Tuesday, February 9, 2021

In Extremis: Xeno-what?

In Extremis is at first glance, just some cheapo European ripoff of Wolfenstein. You'd be right. I'm relatively unfamiliar with what people thought of US Gold, but I do notice that name shows up a lot in the first decade I have written down. Blue Sphere, as opposed to Delphine, commonly accredited to making this, is French. Although the game is in a weird mix of English and French. I distinctly remember being not fond of this bad boy. In cinematic terms, this wouldn't be The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, this would be White Comanche...without William Shatner. I don't know what the correct comparison would be, just roll with it.

This is the least weird shot from that cutscene
The story is, we're somewhere out in space, we come across a space station...and our ship explodes for some reason? The opening cutscene isn't clear on anything, but it looks nice. I configure my controls (Shoot and open is controlled with the same key!) I start the game...and it doesn't work. Dosbox wants to give the game 100%, that causes the game to move fast...and I can't move forward. Turning it down is funky, because it doesn't register right away, so I do something that ends up causing the game to not register any in-game button presses. I eventually decide on 30%.

This game feels pretty casual about the corpse there

Let's talk about the second problem this game has, because the first is going to require a bit more explaining. Shoot and open are the same key. There's nothing I can do to change this. In theory, this isn't a bad idea. Because you don't need to do both at once. This is obviously bad as soon as you start playing, pressing space on something that looks like it should be interactable but isn't still shoots. I have no idea if I'm going to get more ammo (or even health) later. I will cheat if necessary, but I'd prefer not to, for obvious reasons.
The first problem is that moving around is ass in general. You've got a crouch button, there's no use for that yet. There's a run button, which makes you go 50% faster, not much when you move like you're in what modern people think plate armor was like. The player is in some kind of power armor, it functions accordingly, except I'm using a SMG for some reason. Also incredibly obvious before the first shot is fired, password doors? I don't know what they're supposed to be, but so far I see no way of finding the codes. You also type in the code via the arrow keys. I want to point out from my own experience, that's more work than just typing stuff in. Even if it isn't, they put in that effort for the copy protection. Its impressive it was cracked, since Mobygames says it was heavily protected for the age. Anyway, moving around the code pad is far too fast, and I'm not going lower than 30%.

They're certainly well-done ugly, but they only have forward frames
These problems are all visible before you fight the first enemy. Its some kind of green spider thing. It goes down quickly, a few shots from my rather slow SMG-looking gun. What makes them trouble is they knock you back with each blow. Most of the time this is okay, but sometimes they knock you on top of scenery. A FPS with an actual Z-axis? That's possibly a first. Upon dying, they explode on the screen. Possibly if they're far away enough they don't, but that seems impossible so far. Also a first, automatically opening doors. I guess the latter's helpful.
Also, all the sound effects sound like they were ripped out of Star Trek, but whoever added the trivia to Mobygames says they're stolen from Alien. I think you'll find that I don't really care. Whatever the case, the sound effects have very bad noise, like popping sounds that don't make sense, included.
That's not something I can use, too much color
There's also another neat thing in the game, the lighting, wander to close to a ceiling light and the screen changes color to signal you are inside. This is about as far as I got last time I played. There's no in-level save function, and you can make a complete circle of the level without any idea of what you're doing. There are several access terminals, but there doesn't seem to be any in-game way to find out the codes. I would also like to point out at this time that each time you restart the game, you have to spend a minute watching the unskippable logos and credits before playing the game. There's no one credited as testing this game, "Notice" mentioned in the credits is for the manual.
This is before I get anything, trying to interact with a card reader
Anyway, the manual, the only one I could find was in French. The language barrier in-game is some fever dream of French and English, so I don't understand any of this. Most of this is relatively unimportant at the moment, except for inventory, the I key, and the computer code. Yeah, all those computers around? Literally necessary to advance the game, they contain items, and more importantly, keycards. The first terminal just gives me some transfer stuff.
I don't know if this has a point or not
So, the terminals are all item lockers. The green bar is oxygen, the red health. The game is not generous with health items, but on each level you can usually find a new weapon. Weapons so far are straight upgrades, making this game very arcadey for some reason. Combined with the codes, makes this feel less advanced than Wolfenstein, despite the obvious graphical improvements. You don't get an item picking up cutscene there. Probably for good reason, this is some trippy stuff.
Whoever drew this was wasted here
In order to advance, you need to find a key card, which are inside the terminals, as mentioned. You have three slots, and so far it only seems to be necessary to have two, a E-card and a C-card. One controls the elevator, the other the password computers.
All of them very ugly
That's about it for now. Two interesting things, levels have walls that have 45 degree angles as opposed to Wolf's entirely block-based system, and each level has a new monster. There's no difference between the monsters, there's just a different graphic. Level design isn't impressing me too much yet, but it isn't offensive.

For future player's reference, here are the computer codes for these levels:

And here are the save codes:
(I missed one here, sorry)

This Session: 1.5 hours

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