“Trust me,” the mysterious and sexy woman Live-D tells young hero Sho. “It’s just that I’m a mysterious and sexy woman with a slightly lawless aura.” And with this bit of high comedy begins the epic 3D, third-person adventure Crimson Sea.
Strange things are afoot in the Empire of Theopilus. A mysterious, but not sexy, group of Muton aliens are wreaking havoc. The mysterious and sexy Live-D enlists Sho, a brawler who’s much more than he seems, to battle the aliens. Sho and his cohorts form a warrior band that’s neither mysterious nor sexy and, together, this squad must find answers to the mystery of the Muton aliens’ appearance while simultaneously blasting and chopping its way to victory.
Beautiful and challenging, the futuristic Crimson Sea throws hundreds of creepy Muton beasts (which take the form of blobs, insects, gruesome monsters, monkey-like things, etc.) on screen at the same time. Sho can tear into them with an energy blade or cut them down with an assortment of powerful and customizable guns. Although Sea is, at heart, an action-shooter-cum-blast-em-up, the missions are all quite varied, and this, frankly, is a godsend. At one point, Sho must stave off wave after wave of Mutons while his androgynous sidekick Yangqin repairs a ship. Later, he must rescue a lazy presidential type, running behind the geezer to physically push him into action. Still another cool challenge has Sho racing across a series of rapidly moving walkways attempting to collect musical notes while simultaneously trying to fend off the Mutons. Even the missions requiring Sho to storm in and kill a endless horde of Muton aliens are remarkably well done. These stages, with their unceasing tide of enemies, are thrilling; there’s literally no caesura until every alien has been slaughtered and the stage ends. Once completed, there’s a tremendous sense of accomplishment at having killed them all and allowed God to sort out any resultant cleaning bill.
Simple and elegant, Sea’s only notable flaws are with its somewhat jerky control system that makes battles more difficult than they ought to be. The game also has the unfortunate tendency to mask its beautiful graphics in overly dark environments.
But this is all minor chop on a beautiful (if undeniably repetitive) Sea.The battles are frenetic and, ultimately, cathartic; they improve significantly upon the madness Koei established in the Dynasty Warrior series. A twisting, turning plot tops off the meal and this Sea, simply, demands to be bathed in.
Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Xbox Nation.