Chances are you’ve heard of Bungie Studios. They created Halo for the original X-Box. Yeah. From a creepy one bedroom apartment housing two dudes, to a fully-loaded game studio stuffed full of free snacks. From freedom to indentured servitude and back to freedom again (but still with some indentured servitude). I like these guys. Enter Crimson: Steam Pirates for iOS. I eagerly downloaded Crimson: Steam Pirates in a food-induced Christmas Coma last week. And? This may be the best iOS game I’ve ever played.
Bungie’s Halo history ignited me. Can you imagine anything less than utter epicness from the creators of one of the largest online console games in the world? I’d originally downloaded Crimson onto my iPad back in September when it was released, though Bungie decided to release the game onto the iPhone recently, cut the price and include the second chapter free of charge (I paid twice the price for the iPad version – $2 instead of $0.99 on iPhone). Cheaper and more play makes Micah a happy boy (especially as I had never downloaded the expansion chapters for iPad).
When Crimson starts up on your iOS device, you’ll be introduced as Thomas Blood. You’ve been imprisoned by Queen Victoria after stealing her jewels (naturally), but were recently freed by Captain Blackheart and her crew as he was being shipped off to Jamaica. The game is essentially a naval-stationed battle command center, allowing a player to control specific navy factions to command and conquer enemy ships and resources. The game is fairly straight forward as far as naval OSGs go. The fleet is wholly turn-based (which I am a fan of) which feature dedicated missions and battles to control the territory in which you play. As you complete more and more missions, you are entrusted with more severe and devastating weaponry (ships) and offense tools.
The control system is pretty ingenius as far as I’m concerned, really taking advantage of iOS’s powerful multitouch software: ship movement is achieved by dragging your finger across the screen to each individual ship. This allows you to fire, board an enemy ship for a raid and pillage and plunder to gain valuables. In my experience, accuracy was spot-on. The controls you have access to expand as your missions are completed as well, so your options are ever-expanding (such as the ability to use extra gun powder, though your location and ship have more importance on damage than your weapon itself). Strategy is a huge cornerstone of the game: your tactical firing locations will determine success or failure, which makes the game very attractive to the strategy freak (ME). The menu systems, graphics and use of color are all gorgeous. Sound and audio tracks are also executed at a very high level for an iOS game and left me smiling, big time.
One big thing Crimson has (that other iOS strategy games often lack) are defined missions, which stand out separately from general conquering quests. Missions such as ice-making and breaking and personages of the historical sort keep the game fresh (for me at least, when a break from conquering is in order), a “remarkable minelayer” and a very cool Tesla death ray that can wreak serious destruction on your enemies. All of these tools and exercises allow you to grow bigger and stronger in your ultimate objective of conquering everything!
So the game is pretty great, right? Unfortunately there were a few things that did irk me. First of all, my icon for the game on my home screen is very low resolution (it looks like it hasn’t been re-encoded for the retina display). This seems to be an issue for several people online, hopefully the game will be updated in the future. It’s not a big deal, but polish and finish are important in my book. Secondly, I did get through all chapters of this game in a single afternoon, and going back to re-play the levels is fairly boring. More chapters can be bought as an in-game purchase, though there aren’t a whole lot of additional chapters to buy. The missions do not change, and unless you’re the type of person who enjoys going back into a linear world to re-complete the same missions over and over again, you likely won’t be playing this game much after completion. Thankfully there is a multiplayer mode which allows you to play with Facebook friends – this might ease up on the repetition problem.
These things aside, Crimson is a fabulously fun game to play through the first time, it’s inexpensive and very well executed. Should you download it? I’d say yes.