Retro Review: Blake Stone: Planet Strike (PC)

Retro-Review-Blake-Stone-PCJam Productions had the worst of luck. Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold, a first-person shooter powered by the Wolfenstein-3D engine, was released just a week before the golaith of shooters was to hit the shelves...Doom! Well, poor Blake Stone was certainly doomed, but this did not stop the company from releasing a sequel to their game less than a year later. Blake Stone: Planet Strike may have suffered from the same dated engine, but the extra tweaks here and there certainly made it more enjoyable to play compared to the previous game.

The notorious Dr. Goldfire of the S.T.A.R Corporation was brewing up a plan to conquer the world in the first game, and it looks like he managed to escape and continue his evil deeds. Creating an powerful army of mutants to aid him, the doctor went in hiding for years, until British Intelligence managed to discover his location. Once again, super trooper Blake Stone, a futuristic James Bond kind of character – minus the charm and womanizing...the technology was just not there yet to allow him to do such things – sets off to finish off the madman for good. The plot is pretty much the same as before, but it's not too important in an action-focused game like this.

Compared to the previous installation, there are quite a few welcome changes. For one thing, the five chapters from the first game, made up of 50+ levels, have been watered down to a mere twenty. There is no chapter selection anymore. Originally, there were five keys, one of them being mandatory to reach the next level in the lift. In Planet Strike, there are only three, thus making key-hunting less of a nuisance. On each floor, the new objective is to find a bomb to plant on a Security Cube and blow it to pieces to grant access to the next level. If you feel like warping back to previous levels to plunder again, the offer is there. The biggest improvement for the game is the map on the heads-up display, so that mercifully means considerably less stumbling around! Using battery packs will allow Stone to zoom in so he may spot things like push-walls and secret areas.

Aside from a few aesthetical tweaks like better-looking guns, as well as the inclusion of a powerful, dual-barrel Anti-Plasma cannon, it is quintessentially the same as Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold. This game had some nifty features that Doom couldn't pull off, such as: the ability to talk to scientists who will offer useless information and will occasionally give supplies, some of which can be mixed up with Goldfire's loyal (and armed) scientists; a scanner that informs Stone of who is attacking him; vendors that will grant health when food tokens are inserted; spike barriers; enemies disguised as pillars and eggs; and more.

Retro-Review-Blake-Stone-Screenshot

You'll be facing various extra-terrestrials that look suspiciously familiar to the previous game's baddies. The troopers and guards look similar, except they're pink and blue-skinned aliens. many of the enemy sounds are from the first game, except played in reverse. Some of them are camouflaged, or will feign death. Sure, the box art boasted of improved AI...but are these minor inclusions really the result?

Most enemies can be dispatched by the faster-firing guns, which are straight-up improvements over previous weapons, without much fuss. That is, as long as you don't get too trigger happy since every gun relies on a single ammo reserve, excluding the silenced rechargeable zapper Stone starts with. Nevertheless, those ugly bullet-sponges do pack a punch. Some of them are quite accurate, so dodging their attacks will be tough. Others will just throw projectiles or will get up close and personal to drain Stone's health away. At times, you may spot a boss, but there's a lack of build-up to make these encounters memorable. Some of the old ones from Aliens of Gold are back, but they're uncommon-enemies rather than bosses.

Just like Aliens of Gold, the game is stuck on the primitive Wolfenstein 3D engine, and that means levels are labyrinths with strict 90-degree angles. Even the textures are recycled from the previous game. They provide a decent challenge to battle through, although they pale in comparison with Doom's elaborate, detailed levels. Don't expect crushers, floors and ceilings of varying heights, harmful chemical pools, high levels of violence, or even weapons that use different ammo types here; you just won't find anything of the like. Not a single level can be considered memorable, yet there aren't any real stinkers out there. They remain consistent with their averageness.

Poor Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold never stood a chance to defeat Doom, and Planet Strike, despite its nice improvements and tweaks, is still no match. Nonetheless, it still makes for a decent bit of running and gunning. If you can overlook its technical limitations, then there are most certainly some nuggets of fun to be found here. For others, it may not strike you as a golden game.

Blake Stone: Planet Strike (Gameplay)

Link: Blake Stone: Planet Strike at GoodOldGames


 

Cauterize

Better known as Adam offline, Cauterize is one of RetroCollect's final bosses with an unhealthy addiction to pixels. When he's not out searching the web for the latest retro gaming news or creating content for RetroCollect, he'll will most likely be found working on his Sensible Soccer skills.

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Comments 

(Link to this comment) DarakuTenshi 2015-08-31 12:25
I remember hearing about this game, but never got the chance to play it, I never even knew that it was a FPS. I would have loved to play this game as I was a huge fan of Wolfenstien 3D. After reading your I see why I probably never got around to playing it considering it's release timing.
(Link to this comment) oldgamerz 2015-12-19 06:55
This is a great sequel to "Blake Stone Aliens Of Gold". I am honored to have known this game along side with doom for the PC. In fact I have both Blake Stone 1 "Aliens Of Gold and Planet Strike installed on my PC today. I love this game just as much as I enjoy the older doom games. This game is way more advanced than Wolfenstein 3D, and the Wolfenstein Editor will not work for Blake Stone. In my opinion wolfenstein 3D's levels stink compared to Blake Stone levels. Blake stone has far more detail then wolfenstein 3D, heck wolf3d Never even had floor or ceiling textures unlike the Blake Stone Series. :lol:
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