Crusader No Regret – LMC Guards helmet

I’ll move away from the T-shirts today with one of the most unique items I brought from Austin, a helmet used in the filming of the FMV cutscenes for Crusader No Regret:-

Crusader No Regret Helmet - Left Crusader No Regret Helmet - Front

Crusader No Regret Helmet - Right Crusader No Regret Helmet - Back

This would have been worn by one of the Lunar Mining Cartel guards that popped up during various sequences. It has Cliff written on the inside which must mean this belonged to Cliff Stevens looking at the credits. I couldn’t identify him to say which particular guard he is in the game but he does have one other acting credit to his name on IMDB playing a salesman in The King about 10 years later which I’ll have to keep an eye out for on TV. It may or may not be the right helmet but I searched through all the screenshots on here and managed to find a couple showing this or it’s identical twin fairly clearly:-

regret_247 regret_153

I don’t have the body armour to complete the look I’m sorry to say. It looks like it was worn in conjunction with a pair of safety specs on the screenshots also. Seeing what does survive of this thing in real life, the only way to describe it is cheap which at least partly explains why it’s quite as beat up as it is. The plastic is seriously thin and as such it’s not in the best of condition with tattered edges, a peeling lining and several cracks. I’m guessing that the main helmet was vacuum formed then the other pieces glued on and spray painted.

If you thought the outfits looked dodgy on the FMV believe me it’s worse when you see them up close. There wouldn’t have been any reason to build this to last more than a couple of days of course and the interlaced FMV video of 1996 wasn’t ever going to show a whole lot of detail. Quality aside, this still has to be one of my favourite items in the collection and looks great sat on the shelf.

Crusader No Regret Preview – PC Format

I scanned this in a couple of weeks back with the aim of posting it while I was away. That never happened but it’s finally making its way on here, a preview of Crusader No Regret from the November 1996 PC Format. It’s positive on the whole but takes the obligatory swipe at Wing Commander near the end:-

Crusader No Regret Preview - PC Format

And from the same magazine a double-page Privateer 2 advert:-

Privateer 2 Double Page Ad - Page 1 Privateer 2 Double Page Ad - Page 2

Crusader No Regret Review – PC Gamer

This is a review of Crusader No Regret from the October 1996 PC Gamer. The reviewer gets it spot on for me bringing attention to the lack of major changes to the original but not minding a bit:-

PC Gamer Crusader No Regret Review - Page 1 PC Gamer Crusader No Regret Review - Page 2

Also from the same magazine, a full-page ad for Privateer 2:-

Privateer 2 - Full Page Ad

Talking about trips worth taking, this blog will be going transcontinental in a months time as I travel to Austin for the week of GDC Online. Not sure how much blogging will get done but there should be plenty of Origin adventures to be had.

Crusader No Regret – Demo

Unless there are more out there that I haven’t found yet, I think this in the penultimate demo that I’ve actually got the hardware to play at the moment. I got this one from Echo Sector.

It consists of the entire first level of the game, and as such I don’t have a huge amount to say about it since I’ve blogged through it once already. I’m not entirely convinced that this wasn’t made slightly easier as I got the best battery in the game early on making me very safe from most of the guards after that point. I can’t pretend to know the game well enough to know without checking though. In fact being dropped straight into it, I took a little while to get used to the controls again and I couldn’t even survive the first 5 seconds until I’d had 4 or 5 stabs at it.

After the teething troubles, I was soon blasting my way through the level blowing everything in sight up on the way (albeit saving every few steps). The levels in No Regret were truly massive, not to mention challenging giving this demo a huge slice of gameplay. I was having too much fun to be paying much attention to the clock but I probably took an hour+ to get through to the end.

There isn’t much reason to play this if you own the full game but if you aren’t convinced it’s worth your $6 on GOG, I’d fully recommend downloading this and playing through it. If you still aren’t convinced after that, then play it again.

As far as hardware goes, I bought myself a complete Pentium II system today for the grand sum of £10 off Ebay. It should be spot on for my joint Windows 98/DOS PC but I’ve got to go and pick it up which is a bit of drag as it’s further away than I would have liked. At least it’s a nice area so I can make a day trip out of it. It’s surprisingly difficult to find PC’s of that sort of age around here with only a handful to choose from. I much preferred to buy this one with it not being ex-office.

It was fun trying to find out what the specs were with a seller who in his own words “only did Apple Macs”. He was selling it on behalf of a friend and figuring out which type of AGP it had on the motherboard was especially challenging. My Voodoo 3 needs the original 3.3V slot to work correctly so it was crucial it wasn’t AGP2. Luckily I managed to track down the motherboard model from a serial number bareley visible on one of the photos he sent through. I still don’t know what speed of Pentium II it is but anything will do.

Once I’ve got the PC, the next question will be whether any of the cards I’m planning to slot into it will still work or not. I’m also wondering if I still have an MPEG2 decoder card kicking around in the parents loft somewhere. Even if I have finding it could be tricky. My parent’s loft is like some sort of Aladdin’s cave of junk. Every time I go in there looking for anything I completely fail to find it but discover something else instead.

