Ok guys, I think I FINALLY solved the problem. After EXTENSIVE hours, days weeks, etc, to trying to find the issue with this game crashing at startup, I believe the issue is with the virtual reality driver. You see, I own a HTC Vive virtual reality headset and when I disconnected the "power cable" from the link box and started the game, VOILA.... it started with no issues and I was able to play the game fine. So then I quit the game, re-inserted the power cable to the link box, started the game, and no go, it would crash to the desktop....I then took out the power cable again and started the game with NO issues....I was able to play several levels with no problem. So, if you guys have any virtual reality system hooked up to your PC, it's worth giving it a try...it worked for me and I hope it works for you....I NEVER thought that this would be the problem!!!!
Ok, so after MORE investigating into the issue I found it to be the camera driver for the virtual reality system. If you go into device manager and disable it, then the game works just fine...no need to disconnect any power sources to the VR headset.