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Like all Xbox Live compatible games, players can keep track of their current stats to see how they stack up against the competition. Your performance is primarily graded upon a kill/death ratio, which also determines your rank skill level, represented by a star. I found many players puzzled as to how this all worked out, inquiring amongst themselves what it all meant. It's quite simple actually - there are five skill levels in total. You'll initially start out with one star and eventually reach the upper echelon (provided that you are routinely shot down like target practice). Personally it didn't take me too long, not because of the fact I spent so much time playing, but because a lot of players simply aren't that skilled as of yet. I expect this will change within due time.
Without a doubt, Crimson Skies is an excellent title; however it's far from perfect. My quips with the game relate more to the online experience itself. For example, you'll find many players who are more concerned with their rank will literally drop in the middle of the game to preserve their records. And while I understand that it's a situation which constantly arises during Team Dogfight melees, I hate when other players steal my kills. Picture yourself gunning down a player, only to find your teammate swooping at 12 o'clock to join in the attack and in effect, getting the win! It's happened so often that I've actually taken shots at my allies, while barking at them over the loudspeaker to get their own targets. On occasion, I've even been the victim of friendly fire. At first I didn't sweat it as much until I later discovered that any deaths (regardless if it was incurred by a fellow team member) will count against you. Yeah, it's minor, but it's quite baffling to see that FASA Studios couldn't have integrated a system that was more fair and reasonable during such situations.
It's somewhat unfortunate that Crimson Skies has to share the limelight among several other high-profile online titles, including Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3. Crimson Skies is the type of game which will appeal to avid FPS fans or anyone with even a remote interest in flight-based action games (Ace Combat types, take note). Hyperbole notwithstanding, if you fall within that category, consider this a warranted purchase that you won't regret. And if you want get the most out of what this game has to offer and you don't have Xbox Live, well - you know what to do.
Article originally published on The Next Level