Crimsonland is port of a ten year old PC game that originally started as a student project and can be held aloft by the crowd who despise indie titles and shout “this is not the type of game I spent £400 on a next gen console for.”
This time round, however, they may just have a point because Crimsonland still looks and plays like a student project from 2004.
Graphically, well, let’s be kind and say it’s minimalist. The game is viewed from above and the play area is just a blank space with no obstacles or terrain apart from the odd patch of road. The animation is basic, the three types of enemies – zombies, spiders and lizards – simply walk towards you and it’s your job to kill them before they can touch your character and drain your health.
To prevent the generic unnamed commando becoming monster lunch, you have an arsenal of 30 weapons but can only hold a single gun at a time and usually start a level with a underpowered single shot pistol. Killing enemies releases new weapons and power ups including smart bombs, fire wheels and slow downs, none of which are particularly inventive or spectacular. And that’s it; there is nothing more to the game than surviving wave upon wave of monsters, zombies and spiders.
The Quest mode has you battle through sixty levels which feature different combinations of enemies and monsters and by doing so you unlock perks for the other game modes. These include a Survival mode which as you might expect, asks you to last as long as possible, and four varitions on that theme, Rush, Blitz, Weapon Picker and Nukefism. Each of the survival modes has online leader boards for both single player and co-op of which you can have four players.
My main problem with the game is that at the start of each level your commando moves at the speed of a dead cat. I was expecting to be able to zip about the screen and doge the enemies but unless the game decides to furnish you with you with a speed up it’s like walking in sludge. All you can do is move backwards and fire at the enemies, trying to dodge your way through them just doesn’t work and you will be surrounded in seconds. In later levels some of the enemies can move faster than your character and this caused all sorts of swear words to be uttered at the screen.
It appears that power ups are selected at random, rather than the game using logic and giving something you need, which means you may have to replay a Quest level over and over until you get a weapon good enough to complete the sequence, and hopefully a speed up or two. However, the game may decided to throw you a blow torch, a weapon only seems to exists to annoy players rather than add to the fun as it fires a tiny burst of flame in front of your character, utterly useless when the bullet spitting spiders are two screens away.
It looks terrible, it sounds worse, the gameplay is horrendously unbalanced and it costs £7.99 which is ridiculous when you can get The Last of Us Remastered, another old game that has been souped up for PS4, for £30.
However despite all of this the game is, in short bursts, a lot of fun. But only in short bursts mind you, especially the Quest mode which will bore you senseless for the first ten missions ten enrage you in an equal amount for the remaining fifty.
The Survival modes are much better and there is some satisfaction to be had from chaining nukes, freeze bombs and fire bursts to wipe out waves of enemies in one go. However without any co-op buddies the game will only entertain for a short while before becoming frustrating, there is no variation between one game and the next. Shoot enemies, more appear, shoot them, more appear, repeat till dead. Crimsonland wasn’t particularly acclaimed ten years ago and it has aged very badly, it’s just not up to the standards we expect for console games.
In its current state the game should have been a £1.99 PlayStation Mobile title, not a £7.99 PlayStation 4 game. The title is coming to PS Vita this week and will be cross-buy but not cross save, and is certainly more suited to short bursts of gaming on a bus.