Review by MartinIIIa
Arguably the definitive version of this exciting 1st person shooter
I bought this game looking for some light fun on my 3DO, and so was shocked when I discovered how intense it is. Unless you're playing on the easiest of the four difficulty settings, you'll need to exercise professional stealth, carefully strafing around every corner and checking each entrance for guards standing with their backs against the wall in wait to give any intruders a bullet to the head from point blank. I'm not generally a first person shooter fan, but this one had my heart pounding and my adrenaline flowing.
Some of the thanks for this goes to the orchestrated soundtrack, which is exclusive to the 3DO version and sets the mood perfectly with its lush, booming grandiosity. It is easily one of the best video game soundtracks I've heard. This version also boasts both the new weapons from the Jaguar version, plus gorgeously redrawn sprites that make pumping your enemies full of lead more satisfying than ever. The graphics and midi soundtrack of the PC version look like a Commodore 64 game by comparison! To top it off, you have a new automap, unlimited save slots, and every single level from the PC version, including the Nocturnal Missions. Oddly, all the story text from the PC version is cut, but who plays Wolfenstein 3D for the story? Oh yes, and the frame rate is delightfully smooth as well.
The new automap isn't perfect; it doesn't identify locked doors, nor does it mark where you've been, making it hard to tell if an empty space is genuinely empty or just unexplored. But it's still a huge help when you need to backtrack through one of the generally massive levels, enough so that it's hard to imagine how people manage to avoid getting hopelessly lost in the PC version.
Another nice convenience is the ability to load (or delete!) saved games at any point, with the curious exception of the main menu - each time you power up the 3DO, you must start a new game before you can load a save. Unlike the PC original, you can only save at the beginning of each level, so the challenge and sense of danger are considerably stronger.
My only real complaint is the illogical button mapping. You have to press two buttons at once to change weapons or access the automap, which is ridiculous since the P button isn't really used for anything and the automap could have been listed in the Pause Menu. I guess they were trying to be realistic by making it impossible to shuffle your arsenal or check your map in the middle of a firefight.
At any rate, it's a minor complaint, and Wolfenstein 3D manages to be repeatedly inventive in its level design despite the basic (by modern standards) game engine: despite the title, the gameplay is completely 2D. I really thought gameplay this basic would get boring after 60 levels, but almost every one has its own unique feel. Carefulness and good reflexes are a must in navigating the game's enemy-filled labyrinths, and the bosses are a blast to fight. You're given a ton of health and weapons pickups prior to each boss fight, albeit usually in a hidden room, but even on the easier difficulties they can kill you in a few seconds, and they do take a lot of lead to bring down.
The enemy AI is quite amazing for its time. All enemies are initially unaware of your existence, and become aware of you when you enter their visual range, or when another guard in the same room cries out the alarm. This adds a bit of a stealth element to the game. Once they know you're there, certain enemies can even open doors in pursuit of you.
Though I've done my best with this review, much of Wolfenstein 3D's greatness lies in things that are hard to put into words. After just one playthrough, I have accumulated countless thrilling stories of darting around a corner to take down a guard with my rifle, descending into panic as enemy cries come from all around a system of narrow corridors, gritting my teeth and offering a prayer as I begin emptying the last of my bullet stock into a boss that has me backed into a dead end. For all its surface simplicity, the game draws you into the danger in a way which even modern 1st person shooters strive to accomplish.
Don't make the mistake of thinking of Wolf 3D as simply Doom's daddy. This first person shooter has a flavor all its own, and the 3DO release arguably beats even the PC and Jaguar versions as the best Wolfenstein 3D out there.
And now, the minor stats and the final judgment:
Graphics 8/10 - Lacks the variety of the 3DO's native first person shooters, but the redrawn sprites and textures look sharp and colorful
Sound 10/10 - The new CD-quality sounds are almost forgotten against the appropriately grandiose and atmospheric orchestrated soundtrack
Longevity 9/10 - With 54 challenging regular levels, 6 secret levels, countless hidden rooms, a scoring system, and 4 difficulty modes, Wolf 3D will keep you busy as long as you like
Quality of Port 10/10 - Retains the classic gameplay of the PC title while expanding and ramping up its assets in every imaginable way
Interplay and Logicware merit a huge round of applause for making the 3DO version of Wolfenstein 3D the best it could be. This is a must-have for any 3DO owner who doesn't completely hate 1st person shooters, and a reason to buy a 3DO for any 1st person shooter fanatic.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Wolfenstein 3D (US, 10/19/95)
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