Day 193

Ely tells me that there is a heavily guarded area coming up and I can bypass it by using a secret door to the North with the keycode he gives me.

The secret passage is so secret I can’t find it so I just go into the next area – its not really much better guarded than anywhere else.

I’m still having to keep my eyes open for hidden switches like these two above where I have to blow stuff up to be able to see them at all.

When I get the next lift Ely tells me I only have a few minutes left to activate the guns.

He’s not kidding about the time limit and before I get there he gets attacked by Enforcers and I lose the game. Thankfully I saved the moment I started the floor – you could easily get into an unwinnable position here if you just use quicksave.

I have to quickly activate this bridge then run over and use the machine at the other side. This bridge is seriously well guarded – the time limit is tight also. I have to ignore most of the defenses and just go for it.

I go for it a bit too much on my first attempt – I press the switch but get gunned down straight after.

I get an FMV with the ship being shot down.

Ely is a lot more relaxed now and sends me off to get the tram back.

The end level cutscene shows the director being dragged off by the chairmans guards for her constant failure. He starts the self destruct sequence for the base which is a bit extreme for getting rid of 3 rebels. This level has definitely been the most difficult in either Crusader so far and took me quite a while to get through. Quicksave is essential in this game and I’m using it constantly. Whilst I definitely am better at playing this than I was at first, you do get into situations where your bullets just don’t hit for some reason, or it takes longer than normal to kill an enemy and pure luck is a major factor in some of the battles.

I don’t get to return to base in the meanwhile but am ordered to go and stop the countdown.

I only have 15 minutes to complete this mission which means it must be a bit shorter than all the others I’ve played but I’ll have to be careful not to waste time. I need to get to the computer core behind the door here. I maybe get halfway through the level – I’m certainly about halfway through my time – I’ve been careful not to mess around and replay any bits where I’m losing time so I’m hoping the 15 minute time limit won’t be a problem.

Day 192

In what I thought at the time was an optional area, I find a new gun + a data pick.

The data pick allows me to get through a locked door – it seems to be a one use item so in effect its just a key. If there was another way through this door I don’t know what it was.

I get to the next level and Denning tells me I have a choice of routes. One involves rolling under some floating mines and the other takes me through a highly radioactive area. I’m supposed to go under the mines as far as I can tell.

I do this but get to a dead end – I’m sure there is some way through but I don’t find it and head South instead.

After I take this route Denning tells me where to get a radiation shield. It’s probably worth coming this way just to get it.

It’s just stashed in a footlocker to the West. Getting through the radioactive area is no big deal actually. I have to shoot through some barrels but its straightforward otherwise.

I’m having to jump up and over things more often in this game than Crusader 1. Here I have to get the conveyor belt up and running to deliver a few crates , then use them to climb over the railing and get to the keycard and lever.

The habit of hiding stuff behind crates could get annoying but so far its not been a problem – if I can’t get a door open I just blow everything up.

I’m getting to the prisons now and free a load of employees who don’t seem that grateful.

In the end I find our two prisoners. Torch isn’t here but my old pal Colonel Ely is + a scientist.

They are stuck behind a forcefield and I can’t get to them.

Denning powers up a telepad by them to get them out and I have to make my own way to the nearest tram. Why he couldn’t just power this up without me having to fight my way here I have no idea.

I get the usual cutscene at this point. The chairman is not impressed with how things are going and is sending for a squadron of Enforcers. The director blames him for interfering in the first place.

I get to meet one of the prisoners I just rescued at the base although her name escapes me for now. She was working on alternative energy sources and apparently got somewhere but her research was stolen.

I get a joint briefing from the Colonel + Shepherd now. The security up here is looking for us and we want to distract them by stopping the mining operation. I have to go and blow up a refining machine in the mines.

So it’s back to a mining style level again with similar graphics to the last mining level.

I’m also being guided by Torch again who has shown up unharmed after all.

I find myself one of those nifty triple rocket launcher guns that proved so useful in Crusader 1. I have to kill load of bots to get it but its worth the effort.

Torch tells me to blow the floor away to get to the next level. I use a det pack on it, then walking on it collapses the tiles and I fall to the level below.

