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Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold (DOS)

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MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.4
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  *Katakis* (37493)
Written on  :  Mar 11, 2008
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars

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Summary

Had its success, until DOOM came along

The Good

A corrupt scientist named Dr. Pyrus Goldfire is planning to build his entire army of mutants using gold to fund the experiments, and plans to use these mutants to help him take over the galaxy. British Intelligence has sent Blake Stone, one of their best agents, to put an end to Goldfire's plans once and for all. There are six buildings that Blake must infiltrate, and each building has 10 floors each. As Stone, your object is to search each floor for the red access key, destroying Goldfire's experiments in the process. Once you get the access key, you can proceed to the next floor where more enemies are waiting for you. There are other access keys which are used to open locked doors. You start off with the Auto-Charge Pistol, but you kill more enemies, you'll be able to gain the Dual Neutron Disruptor, and eventually, the Plasma Discharge Unit.

The colorful interface at the bottom of the screen is laid out nicely. You will get incoming messages. The messages that you get are about the enemies who are attacking you, whether or not you are opening a door, and dialog from the actors. Beside this are an EKG-like monitor and a heartbeat to go along with that. Next is your current weapon and how much ammunition you have. Finally, you have your score and the keycards that you have collected on the floor. Although these are minor, the only things that I like about the interface are hearing the heartbeat (which can be turned off) and watching my score increase.

Pressing the [Tab] key show you your statistics and the proximity map that shows key cards, exposed passages, and doors - locked or unlocked. By using a cheat in the game, I was able to make the map reveal where pushwalls are located, revealing hidden areas. This saves me from going along each wall in the game and finding them with the [Space] bar. I always enjoy discovering secret passages, because usually there are nested passages full of gold bullion. I guess I was interested in filling up the proximity map, to see how far it would go.

There are tons of new features that are not already introduced in Wolfenstein 3D, including cut-scenes, teleports, and electronically-linked doors. The cut-scenes usually are shown at the end of each episode. They look well done and detailed. As you know, teleports take you to different parts of the floor, but if you happen to discover one in a secret passage, it may well lead to a hidden floor not accessible via the elevator. The linked doors save you from pressing [Space] to open it, like what you did in Wolf3D. I like most of these new features, but there are only two that annoyed me.

There are a wide variety of enemies, including mutants, pods, and three types of soldiers. Some of them shoot you with their pistol, while others throw projectiles. I enjoyed dealing with the soldiers, especially the STAR Troopers. More often than not, these soldiers will try to trick you by saying "I'm down!" and falling to the ground after you load a few bullets into them, only to get up again a few minutes later. i like the sound some enemies make when they greet you or when they die. They make a big deal out of it.

Since Aliens of Gold is set in the distant future, everything in the game looks futuristic, including the walls, weapons, and the food units. The food units are there in case health packs aren't nearby, and they can be put to good use if you are carrying tokens. Putting tokens into food units is reasonable. After all, you put money into vending machines to get food or drink, don't you? The weapons and doors sound futuristic as well, and you never grow tired of hearing these sounds.

Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold comes with a full-color comic book, in which I haven't read yet. I got a pirated copy off one of my high school friends, so I didn't receive it. I did not worry about having the comic handy, since the game already includes a fantastic story that covers Stone's origins and his family, as well as how Goldfire killed off some of his family members. The story (in the game) have animated images rather than just static ones, which I think is cool.

The Bad

There are two more features that annoyed me. Aliens of Gold brings informants into its world, offering you hints, food tokens, and ammunition. They also pose a problem. They walk slowly around the room, get in your way, and have a death wish by getting in the line of fire all the time. When an informant was behind something that I am shooting at, not only did I destroy whatever it was that I intended to destroy, but I accidentally shot the informant as well. And even though you are encouraged not to kill informants, sometimes I was fed up with them, that I killed them on purpose. The consequence of killing them is that you don't get any bonus points for saving each and every informant there is on the floor.

On most floors, there are a lot of one-way doors, meaning that once you go in, you must find another way out. This feature annoyed me the most since it means that instead of just passing through the same doors, you are forced to take the long way around, navigating between a lot of rooms just to get to where you want to go. If you encounter one of these doors, you'd better pray that you haven't forgotten a much needed ammo or health pack in the room you just left. Because of my hate toward one-way doors, I am glad that such doors did not have a chance to reinvent themselves in future first-person shooters.

The Bottom Line

Anyone who enjoyed playing Wolf3D will probably enjoy playing Aliens of Gold. It uses an enhanced Wolf3D engine; and has good graphics, sound, and a ton of new features that were not in other first-person shooters before its time. The game is set in the future, so it has a few elements that look like they came from the future, and I'm not only talking about the new features. Although some features can be put to good use, others can be annoying. The one-way doors, for instance, make navigation between a lot of rooms unnecessary; and the informants, although helpful in some way, are nothing but an annoyance.

Aliens of Gold was released a year after Wolf3D, and had its short and sweet success. Then, one day DOOM came along, and in an instant, Aliens of Gold didn't seem to do well. To me, DOOM provided gamers with so much more, such as more ambient effects and an advanced engine, for example.