I was never allowed to play Crusader: No Regret or indeed its predecessor Crusader: No Remorse when I was a lad. Despite being two of Origin System's most impressive action games, they completely passed me by. Yet the Silencer was such a distinctive character in my mind, his bright red space armour glimmering as I stared at the box for both games. What was going through his mind?
I suspect it's probably blood-lust and a crippling lack of control. Time has not been kind to this isometric sci-fi shooter series. Trying to play Crusader: No Regret today is like trying to fly a plane with no flight school experience - you know you should be doing something, but it's not clear what any of the buttons do, and panic sets in. It doesn't help that the Origin version doesn't seem to include an instruction manual, meaning I had to play it blind.
Controls aside, it's still visually impressive for a game made in 1996, with SVGA graphics targeting the higher-end PCs of the day. It also had a massive sprawling level with many ways to achieve your objectives. And the music is very 1990s, tunes that get the blood pumping.
Weirdly, I always thought of Crusader: No Regret as the first game, because it was alphabetically first. It blew my mind to discover decades later that it was the follow-up, essentially a level pack with some more story elements and improved graphics rather than an explosive, full-blown sequel.
Speaking of blowing things up, that is perhaps the most fun you can have with this game. Shooting at anything is likely to make it explode: robots, machines, computers, barrels, you name it and it'll probably explode. Even little spider mines that scuttle up to your enemies to cause more carnage. I want to say that I love it for all this, but the outdated controls are just too much.
If there's one thing that did strike me as I was playing: it looks very much like the original Fallout, so it makes sense that it has been cited as an influence. While Crusader has been long dormant, it's important to remember that it was another small but important step for PC gaming, even if they're now relegated to being hastily compiled freebies on Origin.