Wolfenstein 3D (PC) review
"The German voices are probably the biggest aural highlight (achtung baby!), and the dogs certainly represent the most impressive show of the games graphics. Human enemies are large and menacing, but they have a squashed look to them that makes us take the whole thing less seriously than we should. It's as if the cast of River City Ransom was dropped into a pseudo 3D environment and given guns and awkward accents. "
You owe the fun you're having with Half Life right now to Wolfenstein 3D. It's that simple. This was the original bad boy First Person Perspective Shooter. Unfortunately, it shows.
Don't let the flat, same-looking walls and doors of limited colours that scroll by fool you though; the dated graphics don't keep you from enjoying a tear-jerking trip down memory lane. Regrettably, it's in the repetitive gameplay where your trip is cut short.
Like so many games in the FPS genre - even the technologically advanced, goody-packed FPS games of today - Wolfenstein gets tired. But at least the newer games have tons of plusses to help you deal with the sameness of it all. Naturally, Wolfenstein, being the pioneer that it is, does not. This is normally where old school intensity bails out old school gamers (like myself) so that they can claim ''yes it's old but it plays better than today's crap.'' Sadly, I can't make that claim today.
The basic ingredients are all here: your World War II fugitive must navigate levels that are often maze-like, opening doors to new areas, pushing secret walls to gain access to hidden weapon, ammunition, and medical pack caches. You begin with a pistol, but if you empty the clip, you'll have to make do with a knife. Both of these weapons are crap though, so you'll want to upgrade to the submachine gun, or to the ultimate weapon, the gatling gun, as soon as you're able. So equipped, you'll have a good time slipping and strafing about corridors, gunning down German Shepherds, The Standard German Soldier, German Officers, and every ten levels, a German Boss.
I can happily point out that there are many tense moments, which are primarily caused by either finding an open area overrun by leaping dogs, or opening a door right onto a blue clad officer, who'll likely blast you point blank while spewing German words loudly and a bit creepily. Discovering the hidden rooms is great too, and the boss rooms are home to some particularly savory nail-biting action. These guys have you outgunned, and they take a substantial amount of damage before keeling over, so you'll need guile and good strafing skills to beat them.
Of course, that being said, if you're an expert at any of the newer FPS games, you'll find Wolfenstein 3D to be a breeze. The only difficulty you'll have is staying interested for six episodes (that's six bosses, and sixty levels total) that don't vary much from one to the next.
The music is adequately atmospheric, and the putt-putting of your weapons is fairly satisfying, even today. The German voices are probably the biggest aural highlight (achtung baby!), and the dogs certainly represent the most impressive show of the games graphics. Human enemies are large and menacing, but they have a squashed look to them that makes us take the whole thing less seriously than we should. It's as if the cast of River City Ransom was dropped into a pseudo 3D environment and given guns and awkward accents.
Wolfenstein 3D can be downloaded at least in part (perhaps only the first episode) on the net, and you shouldn't hesitate to at least sample this great of gaming past. The game will play like greased lightning on your modern machine, and that's a nice change from trying to get your copies of technically intimidating fare like UT 2003 to run at a decent clip on your computer.
You'll jump a few times at the odd stealthy killing and you'll likely be weirded out and then amused by the German outbursts and you'll thrill to the first and perhaps even the second boss battle. But then you'll find that one level blends into the next and that there's not enough here, and that intensity did not bring his A game as you glide lost against walls, firing generic weapons, and ultimately you'll long to be shocked, liquefied, and impossibly empowered by this game's successors.
In the end, you'll realize that you simply must push aside Wolftenstein 3D, the champion of FPS gaming history - but you'll do so with an unpracticed, easy reverence.
Staff review by Marc Golding (December 10, 2003)
There was a bio here once. It's gone now.
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