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Crimson Alliance in Review

I’m sick of this shit.

Seriously, don’t put a treasure chest in a game that leads me to a prompt to pay Microsoft fantasy dollars to earn $40,000 of in-game gold- almost more money than I made in my entire review playthrough of the game. Just put a god damned coin box on the side of the console and charge me a quarter a play, like in the arcade days. It’s more honest.

But what’s worse, being able to buy your way into Crimson Alliance’s better equipment completely undermines the incentive mechanics of the game. There are no stats other than attack values, and each item increases those. There’s very little loot, no XP, and and no skill trees. So you can either grind the living hell out of the game and get to where you can afford the astronomical prices of the items (which, ironically, you really need to get higher scores and more gold) or you pass over your credit card number.

It’s a disappointment in a game with a couple of them, but all in all I actually liked Crimson Alliance. As I state in my review at Gameshark, I think I like it more because I like this genre (and a recently paltry genre at that) more than what this game itself does. There’s a fun, simple combat system that has more of a tactical edge than usual, particularly since you’re constantly trying to dole out death while avoiding damage to rack up multipliers. There’s a nice, arcadey feel to it and the co-op is well-implemented. Perhaps too well implemented since the single player game is hobbled if you’re friendless and adverse to gaming with XBLA strangers like I am. But it’s a good, well-made dungeon crawl despite its problems and it made for a very nice break after getting completely stuck in a bad, bad situation in that FEMA camp in one of the Deus Ex missions.

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I gave it a B, which I think is pretty charitable given my complaints, but I do think that fans of everything from Gauntlet to Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance will dig into what the game has to offer, despite its repetition and tacky appeals for more money. It’s nice that you can buy a low-end version with only one character for 800 fantasy dollars or the whole hog for 1200, but how much more are you willing to spend to get the good gear?

Bill Abner

Bill has been writing about games for the past 16 years for such outlets as Computer Games Magazine, GameSpy, The Escapist, GameShark, and Crispy Gamer. He will continue to do so until his wife tells him to get a real job.

6 thoughts to “Crimson Alliance in Review”

  1. Looks like I’ll be waiting for it to be deal of the week. Mostly because my friends are cheap and I hate playing with strangers as well.

    The loot is going to bother me I like getting purples, randomly after grinding for hours on end.

  2. There are occasional chests with loot the shops don’t have. But get this…you can’t sell unused gear to the shop. At least not that I could see.

    But yeah…there’s really nothing to grind for other than money and story progress. More than Golden Axe, far less than Diablo.

  3. Wow, I was wondering what my breaking point for microtransactions would be, and there it is, plain as day.

    I don’t often see a developer willing to literally shoot down the slippery slope, hit the jump at the end, and go for distance, so I guess the chutzpah wins on that front.

  4. I know, right? We’ve seen this plenty with “freemium” MMORPGs and IOS games, but not as much in an XBLA game…sure, there’s been “unlock packs” and that dude that asks for your credit card number to unlock a crappy quest in DA:O…but this is a pay for points racket.

    How long before Call of Duty lets you buy bundles of XP?

  5. Thanks for the review! Looks like this one probably won’t cure my Diablo itch. Having loot drop or finding lots ‘o chests is a big part of the fun (and being able to sell said loot). Buying gold to buy the in game loot is a bit shady to me. I’d just rather pay a fair price for the game and have the loot drop. I think I’ll keep waiting for Diablo III….

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