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"Crusader: No Remorse" does not fail in this tradition. I already read messages on the nets where people claim the game is awesome while others want a refund because the game contains bugs and does not support joysticks and other sound cards other than from Creative Labs. Personally, I think the game is really exceptionnal, but I regret the lack of support for sound cards such as the Gravis UltraSound and the Pro Audio Spectrum. For the joysticks, I don't really care as I'm not joystick addicted and I much prefer using the keyboard and the mouse.
If I wrote this small paragraph above, it is just to point out that Origin released the game not because it was finished, but only for time constraints (according to Origin technical support on CompuServe). Therefore, because of marketing and commercial reasons essentially, customers will have to wait for the developers to make the patches available. It should not be too long before they become available, but the developers are also working on a demo which unfortunately slowed down the work on the patches. When you can finally download the patches on the nets, you will discover one of the best games Origin has ever made.
Crusader: No Remorse's action is set at the dawn of the 23rd century in a world ruled by the omnipresent World Economic Consortium (WEC). This tyrannic government maintains its supremacy with an important military power that eliminates any rebellion in the society. However, a group of people who are tired of WEC promises for a society where citizens are equal and free, had enough to support a regime where only a few enjoy the privileges. The resistance was born and its goals defined. The days of the powerful WEC were counted.
As the introduction will explain to you, you are a defector from the WEC, tired and disgusted of WEC methods to maintain their presence, who just joined the Resistance. Your job is now to show the Resistance you can be a decisive weapon for their struggle against the Consortium.
To resume the game in a few words, Crusader is an action game from a different perspective as Origin likes to say, which clearly means you won't control the hero through a first person perspective view. To be honest, it is a breeze of fresh air, because I was getting a bit tired of all these Doom-like games using the same kind of technology. In Crusader, the graphics use a 3D isometric view with SVGA graphics. If you know Relentless from Electronic Arts (or Little Big Adventure if you live in Europe), then you understand what I mean.
The graphics of Crusader are simply amazing with an unbelievable amount of details. As soon as you enter a room you can immediately tell what its function is. For example, offices are equipped with furniture, plants and computers, while factories will be full of storage compartments, heavy machinery and control screens. Besides, everything you see that surrounds you can be shot at with your weapon. Pure destruction has never been so exciting and visually stunning! When you use your weapon against inflammable containers, they blow up with realistic explosions and if there is something nearby, fire will spread and cause other explosions. For instance, I remember one particular level where I was in some sort of warehouse full of containers. I used a laser weapon on a container and then realized an instant later that it was a mistake. The entire screen inflammed with dozens of explosions and the sound of this was apocalyptic. I was lucky to survive this experience, but this visual effect is absolutely a must see! Of course, you can use this technique to kill enemies. More than often you will see guards standing next to containers and an easy way to eliminate the danger will be to direct your fire arm to these barrels. You will see the guards burning as human torches while they continue to move in agony.
As I said above, Crusader's graphics are remarkable, but to become a hit, a game cannot rely only on one aspect. Even if the graphics qualify as spectacular, game play and interest remain the key elements that will continue to attract the players. Crusader's game play is not very complicated, although it will require a minimum amount of time to get used to the controls as they are shared between the keyboard and the mouse. But apart from this, once you are set up, you will be drawn into action in less time than is needed to say.
During the game, you can scroll through your inventory to select an object which makes it easier than a screen where you must select an item with the mouse. The ancient system may be fine for an adventure game, but the solution found by Origin is more appropriate here. The choice of weapons is based on the same system.
Crusader is a mission based game which means you will have different goals in various places. In the first mission for example, you must destroy an entire refinery by destroying a thermal coupler located at the level 4. As you will discover during the first mission, the levels of Crusader cannot be completed in a matter of minutes. First, they are huge and second, you will find many obstacles along your way. Consortium places are heavily guarded and you will have to fight soldiers of different capabilities and performances. There are different ranks of soldiers from the civilian armed guards to the killing machine called Silencer. You will also encounter other WEC personnel such as factory workers, scientists, administrative personel, etc. Every time you kill somebody, you can search the body for ammunitions, med kits, power cells, credits, bombs, etc.
However, humans are not your only preoccupation. You will have to deal with cameras, automated weapons, traps, lasers, grenade launchers, etc... and you will learn to destroy them before they can even locate you. The cameras are the first things you must destroy in a room if not, it will set off the alarm and activate ambushes. Some traps can be avoid of course if you watch carefully around you, but sometimes the action will not leave you enough time to think.
Finally, you can also face mechs and androids. These dangerous enemies are capable of firing heavy lasers and missiles, so forget the way you used to kill other guards because you will have no chance of success with them. Instead, try to adopt a more strategic approach and see if there are no exploding devices that could cause severe damages to the droids before starting the combat directly.
Among the important items you can find are the med kits to heal your injuries, the power cells to regenerate your energy and the ammunition which needless to say is essential for your survival. To completely restore your initial health and energy, you must locate health and charge stations in which you must enter for a short moment to complete the process.
Crusader also contains puzzles which undoubtly adds an additional interest to the game. Puzzles consist of switches that control lasers, platforms, bridges, electric fields, etc. Some of the switches can be located easily, but others will require you to look for them behind piles of containers for example. Some of the doors are also equipped with card readers. The fact that you hold the same color key card as the card readers doesn't necessarily mean you have the correct one to unlock a door and this is where the difficulty arises. You must possess the right key to open it. Along your way in the Consortium locations, you will use transporters. These devices will transport you from one location to another in a fraction of second. Don't forget that if you can use them, your enemies can also, so be careful when you approach one of these device.
At the end of your mission, you will be beamed back to the rebel base. You will discover the bar, the barracks where the personnel sleep, the commandant's office and various other rooms. To start a new mission, you must visit the commandant who will instruct you of the mission details. In the bar, you will meet Weasel who will sell you new weapons and ammunition as long as you have credits (collect them as many as you can during your missions!). You can also talk to several rebels in the bar. The full motion video (over 90 minutes of video) that comes with the dialogs is pretty good and serves to build the storyline around the missions. Speaking of the storyline, it reminds me that further in the game you will be warned that a spy has infiltrated the rebel base and provides WEC with vital information. You will have to figure out who the spy is, but I have already said too much.
Crusader is just great and let me tell you that even without sound, I played it for dozens of hours. I'm anxiously awaiting for the patch to be available for my sound card, but after having heard the soundtrack on another machine equipped with a Sound Blaster AWE32, I expect it will be the same or even better.
If you buy Crusader, you will not regret it at all. It is a serious challenge with an incredible addicting power.
486 DX2-66 MHz or higher,
Min 8Mb memory,
MS-DOS 5.0 or later,
Hard drive required with 30Mb free,
Double speed CD-ROM drive or faster,
SVGA video graphic card (PCI or local bus),
Microsoft mouse and 100% compatibles.
Creative Labs Sound Blaster, Pro, 16 and AWE32.
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