Have You Played… Crusader – No Remorse

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I wasn’t sure if I remembered Crusader: No Remorse more fondly than I should and then I noticed that it’s free on Origin at the moment, so I downloaded it to check. You should download it as well because it might well be better than my memories of isometric carnage suggested. It’s a game of tactical violence wrapped in a sci-fi action shell that is both darkly dystopian and tremendously technicoloured. Yes, you need to use Origin to play a game created by Origin Systems for free, but you can also buy it alone or with its sequel at GoG.com.

I was fourteen years old when I first played the isometric action romp and my teen spirit was lifted by the gruesome death animations, particularly when they were the result of an unarmed (but EVIL) scientist stumbling into a trap. Almost everything in Crusader can be broken, whether it be man or machine, and even though violence was the sole means of engagement, the world invited interaction on an unprecedented level. Remember flushing toilets and flicking lightswitches in Duke Nukem 3D? Crusader’s world had the same sense of solidity.

There is a perfect approach to every level, usually involving clever use of cover, a skilful sequence of rolling, targeting and shooting, and several doses of the old ultraviolence. Some of the trickier rooms are puzzles in need of a solution rather than the application of instinctive, reactive combat, but part of the game’s brilliance is that it disguises its true nature so well. Even when you’re replaying a section for the twentieth time, you’ll feel as if you’re starring in an 18 certificate sci-fi slaughterfest that’s sort of how I imagine Verhoeven would have made The Rocketeer.

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32 Comments

  1. Vitamin Powered says:

    I still recall the delight in laying waste to the environment, especially blasting apart the glass bricks.

  2. Cosmo Dium says:

    Origin at the peak of their powers.

  3. One Pigeon says:

    I bought this and the sequel, No Regret, on GOG recently and finished the first game a short while ago.
    They’re pretty fun, if tough as nails in some places, particularly during the second game.

    Some annoying puzzle sections and enemies that can virtually one shot you but it’s still an enjoyable series.
    The FMV sequences are also so brilliantly of their time complete with cheesy acting and bad haircuts.
    And the trader guy in the bar, they really got their moneys worth with that actor.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I loved watching the news after every mission, which always presented some propaganda take on what you just did. For example, in one mission the goal was to blow up a laboratory that produced chemical weapons (if I remember correctly), and after that the news explained that the rebels had just destroyed a facility for medical research.

  5. Turin Turambar says:

    No I haven’t played it. Or I tried it, but the game ran super slow on my 486 at the time.

    • Vitamin Powered says:

      Yeah, I remember it requiring some fancy memory settings to run it on DOS.

      Even running it on DOSBOX on my laptop from 2008 I had some weird slowdowns from some of the visual FX.

  6. Brtt says:

    I have both installments on GoG, but I have to say I didn’t played much of it, mostly because of the controls that make me crazy.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      I second that. Just like with its sibling Ultima VIII, I found the controls too painful to get any entertainment out of it.

    • gummybearsliveonthemoon says:

      Yeah, I got em both from GoG, but after playing part of the first, I got fed up with the controls and never went back. No combination of mouse, keyboard, or joystick made this playable for me.

      I found the controls better in a failed knockoff of the game style called “Meat Puppet”, but that game won’t run on modern systems and … was too hard to play.

  7. Dogsbody says:

    Ah yis.

    I still have my original box for this. My momma better have not thrown that out.

  8. Turkey says:

    Did anyone have the original box with the fold-out pamphlet from the evil corporation and the manual that was supposed to be propaganda recovered by the rebels that had their scribbled notes in it?

  9. suibhne says:

    I picked this up via GOG.com, but I haven’t been able to get it working with proper controls. That’s the only reason I bounced off of it, and I fully expect to be rewarded once I take the time to go back and troubleshoot. (But really, my system is pretty bog-standard, and this was the first GOG.com game that didn’t work for me right out of the box…or, uh, the DOSbox, or whatever. ;) )

  10. MykulJaxin says:

    “Free on Origin?”

    There’s something so Faustian about this statement… My only experience with Origin was back in the Battlefield 3 beta, but despite 2 factory resets on my machine since then, I still bear the taint. Has Origin improved at all? Can EA be trusted? Their last couple big releases lead me to think that EA can’t yet be trusted.

    • hbarsquared says:

      Sounds like you’ve already made up your mind, but from my experience Origin is just fine. Not great, but certainly better than Steam when it was 3 years old. I don’t use it when I don’t have to, but when I do use it, it’s unobtrusive, stable, and … fine (YMMV).

    • suibhne says:

      I’m just a guy who genuinely thinks Steam adds a lot more value than it removes from my life, so that’s my perspective. And I find Origin these days to be pretty much okay. It doesn’t add as much value to my gaming as Steam, but it doesn’t really get in the way, either. It’s a necessary, and extraordinarily minor, inconvenience that I don’t really notice.

