So, it was a big of a slog but I just about finished the first game in this series under the wire.
There’s a lot to like here, it’s mindboggling how much innovation there was in this game. When I first played this Aleph One version, I thought the mouselook was a mod but it was actually the first game to have it. The gunplay is decent too, and the weapon variety is nice with most of them serving a unique purpose. The rocket/grenade jumping is cool if a bit tough to pull off.
I actually quite liked the terminals for the most part, the idea of all these super powered AI going “rampant” and scewing people over to suit their own agenda is pretty cool, and quite current as there is a good amount of AI panic going around right now. I thought the dystopian future they constructed for this game was quite believable and well thought out, and I can see why it has fans to this day.
What brought the game down for me was the mazelike level design, some of the more obtuse puzzles and - most of all - the ridiculous save system. About halfway through the game I started doing a bit more reading online about how to play/proceed (at which point I discovered I had been playing with the original HUD and map system when a far superior modern version was available), but until then I had been bumbling my way through the levels. The one in a vacuum took me so long to find a way through. The level that broke me was the apparently infamous one with the central puzzle involving platforms you need to raise and lower, having to trudge pretty much all the way back to the start just to push a button, walk across the map again, realise it’s not quite right, repeat. Which brings me onto the save system: not having savepoints at the start of every new level is an absolute travesty, and this incredibly tedious puzzle is followed by a level that I died on before I managed to save - so I had to do it again.
I took a break for a several days at that point, but I did come back and hammer my way through the rest of the game. Several times I was similarly demoralized by the awful save point placement. I suspect I would feel a lot more positive about the game overall if that one aspect was improved.
Still, a lot of cool/interesting stuff here and I’ll probably check out the sequel(s) in future.