I haven’t done one of these ‘IM PLAYIN’ articles for a while now, which is pretty bad considering that the website is called IM PLAYIN. Still, the recent Games with Gold has inspired me to get back on the horse, but not necessarily in a good way. I’ve been playing a lot of games this month, Strike Suite Zero, FIFA 14, Battlefield 4, Mass Effect 3, The Wolf Among Us, Telltale’s The Walking Dead and Risen 2, as well as a number of tablet games ranging from Minesweeper to Rival Knights. I’ve also been playing Crimson Dragon… and I have no idea why. I’ll start by saying that I have already written an article blasting Crimson Dragon, or at least its selection for the Games with Gold initiative, earlier this month. That article focused less on the game and more on my slight annoyance at Microsoft for giving us a disappointing game. This article is going to focus more on the game as well, hopefully explaining my disappointment as well as elaborating on why I seem kind of addicted to such a poor game.
When I wrote the article, in early August, I had been playing the game for a good few days and I was far from impressed. I’m still playing the game now, but I must admit that not much has changed. Crimson Dragon is a rail shooter, with one or two missions of ‘free flight’, based on a far off planet inhabited by humans, dragons and various other alien monsters. The basic crux of the game is that an infectious disease, Crimsonscale, is sweeping across the colonised planet, turning all of the monsters and beasts hostile towards humans and each other. As a dragon rider, you’ll be tasked with eradicating the beasts infected with Crimsonscale, whilst trying to unearth the mysterious going-ons in the colony. The story isn’t going to rock your world, as it isn’t the most engaging narrative you’ll ever encounter. For most of it I wasn’t really sure what I was doing, or what was going on. It was partly because the story was difficult to follow at times, but it was also down to the fact that it wasn’t engaging in the slightest (for me at least). Still, I played on.
The levels could have been the game’s saving grace; but sadly they are incredibly repetitive. There is a selection of worlds, each with a number of missions in various different levels. The main problem with the settings is that they’re incredibly samey. Each level within the world looks the same, with just slight differences. What makes it even worse is that each mission is pretty much the same too. You’ll have a selection of four or five objectives which are either ‘hold off the enemy swarm’ or, ‘attack the enemy swarm’ or ‘collect the beacons’. The only time you’ll get a little variety is when you face a boss, in which the objective will either be ‘kill the boss’ or ‘attack its arm\back\leg’. The lack of variety is only accentuated by the fact that the game is surprisingly long, which really doesn’t play in its favour. It got to the point where I wasn’t paying attention to the objectives, or the story, because everything seemed to be the same. I was slowly becoming disengaged by the game, and the only thing that kept me playing was the addictiveness of the XP system and the levelling of the dragons.
It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what made me continue to play a relatively poor game. The concept was good, it was just poorly executed. Still, there was something there that kept me playing. Something that convinced me to pick up the controller again in the hopes that it might get better. I think that there were one or two factors that contributed to me not giving up on Crimson Dragon – the biggest of which being the fact that there has been naff all on the console in August so far. That was probably the main reason for biting the bullet, I didn’t have much else better to play that I hadn’t played before. The other thing that kept me coming back was the XP system and the evolving of the dragons, as well as the ability to buy new dragons. As you play, you gain XP for both the rider and the dragon. When your dragon gets to level 10, you can level them up to the next stage. You can then level them up again when they reach the max for that type, but you do need special items to evolve past certain stages. There are a tonne of dragons to choose from, each with their own separate evolutions, and they really cater for all playing types. Levelling up my dragon towards evolution became somewhat addictive, as there was a good balance between difficulty and reward. I never felt like I was progressing too slowly, and the difficulty of the game was never too much to piss me off and stop me from playing. That really went in Crimson Dragon’s favour.
Overall, Crimson Dragon is a pretty poor game. Yet, I still kind of enjoyed playing it… well… I didn’t hate playing it. I never felt like it was too hard and it never made me feel as though I was wasting my time on it. As a time filler, it really did the job. I would have been incredibly disappointed, had I paid for the game, but getting it for free isn’t the end of the world. I must admit though, I hope that Microsoft don’t make a habit of this. One dodgy game now and then is understandable, but I won’t be a happy bunny if next month we’re offered LocoCycle. I know that I’m getting it for free, but there’s still no need to take the piss. I’m paying £40 a year for the service, and I’m happy that they want to give me something for my loyalty, but I’d rather they not slightly insult me with crap games, as if I’m a child that needs appeasing with a Kinder Egg toy because I’ve thrown a strop in Tesco.