Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge is set in the Crimson Skies universe, an alternate reality set in the 1930's. The United States of America is comprised of a series of hostile nations, constantly at war with each other. Thus, there is no interstate highway system, and development on cars and trains were scrapped to make way for airplanes. Still, one part of the game features a train with anti-aircraft warfare systems. Like in the original Crimson Skies
game, the player controls anti-hero Nathan Zachary, leader of the Fortune Hunters, an aerial pirate crew. Nathan has a Robin Hood-like set of ethics, and only steals from those richer than him. The Fortune Hunters have many rivals, including other aerial pirate crews and the game's main antagonist, Dr. Nicholas von Essen, leader of the German "Die Spinne" military force.
The singleplayer story begins the day after Nathan Zachary has gambled away his plane to a rival aerial pirate crew. After reclaiming the plane, Nathan learns that Dr. Nicholas von Essen has stolen plans for a wind-turbine from Dr. Fassenbiender. Essen previously attempted to use a wind-turbine as a superweapon during World War I. A murder occurs, and Nathan embarks on a journey to bring justice to those who deserve it. He teams up with Maria along the way and is lead through several environments and bosses.
The game is an arcade-style flight game. Landing and taking off is automated, and health and shields can be regenerated by hitting crates. There are over ten planes to choose from, each with different specifications and weapons. Most of these can be upgraded once by spending credits in the game. Primary weapons have infinite ammunition, while secondary weapons like rockets and electricity waves can only be used a finite number of times. There is also a Special Meter that experienced players can fill by doing aerial tricks like barrel rolls. Players can use other weapons, like anti-air warfare systems and turrets. Downloadable content was introduced to the game, adding new planes, multiplayer maps and multiplayer modes.
The singleplayer lets the player control Nathan Zachary as he plays out the plot. There are twenty levels and four difficulty settings in the singleplayer game. Each mission is objective-based. The missions are divided over four regions. The player can explore the new region, make money doing nonessential tasks, and plan which missions to embark on first.
Multiplayer is available over split-screen, with up to four people sharing one screen. Sixteen players can play together with System Link or Xbox Live, where the latter can be played by two people in split-screen on the same account. Players are ranked on Xbox Live using a dedicated system, where winning against higher ranked enemies grants more points. The multiplayer is split between a series of modes;
- Dogfight - Standard Deathmatch where the object is to kill all opponents.
- Flag Heist - Capture the Flag mode, where one team must steal the other team's flag.
- Keep Away - By holding an artifact, the player's team accumulates points. The team with most points win.
- Wild Chicken - A mixture of Dogfight and Flag Heist, where both shooting down opponents and retrieving "chickens" accumulate points.
Additionally, two modes were introduced with downloadable content;
- Chicken Pox - A mixture of Dogfight and Wild Chicken, where the chickens are power-ups.
- Gun Heist - The object is to take control of the anti-air warfare systems and keep them operative.
Arixo is the nation that used to be Arizona and New Mexico. Run by the Arixo Indians, it's in a tight spot politically and literally, sandwiched between the Republic of Texas and the nation of Utah. Arixo is a favorite for pirate gangs because there are lots of places to hide out. You can enjoy some peace and quiet - while planning your next move. Rumor is there's more in the ground than worms.
Chicago, in the Industrial States of America, is a hopping town, packed with skyscrapers, planes, and elevated trains. It's more hazardous to fly through the streets of Chicago than it is to weave through the canyons of Arixo.
Not much is known about this place, but we have learned that it's another treacherous stretch of land. Large tunnels were part of some lost city, and they're big enough to fly through - even get lost in.
On December 4, 2007, Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge became available on the Xbox 360's Xbox Originals download service for 1200 Microsoft Points.