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15Aug/092

Xbox Live Arcade Review - Wolfenstein 3D

You see that kickass trailer? Are you like me and think it’s the coolest trailer ever? Do you still wanna shell out 5 bucks on Wolfenstein 3D?

Aaaaah Wolfenstein 3D. I still remember the first time I ever played this game. I was either 11 or 12, and we had a Packard Bell computer at the time. Anyone remember those hideous beige and grey boxes? The one we had was a 386 running at 16mhz with 2MB of RAM and a … I believe it was a 512k video card of some kind. Yes, that is HALF one ONE megabyte. I was constantly on bulletin boards back then because the internet as we know it wasn’t around back then. And that’s where I got the shareware version of this game off of my speedy 2400 baud modem connection. I still remember the name of the board … Subatomic Domain. Ran by a 16 year old kid out of his bedroom on a 14.4 modem. I miss those days. Anyway, back to the game. At the time, it completely blew me away and I’ve been into first person shooters ever since. The smooth graphics, the control … I didn’t really know too much about the sound at the time because this Packard Bell didn’t have a sound card. So I don’t even want to comment on the sound experience I had the first time I played this. Later on when we got a sound card, I was thrilled to hear the music, the sound of the guards and their cries of anguish as you blew them to Hell.

All the key hunting drove me nuts, I was constantly getting lost or just flat out killed by the bosses in the game. I never did beat it, but I constantly went back to it because it was a BLAST to play. It always was a feeling of accomplishment when I would see all 100% of the kills, secrets and items at the end of a level, and I would strive to constantly get that at every level I possibly could. Had it not been for this game, I would’ve never played such first person shooters as Catacomb Abyss, Blake Stone : Aliens of Gold or Rise of the Triad. Not to mention Doom, Quake and Duke Nukem 3D. ALL those games and more owe at least a little bit to Wolfenstein 3D.

One thing I did was modify the hell out of it. I found a Barney mod of the game that turned all the regular nazi soldiers into Barney. He looked horrible, but it was still a blast blowing that purple bastard away. Then I thought to myself “How did they do that?” And found two programs. MapEdit and WolfEdit I believe are what they were. I could be wrong, but I’m just going by a dim memory here of what they were called. And I’m going to assume I’m right. MapEdit was exactly the way it sounds, a map editor. Quite possibly the simplest map editor you’ll ever use if you can find it nowadays since Wolfenstein 3D’s levels were quite simply a floor, a ceiling, and various large boxes that served as the walls and doors and whatnot. I would spend HOURS making this and that map, finding out how many enemies I could load into it before the game would crash, etc etc. The maps were never any GOOD of course.

Then I would use WolfEdit to edit the graphics in the game. Which was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen at the time. I remember adding pictures of Cindy Crawford to the walls in place of Hitler. And editing the generic Nazi soldiers to emit as much blood as what possible from the game. Or simply adding a pair of sunglasses to them that flew off and landed on the floor when they were killed. Oh I loved it.

Fast forward to 2009. All that level editting and graphics editting I was talking about? Gone. Now, given that this is on the 360, I can forgive that. The lack of level editting is kind of what killed Unreal Tournament III for me as well, but I still played the hell out of it. But let’s not beat around the bush here. This game has not aged well. The graphics are a pixelated mess. Trying to make out an enemy from across the screen LET ALONE managing to shoot him is near impossible. And the enemies just aren’t as menacing as they were when I was younger. But maybe that’s just because I’ve played all these newer shooters too. There’s just nothing at all intimidating about rounding a corner with a guard standing there. A few bullets and he’s down.

The gunplay is horrible. The bullets just don’t feel like they connect with your target. That was fine in 1992 because this was a relatively new concept. But now? The only sign you have that you hit them at all is a little one frame animation. Now the game is a little forgiving for enemies at a distance in so far as you don’t have to have the gun pointed RIGHT at them. I don’t know if that’s just a limitation of the time or not, but thank God it’s there. It honestly doesn’t play worth a damn with the controller … which isn’t the game’s fault by any means. And there are some little things that are completely missing from the game that it really needs in my opinion. Like being able to adjust the sensitivity of the analog sticks for one. The left stick moves forward and backward, strafes left to right. And the right stick is what you use to look around. Pretty common FPS controls. But the right stick looks entirely too slow unless you have the run button held down. Which is the left trigger. And why is there no way to CONSTANTLY run without holding the damn trigger the entire time?

The music, while it’s there is a lot more repetetive than I remember it, and the few voices the game has are garbled and choppy. And it gets very tiresome hearing the same line every time a guard sees you. The guns sound rather puny and pathetic as well to me. Now don’t get me wrong, the first time you run through this, it’s pretty cool hearing the guards tell you to halt in German and whatnot, but after a few minutes goes by and you’ve heard it 50 times … yeah. These sounds come from a different time. Back 17 years ago this was some pretty extreme stuff. I’ve read articles on older Jewish people playing this game and freaking out over the sound of the guard’s voice and from all the Nazi imagrey in the game. I seriously doubt that this game would disturb much of anyone today though.

As I said, this game has not aged well. But I still love it. It’s good, cheap fun that I can come to every now and then and just have my memories. And at only 400 MS Points, it’s priced just right for me. But for the most part, there are MUCH better shooters on the Marketplace. DooM and Duke Nukem 3D just to name a couple. You don’t bother with this unless you want it to be able to get mnoney for the new Wolfenstein game that’s coming out or whatever. And if you’re a newcomer, don’t bother. You’ll be sorely disappointed.

4/10 – Time has not been kind to this once great title.

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Comments (2) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Wolfenstein sequel has finally arrived. The good old formula with WWI and occult is still working. It was worth to wait so long.

  2. @Introspective I guess you never played Spear of Destiny or Return to Castle Wolfenstein?


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