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Wolfenstein 3D

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W3D

Wolfenstein 3D manual art

Wolfenstein 3D (also written Wolfenstein 3-D) is a first-person shooter developed by id Software, published by Apogee Software, and released on May 5, 1992. It involves the adventures of an Allied soldier, William B.J. Blazkowicz, fighting his way through a series of Nazi dungeons during World War II. It owes much of its success to an aggressive shareware marketing campaign which was later repeated with even greater success for Doom. It also spawned a commercial prequel, Spear of Destiny, which used the same game engine. Since then, several Wolfenstein games have been made with newer technology.

Wolf3D

Wolfenstein 3D

Inspiration for this game came from the 2D games Castle Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, published by Muse Software and released in 1981 and 1984, respectively. Unlike these predecessors, Wolfenstein 3D shifted the focus away from puzzle solving in favor of more action-oriented gameplay. Though id had planned to include more strategic elements seen in these earlier games (such as wearing captured uniforms and dragging bodies), they came to feel these features made gameplay too complex, slowing the action down. The final release did retain some arcade-style concepts, such as lives and a point scoring system.

Technical

The game's engine, the Wolfenstein 3D engine, is fairly simple, using maps composed of tiles, which only allow 90-degree angles between walls. Planes are shaded with flat colors instead of having textures. Much of the source code for Wolfenstein 3D was later reused in Apogee's Rise of the Triad, released in 1994. Like the Doom engine, the Wolfenstein 3D engine was also used for several other games; Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold, Blake Stone: Planet Strike, Corridor 7: Alien Invasion, and Operation Bodycount, which enhance the engine with numerous features, some similar to those id Software added to Doom such as textured planes, distance shading, switches, and teleporters.

Fanbase

At the time of its release, Wolfenstein 3D was seen as a revolutionary new product, and is regarded by many to be the grandfather of all FPS games, as it popularized the genre tremendously. It is especially noteworthy for having directly led to the development and publication of Doom just a year after its release. Although Doom and its successors quickly superseded Wolfenstein 3D to become an equally important milestone in the development of the first-person shooter, Wolfenstein 3D still enjoys a substantial following on the Internet, including websites, user-created levels, and even totally new games based on the source code, which was released on July 21, 1995.

Similarities with Doom engine games

  • Wolfenstein 3D's style of dividing the game into episodes is very similar to Doom's layout. Wolfenstein 3D originally had 3 episodes, each comprised of 8 regular levels followed by a boss level at the end (as well as 1 secret level), while the expansion pack, The Nocturnal Missions, added 3 more episodes, doubling the amount of levels from 30 to 60. Doom originally had 3 episodes, each containing 7 regular levels followed by a boss level at the end (as well as 1 secret level), while the official expansion pack, The Ultimate Doom, added a new fourth episode with 9 levels, increasing the level total from 27 to 36. The shareware versions of both Wolfenstein 3D and Doom included only the first episode.
  • The first episode of Doom features limited numbers of very weak enemies, and the episode's end boss has 1,000 hit points; this resembles Wolfenstein 3D's gameplay style. However, later episodes of Doom included more powerful weapons and enemies, and the concluding bosses were significantly more powerful than any regular enemy.
  • The second Wolfenstein 3D engine game, Spear of Destiny, included 19 new levels (and 2 secret levels) in a single, continuous campaign, and the episode select screen was removed. Doom II featured a similar structure, though a second campaign, No Rest for the Living, was added to official versions in 2010.
  • Both games use a status bar, including a health, ammo, and door key display. Early versions of Doom included a scoring system, a lives counter, and weapon display, similar to Wolfenstein 3D.
  • Doom's status bar face is very similar to the one in Wolfenstein 3D, including a grin when the player picks up a new weapon. Spear of Destiny also added an ouch face.
  • Wolfenstein 3D offered the player three guns - the Pistol, the Machine Gun, and the Chain Gun, all of which used the same ammo. Doom kept the Pistol and the Chaingun, but replaced the Machine Gun with the Shotgun, which used a different type of ammunition.
  • The ammo clip in Doom is similar to that found in Wolfenstein 3D, and is similarly dropped by the most basic class of enemy.
  • Several enemies are very similar. Doom's Former Human resembles Wolfenstein 3D's Guard; both are the weakest opponent in their respective games, and the weapons they use (the rifle and the pistol respectively) are also very similar in function. Doom's Demon behaves almost exactly the same as Wolfenstein 3D's Dog. Doom II's heavy weapon dude vaguely resembles Hans Grösse.
  • The super chaingun used by the Spider Demon in Doom looks and behaves similarly to the chainguns used by bosses in Wolfenstein 3D.

Homages in Doom

  • The swastika room of E1M4: Command Control (removed in version 1.4 and subsequent revisions).
  • The SS Nazi monster, based on the same enemy in Wolfenstein 3D.
  • The two secret levels, which are recreations of E1L1 and E1L9. Instead of attack dogs, brown-uniformed foot soldiers, and Hans Grösse, the player encounters Demons, the SS Nazi troopers, and a Cyberdemon, respectively. The secret levels also include music from Wolfenstein 3D.

See also

Sources

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