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I bought a copy of this game to play Team Fortress Classic with my roommate.   Haven't done that yet.  Probably sometime this week.

Wow!  The single-player game starts out great.  The opening tram ride and the use of in-game characters in place of cut-scenes does a good job of maintaining immersion.   Both talking to scientists and guards, and overhearing conversations in a few different places.  Similarly, the placement of health, armor charges and ammo is generally seamlessly integrated into the environment.  You pick up ammo from downed soldiers or from armories.

I had read a lot about the AI, and the human soldier AI is definately impressive.   There are a few places where you can watch a battle between humans and aliens.   They don't just stand and shoot.  You can see them shooting, moving, throwing grenades, etc.  Fighting against them is really tough in most cases.

And there, the game becomes similar to other FPS games.  There were several spots where I fought against several humans at one time.  I ended up having to reload and run through those areas several times, getting a little farther each time.

I also found myself trying to kill all the bad guys.  In these types of games I enjoy the exploration.  So I want to get rid of everyone so I can look around.   In this game, it often pays to ignore some and just run past.  In fact, there are a couple of spots where you're under water, or after making a decision on which door to take you can't get back.  So there are several areas that I didn't get a chance to explore.

But that's one sign of a good game.  I'm pretty sure there were multiple pathways through many of those segments.

One big problem I had was I didn't know about the jump-crouch technique.  There were several places that I got stuck for awhile.  I ended up finding tricks to gain the inches I needed.  Later, I read a site that suggested going through the hazard course.  There, you learn the jump-crouch to pull your legs up.  For the On a Rail section I ended up abandoning the tram and walking about 1/3 of the distance.  I may go back and replay the first 2/3 of the game to see what I missed.  You also learn how to pull crates, which is necessary a few times.

The game is just loaded with little touches.  In several places you get to control heavy weapons left behind by humans.  For example, tripod-mounted machine guns.   Though, with several of those I ended up killing everyone just to get to those guns.  You get to call in artillery a couple of times in one spot, and launch a satellite in another.  Really pretty simple little bits, but very well executed.

Another sign of a good game is there were several spots where I was stuck for awhile, but ended up finding a way out.  Sometimes it was simply taking a turn that I had missed the first few times.  Other times it was moving crates into strategic locations.  I did not need a walkthrough once during the human sections.

Then I got to the alien world sections.  They were visually interesting, especially the first one with the floating platforms.  This section has a very obscure puzzle that didn't make any sense to me.  Most of the rest of the alien puzzles were simple brute force, and they took endless attempts.  It can best be described as Super Mario Brothers while you're being shot at.  After spending probably more than two hours on the first segment that should have only taken only taken five minutes, I finally broke down and grabbed a walkthrough in order to defeat Gonarch.   In the end I had to use the walkthrough three or four times.  For the final boss, after trying at least twenty times I cheated and used God mode, something I never do.  Even after knowing what to do I simply couldn't see how to get the killing shots in on this guy.

The first 85% is a very compelling single-player game.  The alien world bits are incredibly annoying.  On my brother's Total Movie Value Scale, Serious Threat of Starvation/Threat?  What Threat?

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Last modified: January 25, 2003
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