Play
Please use a flash video capable browser to watch videos.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Review

Crimson Dragon Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • XONE

Death from above.

Crimson Dragon is an on-rails shooter that revives the cherished Panzer Dragoon series under a new name, fitted with light RPG elements and a dash of asynchronous co-op. Unfortunately, these added systems don’t make a meaningful impact on the game at large, and the genre’s focused action is perverted by wildly concocted paths that send you and the camera into a tizzy. This, coupled with unusually aggressive enemies, makes Crimson Dragon a frustrating experience. There are rare, fleeting moments of greatness near the end of the campaign, but you have to fight the urge to put the controller down if you hope to catch a glimpse of them.

Plot is not Crimson Dragon's strong suit either, but it suffices in so much as it provides an explanation for your ability and need to command dragons. Not long after the colonization of the planet Draco, the inception of the Crimsonscale virus wreaked havoc on the human population and enraged the indigenous wildlife. Some people, dubbed the Seekers, were immune to the Virus. As one of the lucky few, it's your job to fight back against the rising tide, and investigate the cause of the Crimsonscale outbreak.

"Bogey on your tail!"

All levels consist of phases that last from one to five minutes apiece. You ride on the back of dragons, fighting swarms of enemies, collecting items, and occasionally facing a boss or a strong group of variations on common enemies. For each phase that you complete, you're rewarded based on your performance with credits or items. Credits can be used for many purposes: acquiring new dragons, hiring AI-driven wingmen, undertaking missions, and purchasing extra-life-like revival jewels. Regardless of how many enemies you shoot down or items you collect, the most important thing is that you survive.

You can attempt to better your chances by recruiting other players' dragons from the game's leaderboard, but these wingmen never make much of an impact. Granted, this fluctuates slightly based on the availability of high-level dragons and your ability to afford their contract, but the difference between low- and high-level wingmen is hard to recognize in practice. Regardless of who’s watching your back, you're still the primary target. The most any wingman ever brings to the table is a powerful but limited-use attack that hits every enemy and recharges your health. It’s helpful, but there’s no reason it couldn’t have been a function of your dragon to begin with. At best, wingmen provide you with a last-ditch attack, but at worst, they instill a false sense of security.

It's not uncommon to face streams of bullets from small, common enemies.

Though the game tries to instill confidence by offering backup, Crimson Dragon’s enemies are ever relentless, even on the easiest difficulty setting. Standard enemies fire dozens of projectiles at once, forcing you to constantly barrel roll to avoid impact in the face of large swarms. In some levels, it feels like all you do is bash the shoulder buttons to barrel roll, and simultaneously hammer on the trigger to fit an attack or two in between rolls.

Ostensibly, your ability to shoot down enemies and minimize damage relies on elemental relationships, which you can alter prior to heading into battle. However, though you're given a readout of the balance of your abilities and enemies’ resistances prior to starting a mission, choosing the right dragon and assigning the proper abilities rarely makes a meaningful difference. Likewise, your dragons can evolve twice, but these are mostly cosmetic changes, with an ever-so-slight bump in base stats.

The imbalanced relationship between stat growth and difficulty is disappointing, but struggling to overcome these odds is nowhere near as frustrating as coping with Crimson Dragon's camera. When you're flying in a simple pattern, it's easy to settle in. The left analog steers your dragon, and the right controls your weapons' aim. Free-flying stages, which allow you to control the speed and trajectory of your dragon, turn the standard control scheme on its head by assigning the camera controls to the same stick as movement. It's confusing, not to mention ineffective in the midst of combat when you have to track fast-moving, hard-hitting enemies.

Crimson Dragon's final stages look and play better than the rest.

Granted, there are only a few free-flying stages in the game, but erratic paths in standard levels also prove to be problematic. Quite often, you're sent careening around corners, with an unreasonable amount of visual interference, while under fire, without enough time to react to threats. If you submit, you can simply take some damage and move on. If you attempt to kill everything and lose control, you're more likely to be unprepared when the camera finally rights itself.

