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Review: Crimson Steam Pirates

by on September 6th, 2011

As posted earlier in the news stream, Bungie Aerospace’s latest iOS game Crimson: Steam Pirates is now out in the app store and I carved some time out of the Labour Day weekend to give it a spin.

As always, here’s the top line. It’s addictive, clever and awesome. But it’s a lot more than meets the eye, so let’s dive in a bit more and see what lies beneath its murky depths (yes, the horrible pun was intentional.)

Crimson is a turn based naval strategy game set in the American Civil War era, with a steam punk twist. Playing the part of Thomas Blood (notorious British thief), you sail the seas in search of plunder, mayhem and intrigue with an entourage of colorful characters including Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla. In spite of the somewhat far fetched storyline, the plot has a way of drawing you in and pillaging your precious free hours.

The game play is intriguing and, from what I’ve been told from friends who sail), somewhat accurate to how ships move around on bodies of water. Players control all ship movements and actions each turn, oftentimes taking into account the previous turn’s actions. For example, a ship direction and speed in the last turn will affect how and how far the ship will move in the present turn. A ship starting from a dead stop will travel much less than a ship that already was moving before. Making course changes will cost distance as well as speed if it isn’t a smooth change, and can be deadly if the AI is gaining from Behind. In this vein, Crimson is certainly a game that’s simple to learn, but can be difficult to master.

Crimson also boasts a handful of neat multiplayer (two players, to be honest) games played in hot-seat mode. Players take turns commanding their ships much like in the regular game but with different objectives in mind, such as sinking/protecting a VIP ship, or conducting a naval demolition derby. Both of these game modes are pretty fun and will offer some solid replay value after mastering the single player mode.

Here’s there clever part though. The game is offered free (comes with the two multiplayer modes, as well as 8 solo missions), with subsequent chapters available for $1.99 each. Given the addictive nature of the game, it was almost a no-brainer for me to pick up the second chapter right off the bat. In many ways, this should be how games need to be sold in the future, by letting a good product go viral and giving users the opportunity to pay to play more. So what are you waiting for? It’s free, isn’t it?

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Abilities change how your ships move and what they can do.

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Your course follows the laws of maritime navigation.

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Posted under: Reviews