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Wolfenstein 3D is one of the legendary DOS games that had all the features of present-day FPS games including gameplay and level design. It was developed by Id software, the same guys who later developed Doom, another game of the FPS genre. Released in 1992 by Apogee Software, Wolfenstein 3D draws inspiration from Castle Wolfenstein, a computer game released in the 1980's. The game is still played by many and is, unfortunately, not available as a full freeware download probably due to its intense gameplay and unique theme.
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Wolfenstein 3D is episodic. There are six episodes including ‘Escape from Wolfenstein’, ‘The Dark Secret’, ‘Die Fuhrer, Die’ and ‘Confrontation’, the first one being distributed as shareware. There are ten levels in each episode including 8 maze-like levels, a Boss mode and a secret level. The levels are intricately designed and most of them feature large areas. Players play the role of an American soldier, William “B.J.” Blazkowicz, who escapes from a Nazi stronghold by overpowering the cell guard. In the first episode, BJ has to complete the nine missions and eliminate Hans Grosse and escape to the allied territory. The next episode guides BJ to Operation Eisenfaust where he has to destroy an army of mutants and eliminate Dr.Schabbs. The third episode is the most interesting as players meet Hitler. The objective is to infiltrate a Bunker and terminate Hitler. Other three missions (a.k.a. Nocturnal Missions) let players to go through secret chambers and foil the plan of a chemical warfare waged by Nazis.
The main objective in each level is to eliminate all enemies and reach the exit elevator. Players have to shoot guards, acquire keys and find their way to the elevator. Every level has some kind of a new weapon including pistols, machine guns and Gatling. Gamers have to confront dangerous dogs, Nazi soldiers; SS troopers armed with machine guns and zombie mutants. There are ways to restore health for players injured by enemies. One would probably find food supplies and medical kits to regain health and resume missions.
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The graphics in Wolfenstein 3D are pretty average. We must not forget that the game was released in the early 90's, where most games were two dimensional. Compared to other games of the same genre, the 3D engine used was quite revolutionary. It gave us a more 3D feel and had good textured surfaces. However, compared to Doom (released later), the game lacked a lighting system, level of detail and animation.
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The game has a great background score. The war cries and shouts by Nazi guards in German are quite impressive. The sounds of gunshots are not too impressive. However, compared to other action games, the game must be given a four out of five stars.
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Wolfenstein 3D was originally for the DOS platform but was also published for Macintosh computers and even handheld consoles like Game Boy Advance. Its popularity has certainly encouraged Id software to develop other First Person Shooter games. The game is a collector’s choice and can only be found as a shareware or commercial version.