If there's one thing that Koei knows, it's how to milk their franchises and designs
to no end. From the original Dynasty Warriors, to it's offspring including the Xtreme Legends
expansion packs, to the Samurai Warriors franchise, each of these games are really about one thing:
hacking and slashing hundreds of enemies on screen. Crimson Sea is really no different. Oh sure,
it looks like a brand new franchise, hell it takes place in a different period of time, but once you
start playing against the whordes of enemies that attack you to no end, you'll pretty much
realize that this is basically Dynasty Warriors in the future. But is there enough in this game
to at least make it feel different from Koei's popular franchise?
While the core design of Crimson Sea is fairly similar to practically everything else
Koei has released in this generation, there are some things unique to this game that make it
worth looking into. Like I mentioned before, the game takes place in the future, in one of those
typical "fight-to-save-the universe" scenarios. You take control of Sho, who is basically a bounty
hunter of sorts until an orginzation hires him and his friend/sister/annoying idiot Yanquin to
stop an enemy who is destroying everything in sight. Of course, there's more to this story than just
destroying onslaught after onslaught of bugs and aliens, as halfway through the game Sho discovers
he was part of a near-extinct race that held great power. Then comedy ensues, well, not really, just
a rabid hunt for soundwaves.
In Crimson Sea, you have a couple more options when it comes to defeating your enemies. In
the Dynasty Warriors franchise, you basically had a melee weapon to deal with your foes. Here, you
are given a melee weapon (generally it's a sword), but you also have guns and special
abillities (I wish I remembered the name of what it was called). You can also customize your
guns with parts you buy to enhance them. While it sounds like they've given you a lot to dispose your
enemies, not everything is available from the get-go, and even when you do seem to be
pretty well equipped, you can still lose with bad weapon choices (some are faster or more
powerful than others) and bad abillity choices.
Other than that, it is a rather standard hack and slash game with a futuristic
exterior. In a way, that kind of limits the game to just one thing rather than explore
other gameplay elements, and for some, they may grow sick of that. Every now and then
there are stages that you would have to find invisible or cloaked enemies or collect items,
but in some way they never feel totally different from the rest of the game. Maybe that's
good in the way that the design is able to tie in with the game easily, but there's still that
problem of repetition. 24 stages of it.
The controls are fairly easy to grasp, with some straightforward funtcions such as using
the sword, the gun, the special abillities, dashing and so forth. But there are some
issues that Koei either didn't think of or address. One of the biggest problems I noticed
is that you can't switch your special abillites on the fly, you must do it from the
menu screen. This really slowed things down for me in later stages when I wanted to
switch from the Blastsphere to the Cure abillities. If there was a way to toggle the abillites
without going into the menu screen, it would have made things run more smoothly. The other thing
is that the lock-on function doesn't "lock-on" as well as it should. Sometimes it
will lock-on the wrong thing, or just not lock-on at all. It was easier to just go guns-ablazing than
to try to lock-on a target.
Visually, Crimson Sea is a nice and sharp-looking game. The character models are
nice and detailed, the environments are nice and varied, although I wish some indoor
areas wern't so claustrophobic, and the game is able to put out a great number of
enemies at once without bogging down the framerate. Actually, the only time I noticed
a dip in the framerate is when I used the Blastsphere consecutively with many enemies on-screen.
It really takes a lot of effort to make the framerate choke. The only thing I wish Koei did
was take a little more advantage of the Xbox hardware by employing some bump-mapping and
a little more dramatic lighting. Other than that, Crimson Sea looks pretty good.
The audio is mostly good as well, but there is a nag or too to bring up. The good portions of
the audio come from the music, which is very sweeping and dramatic at some points,
and that's thanks to the Prauge Orchestra. There were also some rock tracks to the
game, and luckily it really didn't seem too out of place. The sound effects work well, too.
The voice acting, however, ranges from decent to clunky. Some characters can sound convincing,
while others give a rather stilted deilvery. And for the love of god, shut Yanquin the hell up!
What is it with some of these games that have to include an annoying as hell sidekick? She
almost rivals Tricky from Star Fox Adventures as one of the most annoying sidekicks
ever to grace a videogame.
If you're a fan of the Dynasty Warriors series, you'll pretty much feel right at
home here, as Crimson Sea shares many of it's nuances. For those who really haven't played
a DW title, you still may get something out of this title, espeically if you like killing
a lot of enemies on screen or like games in a sci-fi setting. For those who hate repetition,
annoying sidekicks or characters with wacky-ass hairdos, pass.