Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Game 3: Wolfenstein 3D

In my playthrough of the first episode, I called Wolfenstein 3D the great uncle of the FPS. He's not the true progenitor, but he's close and he wants you to think he is.

Wolfenstein has a lot of problems, namely that it feels more up to the luck of the draw than anything real that you'll hit something. It probably involves more skill than I give it credit for. Part of it is, however, ultimately due to memorizing level layouts. I honestly can't remember more than 10 or so levels despite playing through this not more than a few days ago. I think I've probably played this as many times as Nitemare 3D and Doom 2, I don't have many problems remembering more of those levels.

It's also a bit of an oddity, featuring lives, score, coming off more like an arcade game than what we think of as a computer game. Its not alone in that mark, since several other games will involve these things, and if I'm not mistaken, they haven't ever really gone away. I don't really consider it odd, since score is just a way to put a point total to your ability to find all the other interesting things in the game. Lives, however, are something that are really useless unless the game doesn't let you save mid-level. Which is most of them.

I can recite them in my sleep. Knife. Pistol. MP-40. Gatling Gun. They're not impressive. It boils down to your ammo conservation strategy. 2/10 for having the basics. Sidescrollers had better weapons. You guys worked with Apogee. They knew to have different weapons. At least have a rifle if making projectiles appear is too hard. I can't wait for the other versions with their fancy flamethrowers and rocket launchers.

I can't recite them in my sleep, but I can still remember them all after a cup of coffee. Guard. SS. Officer. Frankenstein. Dog. The bosses I don't really remember the names of. After a while they become less interesting and more just fodder to be gunned down. 4/10.

None. 0/10

I can't put my finger on exactly why I generally dislike the levels here. Could it be the simple lack of a map screen, that even now, only comes in a simple tile at a time way? Could it be that there's a genuine lack of an attempt at making rooms look like rooms? There are rooms that look like barracks, kitchens, bathrooms, but the rest of the place just looks like a place to walk through. It's also a place that feels quite confusing, like it was designed by some suffering from late-stage syphilis. Some of them are smartly designed and others can just shove off. 3/10

Player Agency:
I'm not going to complain too much about the lack of a map, or the controls. It's okay. There's nothing going for it, and nothing to complain about. 5/10

I guess there's some? It's less impressive than Doom even. 1/10

There's kind of a charming atmosphere to this despite the quality issues. Which I guess is code for it's better than the sum of its parts. Something made me want to complete the entire game, again, for the fourth time. There's something charming about a colorful game about killing nazis. 5/10

This was very impressive in 1992. I can appreciate the level of effort that went into the wall graphics and the enemies, but there isn't enough and it ends up looking the same after a while. I would like to mention that I really like the little dinner plate they made. Whenever I see one of those in video games, I always compare it to this one, and they always lose. 5/10

Eh. I'd take points off for historical inaccuracies unrelated to the death of thousands of nazis by the player's hand if there was any mention of the story beyond the beginning and end. 1/10 To make it clear, I'm referring to the plot of the last three episodes, which involve the nazis plotting to engage in chemical warfare. Something that the nazis were not going to do, because they knew if they did, they'd suffer much worse from the Allies gassing them in retaliation. We don't like to think of it that way, but the Genova convention is a gentleman's agreement that's usually agreed upon by everyone in a convential war, be they good or evil.

If this was a video LP, half the running time would involve the sound of me pressing against the walls, hearing a low static sound or a bumping sound. This is very annoying. The gun sounds and the enemy sounds are also fine, but annoying. There are only so many times you can hear "Mein Leiban" or whatever the hell the officers shout. The doors have an obnoxious sound effect that seems to just appear out of nowhere and then disappear. It's a bit unnerving at times.
The music's got a quasi-jazzy/marching band kind of vibe. It feels a lot like the stuff he did for Bio Menace at times. It's nice. I'd like it better in a better game. With exception to one of the tracks that sounds like someone's playing morse code in it. 5/10

That brings this up to a total of 31. That's not terribly shocking. Yes, its frustrating at times and the secrets are usually crapshoots, but it is fun despite all these problems and all my complaining. It isn't even the best game to feature a completely level floor plan, which I guess for a lack of a better word is just a Wolfenstein clone.

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