Monday, December 24

Wolfenstein 3D Review

I played on: PC (Steam)
I paid: £3.99
Available on: PC (Floppy disc, Steam, GOG, In Browser)
Notes: You can play the entire game for free in your browser here:

Wolfenstein 3D is often credited as the original first-person-shooter but this is not really true. It is, however, the first game to do so with a level of polish not seen before. It blew the gaming community away back in 1992 and set the standard for future shooters for years. The impact this game had on the industry and community is jaw-dropping. Even if you don’t enjoy playing this classic you can’t deny what it did for gaming. I’m looking forward to taking a closer more critical look at a game I’ve pretty much been playing on and off all my life.

Graphically I love this game but if I’m being honest it has aged badly. At times it looks more like a retro screen saver more than an action filled first person shooter. Objects and characters will always face the same direction spinning around on the spot to make this possible. The floors and ceiling will never feature any detail and will remain the same height throughout all the episodes. Walls will be covered in only a few different textures throughout each level often making it hard to tell where you are. The sprite work on the enemies is pretty but lacks detail and variety. Still, despite this, for people like me that enjoy retro gaming from the 90’s all of these things just feel charming. In a strange way, I love the way Wolfenstein 3D looks. The nostalgia takes over and I find myself just enjoying the simplistic beauty. Technically I will admit this game has aged a lot visually but I can’t bring myself to say it looks bad. If you grew up in the ’90s then I dare say you also have a soft spot for this style and might even feel the same way I do.

The level layout is dated at best and annoying at worst. Seeing as early 3D didn’t allow for things to be on more than 1 floor everything is strangely flat and claustrophobic. Then you have the maze-like patterns to each level. Combined with the simplistic textures and graphics this can leave you wandering around lost and confused. I don’t like this type of layout because it just leaves you annoyed and bored as you explore simplistic environments for a chance to progress. This problem is never game breaking as I always ended up finding my way after a couple of minutes. Still, that doesn’t stop the design from feeling very outdated.

None of these issues changes the fact that Killing Nazis will always be fun, this is a universal truth. Wolfenstein taps into this almost primal pleasure and it feels fantastic. Even though the dated graphics seeing a Nazi burst into blood before dropping to the floor is great. The simple nature of Wolfenstein 3D gives a sense of enjoyment similar to arcade games. You don’t need to learn how to play, just walk into a room and kill all of the evil Nazis within it. Aiming isn’t something you need to worry about so simply point towards your foe and open fire. This is one of the games I find fun to unwind with in the evenings after having a smoke. Unlike modern shooters or even modern Wolfenstein games, you don’t need to worry about cover, leaning, different weapons and all that. Instead, it’s just instant Nazi killing fun.

This as well as the arcade scoring system makes this a great casual game. You can load up an episode in seconds and then try to beat your high score or your best times. I don’t think it’s the sort of game that could hold your attention for hours at a time anymore. But if you have half an hour to kill then this is one of the best ways to spend it. Personally, it’s a game I find myself still in love with although I tend to play it as a more casual experience now. After a smoke when I’m a bit more chilled out this is one of my favourite things to do.

Recommendation Rating: 6 out of 10

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