Crimson Skies is a flight action game where the player takes on the role of Nathan Zachary, a cocky air pirate. The action takes place against the backdrop of an alternate historical setting where the USA has been broken up in to a number of separate nation states.
The game was developed by Zipper Interactive and Published by Microsoft Game Studios and features an arcade style flight model allowing the various planes in the game to perform unrealistic aerobatic maneuvers.
After the Stock Market Crash of 1929, U.S states ultimately became independent nations and as hostilities between nations rose, transporting goods by railroad eventually became obsolete and massive zeppelins were tasked with carrying cargo and passengers. But as stated in the game's intro: "With modern air shipping come modern air pirates."
As private security firms and air pirates slug it out over the skies in North America, the Fortune Hunters are in Hawaiian Islands searching for the lost treasure of Sir Francis Drake. Zachary and his gang successfully retrieve the treasure under fire from rival pirate gang the 'Medusas' and the Royal Air Force.
Soon after, PANDORA (The Fortune Hunters zeppelin) leaves Hawaiian airspace and as the team celebrates in their capture of Drake's Treasure, they receive startling news.
They are contacted by Dr. Ilsa Fassenbiender, the daughter of Zachary's old wartime friend Wilhelm Fassienbender. Ilsa informs them that her father was captured by the Soviets and is now on the cruise zeppelin Worker's Voyage and headed for Russia.
The Fortune Hunters launch a daring rescue mission to save Wilhelm, and during the mission Zachary encounters former love interest Black Swan and her cohorts. Nathan shoots her down and the rescue mission is a success.
After Wilhelm is rescued, PANDORA heads for the West Coast to save Ilsa, who is being held captive by Boeing Aviation. The gang raid Boeing Field and manage to rescue Ilsa as well as steal an experimental Boeing fighter plane in the process.
But while things seem to going very well for Nathan's crew, they soon find out that the Worker's Voyage was shot down over the Pacific by the notorious Black Hat gang. Knowing that if they hadn’t took down the airship’s fighter planes it would still be in the air, the Fortune Hunters decide to aid a hospital ship in rescuing the zeppelin’s passengers.
Despite a heavy assault by Black Hat gunboats and fighters, the Fortune Hunters fend them off long enough for the ship to pick up all the passengers.
Soon after the PANDORA heads for the Nation of Hollywood (Formerly known as California) in order to save movie starlet Lana Cooper, trapped in the film studio due to her long contract and asks the Fortune Hunters to help her escape.
While the rescue is successful, Zachary's rival Johnny Johnson, who is temporarily the head of Hughes Aviation at Hollywood decides to put on display the Spruce Goose, trying to cover up his failure to stop the Fortune Hunters.
This just adds more fuel to the flame as Zachary's crew steals the Spruce Goose and causes more embarrassment for Johnson. Johnson, furious about the theft of the Spruce Goose, creates an elaborate plan to eliminate Nathan and his crew by luring him into an air race against other ace pilots.
Although Zachary is victorious in the race, Johnson quickly orders the pilots to shoot him down, resulting in a brawl over the Hollywood studio. With the help of Black Swan, Zachary manages to eliminate Johnson and the other pilots.
But the race was a diversion, as the PANDORA is suddenly attacked by a Hughes Aviation zeppelin. Nathan arrives in the nick of time and manages to destroy the enemy zep, but the PANDORA is severely damaged.
Knowing the airship would not make it to the safe airspace of Sky Haven (A.K.A Colorado), Nathan and the gang intercept and hijack a cargo ship where they tow the PANDORA straight to Sky Haven for repairs.
As the PANDORA is being patched up, the Fortune Hunters head for the bars and brothels of Sky Haven while Nathan and the Black Swan are left in the PANDORA.
But the next morning, Zachary finds his crew to be missing, and Black Swan is having the same problem. Soon, they both receive a radio transmission from the PANDORA's pilot, Sparks, and he informs them that he is on a train called the 'Rocky Express' and to make matters worse, the Rocky Express is loaded with explosives. Swan and Zachary pick up Sparks under heavy fire from Sacred Trust Inc. militias and Black Hat fighters.
While Zachary may have gotten back his airship's pilot, the location of his crew is still unknown and the main suspect is the Black Hat gang. Zachary hops on an Autogyro to find the Black Hats' leader, Ulysses Boothe, and attempt to capture him. While Nathan finally finds Boothe, Boothe is not going down without a fight. They both slug it out at the foot of the Rockies, and Zachary is the victor.
With the Black Hats leader captured, Nathan decides to offer Boothe a deal: His freedom in exchange for the Fortune Hunters. Boothe agrees and is released, but the Black Hats aren't going to let Zachary's crew get off easily. Boothe tells Zachary that his and Black Swan's crew are being held in an airship filled with explosives.
Zachary manages to release his and Swan's crew just as the airship is consumed by flames, but more problems arise as Black Swan is shot down and captured by the Black Hats.
To end the Black Hat menace in Sky Haven, the Fortune Hunters assault their base at the top of the Rocky Mountains. Zachary goes in to rescue Black Swan while the Fortune Hunters take the Black Hats' supply of aerial torpedoes. Finally, the base's explodes and Black Hat operations in Sky Haven cease.
