Crimson Dragon preview: First play of Xbox One exclusive

Crimson Dragon feels a lot like the spiritual successor to Panzer Dragoon. Created by the director behind the classic Sega Saturn series of games, this much-loved franchise had been laid to rest many years ago following the release of Panzer Dragoon Saga - the Saturn's swan song. Pocket-lint was able to get our hands on the forthcoming Xbox One title at the Microsoft showcase in Los Angeles, California, for a playthrough of a lava-filled level.

There's an undeniably similar look between the Crimson Dragon and Panzer Dragoon games. But look isn't feel - and the version of Crimson that we played felt too rigid and had too soft a control system to really engage in the same way as the Sega classic.

The flight path in this third-person (or third-dragon) shooter is pre-set throughout, so it's all about adjusting your dragon's position on screen via the left stick and moving your target via the right stick. The controls - a late new addition, as the game was initially set to be a Kinect-only title - feel like a work in progress. And we hope they are, because at present they feel slow and lack the sharp responsiveness that they ought to, particularly given the speed at which the game moves.

In addition to the usual lock-on dragon-breathing weapon there's a secondary lightning-like weapon available via the click of the left trigger. We anticipate additional weapons being made available throughout the game too.

Visually Crimson Dragon is typical of a downloadable Arcade title, but shy of that true next-gen sparkle that it could have offered. To some degree we don't mind because Panzer is one of our all-time favourite games, but Crimson hasn't spread its dragon-feathers to show off quite as much as it could have.

If anything can save it, it's the games slightly bonkers concept and set piece - from the fish-dog-like boss enemy through to the po-faced lava worm in the middle of the level we played - that drives much of the appeal. No other game has a feel quite like this, and when dragons are aligned more with futuristic cool than the more typical medieval swagger we want to be impressed. But we're not quite blown away yet.

From what we've seen Crimson Dragon could have plenty of promise, but it needs to be tightened up and we'd like to see a lot more of it before passing judgement. We want to love it, but are yet to be totally convinced.



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