|Pardon the dust!
This page includes some jargon that hasn't been added to the site's glossary yet. I'll be around to fix this later, but sorry for the inconvenience in the meantime.
Review: Wolfenstein 3D
At a Glance
|ESRB Rating:||M - Mature Audiences|
|My Rating:||Adults - 18+|
|Genre:||First Person Shooter|
|License:||Shareware / Commercial|
|Review Published On:||January 6th, 2021|
Despite its primitive graphics, there is a lot of blood in this game. You're also spending the entire time killing Nazis, so you can expect to see their paraphernalia, including swastikas and Hitler himself.
Unsurprisingly, Wolfenstein 3D is much more primitive than its successor. The limited color palette is one of the more obvious examples, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. At this point in time, there was no way to create changes in elevation, so Wolfenstein has no steps, no platforms, no bridges, and so on. The levels are entirely flat.
New players are also likely to be surprised to learn that your ammunition supply is shared by all of your weapons. From a practical standpoint, this meant that the only real difference between the different guns was their rate of fire: if you ever run out of bullets, then none of your guns are usable.
Another major difference in the gameplay is that damage is calculated in an unexpected way. In other games, each weapon does a different amount of damage or works in a different way. Here, the amount of damage the target receives is dependent on how far they are from the shooter and whether or not the shooter and target were moving. Thus, in this game, standing still and firing at close range will do much more damage than firing while running around.
This mechanic also has a nasty side effect: getting ambushed by a guard can quickly kill the player, regardless of how much health they currently have. Now, while the level design does try to trap the player to some degree, the enemy AI is what really makes it interesting. Guards in nearby rooms can hear the gunshots and shouting from any fight you get into, and can start coming after you before you've even seen them. This includes opening doors -- even locked ones -- to reach the player.
As you can probably guess by the name and references to guards, this game takes place during World War II. You're playing as William "B.J." Blazkowicz, an American spy, who has been tasked with shutting down various projects the Nazis have been secretly working on. And since you'll be exploring various Nazi facilities and strongholds, you're going to see a lot of swastikas, pictures of Hitler, and other Nazi paraphernalia in this game. You'll also find skeletons and blood in the various prison cells, so it's not like they are shown in a positive light.
Now, it's obvious that a lot of people still love this classic game. I mean, getting to shoot Cyborg Hitler is definitely a perk for many many people. But I'm not a fan, and you might be surprised to learn why. It's not the gameplay, or the story, or the lack of modern features. It's that I never could stomach shooting the guard dogs in this game. They don't look threatening to me. More to the point, they look a lot like a dog I knew when I was little. Hearing them yelp and seeing the blood that pools around their little broken bodies just makes my soul hurt.
Points of Interest
There are two main story arcs, each of which comprise three levels. Oddly, these are presented as episodes 1-6, instead of two separate stories. The confusing thing about this is that 1-3 are the main story arc and 4-6 is a prequel story. This make the chronological order of the episodes 4,5,6,1,2,3. Episodes 4-6 also feature a different and very detailed tileset, which is somewhat jarring when viewed alongside the rest of the game's graphics.
This was originally part of a promotional campaign, but the swift appearance of third party level editors resulted in it being scrapped. After all, anybody with the level editor could "find" the hidden clue and win the prize, which was rumored to be free games or prize money.
New players are still finding it today, and it's become a problem for Apogee and Wolfenstein forums. If you find it today, please just enjoy the weird surprise and move along with your game.
Concerns and Issues
Of course, there are also people who have had some odd ideas about this game. For example, I've seen people claim that the player character is a "heroic Nazi", or that this game portrays the Nazis as the heroes. Both of these statements are false, and I'm not sure how someone can misread a game's storyline so badly.
Ultimately, I'm not sure games should include real people as enemies; there's just something that feels off about it, regardless of who you're shooting.