A disappointing Games with Gold on the Xbox One

Crimson Dragon; I’ve mentioned it in a few of my articles already, and I very much expected this game to be offered with the Games with Gold initiative on the Xbox One… though I’m surprised it’s taken this long. I’ve toyed with the idea of downloading Crimson Dragon once or twice before, in moments of weakness / boredom, when I was looking for a new game to fill a little of my downtime. My first impressions of the game were pretty poor, but after playing it for a bit, I must admit, I kind of got into it. That’s not to say that it’s a great game, but then it isn’t terrible. It’s most certainly one of the poorer games offered through GWG so far. Well, in league with Halo: Spartan Assault. Strike Suit Zero is a fun little game, which brings the August GWG out of the slums a little, but it still isn’t what I was hoping for from the initiative this month.

I was hoping that we’d start seeing some of the bigger games, rather than two small titles, especially after June’s offering of Max and Spartan Assault. Max is a brilliant game, but it still isn’t a long game. The less said about Spartan Assault the better. Strike Suit isn’t as good as Max, and Crimson Dragon isn’t as bad as Spartan Assault, so once again we’ve been given an average Games with Gold. The redeeming feature for GWG was last months release of Guacamelee!. It wasn’t a long game, but it was a fantastic title, which more than made up for its shortness. The same can’t be said for these two short games, they’re alright, but they’re not ‘lasting’ games.

Strike Suit is a pretty solid title. It might not be the prettiest game you’ve ever played, but the story is engaging, the voice acting is fun and the gameplay in general is addictive. It’s one of those pick up and play type of games, where you can flit in and out with no trouble at all. It won’t change your life, but it’s a brilliant time filler. Crimson Dragon, on the other hand, is much uglier. It’s clunky, slightly confusing, and the gameplay is difficult for the wrong reasons. It’s basically a rail shooter, with one or two missions where it’s not exactly on a rail. The first mission is a tad nausea inducing, and I wouldn’t recommend it if you suffer from motion sickness. It’s also incredibly bright and stupidly confusing. Once you get past the first mission, it does start to pick up a little. Once or twice I found myself enjoying the game, but it’s incredibly repetitive. There’s not much there to keep you interested for long amounts of time. Whilst it does work well as a pick up and play game, I was kind of hoping for something more substantial from Microsoft this month. There isn’t a huge amount coming out this month, so it would have been nice to have been given one slightly meatier game, than two smaller titles. Perhaps next month, Strike Suit and Crimson Dragon would have been perfect, as you can jump in and out of them between playing Destiny. This month, however, their lack of length is really highlighted by the fact that there’s very little on offer in August on the console.

Crimson Dragon feels much more like a tablet game than it does anything next-gen, and seeing as it was a release game for the console, it’s incredibly disappointing. The graphics are poor, the gameplay is poor and the story is about as engaging as a wet flannel. Ok, maybe that was a bit harsh. It does have some redeeming features. The dragon’s are cool, and riding them is a pretty good idea. I think my main problem with the game is that it was supposed to be showing us what the Xbox One could do (what with it being a launch title, and all), rather it feels more like an older Xbox 360 game than anything else. I played Divinity II: Eco Draconis a few years ago, and in that game you can transform into a dragon. Playing as the dragon on this 360 game was far better than Crimson Dragon’s efforts, which is a little embarrassing really. Especially as the dragon transformation on Divinity was just a tiny bit of the game. If Crimson Dragon was a tablet game on iOS, I’m sure it would be getting rave reviews, but as a current-gen launch title it leaves a lot to be desired.

Overall, I was quite disappointed with this month’s Games with Gold, especially after last month’s fantastic offering of Guacamelee!, which probably made these games seem even worse than they actually are. Strike Suit is more than worth a play, as I thoroughly enjoyed the game earlier this year, but I wouldn’t really recommend Crimson Dragon. I know that Romnomnom is quite enjoying it, so maybe it’s a bit of a Marmite game. All I’m really hoping is that next month’s offering is a step up! Although, I’m going to call it now, I reckon next month we’ll be getting LocoCycle… though I hope I’m wrong.