I make my way to the mining machine without any big drama. Torch tells me to use a fusion pack on the conveyors. I do this but the conveyors don’t move. I have to jump on them myself then run off at the last minute before I fall in along with the explosives. This gives me two minutes to get off the level before it goes bang.

I escape in time, and the news reports the further difficulties with the mining operation.

A fusion battery is waiting for me back at the base. This will help no end as my power meter now goes all the way up to 100%.

We have intercepted a message from the director and she is planning to introduce a toxin into the air systems here at the base to kill us off. There are three possible sources so I get sent to one, Shepherd and Ely to 2, and Denning gets one on his own despite the fact that he’s about to keel over at any moment.

This level is a bit more office like.

I run into a sliding floor trap – I’m stuck in the area with a slowly moving floor revealing a big hole under me. Fortunately I just have to shoot a wall switch to remove the force field holding me in here.

There is a semi-secret area which I have to get to by using the burning temperature of paper as the code. This is actually different depending on what sort of paper as you would expect + it doesn’t tell me whether to use Celsius or Fahrenheit but this is a reference to the book Fahrenheit 451 so 451 gets me in.

There is a new type of bot in here with a freezing gun. I can control this one through the screen but there is no one in the room outside left to kill. I’ll be fighting a few of these from here on out.

There is also a Graviton shield which combined with my fusion battery means I’m well set up for the coming missions.

I keep finding new guns although I confess I usually stick to the machine gun and the super shotgun as every thing else tends to either use energy up or burn/freeze my victims leaving me with no ammo to pick up.

To get out of this room its another hidden grate behind crates.

Sekada (no wonder I couldn’t remember the name) is on the comm for this mission and she warns me about some incoming bots and tells me to head to the room to the North.

This gives me control of a floor turret and I can quickly kill all the bots with impunity.

More hidden grates later I get to the end of the level.

Just when I’m getting to my goal we discover it was all a trap and there never was a plan to release the toxin. Shepherd and Ely make it out but Denning goes down fighting.

Sekada gives me directions to the nearest tram.

On the way there I manage to end up standing on one of the troopers heads and he just stands still ignoring me.

The director and the chairman are arguing again, about the failure of the trap this time. They have Dennings communicator and realise we must have a base on the moon. The chairman sends us a personal message that we will die soon.

We know that the Enforcers are on the way. Rather than deal with them after they land the mission is to get to the moon base guns and shoot them down.

I’ve done 7 out of the 10 missions now – I’ll probably take a couple more sessions to finish this game as 3 missions at a time is a bit much. I’m not quite as keen to carry on as I was, its all a bit too similar. There is no way I could have played Crusader 1 and 2 back to back without getting bored with the whole thing to be honest and I’ve just about reached the stage now where its starting to get monotonous. Attempting to play through the whole thing relatively quickly doesn’t help, it’s a game to play a level at a time over a couple of weeks really. It’s still a decent game but I’d much rather have had Bioforge 2.

Day 191

I work through the next level until I get locked in a room with no obvious way out. Shepherd comes on the comm to help me out.

He tells me to blow my way through the air vent on the West wall. I can’t see a vent so I start blowing up boxes.

The vent shows up and I use a det pac to blast through it.

Shortly after I find a sneakily hidden keycard in the book on the table here.

This gets me access to an area with an energy recharger.

I then work my way through to the area with the network access terminal I was looking for.

I get a little video of my virus being introduced into the system, which I’ve entirely failed to get a decent screenshot of.

Then Shepherd finishes off whatever he was doing and tells me to take the tram out of here to get to the rebel base.

I have to fight through a load of troopers to get there but the tram is just a few screens away.

In a between mission cutscene, the news is reporting some of the problems being experienced on the moon mining base.

This doesn’t go down well with the director who orders her inept lackey to find me immediately.

I arrive at the base to find my old pal Denning polishing up his gun. He has still got the nasty (and unconvincing) cough that he’s been emphasising in every cutscene and says he hasn’t got long left after this many years in the mines but he is going to take a few people with him.

The rebel base here is a mini version of what we saw in Crusader 1. I can pick up some ammo and medikits and the like while I’m here.

Shepherd is in the North and I talk to him to get my next mission.

Torch and some other operatives have gone missing and are presumably being held prisoner somewhere. I need to go to the network access terminal so we can find out where.

I take the tram back out to get to the fourth mission. This next level is a bit more office-like as I search through the base for the terminal.

