Flight simulators will always have a home on the PC. The complex cockpit controls of a real aircraft simply cannot map to the simple, user friendly game controllers that games consoles are limited to. That doesn’t mean every flight simulator is strictly for aviation nerds though. Crimson Skies is one flight game that has some elements common to more traditional flight simulators, but more of a focus on fun, exciting dogfighting than the deep technicalities of real aircraft flight.
The game should install without any issues on a modern PC. Simply place the disc in your computers optical drive and follow the on screen prompts. If installation does not start automatically, browse to the CD and run the SETUP.EXE file manually.
When asked what type of installation you want to perform, we recommend doing a full installation.
Before you take to the skies, there are two patches that you should install after installing the game.
Official patch 1.2 – Fixes various bugs in the game. Download it here and install it simply by running it.
Note that if you have a later edition of the game, you may not need this patch as your game may be pre-patched. If this is the case the patch will simply tell you that it is already installed.
Crimson Skies fix (Csfix) – This is a fan-made patch that lets the game run smoothly on more modern versions of Windows. You can download it here. The patch is downloaded as a 7-zip file, to extract it you must use the popular 7-zip program. If you’ve never used this program before, there’s an extensive tutorial here. To install this patch, first browse to the Crimson Skies installation directory (C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\Crimson Skies by default) and make a backup copy of the “Crimson.exe” game file.
Now, extract the entire contents of the csfix.7z archive into the Crimson Skies game directory, overwriting the existing Crimson Skies game file (you have a backup, so no need to worry!). You’re now ready to play, but before you do that, you might want to check the next section regarding screen resolutions.
Setting screen resolution
Crimson Skies is a 4:3 aspect ratio (non-widescreen) game. The Csfix file, however, lets the game run in any resolution of your choosing. If you leave this as the default, the game will simply run at the highest available resolution. Since this is a widescreen resolution on most modern PCs, the game will appear stretched out of proportion.
To fix this problem, you need to open and edit the csfix.ini file in Notepad or your favourite text editor. If you’re not familiar with editing configuration files, see this tutorial.
To change the default resolution, first find the line that begins “OverrideRes” and make sure this now reads “OverrideRes=1” (do not copy the quotation marks).
Directly below this line you should see the lines “ScreenWidth” and “ScreenHeight”. You can now edit these to any suitable 4:3 screen resolution, such as 1024×768 (ScreenWidth=1024 ScreenHeight=768) or 1280×1024 (technically that’s 5:4, but whatever).
Another option is to create a custom resolution. On more modern gaming graphics cards, you can use your graphics card software to create a screen mode such as 1440×1080, which is basically 1080p but in 4:3 aspect ratio. By doing this you get as close to 1080p as possible without stretching the image out of proportion.
Whichever method you choose, don’t forget to save the changes in the file before closing your text editor.
With the patching process completed, you can now start the game.
Starting the game
Start Crimson Skies from its Start menu or desktop shortcut as normal. When you start the game, the following window will appear.
You can ignore what’s in the “Screen Resolution” box altogether, as the resolution you set in csfix.ini will override this. You should make sure that “Video Device” is set to “Accelerator” however. Then, simply click on “OK”. You may find that one of the initial loading screens is displayed in the wrong colours, but it should only be this one screen.
Tweaking visual quality
There are a handful of visual quality settings you can change from the games main menu. Start the game and from the main menu, click on “Preferences” and then “Video”. You should then see the following options.
This is an old game, so simply crank up the settings to the maximum as per the screenshot above. The exception to this is the “Screen Resolution” box, which you can ignore as this is overridden by the Csfix tool. Even a modest recent PC should be able to deal with these settings without breaking a sweat. Don’t forget to click on “Accept Changes” when you are done.
With the csfix file installed, the game should support Xbox 360 controllers out of the box. You will still need your keyboard to hand to use some of the more advanced controls however.
Problems saving games or settings:- Like many older games, Crimson Skies stores its save game files and other configuration information in its installation directory. If you installed the game into the program files or program files (x86) folders, you may find that the default Windows security settings prevent the game from saving any progress. You may also be unable to edit the csfix.ini file and save your changes. To fix this problem set the permissions on your game folder so that your user account has full control/read write permissions. You can find a tutorial on how to configure folder permissions here.
Saved games themselves are stored in the “SavedGames” folder within the games root directory.
Our regular screenshot tool didn’t seem to work with this game, so here are a couple of screenshots we took from around the web.