Paint the red planet red.
Originally released back in 2003, Crimsonland enjoyed a re-mastered release last year on PC and PS4. Now that re-release has come to Xbox One, with added levels, enemies and an extra mode.
Crimsonland is a straight forward twin-stick arena shooter, and its old roots are there to be seen, even with the added polish. This is no bad thing mind, as taking this approach means that there are no complicated systems to learn or complex controls to master. Use the left stick to move, the right stick to aim and the R trigger to fire. While we are on the subject of controls, I will use the opportunity to get my only gripe with the game out of the way. Because the the hectic nature of the gameplay, there is really no need to ever take your finger of the trigger. As such, after a few hours on continuous play, my right index finger started to ache. This could easily have been solved by just having auto-fire. It is by no means a deal-breaker, but does hamper the experience.
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PS3, PC, Vita
Multiplayer: 4 Player Co-Op
With that out of the way, lets get on to what makes this old school shooter great. It opens up with a quest mode; 70 levels that are divided in to 7 stages. Each level pits the player against a wave of aliens, bugs and even zombies. Clear the stage and move on to the next. With each cleared stage, the game unlocks either a new weapon or perk, and there are plenty of both. Weapons are the standard fare; rifles, pistols, shotguns, flame throwers etc. There are several variants of each of the weapon types, and these add effects to the guns that will prove useful in the heat of battle. The perks are there to buff you up during each stage.
As enemies are killed and blood it spilt, a gauge at the top of the screen fills up. Once filled, the player is offered the choice of a perk. There are perks for extra speed, regenerating health, increased XP, and faster reloading. There are also perks that can give the player a greater stat bonus, but at the cost of health. All perks are reset at the end of the stage, so choosing the right perk for the right stage can be the difference between failure and success.
Killing enemies can also result in a power-up drop. These offer short term boosts that can help turn the tide. From increased movement or shooting speed to slowing down time, these power-ups come thick and fast. There are even perks to increase their drop rate and timers.
As you can imagine, the difficulty ramps up with each passing stage. But the curve is a steady one and the game never felt like it was being cheap. Besides, Crimsonland isn’t just about the quest mode. The are 6 survival modes available, each one with it’s own gameplay style. You can take on the alien hordes with just an assault rifle, or maybe with no weapon at all, and each mode requires a different approach to tackle it. As with most score based games, each of the survival modes have their own Global/Friends List leader boards.
But possibly the best thing about Crimsonland is that it supports 4 player local co-op in all of its modes. Providing that you have enough friends, and enough controllers, Crimsonland morphs in to a fun party game; with each player trying to support each other, all while trying to get to the power-ups before their teammates. This adds a whole new level of gameplay and gives the player a reason to keep coming back to the game.
Crimsonland is now up there with Super Stardust HD as one of my favourite twin-stick shooters. It may not blow you away with the visuals, but looks certainly don’t matter when it’s packing this much content. Added to the fact that the Xbox One version includes new content, this is a must buy for fans of the genre and for those looking for a fun co-op experience.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.