Skip to main content

Crimson Dragon review

Crimson Dragon
“Crimson Dragon looks and feels like an Xbox 360 game that's been spit-shined to fatten up the Xbox One's launch lineup of games.”
  • You get to fly dragons into battle with other dragons
  • Largely faithful to the Panzer Dragoon series that inspired it
  • Rewards trickle slowly, putting too much emphasis on microtransactions
  • Presentation doesn't feel particularly “next-gen”
  • Free-flight portions of the game suffer with lousy controls

Xbox One News and AnnouncementsWhat is it with console launches offering up dragon flight simulators that aren’t nearly as awesome as that combination of words suggests? It happened on the PlayStation 3 with Lair and it happens again on the Xbox One with Crimson Dragon.

Check your expectations, people. This spiritual successor to the Panzer Dragoon series may be an Xbox One launch title, but it feels every inch like an Xbox 360 game that’s been spit-shined and held back to fatten the new console’s day one lineup. There’s a lovely sheen to the visuals, but beneath this is a clunky interface of menus and button prompts that feels out of place alongside the other Xbox One launch titles. It feels like the product of another time.

There’s a certain amount of sense to this, given the source of inspiration. Fans of the Panzer Dragoon series will likely find the most to like here. Crimson Dragon delivers (largely) on-rails shooting action, all from the back of a winged dragon. The action spilling across the screen verges into “too busy” territory more often than not, but there’s definitely an audience for the flavor of 3D bullet hell that this game plunges you into.

The controls are simple enough to grasp. The left thumbstick moves your dragon around the screen and the right stick moves its aiming reticule. One trigger fires, the other switches between attacks, and the two bumpers handle left/right barrel rolls. Using all of these tools together is necessary. You’re constantly weaving circles around the screen with one thumb while aiming and firing with the other, all while rolling clear of incoming attacks when the swarm of incoming fire blots out the sky.

Crimson Dragon is designed very much in the mode of classic arcade games: the story is nearly non-existent and competent play depends on finger dexterity and repetition. Each stage breaks down into multiple phases; some focus purely on combat, others on bosses, still others on following a set path as you pick up a string of collectibles. Your performance in each stage is awarded a letter grade, and your grade for a full mission is determined by averaging these out. Every first runthrough of a level is meant to be a struggle; it’s only after repeat plays that you have the knowledge of the layout and dragon firepower to score higher grades.

This might not be the Xbox One launch lineup’s Perfect Dark Zero, but it’s not a day one purchase either.

The better you do, the more credits you earn for spending on new dragons, wingmen (which offer limited-use screen clearing attacks), and revival jewels. All of these have their uses. New dragons offer new elemental attacks – you can also feed and “evolve” your owned dragons to boost their stats – and wingmen – which provide combat support and limited-use special attacks – can be hired from a list that includes dragons owned by your Xbox Live friends. The lite RPG elements don’t amount to a lot, but they offer a few hooks for building up your player profile between missions. Unfortunately, the in-game economy is hampered by an unfortunate focus on microtransactions.

You’re able to play Crimson Dragon without spending any extra money, but mission rewards are low enough that you often end up having to repeat missions just to buy gear – particularly revival jewels – that you’ll need for subsequent missions. The alternative is to spend real dollars on in-game “Jewel” currency bundles. It’s the economy that’s the problem. Why should a player have to repeat missions just to advance through the story? That’s a free-to-play mindset, and it feels out of place – even a little slimy – in the context of a game that you’ve already paid $20 to experience.


Crimson Dragon also suffers whenever you’re sent out into one of the game’s handful of free-flight missions. Most of the game is spent shooting at enemies on rails, but there are a few missions that throw your dragon into a 360-degree maneuverable space. For these sections, the stick that controls your dragon’s movement/speed also shifts the camera around. It’s not an elegant setup at all, since the impulse is to pan the camera around before you change direction.

