Wolfenstein 3D is one of the earliest 3D FPS games ever made. You play as BJ Blazkowicz who is trapped in a Nazi prison and must escape through maze like environments. Through some unexplained reason he starts off with a pistol, which is fine considering the story is barely existent. This Steam version features the extra 3 prequel mission packs that double the amount of episodes from the base game. The prequel episodes are Episode 4-6 but I suggest starting off at Episode 1 since the prequel missions are significantly harder. There are four difficultly settings overall. The first two feature much less enemies so you will not be worrying that much about health or ammo and as a result make it feel more like a puzzle game. The other 2 feature tougher enemies and much more enemies occasionally placed in rather inconvenient areas. Both offer completely viable playstyles.
The gameplay feels more tactical than just running and gunning. A single well placed bullet can take up to 80% of your health and you will not be able to dodge since the game takes a realistic approach as to how fast bullets go through the air. So even the lowest of grunts can kill you if he has a faster trigger finger than you. Luckily they suffer the storm trooper effect of being unlikely to hit anything more than a couple of feet away and even if they manage to the bullet damage is decreased the further away you are. Which leads you to playing very carefully, scouting the area instead of simply rushing through hallways like a super soldier. There is a 99 ammo limit which seems like a lot but all the weapons share the same ammunition which leads to more depth as you decide which of the 3 guns are best suited for each situation.
The 3 weapons are as follows, a starting pistol which is very effective close range but puts you in risk of a fatal shot, a submachine gun which is pretty solid in medium range but uses up more ammo and a chaingun that annihilates enemies but burns through precious ammunition quickly. There is also a weak knife that you won’t be using except in the most dire of situations. You start off with 100% health and can be regenerated by multiple items including health packs, turkey legs, and dog food. It is a rather strange feeling when you are on the verge of death and are overjoyed to see dog food. Though the real joy comes when you push against a wall and it slides open to reveal much needed supplies and Nazi treasure. While we are on the topic of ill-gotten goods I should mention there is a scoring and live system. Killing enemies and finding treasure generate points and when you get enough you will receive an extra life that puts you at the beginning of the level with just a pistol when you die, which I find to be rather odd considering there are manual saves but can be useful if you save at a very inopportune time.
Onto graphics. They are very, very outdated obviously, considering the age of the game. It does negatively affect the experience since all of the walls have the same basic textures which make rooms look basically the same which can be confusing. Added to that problem is the fact that the level design makes no sense. The rooms have no logical rhythm to them and are just randomly stringed together, along with a lack of a map it is needless to say not a game for those that constantly forget where they parked their car. The enemy models look pretty good ranging from German Shepherds to Nazi Zombies. There are no ceiling or floor textures either which I didn’t find to be much of a problem since most of the game is gray. There are occasional plants and objects thrown about to liven the place up but they may have gone a little overboard with the amount of swastikas and Hitler pictures around. All in all I’d say the 3D effect is awesome but not much else.
The sound in this game is good for the most part. Guns sound powerful and add intensity to the gun fights. As for the enemies I have no idea how good the voice acting is since I do not speak German but they do sound rather comical. Though it is extremely helpful since each enemy have their own audio line when they are alerted to your presence which lets you easily identify the type of enemy and their numbers. The metal bunker doors also have a nice sounding effect when opened and closed letting you know that the enemy is on the look for you. Unfortunately the music is pretty bad and gets annoying after a short amount of time. Strangely enough they saved the only good tracks for Episode 3 and they were never heard again.
Overall this game is very basic with nothing more to do than search the environment and shoot foes which I can see getting unbearably repetitive for some. You will also need a good sense of direction to get much enjoyment from this game. If you can get past that you will find a very fun game which has exhilarating boss fights, plenty of secrets and tons of missions to play through. It also has cool secret levels including one where you fight the ghosts from Pacman. So buckle up, find a chaingun and show them Nazis that a guy named BJ is no laughing matter!