Remember… is a series of retrospectives, some from our magazine archives, and others from our more recent nostalgia dreams.
The year is 2196. Like all self-respecting visions of the future, it’s a bleak and dystopian one. The planet groans in the tyrannical grip of the World Economic Consortium, a sort of mega-conglomerate overlorded by the insidious (and unseen) President Gauthier and his trusty toady, Nathaniel Draygan. But much like all self-respecting visions of a bleak and dystopian future, there’s a faction of sullen dissidents holding out against the evil empire – the imaginatively named Resistance, headed by former WEC colonel, Quentin Maxis.
You are a Silencer, one of the WEC’s elite supersoldiers, genetically engineered to be a full-time professional badass. After allowing a mob of rebels to escape, you and your Silencer pals are marked for correctional assassination by your disgruntled employers. Understandably indignant, you sign up with the Resistance over at Echo Base, and grab yourself some righteous revenge – mostly by tripping alarms, blowing stuff up, and murdering innocent bystanders. Oorah!
Isometric gaming is now little more than an oblique and often overlooked (GEDDIT?) blip on the video game timeline, but back in 1995, Origin Systems’ Crusader: No Remorse was on the bleeding edge of visual technology. Using a heavily modified version of Ultima VIII: Pagan’s engine, No Remorse and its sort-of-sequel sort-of-expansion, No Regret (1996), offered 8-directional movement, destructible environments, and such marvelous explosions that an menu option was included to downgrade them in case your 66 Mhz i486 DX2 couldn’t push all those pixels. Both games also used those low budget, abysmally enacted, and unintentionally hilarious full-motion video sequences that were all the rage back then.
GREAT GREEN GOBS OF GREASY GRIMY GOPHER GUTS
Both Crusader games are relentlessly, abundantly, and gloriously gruesome. While you might simply tote around a drab, standard-issue .40 calibre semi-automatic pistol, a range of some 15 other weapons offer eminently more colourful solutions to life. The BK-16 “Crystallizer”, for example, will freeze your opponent, leaving you to finish the job in any way you please – mostly by reducing the unlucky victim to chunky bits on the nice carpets. The XP-5 “Broiler” microwave projector rifle, meanwhile, will quite literally cook your enemies where they stand, crisping away all their flesh to leave behind a scrumptious carcass just this side of medium rare. There’s also a small arsenal of explosive deployables, including scuttling spider bombs, electronic disruptors, and limpet mines.
Although the Silencer remains resolutely unnamed throughout the series, it is possible to catch a glimpse of the enigmatic man beneath all that carbon fibre. With a bit of fancy footwork, you can catch him in an explosion powerful enough to knock off his stylish red Boba Fett helmet, and reveal a pale-skinned blonde man.
On 27 March 1997, Crusader: No Remorse joined the illustrious ranks of those materials deemed subversive and inappropriate by the German censors, when it was added to the infamous index of the Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien (Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons). This rendered all sales of the game to minors illegal. Recent additions to this list of infamy include Chili Con Carnage, F.E.A.R., Stranglehold, The Darkness, and Crackdown. Actually, pretty much everything is on that list.
Although most games referred to as isometric were, in fact, trimetric. Fact!