As the PANDORA leaves Sky Haven, Zachary is curious as why Sacred Trust Incorporated, a private security firm, would be involved in operations with the Black Hats. Soon they receive radio transmissions from Paladin Blake, leader of Blake Aviation Security, requesting help from anyone in the area as they are under attack from Black Hat fighters.
The Fortune Hunters launch and assist Blake in fending off the fighters. At first Blake is skeptical of Zachary, an air pirate, assisting him but eventually trusts him. In the end Blake and Zachary destroy the Black Hats' zeppelin, and soon both of them find out about Sacred Trust's plan.
Zachary and Blake realize that STI is planning on dominating the divided nations by first eliminating every air militia and air pirate in North America, and with their increasing popularity in New York, Zachary is worried that STI's plan may succeed.
Blake Aviation agrees to work with the Fortune Hunters in stopping STI's plan, and the PANDORA heads to New York after one of Zachary's contacts inform him that STI is loading a ship with illegal goods and planning to send it to Germany where there are also fierce battles between air militias and air pirates.
Zachary prevents the ship from leaving the harbor and destroys it, and with the destruction of the vessel comes unwanted attention for STI. Soon a man named Waldo Carney, an STI accountant who is aware of the company's operations attempting to escape New York.
Realizing that Carney would help in revealing the corruption of Sacred Trust, the Fortune Hunters head out to take Carney to the police station. Soon the passenger zeppelin Carney is on is attacked by Black Hat fighters, attempting to silence anyone who knew of STI's plans. Zachary rescues Carney and transports him to the local police station.
As a last resort, Sacred Trust Inc. loads up all its illegal goods on zeppelins and has ace pilots escorting them. Even so, the zeppelins' engine are put out of commission by the Fortune Hunters and this reveals to the public that Sacred Trust is corrupt, and soon the firm begins to lose its clients.
Seeing that the Fortune Hunters are not the menacing air pirates they used to be, the leader of the Empire State invites them to a fancy dinner in Manhattan, but this is delayed as STI looks to take revenge on the Fortune Hunters.
Lucas Miles, Zachary's former partner, reveals himself to be the mastermind behind Sacred Trust's operations. Then, STI's zeppelin Dante opens fire on innocent civilians, infuriating the Fortune Hunters. Nathan decides its time to end Sacred Trust's terror once and for all.
Over Manhattan, Dante and PANDORA slug it out and after a few minutes the Dante is soon engulfed in flames and shot down over Manhattan. Lucas Miles, however escapes in his fighter and is attempting to flee.
Zachary chases after him and has him in his gunsight, ready to shoot him down. But he holds back after Miles reveals that Lana Cooper is in the back seat of the fighter and threatens to throw her out over the ocean without a parachute unless Zachary follows him through a dangerous stunt course in the city.
Nathan carefully follows Miles out to the ocean, where he reveals that he lied about Lana not having a parachute. Lana safely bails out of the plane, but then Miles breaks off and starts firing at Zachary. Both of them are engaged in an aerial brawl, but Miles proved to be no match for Zachary, as Miles is finally shot down.
Afterward, the Fortune Hunters are declared heroes around North America and Paladin Blake offers Zachary and his pilots to work for Blake Aviation, but turns it down as he is headed for South America with Black Swan for more treasure hunting.
Former ace pilot Nathan Zachary, a veteran of the Great War, formed the Fortune Hunters in the 1920s due to the effects of the Great Depression. Zachary is an excellent aviator, praised for his often daredevil Despite his amazing aerial skills, Zachary has also been involved in various relationships with women, most notably the Black Swan.
While Zachary and his crew are thieves and wanted by many security firms and air militias, Zachary has given the Fortune Hunters strict rules not to harm any innocent civilians in their operations, as well as pilfer only the rich.
Zachary and his crew are one of the most infamous gangs in the now divided United States.
A mysterious female aviator who is presumably from Russia, and one of the most wanted aerial pirates throughout the Independent Nations. The Black Swan leads her own crew of European pirates over the Central and Eastern parts of the U.S.
Swan is also involved in a romantic affair with Nathan Zachary, and have apparently teamed up in search of valuable treasure in South America. Lucas Miles
Lucas Miles, owner of the Sacred Trust Inc. security firm and former friend of Nathan Zachary. Miles was a part of the Fortune Hunters before betraying them in Cuba and forming STI, which would become one of the biggest threats to the Fortune Hunters.
Miles initial plan was to get rid of the Fortune Hunters and every other security firm in the U.S., while recruiting pilots from militias and pirate gangs to earn money. While his plan seemed to work at first, Zachary's gang eventually foiled their plot by exposing STI as corrupt.
An enraged Lucas Miles tries to kill hundreds of innocent people on the streets of New York, but ultimately fails and is shot down in a one-on-one dogfight with Zachary. Miles tells Nathan that he can never kill him, and soon an FBI Investigation comes to the conclusion that Miles is presumably dead, his body below the New York waters.
Hotshot pilot, Loyle 'Show-Stopper' Crawford, leader of the Empire State (Better known as New York State) Broadway Bombers, an elite aerial militia protecting the skies of New York City from pirates.
Crawford is a bold pilot who has been known for his ruthless and fast tactics, thus earning him the nickname 'Show-Stopper'.
Technical Issues on Modern PCs
Many users have reported that running the game on a modern PC results in the menu text appearing as unreadable coloured squares. A fix has been released for this by a modder named Timeslip,which can can be downloaded here