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