Action Review
Crusader: No Regret
Let's hope The Silencer has a long, glorious history ahead of him
by Steve Wartofsky
TIPS: Crusader: No Regret

he original Crusader: No Remorse is a classic; no matter how hardware and software improve, this is one game which should stand the test of time. The sequel gives players who loved the original more of the same in the best sense: more of the kind of play Crusader fans are happy to have, without any excessively ingenious new ideas introduced to clutter up a successful formula.

Shot1 The story continues where the previous game left off, and serves the same purpose; basic background for what is at essence a simple action game. You're still a member of the Resistance, busy blowing up Security forces and doing your best not to hurt scientists and other non-combat personnel you encounter along the way. From time to time, your data link pops up video clips to help flesh out the premises of the story, and these are well-done; but they remain peripheral to the core of play.

Shot2 With approximately the same depth and variety as the original, and approximately the same number of weapons and controls and options present, some gamers may be wondering where the effort went in putting together the game. The answer is clear once you start digging in: level and puzzle design, and character control. Without having to futz around with the game engine or the control and animation technology or graphics design too much, the implementers have obviously been given the chance to go to town setting up a panoply of traps, clever complications and neat control features for veterans of the game.

Newcomers to this game system may do well to pick up the original first, since No Regret is if anything tougher than the first installment. While the basic play techniques are the same - find access cards and power-ups, blow up things, turn knobs and levers to open doors and unleash surprises, and blow up things, talk to the odd NPC now and then, and blow up things - the traps and puzzles are often fiendish from the get-go.

Shot3 The first impulse when playing is to jump right in with simple walk and shoot commands (as before, the keyboard works the best, though players with programmable joysticks like the Microsoft Game Pad - an excellent choice for this game, by the way - can put together optimal keystroke combos for more refined control); but this is a bad idea. Much practice should be taken with the variety of subtler performance moves available. These are as extensive now as those in any top-notch 3D fighting game on a Saturn or Playstation, and are useful not only to impress onlookers as you play, but to get through the difficulties of many of the situations your character will find him- or herself in. For instance, you'll find crouching movement is the only way to avoid some weapons systems, while rolling and shooting may be the only technique you can use to avoid fire in some situations. Being able to choose which kind of movement you'll need to use quickly, without fumbling around for the right key combinations, is critical to success once you've expanded your repertoire of control.

Shot4 The negatives for No Regret are minimal. It would be nice if The Silencer (your in-game character) were slightly more granular in movement control - he's still hanging off ledges which don't exist sometimes, or having trouble getting just the right angle to shoot out that security monitor - and, similarly, it would be useful if players had some control over the pace of gameplay as well as simply the sheer quantity of opposition (harder levels mean addition of newer, tougher opponents and weapons systems in the game rooms). It would be great if the most appropriate inventory item for the situation at hand were auto-prepared, so the player doesn't have to scroll frantically through inventory to get to that Spider Mine, dying before s/he's gotten a chance to use it just because it was buried behind the Energy Cubes, MedKits and VR Imager (or at least offer the chance to sort inventory so the right items are nearest to hand). And, finally, once we've moved to faster processing and next-gen vidcards, increasing to higher VESA resolutions could expand the opportunities for graphics and gameplay detail.

Make no mistake, though; No Regret is an amazingly good game, and - once again - leaves the player wanting even more. I hope The Silencer has a long, glorious history ahead of him.
©1996 Strategy Plus, Inc.