June 8, 2011 by Vinnie Leduc
Marquee blockbusters can dominate E3 and overshadow other quality games, so our coverage isn’t limited to the big guns and we try to highlight the little guys that leave a lasting impression. One such under-the-radar game that has players abuzz on the showroom floor is Crimsom Alliance by Certain Affinity, which is perhaps best known for its collaborative work on Left 4 Dead, Treyarch’s past two Call of Duty installments, and a couple of Halo sequels.
When approached with the opportunity to speak with some developers for Crimson Alliance, I politely accepted because it was 30 minutes till closing time and I had nothing else to do after a long Day 2. Tom Potter, producer and content lead, introduced himself and described Crimson Alliance as an action RPG, to which I regrettably responded to by blurting out that I’m not really into RPGs (in actuality, I’m not into RPGs… period). I tried to save myself a bit by explaining that the first level of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic completely baffled my ADHD ass eight years ago and I hadn’t touched an RPG since that traumatic experience, but Tom interjected that Crimson Alliance is “on the opposite end of the spectrum” with emphasis on the action aspect.
I’m glad that Tom was gracious enough to stick with me and get me some gametime because I ultimately had a surprisingly pleasant time with Crimson Alliance‘s co-op, which will support up to four players online or offline. The action RPG is so heavy on the action that it didn’t feel like an RPG at all; it reminded me of the addictive gameplay of the old-school coin-op Gauntlet Legends that feasted on quarters in arcades. Playing typical RPGs can sometimes feel like reading or watching Lord of the Rings, but thankfully Tom stated that Crimson Alliance‘s design focus on action meant minimal dialogue and no in-game cinematic interruptions as the story of the game is told environmentally.
Crimson Alliance allows gamers to choose from three classes (wizard, mercenary, assassin) with unique skill sets that complement one another synergistically. Much like Payday, the game fosters communication between players for true teamwork-based strategy after assessing the battlefield, but trigger-happy players are free to rush in swiftly with swords-a-swingin’ and wands-a-wandin’. And you’ll want to because the controls are easy to master quickly, which is testimony to the pick-up-and-play nature of Crimson Alliance that will make it immediately accessible to all types of gamers.
The game looks great for an XBLA title. It was colorful while maintaining a dark atmosphere, or maybe it was just nighttime in the level I played. I can’t be sure because I was too busy slicing my way through goblins and orcs or whatever and advancing my kill streak to “KILL ORGY!” Gotta love that name… not something you’ll see flash on the screen in Halo or Modern Warfare 3!
A GameInformer Best of E3 2011 nominee, Crimsom Alliance ended all too soon for me with a level summary screen detailing my performance stats. 0/5 secrets found of course (n00b). Keep an eye out for this potential sleeper hit when it’s available exclusively via download on Xbox LIVE Arcade this summer. Until then, you can get more info here.