Tuesday, February 9, 2010

PS2 look - Crimson Sea 2

While I've grown to expect a 1,001 editions of Dynasty Warriors out of Koei they are more than capable of the rare surprise or two. Here we have one of them in Crimson Sea 2, a futuristic action/shooter with the usual combination of aliens, brooding, heroines in skimpy outfits, and RPG characteristics.

This game is a direct sequel to the first Crimson Sea. Since that game was an Xbox-exclusive the developers were kind enough to toss in a number of cutscenes that explained that game's storyline in its entirety. All told I can't remember the story to either game but does that really matter? The goal is simple. Accept missions, kill everything, collect the reward, upgrade equipment as needed, repeat until the game ends or boredom sets in.

What helps to set this game apart from most other action titles is its emphasis on both melee and ranged combat. Ammo is infinite though prone to reloading/overheating and the weapons are limited in their reach and range. Using both of these effectively is the way to go to complete this game. Getting around is simple enough though it can be a bit stiff as both characters are more adept at killing than evasion. Thankfully there's more than enough to go around as enemies frequently attack in groups or even swarms. There are a handful of weapons to choose from and upgrade and clearing out a room filled with foes is simple enough.

In what has become a trite aspect of action games when the player performs exceptionally well or triggers a special ability everything will slow down. This is an important tool to use as it allows the player to keep up the offensive while having a better chance at avoiding the relentless enemy attacks. Furthermore this can also lead to incredibly powerful critical attacks which will make short work of anything.

Since enemies can be more vulnerable to either guns or swords it's also important to use both effectively. This is the basis for a very neat system that allows the player to perform certain special attacks when transitioning from shooting to swinging. Aside from doing good damage these attacks can also have special properties and generally they make the combat far more interesting than just one method of attack. Besides when you're dressed like a rockstar and have the hair to match you want to do things that look stylish and cool.

The mission variety in this game is certainly interesting. While there are a set number of locales each of the missions can take place in different parts of them as well as include a different array of foes to contend with or objectives to accomplish. Problem is quite a few of these missions can be really bad. When I say really bad I'm talking about the kinds of missions we tend to dread. There are stealth missions, escort missions, missions that take place in the dark, and so on. These are generally just un-fun missions that try to get by on the variety they bring to the table but ultimately the player only does them because they have to. Thankfully with over 60 missions a few of them are optional. Problem is the optional ones can also have good rewards for completing them with an S rank.

Yep there is yet again a ranking system in place. All of the usual suspects are accounted for like combos, damage, and number of enemies destroyed. These can also include particular objectives like how much damage the escort took and so on. On the bright side there are a number of ways to strengthen both characters through items and experience levels so coming back later and giving the mission another go is always possible.

Even with the special attacks and different weapons this game is ultimately limited in that aspect. The bosses are pretty decent as well but once the player finds particular combinations or attacks they like they'll find that they're effective for pretty much the entire game. Since the combat doesn't have the variety it needs to stay fresh for a single playthrough this is why we have the mission variety and all its stealthy escorting fun. I'd much rather have better combat.

Still though this might be worth a look as it doesn't really fail at any one aspect. It doesn't do anything exceptionally well for me to recommend it over some other un-named game but if you're anything like me you'll end up playing it anyway. As I've said before if you're the kind of person that plays anything they can get their hands on you'll end up with this game eventually. It's not bad at least though unless it gets under your skin you either won't finish it or shelve it after a playthrough of just the story missions..

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