Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Crimson Alliance Demo Review

Although it appears to be a free Xbox Arcade game, this is definitely not the case for Crimson Alliance. Xbox gamers are able to download the game for free on the marketplace, which gains you some of the gameplay, but not all of it. In other words, this "free" download entitles you to the game itself, but in order to actually progress any further than the first few demo levels, you must unlock character packs. As the unlocks are pretty costly, for now I have decided to only review this demo version.

In starting the demo, you have a choice of one of three characters, who are classed under the headings "Wizard", "Rogue" and "Mercenary" (I chose the wise looking Wizard). Each character has different abilities and attacks, so I suggest giving all three a go to determine which one you enjoy playing as the most. The demo allows for up to three players, which I highly recommend, as for me, this game was much more enjoyable with other players. Purchasing a character pack allows you not only to play the full game, but to have full access to the characters abilities, weapons and more. Unfortunately, each pack will cost you 800MSP, or 1200MSP for the whole crew. If bought separately however, be expected to shell out a whopping 2400MSP. This has to be one of the most expensive Xbox Live Arcade titles so far, which I am sure many people will not be pleased about. For such a high price, the game must be great, surely? 
Thankfully, from the brief gameplay the demo provided, it appears that it is. The cut scenes piece together the plot in a stylised motion comic form, which seem to work much better than relying on computer graphics. There is an impressive amount of detail in the game. The game works as a top-down hack and slash, so zooming in to have a better look is impossible, but it is still a delight to look at the surroundings from afar. 

As for the actual gameplay, Crimson Alliance reminded me a lot of the repetitive hack and slash formula that games such as Marvel Ultimate Alliance adopts. Adopting this aspect of gameplay can get somewhat repetitive after a while, but the interesting looking enemies, and detailed level design thankfully stop this from happening. Elements that are typical in RPG's make an appearance here, such as the ability to level up your character, collecting dropped items to use during the game, and unlocking new weapons as you progress. Combining this the simplicity of a hack and slasher with more complex RPG elements help to make this stand out a little more.
So in conclusion, is it worth shelling out for all the character packs? Well, in all honesty, I was somewhat impressed by the demo. The levels are impressively detailed at points, and the enemies are interesting to look at. 

The multiplayer function is perhaps the best way to enjoy Crimson Alliance, as   you will find the game much less frustrating. From reading about the single player mode in more detail, it appears that you benefit more from playing it with some friends, as hidden areas cannot always be unlocked when playing it solo. The gameplay is pretty much the same throughout, which I felt would get boring quite early on. Thankfully, I actually wanted to play more after the demo ended, which is a good sign. The only drawback is the price of course. It seems a shame that in order to experience the game fully, you must unlock all three character packs, which involves spending a lot of microsoft points. 

If you like games such as Marvel Ultimate Alliance and Golden Axe, then this one is definitely for you. 


  1. If you buy the full game it is not expensive, it is 1200 points like most high-quality XBLA games. If you decide you like a single character it's even cheaper at 800 points. It is only more expensive if you change your mind and buy the characters individually. People make this decision every day at the grocery store when they buy light bulbs. Don't be afraid, I recommend the 3-pack.


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