Reviews: Wolfenstein 3 D

Fun, if fairly dated

Wolfenstein 3D, as one of the first first person shooters, deserves credit for leading to many others in the genre, but also lacks many of the innovations that we take for granted nowadays.

The game is from a time before when many non-RP Gs made serious attempts at having a story. It takes place in World War II, and you're an Allied agent who must escape captivity, sabotage a Nazi program to create mutants and kill Adolf Hitler himself. You definitely won't play it for the story, although getting to kill Hitler is a fairly memorable experience.

The gameplay is different than what one might expect from an early FPS, as you can be taken out almost as easily as most of your foes, and must proceed carefully in order to survive. You also only have three guns, which draw from the same pool of ammo and differ only in their rate of fire, apart from your knife (which, as usual for the ammo-less melee weapon, is practically useless). Once you're used to all this, it's part of the game's charm, but be prepared to save and load often.

Unfortunately, the dated game mechanics don't always help with this, particularly the system that randomly determines whether a shot hits or misses, and the sometimes random amounts of damage enemy gunfire does to you (On "Bring 'em on" sometimes, you lose as little as 5 percent, and sometimes, a single bullet takes off half your life). During boss battles, it's hard to tell whether your shorts are hitting their mark, since the bosses don't always flinch, and it's possible for some to survive you emptying all of your stockpile of ammo (a mere 99 bullets) into them.

The level design can be a mixed bag, as some levels are fairly interesting, but others are little more than wandering mazes or hunting for keys. Finding secrets largely comes down to running along walls and repeatedly hitting the "use" key unless you're using a guide, since there are no real identifying marks.

There are also some fairly odd parts of the game, such as its use of Extra Lives. If you die, you restart the level with only a pistol and 8 bullets (a potentially insurmountable handicap for some levels), and your score gets reset to what it was at the start, so there's no reason not to load your last save.

All in all, Wolfenstein 3D is quite enjoyable, even if it often shows its age.