It's a rare treat when a game is so viscerally exciting that its shortcomings can be overlooked. Such is the case with Crusader: No Remorse, a hyper-violent shooter from Origin Systems. Forget the cheesy full motion video scenes and the obligatory bad acting. Forget the sometimes frustrating controls which can send your character jumping across the screen without warning. In Crusader, only one thing is important: Things blow up real good.
The game is set in a cartoon-like, Orwellian future. Individual rights are nonexistent, and every aspect of daily life has come under the control of the World Economic Consortium. As a defector from the WEC's elite Silencer force, you have lent your skills to the resistance movement. The tone is set by the excellent packaging materials, which recall the halcyon days of the late, great Infocom. Included is a Consortium handbook with scrawled notes from your resistance comrades and a hilarious newsletter showing everyday living in this brave new world, both of which give depth to the otherwise search-and-destroy nature of the game.
Avoiding the ubiquitous first-person perspective, Crusader utilizes a three-quarter overhead view, similar to Relentless: Twinsen's Adventure or later entries in the Ultima series. From this vantage point, you go through a series of lengthy missions, mostly just excuses to destroy everything in sight. And destroy everything you will, once you take a gander at the glorious SVGA graphics. The attention to destructive detail is mind-boggling. Shoot a Consortium chump in the back and he will buckle appropriately, a pool of blood slowly forming beneath him. Shoot virtually any piece of scenery and it will explode, igniting any unlucky bystanders who will run around screaming until they collapse in a heap of ashes. The game may be amoral as all get-out, but it sure is fun.
Don't be surprised to find that Crusader is far from perfect. The quirky controls and somewhat disappointing plot sequences can be distracting, and the missions are something less than a mental workout. Even so, if you're the kind of player who enjoys laying waste to an enemy compound, Crusader's glass-shattering ferocity is tailor-made for you.