For a long time, fans of XBLA knew little about Grounding Inc’s so-called Project Draco – it was being developed by the same guy who made the classic Panzer Dragoon games, it would be an on-rails shooter, and the Unreal Engine made it look unbelievably gorgeous – but that’s about it. Fast forward to about a month and a half ago, the title was officially announced to be Crimson Dragon and a little more information trickled out. It was still hard to get a grip on how exactly this title would turn out, so we took some time at PAX to stop by the booth and play through the demo so we could fill you in on why exactly Microsoft is so stoked about this game.

If you’ve played Child of Eden, you already have a basic idea of how the gameplay will work. Before we go any further though, I want to assure each and every one of you: this game plays a heck of a lot better than Child of Eden. Don’t get me wrong, I loved both Rez HD and its spiritual successor, but at the time it came out the Kinect controls just felt a little… off. Crimson Dragon takes all the best parts of the control scheme and pushes them to a whole ‘nother level – and it works beautifully.

I’m going to take a slight detour here and talk about the massive amount of stuff you can unlock in this game. First of all, there are six different dragons to play as, which you will do over a staggering 22 levels. You’ll eventually have access to a skill tree of about 150 skills, which you’ll unlock over time by feeding your dragons the different types of food you’ve earned by beating levels. Add a Child of Eden-esque scoring system on top of that and you’re going to be playing this game for quite a while in order to master its intricacies.

So, about those skills. Judging from the demo, you’ll be able to equip three of them at a time – one on your right hand, one on your left hand, and one for when you swing both your arms down at once. In the demo we played, the setup was exactly the same as Child of Eden: right hand locked onto multiple targets and fired when you pushed forward, left hand shot a constant stream of bullets, and swinging both your arms down fired off a massive barrage of shots that did tremendous amounts of damage to pretty much everything on the screen. In other games, I’ve had a lot of trouble staying centered when switching between hands or flinging my arms around, but Crimson Dragon didn’t skip a beat no matter what I did.

According to the Microsoft producer I spoke to at the booth, the game will take about six hours to play through with just one of the dragons. Even if you don’t want to play through the game with multiple dragons, all of your time spent unlocking sweet skills for your favorite beast won’t go to waste – you’ll be able to take your pal online to make friends in some three player co-op. Grounding Inc is working hard to give this game an incredible amount of depth and replayability, which should give Kinect XBLA fans something to look forward to.

Crimson Dragon is expected to release sometime this summer at either the 800 or 1200 MSP price point, but we expect there will be lots more information and media released before then. Microsoft has a genuinely interesting, deep Kinect title on their hands, and the fact that it’s got some pretty darn rewarding gameplay means that they’re going to want to get its pretty little face out in the spotlight as much as possible in the coming days. This is definitely one to keep an eye on going forward.