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Wolfenstein 3D - The Revival of the FPS Genre

Guest Author - Wynn Hamilton-Thompson

Taking it's inspiration, and name, from Muse Software's Castle Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, Wolfenstein 3D was originally released as shareware for DOS. The shareware episode, which is still available to download, Escape from Wolfenstein, consisted of 10 levels, and by the time it was commercially released, two more episodes, Eisenfaust, and Die, Fuhrer, Die had been added, both with another 10 levels each. A mission pack, The Nocturnal Missions was also released, with a further three episodes of 10 levels, A Dark Secret, Trail of the Madman, and Confrontation.

Wolfenstein 3D has also been ported to other platforms, including the SNES, GBA and Atari Jaguar, amongst others.

Set in a Nazi fortified castle, the player controlled 'B.J. Blazkowicz', an American soldier. The aim of the game was to escape from Wolfenstein, whilst avoiding, or killing, the many armed guards and attack dogs blocking the way. Although Blazkowicz found gun-barrels pointed his way at almost every turn, taking the time to explore had it's rewards, in the form of secret rooms. These contained the usual booty expected by any of today's FPS players; guns, ammunition, and medikits, as well as food and treasures.

Each of the 10 levels in an episode contained 9 'real' missions, and a bonus mission, accessable from a secret portal hidden somewhere within the first 8 levels. The 9th mission was a boss encounter with characters such as 'Hans Grosse' and even 'Hitler' making an appearance.

The use of swastikas, and the general Nazi theme applied to the game did have it's legal implications, and in 1994, the PC and Atari Jaguar versions of Wolfenstein 3D were confiscated and banned in Germany, where the use of the swastika is illegal, except in specific circumstances.

This led to heavy alterations to the SNES version, after Nintendo voiced concerns regarding the game's content. All Nazi references, including the swastika, were removed, blood was changed to something that resembled sweat, and after animal-rights activists questioned the morality of a game where dogs had to be killed, the attack dogs were replaced with giant rats. This inevitably led to the whole feel of the game being altered, and this may be responsible for the lack of success of the SNES version of Wolfenstein 3D.

Although they tried, no-one could stop the success of Wolfenstein 3D, and ID Software continued their success in the blood-splattered, lawsuit-infested world of first person shooters.

As for Wolfenstein, many loyal players still run rampant through the halls of Castle Wolfenstein, still screaming that same warcry at their screen that I myself am willing to admit passed my lips...

DIE, FUHRER!
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Content copyright © 2014 by Wynn Hamilton-Thompson. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Wynn Hamilton-Thompson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact James Shea for details.

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