This might not be the Xbox One launch lineup’s Perfect Dark Zero, but it’s not a day one purchase either. Crimson Dragon may please some fans of the Panzer Dragoon series, but it’s a rough game that feels out of place alongside the other games available for Microsoft’s new console. Skip it, unless you’re a fan.

This game was reviewed on an Xbox One using a code provided by Microsoft.


  • You get to fly dragons into battle with other dragons
  • Largely faithful to the Panzer Dragoon series that inspired it


  • Rewards trickle slowly, putting too much emphasis on microtransactions
  • Presentation doesn’t feel particularly “next-gen”
  • Free-flight portions of the game suffer with lousy controls

Editors' Recommendations

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum: release date, trailers, gameplay, and more
A close-up of Gollum.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is set to take us to an unexplored period of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth universe and give the legendary Lord of the Rings story a brand new story and lore. While Bilbo and Frodo Baggins are certainly heroes in the saga for finding, carrying, and ultimately destroying the One Ring and the Dark Lord Sauron, there's another hobbit who had a very important role to play — Sméagol (later known as Gollum).

While Gollum's tale has been touched on in the Lord of the Rings novels, Peter Jackson's iconic film trilogy, and other LOTR media, this game will be the first story focused solely on "the third hobbit." Gollum follows the notorious trickster as he is hunted down by Middle-earth's heroes and villains while wrestling with split personalities and obsession with the One Ring.

Read more
How to connect a PS5 controller to a PC
playstation 5 controller ps5

The PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller is one of the biggest leaps in controller design ever, adding advanced haptic feedback to Sony’s new console. For games that take full advantage of it, like Astro’s Playroom, the effect it has on the play experience can be truly game-changing. Like most other console controllers, the DualSense can also be used to play games on PC, though without the full benefit of features like variable-resistance triggers.

For those who want to get a little more mileage out of their DualSense, here’s how to connect the PS5 controller to a PC. While the good news is that the DualSense works just like any other controller on a PC, the bad news is that, well, the DualSense works just like any other controller. It may lack the PS5-specific features that make it such a standout when connected to a PC, but it’s also simple to set up and use, whether you want to connect using a USB cable or Bluetooth.
How to connect a PS5 controller to PC with USB
Connecting the PS5 controller to a PC with a USB cable will likely be the go-to option for most people, as it’s extremely easy to do and won’t run the risk of draining the DualSense’s battery during a play session. Just connect the DualSense to a USB-C to USB-A cable (like the one that comes with the PS5), and plug the other end into your PC. If your PC has a USB-C port, you can also use a regular USB-C cable. If you’re purchasing a new DualSense on its own, as opposed to using one that comes with the console, just be aware that it won’t come with its own cable.
How to connect a PS5 controller to PC with Bluetooth
If your computer has built-in Bluetooth capability or you have a separate Bluetooth adapter, you can also connect the DualSense wirelessly. The process is the same as connecting any wireless controller. Just hold the PS button and the Create button on the DualSense to start pairing. On your PC, navigate to the Bluetooth & Other Devices menu and click Add Bluetooth or other device, then select the Bluetooth option. When the connection is made, the PS5 controller will show up as Wireless Controller in the menu.
How to use a PS5 controller on PC with Steam
The major caveat to using a PS5 controller on PC is that not all games will recognize it natively. Fortunately, Valve added limited DualSense support to Steam almost as soon as the PS5 was released and is continuing to add features. All the Steam games with controller support are playable with the DualSense, and functions like motion controls, rumble, and the light bar should work just like they did for the PS4’s controller, though new features like adaptive triggers still aren’t working.

Read more
Counter-Strike 2 limited test: how to play, game modes, and more
Soldiers in Counter-Strike 2 key art.

After a few weeks of leaks and rumors, Valve has finally announced that Counter-Strike 2 will be launching this summer as a free update to CS:GO.

Valve is describing Counter-Strike 2 as an  “overhaul to every system, every piece of content, and every part of the C-S experience” and “the largest technical leap forward in Counter-Strike’s history," promising years of support for the game.

Read more