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PAX 2011: Crimson Alliance Hands On

| 31 Aug 2011 18:37
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No Right Answer's Chris Pranger shares some of his experiences from PAX Prime 2011.

Crimson Alliance can best be described as "like Gauntlet, but it's not Gauntlet." You play as one of three classes of characters between Assassin, Wizard, and The Other One. I think it was called Warrior. I ended up playing as an assassin class since, hey, why not? Girls gotta kick butt, too. Also, the assassins are female. Did I mention that? Well now I did.

Visually, the game looked about like any other game you'd expect to see on Xbox Live Arcade and didn't do much, if anything, to differentiate itself from the Gauntlet series. The level I played had me walking around a town-like area in a Medieval-style time period hacking and slashing at enemies as they rushed around trying to take the usual cheap shots. That's not to say that the visuals are bad per se, just that they aren't going to be the selling point for me, or really anyone else.

The controls were very smooth though. You have a standard attack, a stronger specialty attack (mine happened to be an attack where a mirage of my assassin character shoots forward and stuns enemies), and a ranged attack that has infinite ammo. Dealing with enemies didn't seem to be overly difficult, as the attacks felt enjoyable to mash about with, killing anything in my way. Granted, the demo had me playing as a character with high stats and strong weapons and armor, but I could see myself really sinking into the game and going nuts.

What caught my attention came near the end where I asked if there was anything else I should know about the game, already having learned that the story was sort of unexplainable to the exhibitor ("So bad stuff happened and you've got to go stop it, right?" "Yes, actually that's about right. This isn't you're first rodeo, is it?" "No it is not."). No, what really sparked my eyes to flutter a bit was the mention that while the game would cost 1200 MS points (US$15 in real world money), you have the choice of purchasing it with just a single class unlocked at a reduced price of 800 MS points.

This is the aspect Certain Affinity is really pushing, and from the sounds of things, is most worried about. As soon as it was mentioned, I got excited and said that I thought it was a great idea. Their reasoning for the idea was that some players tend to favor one class over the others and so if they were only going to play as one of the three classes, why not just sell them a game without the unnecessary classes at a cheaper cost? There's the option to upgrade to the full three classes at any time for just paying the difference with no achievements or save data getting lost in the process. Plus, online co-op doesn't limit you from joining players who've already bought the full package.

Brilliant. Just simply brilliant. The game is fun but it sold me on its sales approach. To my knowledge I can't think of another model like this. Gamers have cried for an a la cart method of paying and this sounds like just the sort of step in the right direction we've wanted. And with a simple pick-up-and-play style of gameplay that we have here, you'll find yourself quickly addicted and deciding to upgrade to play as the other two classes you keep seeing online.

I'm all for this one. Crimson Alliance has me by the teeth and won't let go now, and all it took was a little compassion for the player's wallet. It comes out September 7th, so keep an eye on XBLA.

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