Shepherd is on the comm as before guiding me through. He tells me where I can get a plasma shield in a footlocker.

I pick this shield up. Its a bit more effective but I could also do with a new battery as the one I’ve got hardly stores any power.

Shepherd also warned my about some new enemies. These are morphing bots that look like part of the furniture until they morph into their more deadly form. Here the coke machine is morphing. They aren’t as dangerous as they sound actually, since you get a few seconds to aim before they start shooting. It’s a nice new enemy though and means I have to keep my eyes open. The animation for the morphing as ever in this game is very smooth

I get stuck for a while until I find a hidden switch behind this crate to get the lift doors open.

Shepherds back telling me that a load of bots are on the way and an inhibitor would be really useful.

“Coincidentally”, I happen upon an inhibitor almost immediately.

This inhibitor when used confuses any bot in the area making them helpless for a few seconds – easily long enough to take them out. It does use up quite a bit of energy but its seriously useful.

I start to see a change in scenery as I carry on progressing and we get a few of these radar dishes which must mean I’m near the terminal.

Sure enough I use the next screen I find, and it gets me details of two prisoners.

Shepherd sends me back to the tram which is just to the north and I get another post mission cutscene.

The news reports on Chairman Draygans visit to the moon – it looks a bit like the director is being set up for a fall to me.

Back at the base Shepherd gives me another mission. We know where the prisoners are so I have to go get them.

I see a new puzzle here where I have to depress two floor pads at once to open the door. I just use a detpac on one and it weighs it down.

The guys in suits with pistols are back in this level. They tend to be well armed but are not a big problem.

There is a hidden keypad here which using the code handily written on the wall opens the door….

and lets me get a new laser weapon.

That weapon will come in handy as I come across extra large bots later on.

I also find a safe in an optional area here which appears to contain just about every weapon in the game. In Crusader 1, I could only carry a few weapons. It appears that here I can carry as many as I like making this a very nice find. I prefer this system actually – one of the problems with finding weapons in Crusader 1 was that you just didn’t pick it up if you didn’t have room in your inventory. I couldn’t tell when this was happening at times meaning I missed out on picking up equipment. This system is the same as your usual FPS which is basically all Crusader is – a FPS using the Ultima 8 engine. The fact that it’s not in first person is obvious but the gameplay is the same sort of thing.

I’m actually enjoying this more than Crusader 1 although there isn’t much in it. There is just a bit more challenge in the combat and it’s balanced out by the levels being more linear and me not spending so much of my time looking for the next button to press. There seems to be at least as much gameplay in the 10 levels judging by how long its taken to get about halfway through the game. It is so similar to Crusader 1 though that I really don’t think Origin could have got away with a third sequel without coming up with something new.

Day 190 – Crusader : No Regret

Crusader – No Remorse was a big enough success for Origin that a sequel was always going to happen. Crusader – No Regret came out just a year after the first game and offered more of the same as I remember it. No Remorse was a decent game but did suffer from a lack of variety. Despite this, it never got boring but I hope there is more originality in this game than I can recall after the 5 or 6 years since I first played it.

This is the final DOS game remaining from Origin as everything started to shift over to Windows 95 – it’s also the final game that doesn’t use 3D acceleration which was taking off around the same time. It only has ten levels but I gather they are all much larger than before so there is no less gameplay overall.

The game starts straight after the end of the previous one. I’d just blown up the Vigilence platform and escaped in a pod. The intro shows me drifting in space and been tractored in by a giant space ship. The people on it are conducting a search for survivors of the crash. At first they think I’m dead but I spring into life and immediately murder both of them which seems a bit harsh. I head out through the nearest door, through some guards and straight into the game. The intro is short but nicely done and the CGI characters are more convincing than the real life ones were in Longbow.

Once in the game, at first glance things appear to be extremely similar to before – its all the same old graphics and enemies and even the music is familiar. Its possible that the guards move around a bit more – I don’t remember them rolling around so much in Crusader 1.

I run into a resistance member. He tells me that I’m on some sort of mining ship and that I need to one of the other levels. He then shoots out the alarm system speaker and runs off.

This is something I don’t remember from the last game. I can turn a valve here and freeze someone to death. I can then shoot the body and they shatter into pieces. The crusader games definitely revel in death and destruction so I’ll be expecting to see a few new ways to kill people and blow things up along the way.