Fight your way towards the end of the game, and you'll discover stages with greater visual appeal than the initial selection of barren landscapes, and more sound level design, but it’s too little too late. Crimson Dragon frustrates more than it entertains. Flying your dragon can feel good, but it's only when the game takes a rare breath and slows down that it feels right. The ability to raise dragons is mildly intriguing, but they take forever to evolve into slightly more effective warriors, making the process more of a distraction than a rewarding challenge. It doesn't take long to realize that for all its efforts to be something more, Crimson Dragon misses the mark. It's occasionally sloppy, usually frustrating, and ultimately disappointing.

The Good
Later stages exhibit refined level design and visual appeal.
The Bad
Camera controls get in the way of your ability to fight effectively.
The dragon growth system is unrewarding.
5
Mediocre
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Panzer Dragoon is one of Peter's favorite Sega franchises, and the great Star Fox 64 sits snugly in the Nintendo 64 on his desk. He played through the entire story for this review, and evolved the default dragon all the way to its ultimate form in the process.

Discussion

158 comments
blackxpoison
blackxpoison

I like this game. I have my own pet dragon. It's very cool.

mkeezay22
mkeezay22

Man this is a blemish on the good name of Panzer Dragoon, Saturn was my favorite console of all time, Panzer Dragoon 1 and 2 were great (never got to play Saga which I regret to this day)

This game should be gathered up and buried in the desert like ET for Atai, I beg you Sega to re-release Saga in HD and preferably with new models, better yet release a Panzer Dagoon Saga 2 and show the industry Sega is still relevant,

chiefgul
chiefgul

Having been a fan of Panzer Dragoon Orta (as well as the first and ZWEI on my saturn), watching this makes me vomit.

What an embarrassment!!!!!!!

Sega needs to make up for this, clear Panzer Dragoon's name by releasing a proper Panzer Dragoon game.

Sega you owe it to this legendary franchise!!!!!!

Panzer Dragoon is a work of art it belongs to a very limited number of unique video games.

tmorri603
tmorri603

I had high hopes for this game being a fan of Panzer Dagoon. 

AyatollaofRnR
AyatollaofRnR

Sad Panda

So is this a full price game? Id check it out still if its less than 30.

chyng85
chyng85

I thought it is a RPG... 

moesuir
moesuir

Oh Gawd Damn, this low-budget indie game scores HIGHER than a game co-produced by the PS4's lead architect Mark Cerny. Sad times for the PS4, very, very sad times :(

Horndawgie
Horndawgie

Ugghhhhh, I had high hopes for this. Love Panzer Dragoon series. If this and DR 3 and Ryse would have been 8s or better, I might have considered an X1 sometime soon, but with these rushed games and inexcusable issues, there is no way I could justify one. Probably pick up a PS3 Last of Us and Batman bundle for 199 @ Best Buy next week instead. This gen is starting out very piss poor. $%&#!!!!

Sefrix
Sefrix moderator moderator

First Lair and now this. I guess dragon games early on are always bad :P 

Stringerboy
Stringerboy

Well that sucks. Seems like all these launch titles are being rushed.

raddys2001
raddys2001

Not surprised since rail shooters like this don't have a big audience and its a niche title.  I would still buy it either way I don't know what reviewers are expecting but I really miss the panzer dragoon series and this is the only thing that is close. But seriously coming camera issues I think that was also an issue in the previous panzer games yet they got like 8 and 9.

uglypinkmoose
uglypinkmoose

not surprised this isn't that good... a shame though

zachv1
zachv1

I didn't know this game was on the wii!

WhiteTulip1
WhiteTulip1

should just re-release panzer dragoon that was on xbox

wolfyrabbit
wolfyrabbit

I was pretty excited about this game... sigh better get a refund on my xbox preorder...

ahpuck
ahpuck

Didn't even know about this one, snuck up on me.

Kryptonbornson
Kryptonbornson

I 100%+ completed Panzer Dragoon Zwei, even getting Lagi when the game already said I had 100% of the unlocks. I wish they had achievements back then. :-)

I don't even remember if I knew Panzer's ratings. I didn't get every issue of EGM or Gamepro.

Kryptonbornson
Kryptonbornson

I'll buy it anyway. I'm a Panzer Dragoon fan. I have the version on Windows Phone and it definitely feels like Panzer. I miss it. Maybe when Wal-mart reduces the price.

D3dr0_0
D3dr0_0

Xbox version of Lair lol.

allmanot
allmanot

can't we all agree all the launch games suck?? except that xbone sucks a little more, huh? huh??

bluepuppy82
bluepuppy82

My gosh, the Wii U can produce better graphics.


