by Brian Robbins

One of the most exciting things about this year’s E3 Expo has to be the new consoles. Last year we had Wii U but this time Nintendo has some serious competition from Sony and Microsoft. As I raced through the halls I tried to find an Xbox One or a PlayStation 4 game to test out first. When I waddled through the crowded Xbox Show Room, I was greeted with Crimson Dragon. It’s an Xbox One exclusive and it comes from the genius Yukio Futatsugi, the creator of three previous Panzer Dragoon titles.  I even had the opportunity to meet Mr. Futatsugi as he was standing right behind me watching me play his game.  So how was the title? Fun, but seemed pretty buggy. Keep in mind this is a work in progress– this game isn’t an Xbox One launch title so it still has a ways to go before its release.

The first thing I noticed was that the controls seemed a bit off. The dragon I was controlling seemed a little bit floaty– then again, it is a dragon, right? You also have the ability to play on the Xbox One’s new Kinect sensor bar if you choose but according to a Microsoft representative they wanted to give the consumer both options. Every time I asked a question I was greeted with the standard “It’s a work in progress but everything is improving.” This game was still very fun to play.

The E3 demo starts with you racing out of a lava-filled cave on your dragon. There’s plenty to shoot at with your scaly friend, like the fiery, floating jellyfish- like creatures that I unleashed my beast on. While holding down the right trigger you can lock onto enemies on the screen and once you let go of the trigger you release the energy at the baddies. There was also a lightning based attack that I didn’t really bother with since it seemed a little bit undeveloped.

If you’re familiar with the Panzer Dragoon titles, then you know that they’re on-rail shooters. You don’t really have to worry about where you’re going forward– the game does it for you; you just have to be able to dodge numerous projectiles and things in the environment. There were stalagmites hanging down from the cave ceiling that my character automatically clipped through without suffering any damage. I found it entertaining to see my horrifying dragon phasing through the rocks. Again, this game has a ways to go in development.

The Microsoft representative told me that this game is all about scoring against your friends. This will no doubt have a leaderboard online where you can track your best times and scores with other people across Xbox Live. This game also has cooperative multiplayer as well, just in case you and your dragon get lonely blasting by yourselves.

 Another cool feature is that you can evolve your dragon. He will change visually and will obviously become more powerful. I mean, the dragons already look more intimidating than the ones found in Skyrim; we’ll see how crazy they’ll get once you hit max level with them. This is the feature that really has me excited to try this when it’s released.

While I played the demo, I eventually got to a mini-boss. It looked like a huge fire dragon creature that surfaced from the lava. The main way to beat him is to dodge his incoming fire projectiles with the left and right bumper; that way you can swirl and twirl around his blasts. He was easy enough and we were off again. The final boss of the demo came swooping down and was incredibly gorgeous. The lighting seemed to shine off his white scales and teeth. To defeat this foe, I generally used the same tactics I used with the mini-boss but I took a significant amount of damage. Once beaten, the demo ends and shows an even bigger dragon eating this one.

This game was originally set to appear on the Xbox 360 but they changed gears and decided to just upgrade the game during development into an Xbox One title. You can more or less see that it was an Xbox 360 game. The graphical power of the Xbox One wasn’t really shown; some of the textures in the lava looked a little bit bland. I was told they’re going to take advantage of the new hardware and add many more enemies on screen than the original Xbox 360 version could have included.

I was impressed to see that this game came out of nowhere and it’s already playing pretty well. It’s going to be interesting to see how this fan favorite series does on the next generation. I’m intrigued to see how they’re going to use the new Xbox One’s Kinect sensor as well. Only time will tell but the future looks incredibly bright for Crimson Dragon.