Crimson Sea 2 Review
If you're looking for a game in which you can shoot up or cut up hundreds of ugly aliens for hours on end, you've come to the right place.
Crimson Sea 2, exclusively available on the PlayStation 2, is the sequel to a sci-fi-themed action adventure game released early last year, exclusively for the Xbox. That's kind of a strange shift, but then again, this is kind of an unusual game. Publisher/developer Koei, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is known among gamers primarily for its historically-themed action and strategy games. So it comes as no surprise that Crimson Sea, with its Hong Kong comic book-style visuals and far-flung futuristic characters, seems like a departure from the norm. Anyway, it's a good, solid game that throws lots of fairly straightforward but satisfying hybrid hack-and-slash/third-person-perspective-shooter levels at you. Additionally, it features a nonlinear framework and some role-playing elements that lend a bit of depth to the proceedings. This sequel isn't remarkable-looking, though it runs smoothly, and the new two-player split-screen modes aren't a major attraction. However, if you're looking for a game in which you can shoot up or cut up hundreds of ugly aliens for hours on end, you've come to the right place.
You don't need to be familiar with the first Crimson Sea game to dive right into this one. If you want more background information, there's an extensive in-game primer on what happened in the first Crimson Sea. Still, the storyline stuff can safely be ignored, since most of it consists of rather dry textual dialogue that you have to read off of the screen, and a lot of the science fiction is pretty dense. While the particulars of the plot are somewhat unconventional, the premise boils down to your standard save-the-universe-from-the-alien-menace type of thing, and, in fact, the alien menace in this case is known only as "the menace." Things don't get much clearer or simpler than this.
If you know the original game, then you'll be familiar with Sho, Crimson Sea 2's protagonist, who's more or less your prototypical anime hero, complete with feathered hair and a big-collared shirt. Sho is special in that he wields the power of neo-psionics, which are essentially magic spells that are capable of devastating large groups of the menace. However, his guns and his blade will be doing most of the work here. During the course of his missions, he'll encounter Feanay, a new playable character dressed in a terribly short skirt, which apparently does not constrain her from dealing lots of damage with her energy pistols and dual laser swords. Feanay can use neo-psionics too. Once you've discovered her, you can freely switch from playing as Sho to Feanay between missions. Some missions are available only to a specific character, but Sho and Feanay really aren't very different in gameplay terms. Their weapon properties are distinct, but you won't have trouble readily switching off from one character to the other.
There are dozens of different missions in Crimson Sea 2, but they're not all that different. It goes like this: You teleport into a hotspot of some sort from your base of operations. Then, you'll run through some pretty simple levels, which include mostly hallways, tunnels, and large open spaces, while fighting hordes of the menace. The menace come in a few different varieties, including buglike things that swarm you, man-sized reptile things, some rather dexterous humanoid enemies, misshapen mutants, flying grasshopper things, and more. However, dealing with them tends not to be overly complicated. You basically just start blasting or slashing away. You can lock onto an individual target when you need to concentrate your attack on a tougher opponent, and while locked on, you can execute useful, quick evasive maneuvers in any direction to keep the menace swarms from overwhelming you. It's typical to face dozens of creatures at the same time, and while the action has somewhat of a hollow feel to it as you constantly knock droves of menace flat on their hindquarters, at least there's a lot of pure action. Some optional combo moves are available to lend a bit more dramatic flair, as well as a bit more complexity, to all the combat.