Games Review: The Cursed Crusade

(Mastertronic, Tested on PS3)

IN the dying years of the 12th century, the fourth Crusade leaves a bloody trail across the Middle East, as the Pope calls for the conquest of the holy city of Constantinople…

Templar knight Jean de Bayle has left his home to search the Holy Land for redemption after his entire bloodline are cursed to eternal damnation, but disappears during the course of his quest, allowing his corrupt brother to seize control of his fortune and estate.

Jean’s son Denz discovers he has inherited the curse and gained infernal powers, but at the cost of attracting the pursuit of demonic forces, forcing him to seek out his father alongside Spanish outlaw Esteban Noviembre, who bears a similar curse, in the hope of achieving release from the nightmare…

Perhaps hoping to win over fans of the Assassin’s Creed series with its medieval setting, The Cursed Crusade differs from the sandbox format of the other games by being little more than a pretty routine linear action adventure which relies heavily on protracted combat with various opponents, punctuated by the odd puzzle along the way.

There is the opportunity to upgrade and customise your arsenal for more devastating assaults, although a lack of gameplay fluidity and sticky controls restricts the impact of your assaults, and many of your weapons will frustratingly break after a certain number of attacks.

There are also some remarkably protracted cutscenes which drag on and on, slowing the pace unnecessarily and failing to really progress the narrative substantially.

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Perhaps the main difference between this game and dozens of similar action adventures is Denz and Esteban’s ability to activate the Templar’s Curse and transform into their demonic personas, which provides access to special powers, and changes the appearance of the entire game for the duration.

Ultimately The Cursed Crusade is a very average game. You could find yourself frustrated by the lack of pace, repetitive and sluggish combat and lack of a checkpoint system, although the storyline is entertaining enough, and may offer a reasonable distraction if you’re looking for a more straightforward gaming experience.