This game graphically sucks.

AzatiS
AzatiS

Rofl .... And i know too many xbox fans waiting for this!!


Now Xbox fans , just dont go whiny mode if Sony fans start the counter attack with all the craps you said about PS4s games reviews.

KnowsNoLimits
KnowsNoLimits

First Lair, now this.

I guess developer's don't understand that a Dragon game should be bad ass. Not suck ass.

ShoTTyMcNaDeS
ShoTTyMcNaDeS

And it starts. I warned the Lems about running their mouths after the PS4 game scores started coming in. They were all acting like the entire X1 launch line up was AAAE! Oh and it wont stop here. Im predicting a 6 for Ryse and a 7 for DR3!

diskotheque
diskotheque

I'm not sure if it's the player or not (I have it set on HD) but at times throughout the video review this game looked surprisingly poor graphically, especially considering it's an Xbox One exclusive. Noticeable clipping and some of the dragons looked like they were carved out of a potato, to steal a line from the one and only Mr. O'Dwyer.

Yomigaeru
Yomigaeru

That's a shame. I wasn't planning on getting either console at launch, but Crimson Dragon was the one next-gen game I was waiting for after E3.

daviz88
daviz88

and now from metacrtics

knack = 57

crimson dragon =55

loco cycle = 52

sugrim
sugrim

Next gen sucks big dodo!

cvantu
cvantu

@mkeezay22  now that I am playing the game after the free Gold offer, I totally disagree with you. I avoided this game because of all the reviews, and after rereading these reviews, the complaints can pretty much be provided for the previous Panzar games. I have played all of them (even Saga) since I am a huge Sega fan. If you like Panzar Dragoon at all, then you will probably like this game. In no way is it a failure like ET (can't bury digital games anyway). I was expecting what you just said and was actually surprised at how faithful the game is to the Panzar series. Not to mention, online coop is a blast. The only small thing I didn't like was moving the curser with R stick and dragon with L stick, but I adapted and it feels fine.

hypgnosis
hypgnosis

@chiefgul  I hope that you actually played this game at some point, because you would see that it's very much like PD.

lostn
lostn

@moesuir It's also a better game than a big budget production from Crytek. So yeah go indies.

Navardo95
Navardo95

@moesuir I love how you take review scores as facts...poor little sad fan-noodle.

bigmikeOK
bigmikeOK

@Horndawgie I completely agree. There is nothing worth a $400-$500 upgrade on these systems right now. All three of these successors to the current systems have had terrible launches. First Wii U, then PS4 and now Xbox One. The unfortunate part is that we reward the lack of quality launch titles time and time again by buying them off the shelves in droves, but I suspect it's because they usually launch them during the holiday period when people run out to buy anything new. I wonder how well the systems would do with these terrible launch games if they were sold during the middle of the summer?

jd7904
jd7904

@Sefrix wasnt Panzer Drgoon Orta a launch title for the original Xbox?

timthegem
timthegem

@raddys2001 Did you notice the part that says Panzer is one of Peter Brown's favorite franchises? Yet he scored this game a 5. I think he knows what he's talking about.

uncle5555
uncle5555

@Kryptonbornson"Maybe when Wal-mart reduces the price."

 That might be a little tricky due to the fact that its download only...

hypgnosis
hypgnosis

@cvantu @mkeezay22  I really wish more people that actually played a game rather than people that haven't would comment more. Unfortunately it's always the latter and a game fails because of a few reviewers that didn't like it. I actually bought this game and am really enjoying it, and so do lots of other people, especially now that it's free.

DonRoosevelt
DonRoosevelt

@Navardo95 @moesuir There was nothing wrong with his assessment.  This game is faring better than Knack, overall.  Knack is garbage, deal with it.

Crimson Dragon More Info

Follow
  • First Released
    • Xbox One
    Crimson Dragon is a flight-based shooter where players take control of a dragon and battle for control of the skies.
    6.2
    Average User RatingOut of 15 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Crimson Dragon
    Developed by:
    Grounding Inc.
    Published by:
    Microsoft Game Studios
    Genres:
    Action, 3D, Shooter, On-Rails
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Blood, Violence