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January 24, 2004
Crimson Tears - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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Kadie and Amber in a cut-scene.
Crimson Tears is a game that few of you would have heard of. We didn't even realise it was coming out in Australia until the very last minute. Fortunately it has come out as this isn't just another game, but probably the best beat 'em up/action title on the system in quite some time. As well as the stunning visuals this game includes a random map generator to provide unlimited replay opportunities as well as over 100 moves per character.

The game is set in future Tokyo. The year is 2049. An accident of unknown origin has paralyzed the city. Three prototype biological war weapons human-like machines devoid of fear are sent to investigate the headquarters of an arms manufacturer suspected of being behind the catastrophe. Using martial arts skills and their weapons of choice, the three machines must battle their way through the ever-changing labyrinths and dungeons of the infiltrated building. They must reach the source of the accident and reverse its effect before its too late...

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Getting a 4 combo!
Set across 10 levels Crimson Tears is essentially a beat 'em up, but with many elements of an RPG. The majority of the game is viewed from an isometric viewpoint after selecting one of three characters (Kadie, Tokio, or Amber) you are thrown into the levels where you must defeat pretty much everyone you see. Each character has approximately 100 different moves to use. Still, it can be pretty tough in places, particularly against the end of level bosses. Fortunately, along the way, and in typical RPG style, you can customise your attacks and purchase new weapons to create characters unique to your fighting style. Credits are earned as you defeat enemies and then can be spent in a row of shops on weapons such as knives, swords, machine guns, or bombs or items such as energy drinks, coolants, poison cures or returners which allows you to return to the garage. These weapons and items can certainly make your task a bit easier, although you may spend a bit too much time moving between the levels and shops to get them.

One interesting feature with Crimson Tears is that when a player gets knocked out of the game you can select one of the remaining characters to try to find, and revive, them. This isn't as easy as it sounds as the enemies often move them to a different location within the labyrinth and you only have a short amount of time to get to them before it's too late. The game also includes an automatic map generation system which ensures that every time you play the game the labyrinths are different. This adds plenty of longevity to the title. Even with only 10 levels the average gamer will struggle to finish this game in much under 20 hours.

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Graphics really are spectacular.
The biggest problem with this title is the repetitive nature of the gameplay. As a beat 'em up many may see the game as button mashing. Fortunately the number of upgrades, weapons, collectable and areas to explore help remove much of this issue but for some it will remain. The game is also pretty long.

Certainly a highlight of this title is the graphics. Using cel-shading has become fairly common in games these days, but few titles, if any, are as polished as this one. From the cut-scenes to the in-game graphics this title looks superb. The cut scenes are used effectively to tell the story and follow the path of the three heroes. Hell, I would go so far as to say these are some of the best cut-scenes I've seen in quite some time. The way they are presented is superb and wouldn't look out of place in a Japanese feature anime.

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The primary viewpoint.
While this game won't win any sound awards this game is still impressive. The voiceovers seem to suit the style of game perfectly while the effects are meaty enough to make an impact. The Dolby Pro Logic II is pretty weak unfortunately, but this isn't a game that relies on accurate sound positioning.

When I received this game for review I had absolutely no expectations. To be honest I didn't even realise it was coming out for some reason, but it's here, and it's a hell of a lot of fun. I'm a fan of old school beat 'em ups such as Streets of Rage and Final Fight and while this game is a little more 3D, and has many more moves per character, it contains very similar gameplay. Add in many weapons and objects and the game has a little more strategy as well. Crimson Tears is a recommended purchase or, at the very least, a rental.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSProbably some of the best cel-shading ever. This game looks stunning.
SOUNDEverything from voices, to effects, to music are very solid.
GAMEPLAYWhen it boils down to it, it's just button mashing, but I like it.
VALUEThis game can be pretty tough, the random generation adds longevity.
OVERALLCrimson Tears may be repetitive, but it's a very good action/beat 'em up game. The graphics are superb, the number of items impressive. Certainly a title that should find an audience.

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