa and she explains of her predicament where her father was captured by the Russians for their reasons, which leads the Fortune Hunters to Pacifica. The Dr. appears to be on a cruise zeppelin belonging to the CCCP, he fights them and also an old friend the Black Swan with her crew. After downing her crew, he daringly saves the Dr. while up in the air out high. Later back down on land, he saves Ilsa and steals the Blue Streak Bloodhawk, a prototype the Dr. works on with his daughter. He fights the Russians again for a capture of stolen goods and also battle Blake Aviation Security, including Paladin Blake himself. Blake loses, and Zachary begins to leave Pacifica when he saves a hospital ship under attack from the vile gang the Black Hats.
In Hollywood, Nathan is able to sneak in Betty into the movie studio where she has a role. The Fortune Hunters then rescue Lana Cooper who is not happy with her contract and wish to escape. After she is rescued, the head of Hughes Aviation (the aviation company there) then, Johnny Johnson tries to show off publicity by showing the biggest plane ever, the Spruce Goose. Nathan gets on stealing the giant plane. With all his convictions, he enters a competition with aces, pirates, aviators, aviatrixes and even Johnny Johnson himself in the race, to prove the best. Nathan, after the competition realises it is a trap to lure him away from the PANDORA so it can be destroyed by Hughes Aviation and he goes on a one-to-one anti zeppelin battle with his crew against Hughes Aviation. Though after battle, the PANDORA was victorious but was in terrible shape, which fortunately the spotters have found a cargo zeppelin flying through the Nation of Hollywood which can help them get into Sky Haven by towing the damaged PANDORA.
While in Sky Haven, Nathan and the Black Swan had lost their crews and now try to get them back. Nathan also goes on a military autogyro fight with Ulysses Boothe, who turns out to be the leader of the Black Hats. Nathan decides to capture Boothe, use him as bait to know of the crews' location in exchange for Boothe. From all that, Nathan also at last destroys the Black Hat mansion as payback. Then, he finds out that the Black Hats are attacking Blake Aviation Security and Nathan feels that something isn't right. He goes back with Blake, their enmity gone, fights the Black Hats.
Nathan later realises that the new Security firm Sacred Trust Incorporated is corrupt, led by his former partner Lucas Miles. They are planning to destroy Blake Aviation Security to ensure no resistance will be present. Nathan and Blake head to New York, where Nathan sabotages the Sacred Trust, saves a witness of the entire situation and sabotages attempts by the Sacred Trust to get their loot away. Finally, Nathan fights Lucas one more time, and emerges victorious with Lucas supposedly dead.
In the end, Nathan appears to return back with the Black Swan on stealing South American treasure....
Jordan Weisman, series creator and creative director of "Crimson Skies", has said of the game: "Our whole goal is to give the player the kind of role of being Errol Flynnin a 1930's, 1940's great pirate adventure film of the air."cite web | date=2000-11-30 | author=Marriott, Michel | title=When Games Go Hollywood, Do the Players Lose? | url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C00E6D6153DF933A05752C1A9669C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all | work= The New York Times| accessdate=2008-02-26] According to Weisman, the inspiration for the game came after he had done research on the early years of aviation; he wished to create a game about the era. Weisman and Dave McCoy came up with the concept of "combining the classic fantasies of pilots and pirates." They then created the series' backstory by proposing changes to the history of the United States that would allow the rise of air piracy.