  11. klops says:

    The game is free in Origin at the moment.

  12. JonWood says:

    I played the demo of this to death as an impressionable young boy, often to the point of destroying literally every piece of scenery in the single room you had access to.

  13. DWRoelands says:

    Am I playing the same game that everyone else is raving about?

    Movement is horrible; you can either shuffle stupidly while holding a weapon or jump from place to place like an armored homicidal kangaroo. Aiming is almost nonexistent as the cursor cannot be moved more than an inch away from the player. The cutscene audio is badly out of sync with the video to the point where it looks like a Saturday afternoon “Kung Fu Theater” movie with bad dubbing.

    I understand that this is an old title, but I think this is a case of the -memory- of a game being better than the game actually was.

    • irongamer says:

      Check your turbo button.

    • try2bcool69 says:

      Yeah, it’s pretty bad.

      I’m thinking that maybe what made this such a fond memory was if you actually managed to wrestle the controls into submission and finish the game when it came out originally.

      There was a real sense of accomplishment, especially since it was an Origin game, which was a guarantee that you also wrestled with autoexec.bat and config.sys for a couple days to even get it to run.

      Lastly, it runs way too fast compared to the way I played it originally, my computer was so slow at the time that you could push a sequence of buttons and then sit back and watch them play out. You had plenty of time to plan your next move.

      It’s so disappointing to play it now. Everyone that has a fond memory of it…do yourself a favor and don’t play it.

    • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

      Bad sync when it comes to audio during cut scenes was a common problem in the old days. It’s not something that detracts from game-play. Funnily, I never had problems with the audio. Tinker a bit with the settings in DOSBox and it runs just fine.

      The target cursor rotates with the crusader. The movement is stunted and sometimes erroneous, but back in the day it was cutting edge. If you can’t see past it this game is not for you. The amount of animations for the crusader and NPCs was unheard of. The game also has auto aim. Point the gun roughly in the direction of the enemy and pop she goes. There is no need for proper aiming. Some say it’s easier to play with a keyboard. I play with mouse and (these days) Logitech G13. You can use emulation to configure a gamepad. The movement of the crusader should not be a problem as you can shuffle, walk, run and jump in addition to sidestep and roll. Most games these days do not give that many options when it comes to movement.

  14. satan says:

    Not to hijack but… and I Might be preaching to the choir here but… screw it. For anybody who likes the soundtrack (by Necros!) and didn’t get to participate in the demoscene… scene in the 90s (my participation only went as far as downloading tracks and sending thankyou/great job emails to composers and sharing the music with anybody I could foist it upon), I want to take this opportunity to encourage you to check out demoscene music, especially my all time favourite track:

    link to youtube.com

    (other highlights would be Blade by Cyberzip, Skyrider by Purple Motion… … anyway enjoy!)

    Jesus Christ I’m old.

    p.s.
    I almost forgot Revenge of the Cats~

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    cpt_freakout says:

    Oh man, this is one of the games that made me. I loved everything about this and its sequel when I was young and impressionable. I even taped the soundtrack (yep, taped) to listen to while I did whatever. While the controls now feel clunky as hell, back then when there were no standards for this kind of game I rolled with it and didn’t even use a mouse for aiming (hardcore, huh). I used to love the trash talking enemy soldiers threw at you, and I hated robots because in dystopias who doesn’t hate damn robots.

  16. Spacewalk says:

    My Crusader memory was constantly having to hit the key that centres the view because I kept being killed by off-screen enemies.

  17. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I downloaded this because i remember it being fantastic.

  18. Jekhar says:

    One of my Top 10 games back then. The possibilitys and different ways through the levels seemed endless to my younger self. In my mind this was always a top town predecessor to Deus Ex. I’m currently dabbling in Sega retro collecting and have recently aquired a Sega Saturn port of this fine game. The pad controls do take a bit to get used to, but lo and behold, this version features smooth scrolling! No more flick screen recentering! My mind is blown. Although, to be fair, the resolution is a bit lower compared to the SVGA PC original. Strangely, quite a few FMVs are missing and the rebel base cannot be explored freely anymore. At least the fine MOD soundtrack is intact in this version.

  19. Haborym says:

    Heh, the creative ways to kill people and the gruesome death animations were my favorite part about the Crusader games too. Gruesome death animations were also my favorite part of Fallout 2. Never played No Remorse I don’t think, but I did play No Regret. I even still have the disc although it’s not been used in many years. Got to a point in I think it was the second level where I got lost and was just kinda wandering around with no idea what to do and got kinda bored so I stopped playing. Oh well.

    • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

      My favourite was always the faulty/trapped teleporter. Awesome death animation.