Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Blake Stone: The Final Three Missions

This part could be titled, "I don't care anymore, let's finish this". I realize that technically I've been playing Galactic Empire for longer, but there's a very good reason why I'm still handling that and still haven't given up. I give up on this and there's still information on how to win this elsewhere. On what the end-game is and all that good stuff.

Mission 4:
Star Port, this place is back on Earth. Hopefully this means the level design will get back to what I liked from the first episode...but probably not.
You know what I hate? Plasma generators. You know what this mission has in spades? Plasma generators. Its like every floor. I'm pretty sure some of them just spawn out of thin air in this mission. They knew this was bad too, everywhere near them is just slathered with medikits and ammo. There's even one as a trap early on, just a secret room with nothing but two generators. This episode goes pretty heavy on the backtracking if you want full points and I suspect these two things are interconnected.

The secrets on this level are weird for a Wolf-clone. A lot of the treasure is just out in the open, meanwhile enemies and ammo are well-hidden. Its a curious dilemma, at least on skilled. Curiously, the two secret levels aren't that hard to reach, the teleport to the secret level is right out in the open and the 10th floor's access card is similarly placed. This possibly contributes to the levels being not all that impressive.

There are no new enemies or soundtracks, but there's a new trick I didn't notice before. The mutated guards get up out of the beds. I didn't realize this was the standard hiding enemy trick until later, so that might have contributed to my lower than complete level scores. Of course, by this point, I don't really care.

The boss level is a bit annoying. Goldfire spawns in a room full of points, ammo and health, which is not super fun to deal with. Then its just...eh...Just because you can do 66 levels in a year doesn't mean you should. Or a hundred-something.


Mission 5:
Habitant II. Its very geometric shape based. I realize there's not much you can do to avoid that in a Wolf-clone, but this feels rather guilty of it. Circle, square, bunch of squares, holy crap, a triangle. Another problem is that all the secrets feel like an afterthought, or a normal part of the level made secret. Enemies are dropping a lot of vending machine tokens suddenly, but there don't seem to be that many. Speaking of secrets, the two secret levels here are really not. They're just straight-up in the open again. Listen, you can't just use a word when it doesn't apply to what you're doing. I realize this is the 21st century speaking, we do that as long as we can be assholes to someone, but this is a game. That you want people to buy.

The only new elements I can think of here are two songs, both of which are pretty nice, or just because I've heard them once. That one track I really hate returns...on a level I had a bit of trouble with.

The boss floor is really weird. You've got Goldfire, natch, but he's just in some random non-descript room. After the alien boss there's some weird half-assed maze going around. What the hell?

Mission 6:
Satellite Defense...what the hell is someone like Goldfire doing with that? Apparently its a defense facility of some kind. And this mission I'm supposed to blow up some pillars...I mean power generators or something. The first level starts off like you expect. Instead of some epic music worthy of penetrating Goldfire's final fortress gunning down guards left and right, generic Blake Stone music like I'm futzing around in a money vault. Honestly, the opening level isn't half-bad. There's some weird secret room with tables surrounded by chairs. Its kind of interesting.

Speaking of money vaults, the first secret level literally is just near the start. Its Goldfire's money vault, but its rather underwhelming. Big perimeter, with the interior being tons of little vaults. Personally, I'd have liked to have seen a money pool, but I understand the desire to not choke players' computers to death.
This episode feels pretty nice...most of the time. I really wish the oil sheik song wasn't used 4 times over the entire game, but that's a general fault with the music, not enough of it.
So, the 9th and 10th floors. The opening level music, really, the final confrontation? Lame. A few secrets, mostly ammo and health, nice. Goldfire's tucked away in a room you have to go out of your way to reach, nice. The boss is hard, but near plenty of ammo, nice. The area with the fancy pillars is a series of rooms shaped like half a hexagon. Continuing our adventures in geometry, but fine. What's not fine is that halfway through there's the secret with the red key card. That means I half to go all the way back from a long series of rooms to get to the last level.
I realize that sounds like a nitpick, but this feels completely wrong. Think back to other bonus levels in games. They usually happen because you found something hidden in a level or did well against a boss. Usually they don't happen when you've killed the boss, and are already halfway through destroying his base. This isn't like the proceeding mission ends where we're just delaying our transportation to the next mission. This is me putting an end to Goldfire's plans. Like, can you imagine how widely mocked Super Mario Bros would be if you defeated Bowser at the end and the game said "Congrats Mario, you can go to a secret bonus level now!" The only people who see it are going to be completionists who just want to see everything.
For what? The final secret level is supposed to be some kind of data center, but its just another treasure room. Its got two interesting things; A corridor full of automatic doors with turrets in them, very nice, almost worth the price of admission; A room full of small treasures and plasma generators. I say again on the last one. Small treasures and plasma generators. There's a lot of treasure around the level too, so this becomes another unfun round of "Where's that last treasure"? And unlike the last three rounds, I care this time.
So I blow up the generators, and the end cutscene is...the building blows up and...Blake Stone gets the Intergalactic Medal of something from the Queen. "Intergalactic"? Is this an intergalactic game? Doesn't seem very space opera-y to me. Have we even left our solar system in this game's universe? We haven't in the story mentioned. I'll find out in Planet Strike...assuming I suddenly care.

This Session: 9 hours

Final time: 32.5 hours

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