The recharge chambers have changed a bit. They are bigger and curvier but otherwise work in the same way as before.

This area has containers which I can shoot through to reveal stuff on the inside – I find a hidden chest in one of them this way.

There are  new types of security camera. These rotate through a full 360 degrees so are much harder to hide from.

Denning contacts me through my data pad. He tells me that I need to destroy a plasma relay to destroy this ship.

I work down through the levels – the same system of lifts is used as before. Denning comes on the air again and tells me that a load of bots are on the way and to take the grenade launcher he has stashed nearby in a footlocker.

The grenade launches makes short work of all the bots.

A little later and Denning is back again telling me that I need a blue keycard he has hidden in a panel in the next room.

The panel takes a little finding. It’s behind these crates in the NE corner.

This gets me to the next level and I get a cutscene while I travelling down showing the mining ship I’m on nearing the moon. Denning says we need to destroy it before it reaches there so I’m running out of time.

I find the plasma relay on this level and start shooing it.

It blows up after enough hits.

Denning’s pretty happy about this and sets me up with a teleport pad to escape to a mine on the moon. He says one of his friends will contact me there. 

I escape just in time as the spaceship is blown into little pieces.

The chairman from the last game just happens to be visiting the director of the moon mining station and is not happy about either the destruction of the ship or the fact that a silencer is rumored to be behind it. These cutscenes do look a bit better than Crusader 1 although the outfits those guards are wearing are seriously embarrassing.

At the start of the next level my contact gets in touch through my data pad. He is called Torch and is a miner here. Whatever is being mined is radioactive and rotted his arm off after the first two years. He tells me to go to level 4.

This second level does actually look a bit different to anything I’ve seen before. It’s about time we got a change but its nothing too major. I notice that I’m straight between levels this time with no return to a base in between. This is fine, although I did like the option to buy things – collecting money is not an issue in this game and I just have to find the weapons as I go along just like your standard FPS. This removes a bit of a RPG type element from the game but it should make it easier for the level designers to structure things appropriately to whatever equipment is available at the time.

Torch tells me that the ore that is mined here will damage robots and I can take them out by blowing up the green containers. It will also damage me so I need to keep my distance.

I don’t find his advice on the ore to be much use but I make it through to another message where he tells me that a highly radioactive area is ahead and I need to use the conveyor to get through.

I find the conveyor. Its covered in flames but I get away with just running straight through them – if I take any damage its minimal.

I make it to the lift at the end of the level and there is another cutscene. The chairman and director are getting briefed by the president who wants this whole situation sorting out. He wants them to work together but the director manages to talk her way into handling it on her own.

I emerge out of the elevator to meet up with Lt. Colonel Shepherd. He wants me to introduce a virus into the tubes (I think this is some sort of transport system). He hands over a disk and sends me on my way.

The level looks marginally different again – I hope this is kept up for the rest of the game.

Shephard is working his way on hacking into the system. He pops up with advice every now and then as I work my way through.

I don’t have any major drama getting through this level but I do struggle to get through the last locked door. I have the keycard but I can’t drop a force field in front of it. I wander around a bit and find this area which I can get to using a light bridge and jumping up a load of boxes. This nets me some goodies but I’m no nearer the end.

Eventually, I discover this hidden switch – this kind of puzzle is a little silly as it would be in plain view in real life. It was avoided in Crusader 1 but I’ve seen quite a lot of hidden switches and items now so I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled.

This gets me to the lift and down to level 3 where I need to use this disk. Shepherd reminds me, incase I’ve forgotten in the last 10 minutes.

I’m enjoying my return to Crusader again so far. It’s still fairly mindless stuff but somehow the formula never seems to get stale. It doesn’t appear that Origin did anything revolutionary with this sequel – it’s very much the same again with some new weapons, baddies and scenery thrown in.  Its so similar to Crusader 1 that  the game feels a bit like an expansion pack really but the new cutscenes add enough gloss that it justifies the full release. The cutscenes are shorter so far but more frequent, and give me little goals to accomplish which guide me through the levels. I can’t say this is any better than Crusader 1 yet – I could even argue its worse with the money/shopping aspect being removed but it’s a hell of a lot more entertaining than Longbow was.