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It took some deducing but I figured it out. Since there was an intro video in the game folders, I figured it must be starting with a video and something about that is messing it up, so it must have to do with codecs. Eventually I found the game has an incompatibility with the very common ffdshow video codecs.

If you uninstall them and then install the new version, in the installation process there should be a checkbox for compatibility mode, which prevents programs not whitelisted for it (a bunch of video playback and editing software) from using it. As an additional precaution, I told ffdshow just to not use wmv (the game videos format) since windows media player does it just fine.

It may ask you if you want to prevent it just once or always, but this dialogue will not be visible because the game is in fullscreen. Mash enter or space or whatever and it should select for the just-once option and the game will run. Then, select in the options to run the game in windowed mode and restart it, and that should make the codec-ban option box visible to you so you can say to never use ffdshow with the game. After that, run the game however you want.
Thanks, mine didn't crash but the videos (at least the intro) had a weird echo, and that pretty much fixed it.