Review: Crimsonland (PS4)

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Title: Crimsonland
Format: PlayStation Network Download (83.1 MB)
Release Date: July 15, 2014
Publisher: 10tons Ltd.
Developer: 10tons Ltd.
Original MSRP: $8.99 (US), €9.99 (EU), £7.99 (UK) *This is a Cross-Buy title
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 16
Crimsonland is also available on PC. It will also be coming to PS Vita as a Cross-Buy title at a later date.
The PlayStation 4 version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

A dual-stick top-down shooter with four player local co-op and a bucket load of levels. What could possibly go wrong?

Gameplay:
Exterminate every single enemy with an insane variety of weapons over a massive 60 mission campaign. Not only that but you can be joined by three other friends in local co-op gameplay at any time. Throw in a few extra modes and you’ve got a a fair amount of content to keep you going you for a good while.

Every level begins with you in the center of a bland and desolate wasteland. Starting with a pistol and quickly acquiring random weapons from fallen enemies that could be anything from a Shotgun, Flamethrower, Ion Cannon or almost anything else you could think of. Some weapons are excellent at clearing large groups of enemies whilst others might be devastating against a tough opponent.

Enemies range from zombies to giant arachnids and massive beetles to bizarre aliens and they all want to see you dead. Each type moves in different ways and has their own strengths and vulnerabilities. They’ll attack from every direction and even burrow up from the ground. A few hits and your health bar can be wiped out so avoiding the enemies at all costs is a good idea. You’ll be constantly running around trying not to get caught by the swarm but also trying to grab the items dropped around the play field.

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It feels strange to say, but this game can feel claustrophobic and tense, even when the screen is pulled back to show a huge play area. It happens when a massive swarm of monsters or spiders, for example, are biting at your characters feet and their speed match your own. Charging at the small player from every direction, hope of surviving drains from your body. The firearm doesn’t seem to be coping with the deluge, then dread hits as you run out of ammo and have to reload.

Controls are simple enough, with movement and aiming assigned to the sticks and firing your gun with L2. You can even manually reload by pressing L1. Not forgetting the touch pad which can also control aiming and when pressed, fires your gun. It works but isn’t a style I liked, come to think of it, I’m not sure why the right stick wasn’t aiming and firing in one easy and convenient setup, like some other popular twin stick shooters.

As you progress in the game you’ll unlock ‘Perks’ which are used in the other modes and can mix up the action to some degree, giving you more health or an acid touch for instance. These other modes offer slight alterations to the main game like Survival, Rush, Blitz and a couple of others. But they didn’t hold my attention for long.

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Without a shred of story or reason behind the mass alien genocide that takes place in Crimsonland I can’t help but feel a little discontented and cold when I think about this game. It is fun and very hectic, especially when playing with some friends. However the rinse repeat feeling quickly gets old and the only reason to keep me coming back are to unlock a few more weapons or perks in the hope that they’ll maybe make the game feel at little less like the way it looks, flat.

Visuals:
Crimsonland could easily be mistaken for an old retro-type game, until you realize the shear amount of enemies this game can throw at you at any one time, or the screen shaking nuclear explosions. After you’ve killed an enemy and notice its carcass and blood splatter doesn’t fade away, Every single ounce of blood and torn limb stays in the battlefield. Making this aptly named game quite gruesome when you think about it.

With no frame-rate issues or slow down of any kind, this has a simple elegance that I admire. But it does come at a cost, as I mentioned earlier, it looks flat, with no lighting or shadows and no depth or detail it constantly reminds me of the games from my childhood that were on tape or floppy disk and looked great at the time.

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Audio:
Large explosions and constant gunfire can get a little tiresome, but this game isn’t trying to win prizes in the audio department, just be competent and acceptable.

Online/Multiplayer:
You and up to three other players can hop into the insanity whenever you want and it works like a charm. The extra players add to the strategy involved in clearing the stage, or accumulating the most points and with every additional player the game multiplies the amount of enemies so you and some friends could be facing hundreds of opponents.

One thing I was very happy to see are leaderboards for everything, even co-op. You can track your progress globally and against friends. A definite plus in my books.

Conclusion:
A simple top-down shooter for you and a group of friends. With loads of different weapons, power-ups and a difficulty, that if cranked up, verges on the insane. This is a game that can be a lot of fun. But for me it quickly became repetitive and bland where every level looked and felt the same.

This is like finding an old dusty, cobweb covered bottle of wine. Some might pop the cork and love the crimson liquid inside, others will think it tastes a little flat and stale. Either way, it’s best enjoyed with friends.

I’m not sure how the Vita version will handle the amount of enemies on screen at any one time, but at least it’ll be a Cross-Buy title when it eventually comes out at a later date. Hopefully the developers will adjust the control scheme as well.

Score:
6.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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  • George Nash

    A major thing to note is that this game originally came out on the PC in 2003. No major updates to the PC game. The game plays great on the Vita the screen is a little tighter on the player and you can only play one player still the game is great.

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