Development on the game originally began for
Virtual World Entertainment, and was changed to a PC game under the name "Corsairs!". This original project was shelved, however, prompting Weisman and others to create the board game"Crimson Skies". When FASA later became a part of Microsoft, Weisman was given the opportunity to work on a new project; his choice was to restart production of the "Crimson Skies" PC game.cite web | date=2000-08-04 | title=Crimson Skies Interview | url=http://pc.ign.com/articles/083/083122p1.html | work= IGN| accessdate=2008-04-20]
The original version of the game shipped with numerous technical problems, one of the most notorious had the tendancy to delete the player's saved game files."Unless the patch is downloaded, the game may spontaneously reset the player's "campaign mode" progress to mission one when playing multiplayer or customizing a plane in Instant Action." cite web | date=2000-09-28 | author=IGN staff | title=Crimson Skies Patch | url=http://pc.ign.com/articles/085/085699p1.html | accessdate=2008-04-19] Shortly after the game's release, Microsoft released Crimson Skies Update Version 1.01, a patch specifically designed to fix this problem.cite web | date=2000-09-28 | author=IGN staff | title=Crimson Skies Patch | url=http://pc.ign.com/articles/085/085699p1.html | accessdate=2008-04-19] Microsoft later released Update Version 1.02 to address other issues, including multiplayer game stability and mission load times.cite web | title=Crimson Skies Downloads | url=http://www.microsoft.com/games/crimsonskies/downloads.aspx | work=MGS | accessdate=2008-04-20]
Reception and Criticism
Edge= 5 of 10cite news | author= | url= | title=Crimson Skies Edge magazine Review (PC) | work=Edge magazine (Issue 91) | publisher=
Future Publishing| page=117 | date=December 2000 | accessdate=2008-03-27 | language=English]
GSpot= 7.7 of 10cite web | date=2000-09-22 | author=Geryk, Bruce | title=Crimson Skies for PC Review | url=http://www.gamespot.com/pc/sim/crimsonskies/review.html | work=
GSpy= 84 of 100cite web | date=2000-09-30 | author=Lally, Will "Rhoam" | title=Gamespy.com - Reviews: Crimson Skies | url=http://archive.gamespy.com/reviews/september00/crimsonskies/index.shtm | work=
IGN= 8.8 of 10cite web | date=2000-09-22 | author=Butts, Stephen | title=Crimson Skies Review | url=http://pc.ign.com/articles/164/164175p1.html | work=
MC= 83 of 100cite web | title=Crimson Skies (pc:2000): Reviews | url=http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/pc/crimsonskies | work=
(based on 32 reviews)
GR= 84 of 100cite web | title=Crimson Skies Reviews | url=http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages2/914280.asp | work=
Game Rankings| accessdate=2008-04-20]
(based on 42 reviews)
"Crimson Skies" is regarded as a "cult favorite" or a "cult success,"cite web | author=Boulding, Aaron | date=2003-10-20 | title=Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge Review | url=http://xbox.ign.com/articles/455/455722p1.html | work=
IGN| accessdate=2008-04-20] cite web | author=Gifford, Kevin | title=Reviews: Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge | url=http://www.1up.com/do/reviewPage?cId=3110269 | work= 1up.com| accessdate=2008-04-20] generally popular only within a limited " cult following." The game, however, has received generally favorable critical reviews. GameSpot said that "Crimson Skies" does an excellent job of taking the elements of flight simulations that have broad appeal—the shooting and the fancy flying—and embellishing them with a great environment and a good story." IGN called the game "highly inventive, tons of fun and ridiculously addictive," and ranked the game as #65 and #75 respectively on its 2003 and 2005 lists of the "Top 100 Games of All Time."cite web | year=2003 | title=IGN's Top 100 Games of All Time | url=http://top100.ign.com/2003/61-70.html | work= IGN| accessdate=2008-04-20] cite web | year=2005 | title=IGN's Top 100 Games | url=http://top100.ign.com/2005/071-080.html | work= IGN| accessdate=2008-05-24]
IGN lauded the game's arcade-style physics model, stating that it made gameplay "exciting and immediate."cite web | date=2000-09-18 | author=Butts, Stephen | title=First Impressions: Crimson Skies | url=http://pc.ign.com/articles/085/085149p1.html | work=
IGN| accessdate=2008-04-19] GameSpot likewise complimented the arcade flight model, stating that it fit with the game's pulp fiction setting and allowed for elaborate stunt flying and fast-paced dogfighting. Other positively received aspects of gameplay include the game's "scrapbook" and aircraft customization features.
The game's visuals were generally well-received, as was its audio. Critics took particular note of the game's voice talent, which was described as among the best found in computer games up to that time. The "Crimson Skies" universe was also well-received by critics, who found it highly original and described it as an "alternate history that is rare in being both compelling and believable." Critics also commended the way these elements—voice acting, soundtrack, graphics style, and story—combined to contribute to the game's 1930s pulp fiction atmosphere.
The single player campaign in "Crimson Skies" was criticized for its overall linearity, and GameSpot found that multiple playthroughs of a mission would become "tiresome." The game was most heavily dispraised, however, for its numerous and notable technical issues, which include choppy framerate, missing textures, crash bugs, slowdown during menu screens, flawed wingman AI, long loading times for game levels, and the unreliability of saved game files.
IGN commented that "there are some serious issues with the game that need to be addressed […] in order to help the game realize its amazing potential." According to GameSpot, "Unfortunately, the game is […] a reminder of how easily technical problems can defeat a promising design." "Edge" magazine has stated that gameplay is directly affected by these problems, as long loading times force players to "play it safe" and avoid the "improbable stunts that should be the signature of [the] game"; the review concludes it's "A shame, because in its variety of missions and sheer panache, the dashing "Crimson Skies" almost steals your heart. "
Notes and References
* [http://www.microsoft.com/games/crimsonskies/ "Crimson Skies" Official Site] on
* [http://www.mobygames.com/game/crimson-skies/ "Crimson Skies"] at
* [http://download.microsoft.com/download/b/1/8/b180af00-6eae-490e-88d6-71ec4f4af01a/CrimsonSkies_Manual_EN.pdf "Crimson Skies" Game Manual] (
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