At the Tokyo Game Show 2013 today, I tried out the Xbox One exclusive launch title Crimson Dragon. Although visually stunning, can you judge a book by its cover?
The only payoff for waiting in line for 40 minutes was shooting the s%$t with a pretty cool cat named Thomas from gamexplain.com, who we later met up with at the after party and had beers with.
The rundown is this. You’re a guy flying a dragon through some beautiful corridors and canyons, battling enemy hordes as you make your way to the end level boss. The boss battle is set in an open sky arena, and the very large beast you have to battle looks like a dragon with testicles all over it's back (see cover photo). That was the demo.
Starting off, the game looks extremely pretty, but we quickly discover that the controls are a mess. You steer your dragon with one thumb and aim your targeting recticle with the other, much like you'd move in a first person shooter. Movement is on rails, but they try and be clever and switch your perspective at times from behind your dragon, to in front, to where you’re shooting enemies chasing you, to a side view that is ultimately confusing, and so on. The aiming is similar to the flying segments in Starhawk, where you have to drag your reticle across a target and it immediately locks on to it and you press the trigger to fire. You can get up to about 10 targets locked before you max out and have to fire your payload off and target another group. Over, and over, and over again.
Being that your dragon is moving on rails, you'd think that at least the aim controls would be easy to use, but they aren't, they’re difficult and confusing. You can take a large amount of damage in as well, which makes the game seem not very challenging, and therefore just sort of a flying button-masher. In fact most of the sections had a timer on them. It felt like it wasn’t really about if you could do it skilfully without getting hit, but if you could just mash your buttons fast enough to kill the enemy in the allotted amount of time.
All in all, it has some pretty level design, and despite the lack of challenge, it seems that there may be enough story and decent enough gameplay that if it's about 20$ or a cheap downloadable title, I could see myself doing a mission or two a night for a few weeks and getting through it and enjoying myself. But for a full priced launch title, as a primary game that I would be playing… meh.
If you can get it on the cheap there is probably some fun to be had with Crimson Dragon, but as far as a full priced AAA launch title, I'll just stick with Titanfall.