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Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold (PC) artwork

Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold (PC) review


"You traverse the levels in search of a red key card that will operate an elevator that will take you to the next level. A long hallway interrupted by intersections stands before you. You cannot see around the corners, but keep your trigger finger ready. You run past one intersection without incident, deciding not to explore those avenues just yet. You want to see what's up ahead. Another intersection appears and you decided to gun it again. As you do, a security guard pops out and yells, “Intruder!” He raises his blaster above his spandex-stretching gut and cuts loose some shots, but your trigger is faster. You nail him and he calls for a medic, collapsing to the floor with his stomach blown open and his insides spilling out in a scramble of blue, pink, and red. You grab his gun and ammo, but decide not to use it just yet to conserve what little you have."



Elements that make a game effective can sometimes only last so long. Even when one starts out effective, if variety is lacking then the game can potentially become tedious. A game like Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold perfectly shows us this. Its hook was that it was Wolfenstein in space. It trades Nazi uniforms for space spandex and high tech head sets, machine guns for lasers and plasma rifles, and attack dogs for horrid mutations and man-eating aliens. There is so much gory space hero kitsch that you couldn't not like it from the beginning. It was charming, violent, and had most of the elements needed to be an effective FPS for its time.

However, such a starship runs out of fuel and momentum before it can arrive safely at the next colony.

You traverse the levels in search of a red key card that will operate an elevator that will take you to the next level. A long hallway interrupted by intersections stands before you. You cannot see around the corners, but keep your trigger finger ready. You run past one intersection without incident, deciding not to explore those avenues just yet. You want to see what's up ahead. Another intersection appears and you decided to gun it again. As you do, a security guard pops out and yells, “Intruder!” He raises his blaster above his spandex-stretching gut and cuts loose some shots, but your trigger is faster. You nail him and he calls for a medic, collapsing to the floor with his stomach blown open and his insides spilling out in a scramble of blue, pink, and red. You grab his gun and ammo, but decide not to use it just yet to conserve what little you have.

You reach the door only to find it locked and that you need a yellow key card. You backtrack and gun down some more fat mustachioed security guards. Another man with a high tech headset and a pink jumpsuit charges at you. You fire directly at his chest, pumping several rounds into him. His arm falls off and he hits the ground and bleeds out. You finally find the needed key card and run back to the door. After blasting your way through more rooms of fat security guards, glob-spitting aliens, and blowing off the arms of more pink jumpsuits, you find another door that happens to be locked by yet another key card. You sigh and decide to check the areas you'd skipped over before.

This BS continues until you've found several key cards. Eventually you reach the end of the level, take the elevator up to the next, and start the whole process over again. The only things that might separate one level from the next are enemies, the weapons you find, and the scheme used for the environment. At first, this sameness is welcome. There's plenty of action and a much better array of enemies to fight off than in Wolfenstein. If you've played Wolfenstein prior to this game, then you know pretty much what to expect. Not in a good way, I might add.

You do this for ten levels, fight a forgettable boss battle, and end the episode. Bear in mind that there are six episodes. That's sixty levels of the same thing over and over and over again, not including bonus stages. If you manage not to claw your eyes out by the middle of episode 3, then you deserve a medal. Just remember: sixty levels.

Sixty levels of blasting enemies with twitchy controls. Either you can use the mouse, which isn't recommended, or you can use the keyboards, which is only kind of recommended. In the former, you'll be forced to not only strafe with the mouse, but also move forward and backward. It's really irritating having to move your hand forward until it can go no more, then pulling it back so you can have the space on your desk to continue moving forward. In the case of the latter, it's difficult to aim, especially since you don't have crosshairs. More often than not, you wind up overshooting your target. It's also difficult to dodge attacks, especially when most enemies don't fire visible projectile. Instead you see the report of their weapon and instantly take damage. The only thing you can do is scramble about the room like a maniac and hope for the best. Meanwhile, you have to blast them and hope each shot lands.

Sixty levels of the same tactics over and over again. Having difficulty with a scene? Just save before the fight and reload if things get hairy. Don't like doing that? It's okay. The high powered weapons you obtain throughout the levels can fix almost anything. It eventually becomes a matter of holding down the fire button, strafing all over the place, and watching enemies drop. You'll find plenty of ammo throughout the level to keep you well stocked, so reckless shooting doesn't become a problem.

This also goes for bosses. Almost every boss is the same battle with different interface. Just ready the rocket launcher and fire away. Having such high powered weapons makes a Wolfenstein-style game unbearably easy. Id was wise to stop at the chaingun in Wolfenstein, as limiting your prowess made the game more challenging.

Sixty levels of the same corridors and hallways with slightly different graphics. You're only limited to exploring one floor at a time. You cannot ascend or descend or fight in a 3D environment like you can with Doom and Heretic. It's all strafe and shoot what's in front of you.

All the light fun you had with the game in the beginning gets blown out an airlock and replaced with tediousness and repetition. While the action is still there, the challenge never climbs, and the game offers no new surprises after the first episode. You rise and overcome the same arc in each episode with nothing really different except the level interface and design, and maybe the arrangements of enemies. Blake Stone's biggest shortcoming is that it never expands on Wolfenstein's gameplay enough. The engine was fresh when Wolfenstein first came out, but let's face it: it's not a very versatile engine. It's the kind that could easily go stale after one game. It all says that the developers would have been better off developing a new engine, especially since Doom hit shelves a week after Blake Stone and blew its sales out of the water.

Blake Stone is the kind of game that should have ended by level 25, but insists on continuing when its welcome has been overstayed. Since Wolfenstein has already played out this engine, the game begins to feel like an exercise in excess. There's almost nothing new that this game has to offer besides new weapons, and even that new feature helps drag the game down. One could recommend that you only play the first two or so episodes and just forget about the rest of the game, but why ignore all those remaining levels? That says that 60% of the game is redundant. If you're going to ignore that much of a game, then it's best to stick with more effective games of its kind. Leave Blake Stone right where it is, lost somewhere in the far reaches of space.

Rating: 5/10

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (October 24, 2010)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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Masters posted October 28, 2010:

Nice review! I liked it a lot. I remember playing this game around the time it first came out and finding it mildly entertaining.

I love this line:

Either you can use the mouse, which isn't recommended, or you can use the keyboards, which is only kind of recommended.

Oh, and you've got a typo in the first sentence.

Anyway, good stuff.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted October 28, 2010:

Thank you, both for the words and for pointing out the typo!

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