By Ferry "Lord Sadhonker" Adams on March 27, 2015
Welcome, welcome, ladies and gentlemen to yet another thrilling episode of the Big Red Timemachine. You might wonder why I'm in such a good mood, seeing as how the last voyage I told you about didn't start out all that great for me. I nearly got fired and was then forced to traverse the darkness of space and time all by my lonesome, without so much as a blanket or a cup of hot cocoa... and yes ladies and gentlemen, it hurt. BUT! I have since punished them for all their wrongdoings. MWOOOHAHAHAHAAAAAAA! I have showed them who they were messing with!
Too bad they will never know they've been punished... But hey, at least I got what I wanted. Confused? Let me clarify things. After my time spent in isolation, I concocted a devious plan that would rid me of my superiors forever. Before the last mission, unbeknownst to my rivals, I snuck aboard all the blueprints and schematics I could get my hands on. After mission ended, instead of returning home, I went back a couple of extra years (try twenty). Once there I spent about a year and a half gathering the brightest minds I could find within a two mile radius from the local pub and presented them with my plans. Needless to say, they were wildly enthusiastic and, more importantly, never quite aware of what I really had in mind. We worked really hard for another year, and got our lab and working time machine finished in the end. During that time, I must have applied for so many patent claims that I made Apple look like a philanthropic organization. Steve Jobs would be proud of me... trust me, I've asked him and he admitted it.
So with my plan firmly in place, I staged a touching death scene and stipulated with my fake dying breath that full control of my company would go to... me! Not the 'old' me that travelled back of course, but the me that was about 16 or 17 years old at the time and didn't know what was about to hit him. So I let my staff mourn me for a bit, filled my casket with copies of the Atari game: E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, of which I had more than enough lying around since my trip to 1982 (talk about a wrong bet! Man, I was sure that game was going to be huge... oh, well!), and got the hell out of there. Upon my return to the present I was greeted with the utmost respect, and was finally in charge of this multi-billion operation; It's good to be the king! Now, you may ask yourself how I got the money to finance this whole scheme. If you have ever watched Back to the Future, the answer becomes apparent. But what really matters is that I showed them... I showed them good! You don't get to mess with me... I'M THE RULER OF TIME AND SPACE!
On to the task at hand. Our brave crew has once again boarded the Big Red wonder that is our timemachine, and flew off to a distant goal: 1992. The game they're going to investigate is one of the first and best-known 3D shooters of all time, Wolfenstein 3D. Originally launched in 1992 by ID Software and Apogee Software for MS DOS, it put the player in the sweaty, heroic and blood drenched combat boots of William 'B.J.' Blazkowicz, American spy extraordinaire. Your mission is a dangerous one; Escape your imprisonment at Castle Wolfenstein, thwart the diabolical plan of Hitler's Nazi regime and destroy said regime completely. To this end, you'll have to fight yourself through enough enemies to fill a small country, using the weapons you find along the way. You start off with a simple handgun and a knife, but as you kill more and more enemies, bigger and better weapons will be available for pickup, like a submachine gun and a chaingun.
Wolfenstein 3D was originally comprised of 5 episodes, each spanning ten levels. Later releases also came with an additional 3 episode pack, called: the Nocturnal Missions. This pack provided a prequel to the events of the original game. Each episode in the game ended with our hero facing off against a champion of the Third Reich, including Adolf Hitler himself in a kind of mechanical war suit. When the episode's boss was defeated, the player would either see a replay of the boss' death, the so-called deathcam, or be able to enter a door behind the slain boss, in which case a cutscene of B.J. running towards the exit was shown.
The game mechanics of Wolfenstein 3D were actually very simple. From a first person viewpoint, the player had to make his or her way through, and reach the exit of a maze-like Nazi stronghold and preferably defeat all the enemies along the way. Many people have stated that it was possible to stealth-kill a lot of enemies, but I personally could never be bothered with that. I mean, blasting your way through Nazi hordes is so much more fun. And besides, subtlety was never my strong suit! B.J.'s health starts at 100% in each level, and decreases when he is hit by enemy fire or other attacks. Once his health reached 0%, our hero died and you had to retry the level, losing all your guns and ammo except for the handgun and your trusty knife. So no modern day hiding behind chest-high walls, scattered conveniently about the level and waiting for your health to magically refill itself. In the old (pre-sissy) days, health could only be refilled by picking up health packs, much like bullets were refilled by walking over ammo clips or weapons, dropped by your dead adversaries. So it was always useful (read: mandatory) to keep an eye on both your health bar as well as your ammo counter.
Another very prominent feature of Wolfenstein 3D was the use if hidden passages. By pressing against a specific section of wall, the player was able to open hidden passages and find extra treasure, ammo or health. There is even a level that consists mainly of hidden passages that will reward you with one of three aforementioned things. So if you wanted to find all secret passages in the game, you had to walk along all the walls while hammering your spacebar. And even then, it didn't guarantee you a 100% secret rating. The secrets did not actually pertain to the story, but made playing through the levels that much more fun. The samples of Nazi troopers and other mean folk were absolutely amazing at the time. Who doesn't remember the 'Halt' or 'Spion (spy)'. One of my favorite soundbites must have been the death-cry of the SS-troopers you encounter throughout the game, the now famous: 'Mein leben! (my life)'.
Yes, Wolfenstein 3D isn't called 'the granddaddy of shooters' for nothing! It singlehandedly gave the entire first person shooting genre a decent start and, at the same time, popularized PC gaming; a category that, I'm sorry to say, is frightfully ignored by most of the bigger gaming companies in today's market... If it's not on a console, it almost doesn't count anymore. But you didn't come here to hear me whine about the decline of PC games, did you? No, of course you didn't! You came here to read about a classic game, that keeps on inspiring a lot of new games out there.
The Wolfenstein series has spawned a lot of great games over time. Wolfenstein 3D, Wolfenstein 3D: Spear of Destiny, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Wolfenstein (2009) and Wolfenstein: The New Order are all still among my favorite first person shooter games ever, and the end is still not in sight. Wolfenstein refuses to dwindle away but is still very much alive and kicking! It even has a brand new installment coming up: Wolfenstein: The Old Blood (I am VERY excited about this game, believe me!), which will serve as a prequel to The New Order. Hmmm, maybe I'll hop in my timemachine and travel forward a bit further, so I can already play (and probably love to death) this undoubtedly awesome new Wolfenstein game! But, for now, it's still 1992 and I have a Robo-Hitler and his Nazi empire to dismantle! So please, ladies and gentlemen, give it up for my main man: Mr. Winston Churchill!
"We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!"
Damn, he's good...