Wolfenstein 3D – 3DO
Platform: 3DO Interactive Multiplayer
Developer: id Software
Release Date (NA): 1995
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10
Reviewed by Nerdberry
Oh, so you fancy yourself as a first-person shooter fanatic because you play COD Ghosts and Titanfall, eh? Before that you possibly dug your fingers deep into a trident-shaped controller on Duke Nukem and Turok. You’re probably one of those guys who tells lies about their hardcore gaming exploits and claims to have been a huge fan of Doom, which you owned on the Super Nintendo and not the PC. But what you’ve probably never said is “Doom? Pssh please! Before Doom I was killing Nazi’s in Wolfenstein 3D!” If you dropped that line around your friends, they’d cower in fear and wallow in silence as your authority on video games has reached all new highs. You’ll make wild claims about beating all 90 levels on the highest difficulty as your friends grovel at your feet. Bask in the glory my friend because you are a true stud, liar or not. But if you ARE lying, maybe it’s about time you picked up one of the many versions of Wolfenstein 3D, shut your mouth, and get to killin’.
Wolfenstein 3D was originally released in May of 1992 on MS-DOS, but it wouldn’t take long before it saw ports to multiple other systems including SNES, Jaguar, 3DO, Amiga, Archimedes, and many more. Each version featured its own small (and sometimes major) alterations, such as Nintendo insisting there be no blood or swastikas at all. Fans and critics were raving over Wolfenstein 3D and its remarkable 3D graphics and gameplay. The world had never seen or experienced anything quite like this in their homes. Wolfenstein 3D is often regarded as the grandfather of 3D shooters, even though this game is less remembered in favor of Doom, which was released over a year and a half later by the same development team. Being the 3rd game in the series, Wolfenstein 3D took the franchise to new realms and never looked back.
Now over 20 years old, how does Wolfenstein 3D hold up today? With the newest installment – Wolfenstein: The New Order – already on shelves as of May 20th, 2014, let’s take a look back at the game that really kicked off the series in its current direction. We’ll examine Wolfenstein 3D with respects to what it accomplished during its time, and we’ll take a gander at how enjoyable this game is today.
American spy William B.J. Blazkowicz (he is part Polish) finds himself in distress when he is kidnapped while attempting to destroy the Nazi regime. He has been trying to uncover information on Operation Iron Fist, a project in which the Nazis are constructing an army of undead mutants. Upon being kidnapped, he finds himself imprisoned in Castle Wolfenstein. Blazkowicz overthrows the guards and begins his escape from the castle, having to fight guards, mutants, and der Fuhrer himself! Along the way he encounters numerous bosses, makes his way to other castles, and discovers the truth behind Operation Iron Fist!
It’s a solid story no matter when you first played the game. The Nazi background, although entirely based on fictional information, is entertaining, intriguing, and relatable. Hating Nazis helps engage the gamer, so the story is appropriate, worthy, and definitely helps drive our purpose. Plus, who doesn’t love a good story about biological experiments on humans?!
“What the hell am I looking at?” will only be uttered a handful of times.
The graphics in Wolfenstein 3D are beyond superb, especially on this CD-based 32-bit 3DO gaming machine. The three dimensional layouts are excellent and everything is easily identifiable. I have to be very frank… I am beyond impressed. I remember seeing this game in the early/mid ‘90s, but I never played it. It has been almost 20 years since I last saw this game on any screen, anywhere. This is mostly a new experience for me, and I can tell you right away that while the graphics are extremely dated, they still look great.
The rooms – and pretty much everything – are supposed to have a dark and ominous look and feel, yet the use of lighting and colors match the tone perfectly. While technology is limited, there is still a decent amount of detail and texture in the characters, walls, and random objects throughout the various levels. The walls are made of gray stone, slime-covered stone, brick, wood panel, blue stone, or some other random materials, all of which help add a little variety to the somewhat tedious layouts. One of the biggest problems with an aging game is trying to NOT compare it with current technology. Wolfenstein 3D has the look of being antiquated, but don’t be fooled. While it might be somewhat challenging to make out certain objects from afar, it hardly defines the gaming experience, and almost never presents any gameplay issues.
