I would probably define a game as ”favourite” by how likely I am to replay it. For example, I probably won’t be replaying any of Bioware’s games, as they are very heavy. They take a lot of time and the ”active” parts of the games are quite old and/or clunky. Specifically combat. This applies to many roleplaying games, so while I like the genre very much, very few of them are replayable.
Shooters, being very active and stimulating, fare a bit better. I have, and probably will, replay many shooters, like Half-Lives, Prey, Republic Commando and such. But since I already defined my favourite FPS, or rather FPS/RTS-hybrid, I will broaden the Shooter definition by including any real-time game where you go around and shoot things. And one of them that I will always think fondly, is Crusader – No Remorse.
I like mobility. Lightsaber fights, parkour, bullet-time dodges, they all get me very excited. That’s why I like games where you can be mobile and perform cool maneuvers. The reason for this might as well be because of the Crusader games. They are isometric shooting games from the nineties, in which you control an elite commando known as Silencer, and fight against the tyranny of the Worldwide Economic Consortium. The Silencer is extremely agile and can duck, roll, run and… nudge himself around corners, behind cover and through doors in his quest to destroy everything brandishing the WEC-symbol.
The controls of the game are quite polarising. My preferred configuration has the vertical arrow keys moving Silencer forward and backward and the horizontal arrow keys turning him around. The thing is, as the camera is fixed, Silencer moves in relation with himself. Therefore, running south means the player must press up. I have the controls in my muscle memory, so that does not bother me. Sidestepping happens by pressing shift and left or right, and rolling by crouching and sidestepping. When you get a hold of them, the controls are quite good and semi-realistic. Silencer has momentum and he cannot run backwards or strafe, which makes advancing more tactical, as you must roll from cover, fire a couple of shots and retreat back. It looks and feels good. Here is a video of how the game looks like.
Speaking about tactics, Crusader feels like a puzzle sometimes. Breaching defensive positions with shielded turrets, guards wielding rocket launchers and security cameras staring everywhere is quite challenging. The last ones are especially annoying, as alarms tend to unleash defense mechs, summon reinforcements via teleport pads and lock doors. But there are tools for the job. Silencer can carry satchel charges for ambushes and efficient environmental destruction (nearly everything in the game can be destroyed), spider bombs, which are small, remote-controlled explosives for taking out things behind corners and lots of different and suitably gory weapons. Silencer can also take control of certain turrets or mechs for some long-distance annihilation.
The graphics are all VGA-sprites, which age very well. As mentioned, the level of destruction the game has is very satisfying; Firing rockets into a computer room will leave it suitably wrecked. And the music is just awesome. There are a few bits of the game which are less than perfect, like the enemy AI, which is sometimes ridiculously easy to trick.
Crusader – No Remorse and its sequel No Regret are both games I have played through about three times, and I still sometimes feel like firing them up again. The reason is the unique controls, which fit the game perfectly and feel very satisfying. Or maybe it’s just nostalgia, creeping up on me when I least expect it. Still, one of my favourite games. Now available in Good Old Games.
And by the way; Crusader is one of my main arguments against video games causing violence. I, a highly imaginative individual with only a couple of friends, played one of the most violent, blood-red games of the time when I was about twelve or so. And yet I did not even go to the army (which is mandatory in Finland), nor have ever had a desire to inflict violence to anyone in real life.