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reviews >> xbox
Crimson Sea

written by Shaun McCracken

Game Information
Publisher: Koei
Developer: Koei
Year Released: 2003
Players: 1
ESRB Rating: Teen

Visuals 8.75
Nice looking character models and environments, and a smooth framerate that takes a lot of work to slow down. Could have used some of the effects that people expect from exclusive Xbox games.
Audio 8.5
Great music and sound effects, and dodgy voice acting. Yanquin is a BIG minus.
Gameplay 8
If you don't mind pressing the A-button a few thousand times, or dealing with similar level designs, you may like what this game has to offer.
Replay Value 8
It's only a single-player game, and the main game lasts about 10 hours. You can go back and challenge the tougher difficulties after you complete the game, if you want.
Reviewer's Impression 8
When I first played this game, I played it for about 20 minutes, and then it spent about 5 months on my shelf without being played. When I actually did pick up the game and start playing it again, it was a fairly addictive game. It's not really anything different from what I've played before from other titles, but at least what was given here worked.
Overall 8.25
Crimson Sea is a good game that is close to a great game. If the gameplay were more diverse, and offered some extra incentive to play the game over again, Crimson Sea would undeniably be a must-have. As it is, fans of the genre will like this game quite a bit, and it does have the potential to be a cult classic, but it isn't for everyone, especially those who hate repetition.

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.

Final Thought

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.