First a little background reading, Wolfenstein 3D is a first-person shooter set during World War II, it was developed by iD Software. The protagonist is captured spy B.J. Blazkowicz, this is the character the player will use throughout the game. It was released in 1992 for MS-DOS and later ported to other systems, most of which included heavy editing, changes and removal of music, images and certain symbols. It was released with 3 episodes, but was eventually enhanced by 3 more.
Back in the day I used to play this all the time at a friend’s house. For awhile, evenings after school were dominated by this game. Door closed to his Dads office, lights off, we turned on the PC to play Wolfenstein 3D (rated PC-13…. ‘Profound Carnage’). The game came on a single (I think) 5.25-inch floppy disk, my memory is a little vague, it could have been more than one as we had more than one of the episodes. Either way, whole game or not, we couldn’t get much further than the first few floors, my friend suffered from motion sickness whenever we played, and I was a pretty terrible shot, a theme that has stayed with me through out my years playing first person shooters.
More recently, I’ve re-acquired Wolfenstein 3D. This time through Steam for the bargain price of £1.74. No more trying to get the MS-DOS version I have to run, Steam has done all the hard work for me. I might have missed this bargain if not for a good friend of mine, they were kind enough to buy me The Walking Dead for Christmas, so I logged in to install and play, naturally I got swept up in the Steam Christmas sale at the same time. Wolfenstein 3D downloaded in about 2 seconds and it loaded in about 3 (what, no updates?). It also still shows the memory/hardware and PC-13 screens, which is just awesome in itself.
Nostalgic feelings take hold as the familiar looking menus appear, all present and correct. The best has got to be the difficulty select page, it actually has some character to it. It’s the little details that make these games great.
Onto the game, I’m currently working my way through Episode 1: Escape from Castle Wolfenstein, and not doing such a bad job either. Collecting as much treasure as I can, making sure I always get 100% kill count and doing my best to run along all the walls rapidly hitting the space bar to find secret rooms, which are often hidden behind the pictures and symbols on the walls.
The game play is just as fast paced and absorbing as it was when I first played it, the graphics and sound effects (was that a door opening or closing behind me?) still give it that great atmosphere, the levels can feel vast and empty sometimes and it can feel a bit like a maze at points, however, the bread crumb trail of devastation should help you find your way through each level. Once you’ve acquired the gold key and found the lift you can head to the next floor.
You start off with a hand-gun and find better weapons as you progress. I’ve recently come across the chain gun, an awesome and devastating weapon. Enemies in this particular episode come in the form of your basic Nazi soldier, attack dogs, and blue Nazi soldier with machine gun. If I remember rightly, the other episodes include some more interesting variations on enemies.
In the other episodes the game play stays the same, you make your way through each maze like level, the difficulty increases and the enemies change as you get closer to the boss. However, each episode has its own unique story, bad guys, boss and has been visually changed. The bosses are certainly some of the more memorable from over the years, two of my favourites are a psychotic Hitler in mechanised suit of armour and chain guns (Episode 3: Die, Fuhrer, Die!), and a crazy scientist called Dr. Schabbs, a creepy guy who attacks you by throwing syringes and is surrounded by his mutated zombie experiments (Episode 2: Operation: Eisenfaust).
I still think Wolfenstein 3D looks great, the game play is really absorbing and the playability just as good as it was before. I’m enjoying playing this again and want to get through this episode by episode. At the same time I’m looking forward to being able to try episodes 4, 5 and 6, ones I’ve not played before. But right now, I must escape the castle, bring ’em on!
For more information on Wolfenstein 3D, please visit Wolfenstein Wikia.
Or for a quick go of the game, Wolfenstein 3D, enjoy!
Found this excellent collection of maps for Wolfenstein 3D over at VG Mapper, great maps, amazing work.