All too often, a game with an excellent premise and even more excellent gameplay will emerge with a bang to be enjoyed by a number of fans before age takes its toll and the game fades into history. Such is the case with Microsoft Games’ Crimson Skies, a game which, though more than ten years old, can still provide a surprisingly fun and engaging experience.
What makes this game so enjoyable? The first aspect is, surprisingly, the singleplayer campaign. As with many classic Microsoft games, the story is an integral part of the game rather than a thoughtless background provider tacked on after the fact. With absolutely superb voice acting, and an even more superb soundtrack, this well-written and well-paced adventure takes you, the air pirate Nathan Zachary, from the tropics of Hawaii to the skyline of Manhatten in an alternate history where travel and transportation is dominated by the mighty zeppelins. Fighting, at first, for money and survival, you are drawn into a fairly straightforward scheme in which one of your former fellow pirates attempts to shut you, and a rival aviation security company, down for good. Though simple and short, it can, like a good book, provide several hours of amusing distraction.
Secondly, the simple physics and mechanics, combined with an intuitive control scheme, make this among the most accessible flight games in existence. Although it has been proven that making flight simulators more arcade-like can be disastrous for gameplay, Crimson Skies blends the two facets perfectly; neither detracts from the other. In addition to this, the crisp, clean graphics, cutting edge for their day, still hold a certain simplistic beauty. There is no Crytek or Unreal engine powering this game, but the unique environments and aircraft are fascinating to behold and explore.
Sadly, vanilla Crimson Skies no longer operates on many newer PCs, particularly with XP SP3 and any OS released since then. Fortunately, there is a simple fix available. First, the official patch must be installed followed by the unofficial fix files. A readme is provided with the latter files which will describe how to utilize them.
All in all, if you are looking for a simple, enjoyable, and ultimately fun game, then Crimson Skies is a must-play. Though it takes some small effort to get it working, the rewards are far superior to the task. Though it cannot be guaranteed that you will enjoy this game, it is almost certain that you will appreciate its simple old-fashioned charm.