Crimson Tears Shakedown
This is a short term review, made on two hours of game play. (Why call it a 60 minute shakedown then? Why not? ) This is to help those on the fence to decide weather to purchase or buy. My understanding of the game, especially the late gameplay options is incomplete. Please note, I may reveal some story information in my review, but it is all focused on the early game and should not affect your enjoyment of the title....much.
The game opens showing the three protagonists escaping from a facility. They move to a safehouse garage in the city, and discuss how they are going to free a Professor from the facility. They are aided by a voice from beyond. This voice is also apparantly a friend of theirs who is still held in the facility. All four of these people seem to be genetically modified humans with special powers. They discuss how they will return to the city areas, and argue about which one of them can go.
This is where I was first thrown when I discovered this game. From the box packaging, I was expecting a game in the vein of Final Fight, or Eve of Extinction. When I was finally in control of the characters of Amber, Tokio, and KAdie, they had neat little level indicators over their heads. I then found that I could only control one of them as they decended into the 'Dimension Maze'. Imagine my surpsise, Crimson Tears is a action RPG! I discovered Capcom is taking their knowledge of the fighting genre and combining it with a dungeon crawl game. This results in a unique, but slighty unpolished game.
The graphics are really nice. Most of the cutscenes are movie files, but they are created in the in-game engine. The character models and details for most of the scenes are of decent quality. The characters themselves are cell shaded, as are the monsters (or Bios as the game refers to them). This results in flashy recognizable characters (a hallmark of Capcom games). The dungeon areas are crisply rendered, but the cell shading on most of the objects helps avoid the jagged edges that haunt many Playstation 2 games.
I have played through the intial dungeon, an abandoned water works area, and the start of the next area. The rooms are pretty standard fare, with just enough to support the theme of the dungeon level you are in. They repeat often, due to the random nature of the 'Dimension Maze'. It works, but not having seen more areas, this could suffer the same issue other console based hack-n-slash games do, with the areas getting old by the end of the game.
So far, the sound effects are pretty standard fare, with some moderate voice acting to back them up. The music is forgettable. Ten minutes after putting the game down, I can't even tell you if it was symphonic music or techno-dance music to back the sci-fi nature of the game. The voice acting is okay, but only the faceless voice, and Amber are voices that don't make me cringe. Of course, that only lasted until the first cutscene after I beat the first boss. The false angst the voice actors used made me cringe. I'm still trying to determine if it's the combination of the absurd outfits, the voicework, and the dialog they were given. I'll get back to you on that.
Welcome to ... any generic hack and slash that you've played recently. That's the game. One player enters the 'Dimension Maze', picks an area, and moves through multiple floors in the area and defeats the boss. Repeat this until your character has leveled up enough to move on to the creatures in the next major area, or has completed the game.
Okay, I'm not being completely fair to the gameplay in this game. True to Capcom's style, the fighting in the game uses two buttons, and different combinations of those buttons will cause your character to chain up multiple nifty combos against the enemy. You also have a super attack that causes increased damage, but pushes your body hotter and hotter each time you use it. It works really well, and it is has been much fun to mix and match combos and super moves against the enemy just to rack up the chains.
The interface is pretty simple. There is a meter for your HP, and your body heat. You also have a mini map screem showing the layout of the floor you are on. Press start, and the inventory screen and your currently equipped weapons appears. Quick to navigate through, and easy to tell which items are for item creation, and which are useable items.
Each character can equip different weapons, and each different weapon has a different combo tree that you can upgrade. I've only upgraded a few, but it amounts to longer bashing of the enemy to make sure it goes down. It works, and looks stylish the whole way through.
Another gameplay note: The game can only be saved at the garage. You can only exit the Dimension Maze by defeating the boss, or using an item called a 'Returner'. Either way you are sent back to the garage with full health. If you die in the dungeon, the next character you choose has to come in and rescue you to recover the items that you had. It gives you a two minute timer, and the faceless voice directs you near the person. Interesting gameplay choice, as failing to rescue the person puts them in 'Recovery' for a level or two, and all the items they had are lost.
Finally, the gameplay point that had me scratching my head as to weather it was a good or a bad thing: These characters are genetically modified people. Apparantly when you're super modified like this, and fight and run around too long, you enter the 'Universal Soldier' phase and overheat. You begin to take damage over time, but you move really quickly and basically are a berserker for about 45 seconds. Then when you cool off, you have 25 hit points (a single creature can knock you over) and the cooling meter clears.
Definately a single player rental for a week. Still not sure how the sci-fi dungeon crawl will hold up, but it's got my attention for now. Storyline seems to be average, and the character designs are so absurdly dressed I can't take them seriously. I mean, hot pink highlights, and punk rocker leather that is barely a string bikini don't mix well. Gameplay is good, and I want to go back and bash some more Bios just to see what happens to these three.