The overall gameplay in Wolfenstein 3D is smooth and simple, but occasionally can be somewhat erratic if you’re trying to do too much at once. There are times when you enter a room to find numerous guards charging towards you. One of the biggest challenges you will face is trying to aim, fire, and evade all at once. Left and right on the d-pad will make B.J. turn in those directions, and turning can be pretty touchy and finicky. While trying to aim your gun at the enemy, you might struggle to really get a good lock on them as your controls sort of “overshoot” when you attempt to adjust to the enemy’s movements.
One of the beauties behind Wolfenstein 3D is the inherent simplicity behind the controls. While we are moving around in a full three dimensional world, we never have to aim our weapons up or down. Everything that can be shot is on a horizontal plane, meaning that you only need to have them lined up in front of you and then fire at will. In this sense, controls are simple and easy. The left and right bumper buttons allow B.J. to stride left and right, respectively. This is a welcome feature and one that I never expected to see in such a “primitive” 3D game. In addition to striding, and shooting, Wolfenstein 3D also features a button for opening doors and another button that acts as a sort of combination button. When you hold button C and button A, it brings up a map of the floor. If you hold button C and button B, it changes your weapon. This combination allows the player to perform more actions, which was very kind of id Software!
Music and Sound Effects
The music in Wolfenstein 3D is beyond stellar and is as good as video game music gets. I haven’t taken the time to compare the 3DO music to any of the others, but from what I can hear on this disc, it is tops. The music is perfectly moody and flawlessly sets the tone for the game. Quality isn’t an issue here, and I can honestly say that the entire soundtrack could stand up against most of today’s current gaming scores. With CD quality audio, Wolfenstein 3D is already leaps and bounds ahead of any cartridge-based version of this game.
The sound effects are equally as impressive, albeit on a much lower scale compared to the sound effects of today’s current games. There are numerous weapons that B.J. has at his disposal, including a knife, bazooka, pistol, machine gun, chain gun, and flame thrower, all of which create their own unique sound. Enemies will yell in German as they charge you, dogs will bark (in German?) as they attack you, doors make a unique sound when they slide open, and secret walls make a different noise as they open. These are some of the examples of the unique sound effects in Wolfenstein 3D. During this era of video games, many sound effects sounded exactly the same, but not here. We have the pleasure of variety.
Wolfenstein 3D houses some impressive visuals, incredible music, above-average sound effects, and overall enjoyable gameplay. If that doesn’t describe Wolfenstein 3D’s legacy, then consider the fact that this game was the first of its kind and is still VERY playable today. Where would gaming be without Wolfenstein 3D? That’s tough to say. While Doom is often regarded as being one of the most influential games in video game history, people should know that we wouldn’t have had Doom if it weren’t for Wolfenstein 3D. While Doom is unique in its own ways, Wolfenstein 3D acted as a sort of “guinea pig,” giving developer id Software something to work off of and improve upon for Doom.
Overall, Wolfenstein 3D was one hell of a fun and unique game in 1992, and its ports to the home consoles, including this 3DO version in 1995, really helped broaden its appeal and make Wolfenstein 3D more than just a game; it became an icon for innovation and excitement. Although somewhat flawed in its controls and overall structure (think of 90 levels that are only slightly different from each other), Wolfenstein 3D is one of those games that is impeccable for nostalgic purposes OR for a new adventure in today’s advanced world. After all, experiencing something a little rustic can be enlightening in its own ways. While not the original version of Wolfenstein 3D, my research shows that many fans consider the 3DO version to be the definitive version due to its soundtrack and graphics.
While this is nothing like playing it on the 3DO with its advanced music, graphics, and a decent controller, you can actually play this game RIGHT NOW from your computer via Wolfenstein’s website. Here is the link: http://3d.wolfenstein.com/game_NA.php. It’s a bit of a different experience, but this will give you the rudimentary concept behind Wolfenstein 3D. For the enthusiasts out there, I highly recommend buying the 3DO or Jaguar ports over the SNES version, mainly due to those machine’s capabilities and the uncensored gameplay. Wolfenstein 3D…you have taken me back to a simpler time and you have made my day… the whole day, mind you. Stop being such a long game Wolfenstein 3D.
Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10
Reviewed by Nerdberry
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