Sunday, July 7, 2019

Wolfenstein 3D: Episode I

Wolfenstein 3D, the alleged granddaddy of the FPS. That allegation is untrue, as Catacomb 3D and Hovertank 3D did what we think of FPS first, and there were many flight sims before this also clutching at the crown. You can also throw out the odd other game like Total Eclipse or Dungeon Master that feature many of the elements we've come to expect. So, in reality, Wolf 3D is like the great uncle of the FPS that could've been a contender and you youngsters just don't understand at all. Truth be told, I'm not terribly fond of this and I already know that I'm going to have to play this like three more times because apparently the 3DO and the Mac versions are better. This is not because I don't like the whole 2d FPS thing, I like Catacomb and Nitemare 3D, it's because every level looks the same to me.

I'll be playing this mostly in ECwolf, because WolfenDoom isn't the same game and I am not playing this crap without an automap again. This is like the third time and every time I do it again my opinion somehow gets worse.

The story is you're B.J. Blazkowicz, an American spy caught behind enemy lines during WWII. Your objective is to stop the project of some Nazi scientist to raise the dead. That's the stated objective, but its more like you shoot everything that moves. Don't like that objective? Get a Sierra game, it's 1992, you either kill a bunch of things or you don't kill things. The Germans are apparently very nice to captured spies, since you start with a knife, 100% health, and a gun off the guard you killed.

E1M1 is familiar to everyone who has played Doom 2 extensively. It introduces several elements of the level design which we'll see a lot of in the next 59 or so levels, depending on if I actually try to get any of the secrets. You've got the wide open room leading to several other rooms; Jail cell corridors; Corridors with several side rooms; Six square side rooms with a static object in the center; Secrets within secrets; Hallways with plate armor and things on the walls. Thinking of this, and I think I just described every level in this set.

E1M10, the secret level. Is a neverending torment of purple rock walls. What even is this? Why was this added? Did Hitler want this? Did someone at iD get drunk and bet something this stupid could never be added?

E1M2, I forgot to make any levels notes here. It was probably incredibly uninteresting. Oh, I made a mistake in doing this this way, didn't I?

E1M3, lots of long corridors and trappy like areas filled with SS members sneaking around. Seemingly a lot of useless secrets, but I like the vault hidden on one section of the map.

E1M4, okay, I like this one. I actually got got, for once. Two SS got me while I was trying to outmanoeuvre other enemies that kept ganging up on me. There's not a lot of variety in this game, so they make up for it by giving the AI lots of opportunity to sneak up on you. The second you hear an enemy wake up, that's all the warning you're going to get. I can't put what makes this level special yet. Maybe we'll see another level do grant me more wisdom.
You can find treasure. It increases your score.
E1M5, no, it was a fluke. Unless you have a great memory, sometimes you're going to slip up and go through the wrong door. The automap ECwolf helps with this, but it shouldn't be a challenge to figure out where you have to go after you've already cleared out the map. On the other hand, I do like this map's massive secret that's basically the size of the level proper. Blake Stone did that better but that's not really a fair comparison.

E1M6, relatively straight forward. I'm not feeling the dogs in this. They only exist to put a slight drain on your health meter and I guess provide cover for the other enemies. I missed a big chunk of this level, but there didn't seem to be any secret entrance to it.
I don't know about you, but I find all my well-balanced meals behind my painting of Hitler.

E1M7, this one's got a nice cohesive, non-confusing layout. It loops back upon itself, but it doesn't do so in a way that's confusing, since each looped area is distinct. I'm also starting to question how players were supposed to get all the secrets outside of just jamming spacebar against the walls.
What purpose does this serve? Why the blue bricks?

E1M8, you know, its really amazing how every other prisoner in this game is nothing but a pile of bones. Picked clean even. As for it? Eh, I don't feel I'm really getting any better at it, just more lucky. I managed to "blaze" through this one, getting the key and getting out cleanly.

Here's me about to die, because I can't shoot and screenshot.
E1M9, oh, wow, Map 32 of Doom 2 was this level? I misremembered it as E3M9. There aren't even any regular enemies here. The boss, Hans something or other, instantly kills me as soon as I open the door. Its gonna be one of those fights, isn't it? I don't remember this being that difficult. You've got to duck in and out of cover. Meaning that today's cover-based shooters was how everybody always wanted to do it.

Death count:3 (2 at the final boss)
Score: 442500 (a very lousy score considering I ignored all the treasure in at least two levels)

Only fifty more levels to go. I'm so excited.

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