Wolfenstein 3D Overdue Review
February 17, 2009 Leave a comment
I played many games although I’m no big gamer (old gamer maybe). I tried Wolfenstain 3D on my classmate’s computer back in 92 or 93 and it was incredible fun for that time. Later I played Doom, Descent (which I loved) and other games of the wide genre called FPS. Why to lie about it – all of them were copied from someone and I never bought them. Because… well the situation was like it was back in nineties in Czech or Slovak republic and it would have been probably difficult to get them properly even if I had wanted. Whatever.
Now I play games I bought – mostly via Steam – and it was id Super Pack I decided to buy and redeem my soul after all that played game I had never paid for. Especially when it was for only 35 Euros or so during this Christmas. As you can see the Super Pack is really super – all Dooms, Quakes (except 4), Wolfenstains, Hexens along with Heretic and Commander Keen (I’m not sure I’ll play that one though ;-)). Having all these games I decided to walk at least main titles (the pack contains also many expansions or the best community episodes) – and I logically started with Wolf 3D!
So what is Wolf 3D? FPS that is supposed to be in 3D, yet all levels are flat. But even that was revolution back then. The graphics is as it is with 320×200 resolution. Engine provides some funny features like you can see enemy behind the corner when you rotate the camera in that direction although you can’t see it when you look straight – but what would you expect? What I want to talk is how cool the game is, what it lacks and how/if it ruins the game.
Most importantly, there was no WASD convention that time (or ESDF for me, please) – but you can set your keys, which is something that was omitted from the Doom released the following year (shame on you, Doom :-)). But there is no way how you can strafe with keys and turn your face in the same time because a) there are no dedicated strafing keys, just the strafing “shift” (any key you want) b) when you press the strafing modifier the mouse toggles to strafe too. I played most of the episodes without strafing at all, but later started to strafe in narrow corridors which always gives you more time to react and saves health so.
Level design is limited to square matrix – you can see that on map layouts here. You might need this cheat-sheet also for a few levels where you can’t reach keys without discovering secret places. And beware one particular place where moving one secret wall blocks other secret wall so it can’t reveal the passage on (if you wanna play it ;-)). But all things considering – level design is good for the time, it has many ideas and some places I still remember – like gunmen behind barrels on both sides of the room or level full of corridors with alcoves on both sides with soldiers in them. But not all of them of course.
Decorations are also nice. Funny thing about the game is that it counts your score AND you can save it anytime. Score was abandoned in Doom because it really doesn’t have any sense – as with a few deaths you can make higher score than with the perfect run. I played all six episodes, I read all final congratulations, I skipped many secrets (there are 9 floors in every episode + 1 secret floor accessible from a normal floor with a return to the following normal floor), I didn’t play it on harder difficulties, I just wanted to see it. And even after all those years the game still stands firm – although you have to pardon it some inconveniences, mostly in controls.
FPS genre took a fast progress after Wolf 3D, the next year there was the Doom (which I missed back then), I played Doom II a bit later and then there was The Descent with six degrees of freedom. That was the fist game I played with full control over view and I was able to move in AND turn around all three axes in the same time. There were some games before Wolfenstain, but Wolf 3D was without any doubts the game that started FPS industry on a big scale. And I’m really surprised how good it still is.