Monday, November 23, 2020

Blake Stone: Genetic Development and Storage

It took me a long time to pick up the game again after starting this level. Its at this point, that two elements that are sort of Blake Stone's party piece are also the reason why it remains mostly forgotten. There are three things unique to Blake Stone, monster generators, the rocket launcher, and the scientists. Now I realize the rocket launcher is technically not unique, but among Wolf clones, there are very few good games with them, excluding all the Wolfenstein mods, of course. Aliens is unique by being a functioning game despite that. But the other two...well, they're what drag this game down.

The problem with any game with respawning enemies is that you need ammo and health to match them. Doom...well, in Doom its optional. Here, its not. And the time limit is just too short. I have around 5 seconds before I have to put down another plasma spheroid. On this level, I have go through one, especially if I want to get all the secrets. Every time I see one of these I just want to look everything up so I don't have to deal with this crap. My wants win over my desires. To be honest, its not like I HAVE to get the best possible score, and I'm seeing the wisdom in caring less here.

Then we have the friendly scientists. I don't necessarily mind them. I mind having to wait for them to get out of my way. So much of their placement in this game is just straight-up awful. The game has gradually become less about saving scientists and more about how the scientists just end up dying because they don't move from a firefight with a rocket launcher.

The actual level design is getting on my nerves since it feels like nearly every level is the same. Elevator, hallways, cafeteria, storage rooms, hidden storage rooms, alien experimentation rooms. Its a lot like Wolfenstein, except instead of an endless dungeon, its an endless office building. Maybe this level just came at a bad time, maybe its just bad or maybe I just really, really dislike the way this game sets up respawning enemies.

Oh, yeah, having ten music tracks screws with me too. This level reminds me that I forgot the prison and computer room sections. In my defense, I haven't played this in a month. This level has a one-way door in and a one-way door out into the elevator room. Less linear than that implies.

There's a lot of scientists on this level, too many. I'm pretty sure I missed a few hostile ones because I went across the entire level twice and still couldn't kill every enemy. When I was going through a secret they were following me in, it was a pretty big secret too. That's some dedicated amount of crap there. There aren't too many stuck next to guards, but it does get extremely annoying to work through.

New song? What witchcraft is this? There's quite a bit of ammo here, but in terms of health, I'm still up a creek. Right next to the starting room is a secret room with more ammo, but a few STAR troopers. Going into it the first time nearly killed me, and on this floor that's not good.

The Goldfire boss arena is a wide open space with a couple of secrets, a dozen guards and a half dozen pillars. Takes up more than a quarter of the map, and boy does it not feel all that great. The locked room after this doesn't hold the real boss, but does hold about a dozen explosive drones. It just never ends.

The boss is in a slightly more cramped series of rooms, which has the potential to turn into a complete nightmare. Goldfire appears in two places on this level, once in dedicated arena, the other in the drone room. This means that Goldfire can walk in on you fighting the Acid Dragon...which is one ugly looking fellow. He seems rather easy on his own or even with the mutants in the room with him, but I could just be lucky. After that its basically a clear swing, just a few rooms full of treasure. Apparently I missed something the first time around, but its just a little something. It made me think I had a shot at getting 100%, but no dice.

What the hell is this music? It sounds like the kind of song that would play before you have to fight off a space oil sheik. After playing through this level it makes me feel deeply unwell for some reason.

The crux of this level's design is that there are two big secrets, one consuming the western side, and one small outgrowth on the eastern side. In order to get everything, one needs to go to the western one first, for a key, then the other one for another key. There's a third key, this one out in the open, but the vault it opens feels lackluster.

There's a lot of aliens here, and those aliens move around a bit, so while I was walking around, with 92% kills and everything mostly explored, I assumed there were some I missed. Nah, just a trap secret.

To advance the plot, this apparently kills off Goldfire's intelligence gathering abilities. Yay.

This Session: 3 hours

Total Time: 21 hours

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