Crimson Skies is a tactical dogfight
ing table-top game
produced by FASA
. While similar to many other games of the genre, four things set it apart.
The world of Crimson Skies is set in an alternate history
setting. The year is 1937
, and airplanes have been pushed into much more impressive technology than existed in our timeline. Prop aircraft
of all types exist in this setting, and zeppelin
s are the main source of transportation and freight
groups terrorize the skies, and militia
s and mercenary
groups are the only protection. The United States is no longer united, instead having fractured into a number of smaller mini-countries, ranging from the Pacifica
on the western coast, across the Mormon Militia
and independent People's Collective
, to the eastern seabords of the Atlantic Coalition
and the Outer Banks
. It's an age of heroism
, where it's not unusual to see fighter pilots leap from their soaring craft onto the top of a bomber flying fifteen feet lower, so that they can subdue the pilot and capture the craft. Pirates with harpoon
rockets spear train cars and carry them off to their bases to be looted. Rocket propelled drills
chew through wings, and magnesium
bullets burn. All of this is set in a detailed and illustrated history, complete with photos and bios of prominent personalities.
The game mechanic
for resolving damage is entertaining in itself. Each weapon has its own damage template
, which you use to mark damage boxes on the aircraft. This gives you a good visual representation of how damage is accumulating on your craft, and adds drama
by allowing a series of well placed shots to shear off a wing. This also allows a player to use armor piercing rounds
to dig through the armor protecting an area, and then follow them up with a dum-dum round
to wreak havoc on the exposed internal systems of the plane.
Movement in Crimson Skies is done by looking at a chart which shows all available maneuvers
for your craft. More maneuverable planes can be much more acrobatic
in where they choose to go, but of course anybody can attempt to exceed the limitations of their plane, and possibly damage it in the process. As planes take damage, it reduces their ability to turn as well. A plane with a highly damaged right wing might have a difficult time making sharp right turns, yet be unhampered on shifts to the port
. A great deal of the strategy of Crimson Skies comes from anticipating
what your opponent will be attempting.
of the aircraft is every bit as important as the plane itself in Crimson Skies. This gives the game some interesting role playing
potential, as pilots can be carried from game to game, getting better as they perform feats of heroism
. Better pilots can be more physically punished, hit their target more consistently, and can push their plane past its normal maximum.
Crimson Skies has also made a very succesful transition to the PC
, in the form of Crimson Skies by Microsoft
. The game is a flight simulator
of a curious nature, for the default way to play the game is with a camera view from behind the airplane, rather than the traditional cockpit
view. This is important, too, because it's hard to judge if your craft is going to fit in between the struts
on the Golden Gate Bridge
from the cockpit! By the same team who brought Mechwarrior
to the PC, Crimson Skies manages to completely capture the feel of the board game
, starting off players in a battle against pirates for a secret treasure cache
located on the Hawaiian islands
. Stunning graphics complement a flight engine
which was designed to maintain the unlikely ability of the planes in Crimson Skies to perform amazing feats such as fly underneath bridges with ease, and feels very natural once accustomed to. The game also features some of the best voice acting
to hit computer games yet, which serves the fascinating and over-the-top plot well.