Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge (lost E3 2002 beta build of Xbox flight-based combat game; 2003)

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Crinsom skies box art.jpeg

The game's box art.

Status: Lost

Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge (also known as Crimson Skies 2 or Crimson Skies 2: High Road to Revenge during development) is a video game developed by FASA Studio (part of Microsoft Game Studios) for the Xbox. The game, like its PC predecessor, is an arcade flight game.

A year before the game's release, the first showing of Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge was at E3 2002 between May 22nd and May 24th, which also happened to be the first time the game could be played by the public. The game was intended to be released sometime on Fall 2002.[1][2][3][4] Following a lukewarm response from participants from E3 2002 and the playtesters criticizing that they feel that the game's levels are too short and linear, and that producers found that it was difficult on translating the "playable movie" concept from concept art to gameplay. This caused the game to be reconceptualized to 'where cinematics and dialog took a supporting role'[5], whilst having the inspired elements of Indiana Jones downplayed to focus more on elements from other adventure fictional media (such as King Solomon's Mines).

Differences[edit | edit source]

The game's original direction followed the vein of Indiana Jones with an "interactive movie" concept that gives the players control on being 'in certain places at certain times to catch the big cinematic moments'. One of the noticeable differences between this version and the final version is that the gameplay and level design was more linear. The levels each had different maps in each level to give the player the illusion that they are travelling in geographic landmarks of a specific region, though the final version scrapped this feature to now have the player travel in some levels of a specific area that shares the same map.

The game would had featured destructible environments, bonus weapons and "danger zones" (incorporated from the game's PC predecessor). The "danger zones" gimmick would have been overhauled to act as a special "Ace" system that rewards the player for pulling off aerial maneuvers.

The game's storyline was planned to be convoluted and slightly different than the final version of the game, whilst having 22 pre-rendered cutscenes instead of 10. It was also going to feature a larger set of onscreen characters and a different main antagonist (going under the name Luftwaffe General), with a liberal amount of character development.

In a (now deleted) page of Xbox.com, Wolf Wilson stated that the game's first level started with Nathan Zachary and the Fortune Hunters on a routine heist on a floating casino in Catalina.[6]

The next report on GameSpot comments that the game's minor antagonists, the Ragin' Cajuns, were intended to be the supporting characters to the protagonist of the game before their roles were changed. Also, it talks about another level where Nathan Zachary has to fight against the Red Skull Legion on a populated island (presumably a precursor of Sea Haven), whom are serving as enforcers of the owner of the floating casino. Furthermore, there is a "trench run" in which the player has to defend one of their wingmates from enemies in a narrow canyon. [7]

A report on GameSpy briefly mentions about the game to have a planned level set in the city of Manhattan, centering on a cabby run. This level was later finalized in the retail product to be set in Chicago. [8]

A documentary entitled The X Factor - Inside Microsoft's Xbox showed an early rendition of a level taking place in Chicago in which Nathan Zachary has to rescue one of their wingmen from a train, it featured the DeCarlos originally intending to serve as one of the game's minor antagonists. The documentary showed another clip of another earlier version of a level set in Arixo in which the player has to recover their signature plane (Devastator) from the Los Muertos instead of outright destroying it.

The game also featured older renditions of the soundtrack such as the instruments sounding slightly different to the final game that can be heard from clips of the game's E3 2002 build. In addition, screenshots of the game featured a prototype version of the Mini-Gyro (in Red Skull markings), a black version of the Piranha, and a Brigand (in Ragin' Cajun markings, which most likely served as the intended plane to Dr. Fassenbiender). What's more, concept art images featured a scrapped unnamed plane and the Doopelganger (in Luftwaffe markings).

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Concept Art[edit | edit source]

Cutscenes[edit | edit source]

Screenshots[edit | edit source]

Videos[edit | edit source]

IGN footage of the build.
The game's official trailer, showcasing an earlier prototype of the build.
The game's Official Xbox Magazine trailer, showcasing a later prototype of the build.
A clip of X Factor: Inside Microsoft's Xbox documentary, showcasing a (very) later prototype of the build.

References[edit | edit source]