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September 7, 2011



- Plenty of replayability even when the final boss battle is completed to get better scores and find each of the secrets on each level, especially when there are friends along for the adventuring



- Gamers can finish off the entire storyline journey from beginning to very end in only about 4 hours or so

- Especially with the Mercenary and Assassin classes, itís really not too difficult or challenging to slice & dice through waves of enemies and complete the storyline, even during the boss battles

- Not enough puzzles, especially cooperative ones, throughout the many missions



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Crimson Alliance

Score: 8.5 / 10


crimson alliance          crimson alliance


Gauntlet spawned the class-based dungeon-crawling hack & slash role-playing game way back in 1985, and the genre has continued to be a very popular one since then in various forms and incarnations. The latest to capture the magic of multiplayer hacking & slashing is Crimson Alliance, one of the best releases on Xbox Live this year.

As this is an XBLA title, at the typical lower price point, Crimson Alliance doesnít offer the gameplay hours of a similar full-priced game such as Dungeon Siege III. A




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typical gamer should be able to complete the entire story of Crimson Alliance in about four hours, alone or with up to three others. But while Crimson Alliance lacks a long-lasting story mode, it has a very high replay quotient. There is a lot of replayability even when the final boss battle is completed to get better scores and find each of the secrets on each level, especially


when there are friends along for the adventuring.

Three classes are available, and they should be no surprise to anyone who has ever played a dungeon crawler before: the big and brawny Mercenary, the lithe and stealthy-fast Assassin and the magically charged Wizard. As expected, the Mercenary is the strongest, by far the most effective battler of the three. The Assassin isnít too far behind in effectiveness, but the Wizard is particularly vulnerable to multi-enemy close quarter attacks Ė heís best at shooting magic projectiles from a distance.

Of course, there is a story that weaves these three into an alliance. The world of Crimson has been overcome by the deadly and dastardly Soul Siren and her cult of followers who are hell-bent on destroying any and all threat to their worshipped queen of mean. Among the ruined city and underground crypts of the realm, the three heroes must join into one trio-powered force of good and free Crimson from the Soul Sirenís evil intentions. Itís a generally basic storyline, nothing too fancy or fresh about it, a standard issue dungeon-crawler tale. Still-frame cut-scenes with character voice-over detail the tome to gamers.


crimson alliance         crimson alliance


But itís not the story that makes Crimson Alliance so entertaining to play. Itís the multiplayer camaraderie that develops as up to four players via Xbox Live fight to clear each level after level to cleanse Crimson of the evil that lurks inside its darkest and dankest bowels. There is an RPG element to the gameplay. By collecting gold and treasures, gamers can upgrade their particular controlled character of choice by either unlocking hidden items or purchasing them at the many marketplaces between levels. But itís more about the hack & slash action than the RPG in Crimson Alliance, with fights against enemies big and small throughout.

Most definitely the enjoyment is at its zenith when there is more than one gamer slicing and dicing through waves of bad guys. Unfortunately, especially with the Mercenary and Assassin classes, itís really not too difficult to traverse through waves of enemies and complete the storyline, even during the tougher boss battles. It is much more of a challenge to complete the missions going solo, but gamers would miss the opportunity to solve some of the gameís puzzles, most which need more than one gamer to solve (although some that appear to need more than one can be decrypted solo). Crimson Alliance just doesnít have enough puzzles, though, especially cooperative ones.

There are plenty of hidden secrets and scoring/upgrading incentives to replay levels, especially on Xbox Live with a few fellow dungeon crawlers. That combines with satisfying old-school hack & slash RPG action in a dark, dank and deeply buried dungeon realm thatís visually appealing along with a not entirely original but certainly captivating story for a completely entertaining XBLA adventure.

Ė Lee Cieniawa

(December 6, 2011)


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