In the 90s, I tried playing the demo of this game many times and could never really get into it. Crusader was one of the best looking PC games of its time and I really wanted to like it. But the controls. Oh my God, the controls. Eventually, this scheme would go on to be described as tank controls in other games like Resident Evil. Basically, you aim and move your character in relation to the direction their sprite is facing rather than the direction you want them to move on the screen. Crusader takes that counter-intuitive mechanic to a whole new level of complexity by adding jumping, diving and ducking to the mix.
There are some default mouse controls which almost work, but your character is stuck with gun drawn, shuffling around like a man with his pants around his ankles. I got about a third the way through the game doing that until just gave up and set the game aside for a while. Months later I returned and forced myself to learn the standard keyboard controls. These are still clunky, but with practice and a lot of help from the auto-aim feature the game becomes much more fast-paced and responsive. Even then, the mouse is still helpful when the occasional fast-spinning aiming is required. For the most part, it pays to just bite the bullet and learn the keyboard controls. Think of Crusader like Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing but with more explosions and incinerated humans.
Once the control hurdles are overcome, the game itself is a huge, detailed and fun action game. The dialogue makes it seem like you are some sort of stealth agent who quietly infiltrates bases. In actuality, you are beaming in and killing everything in site while causing as much destruction in your wake as you can. There is a bit of setting up and planning of your attacks, but that’s as far as Crusader goes in being a stealth game. Just kill the enemies and watch them explode, melt and burn in screams of agony.
What little plot is here comes in the form of live-action cut scenes that are just as cheesy as one would expect from a 90s action game. They don’t really rise to the level of camp I would have liked to see, so skipping past them is a wise option. For all the detail that is in the game’s stellar isometric art, you would have thought they could have devoted a little of that effort to the set design in the live-action scenes, eighty percent of which a filmed with characters sitting in a restaurant booth. Who’d of thought world-wide revolution would be schemed from within a Steak ‘n’ Shake?