Day 194

I get to the core with about half my 15 minutes still left. I just have to walk up to it and use it to stop the countdown. It kind of looked like a giant door to me so I had thought for a while I needed to open it up and do something inside which threw me for a bit.

I’m told the chairman is trying to escape from the base on a shuttle and I’m to go and intercept him next. I should have figured this couldn’t be a 15 minute mission so I have to carrying on working my way down but I can at least take my time about it.

Near the entrance to the level below I find another hidden grate which gets me into a really long shaft.

Down the end there is a floor grate which I can blow up to enter a hidden area with a few goodies. In the end I have to turn around from this area and go back to the start though as I can’t find an exit from it.

I enter an office area which is highly radioactive – not somewhere you would really want to be working. I’m surprised all the staff haven’t grown extra limbs or something.

These last two levels are full of little optional routes. I head down one of these and get a warning on my way back about two incoming cryobots. Shepherd reroutes a telepad for me so I can turn round and bypass them.

This works out ok and I shortly after get to the a tram door which marks the end of the level although I haven’t seen any sign of the chairman yet.

In the between mission cutscene, the chairman is ordered to remain on the moon until the problem is solved. He isn’t pleased about this but he looks to have some sort of fancy combat suit to use in just such a contingency. I feel a boss fight coming on.

Shepherd sends me off to blow up the reactor which will take the moon base with it.

Right from the start this mission is full of those elite guards in the silly suits I’ve been seeing in the cutscenes. Every one of these has top grade weaponry and I can’t afford to take too many hits. I go through energy cubes and medikits very quickly on this level.

We’ve got some slightly new graphics on this level and again there are alternative routes through it.

With no way to tell which way is best I pick a route and it works out ok as I end up at the reactor.

I blow this up with a detpac – I’ve now got just 5 minutes to get out of here.

I take the teleport out and Denning is straight back with another message.

Something big is two rooms North of me and I have to go through it. I’m still operating within a time limit as well so I’d better be quick about it.

I more or less ignore the enemies in the next two rooms and just make a dash for it. When I enter the boss fight room, the door shuts behind me.

It may be a big suit but I take it out in absolutely no time. This is a really, really easy boss fight. I just roll in and out a few times,fire off my biggest gun as quick as I can and hes down in about 3 seconds.

Killing the boss opens up a teleport at the back of the room.

I’ve still not got out of here yet and I’m out of energy cubes. I don’t have to hold back on ammo now though and play this last section just blasting away with the grenade launcher.

The final exit is guarded by some shielded guns. I have to time my run through carefully and that gets me to the tram and the final cutscene.

The ending is shorter than I might have expected although I have to say that a lot of video was packed onto this games single CD. The base blows up, Ely congratulates me but says there is still work to do thereby setting up a sequel and the news reports the chairmans death.

This hasn’t been a bad game but I’ve had enough of this formula now and wouldn’t want to have to play a Crusader 3 without major changes being made. I suppose a new sequel in full 3D could work well if the series were ever revived but that is never going to happen. At the time both Crusader games were very well received by the gaming press so its curious that I’ve not been quite as keen on them. I think the problem stems from the fact that they had a huge novelty value with all the ways you could kill people and blow things up but these days we’ve seen it all before and in full 3D.

That finishes up 1996 and the DOS era – just 3 games left. 1997 was the year Ultima Online was released. This isn’t a game I’ll be playing since its pretty much dead now and apart from anything else it has no end anyway. I was always interested in the story elements of Ultima and this sort of online version never had any appeal to me. It was arguably a little too close to real life to be entertaining in my eyes and the idea of spending days grinding stats is not what I’d call fun either. I remember ebay auctions for UO accounts selling for thousands back at this time to people with too much money who wanted to avoid this groundwork. Whatever I think about it, the game was genre defining, massively popular, clearly made a lot of money and ultimately killed off Origin as they became a company dedicated to a single product. Like most Origin games produced under EA, UO was also full of bugs on first release which led to huge problems as Origin attempted to fix these. Other games like Privateer 3, Bioforge 2 and Crusader 3 ended up getting cancelled and I gather one of the main reasons for the delay with Ultima 9 itself was caused by the same thing when all the staff were pulled off to work on UO instead. U9 (the only full game Origin released after UO) ended up being all but remade, rushed to release before it was ready and received more criticism for its bugs than any other game I’ve encountered before or since. Richard Garriot left Origin shortly after this debacle and Origin effectively ceased to exist at this point although I gather UO expansions are still being made (but not marketed under the Origin logo).

I look at a company like Lucasarts these days and can’t help but think that we may be better off that the brand died off when it did. Some of their ex-employees still know how to make a decent game but Lucasarts themselves seem to do little more than churn out never ending Star Wars titles. Their last attempt at an adventure game (Escape From Monkey Island) was so awful that I’d be happier if they never made another one. This is a far cry from their glory days when they turned out one classic after another and clearly had a very different attitude to the quality required in one of their games. I would dearly like to have played some of the Origin games that got cancelled but at least the company went out on a relative high. Ultima 9 might not have been the best ending for one of the founding giants of the games industry but it could have been a lot worse.

I’ve still not got there yet though….

Next: Wing Commander Prophecy