A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Crimson Dragon is a flying shooter involving huge dragons that breathe great balls of fire and energy. These fantastical creatures bellow and thrash when struck, sometimes emanating a spray of crimson that briefly hangs in the air. There's little narrative or messaging and not much to the action beyond twitchy, reflex-oriented aerial battles. However, playing in co-op mode does encourage some teamwork among players. Parents should also note that this game uses a micro-transaction system that encourages players to spend real money, though it's not necessary in order to complete the story.
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What's it about?
CRIMSON DRAGON takes place on a world far from Earth, where humanity is making a last, desperate stand for survival against the planet's fantastical and furious inhabitants: dragons. Players take on the role of a particularly gifted dragon rider who's assigned a series of missions meant to deal with an unexpected new threat from the wild dragons that could spell the end of his people. All of the action is "on rails," which is to say the player's dragon flies where it will, leaving the player to focus primarily on targeting enemies. As the story progresses, players gain access to more missions, more dragons (all of which are upgradable), and scores of new skills. The game also supports online cooperative play for up to three players.
Is it any good?
Crimson Dragon is seen as a spiritual successor to the popular Panzer Dragoon games of a decade and longer past, but it's not nearly as compelling. Its dragon-riding antics feel clunky and fail to empower players the way riding a massive and magical flying creature really should. The action, while cinematic at first and fairly accessible, soon grows repetitive, with levels feeling more like chores than breathtaking adventures. Also, the upgrade and skills systems aren't nearly as satisfying as in other games, perhaps because they seem to have been designed around a thoroughly nonsubtle micro-transaction system that will simply annoy players who want to finish the game without spending any extra money. Online cooperative play with friends may hold some appeal for social-minded gamers, but it's safe to say most everyone else can find better ways to spend their gaming dollars.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Do you think there's a difference between fights that involve fantastical beasts using magical attacks and combat that sees humans employing realistic weapons? Do you feel any different when playing these two types of games?
Families also can discuss humans' millennia-old fascination with dragons. What do you think made ancient people imagine such a creature? Do you think they may have stumbled across large dinosaur bones and wondered what sort of creature they could have come from?
- Platforms: Xbox One
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: strategy
Communication: friendship building
- Price: $14.99
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Microsoft Studios
- Release date: November 21, 2013
- Genre: Third-Person Shooter
- ESRB rating: T for Blood, Violence
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.