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Wolfenstein 3D

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Wolfenstein 3D is a first-person shooter video game developed by id Software and published by Apogee Software and FormGen. Originally released on May 5, 1992 for DOS, it was inspired by the 1981 Muse Software video game Castle Wolfenstein, and is the third installment in the Wolfenstein series. In Wolfenstein 3D, the player assumes the role of Allied spy William “B.J.” Blazkowicz during World War II as he escapes from the Nazi German prison Castle Wolfenstein and carries out a series of crucial missions against the Nazis. The player traverses each of the game’s levels to find an elevator to the next level or kill a final boss, fighting Nazi soldiers, dogs, and other enemies with knives and a variety of guns.

Wolfenstein 3D was the second major release by id Software, after the Commander Keen series of episodes. In mid-1991, programmer John Carmack experimented with making a fast 3D game engine by restricting the gameplay and viewpoint to a single plane, producing Hovertank 3D and Catacomb 3-D as prototypes. After a design session prompted the company to shift from the family-friendly Keen to a more violent theme, programmer John Romero suggested remaking the 1981 stealth shooter Castle Wolfenstein as a fast-paced action game. He and designer Tom Hall designed the game, built on Carmack’s engine, to be fast and violent, unlike other computer games on the market at the time. Wolfenstein 3D features artwork by Adrian Carmack and sound effects and music by Bobby Prince. The game was released through Apogee in two sets of three episodes under the shareware model, in which the first episode is released for free to drive interest in paying for the rest. An additional episode, Spear of Destiny, was released as a stand-alone retail title through FormGen.

Wolfenstein 3D was a critical and commercial success and widely considered to be one of the greatest video games ever made. Garnering numerous awards and selling over 200,000 copies by the end of 1993. It has been termed the “grandfather of 3D shooters”, and is widely regarded as having helped popularize the first-person shooter genre and establishing the standard of fast-paced action and technical prowess for many subsequent games in the genre, as well as showcasing the viability of the shareware publishing model at the time. FormGen developed an additional two episodes for the game, while Apogee released a pack of over 800 fan-created levels. Id Software never returned to the series, but did license the engine to numerous other titles before releasing the source code for free in 1995, and multiple other games in the Wolfenstein series have been developed by other companies since 2001.

Wolfenstein 3D is a first-person shooter presented with rudimentary 3D graphics.[1] The game is broken up into levels, each of which is a flat plane divided into areas and rooms by a grid-based pattern of walls and doors, all of equal height.[1] Each level is themed after Nazi bunkers and buildings. To finish a level, the player must traverse through the area to reach an elevator.[2] Levels—ten in the original episodes—are grouped together into named episodes, with the final level focusing on a boss fight with a particularly difficult enemy.[3] While traversing the levels, the player must fight Nazi guards and soldiers, dogs, and other enemies while managing supplies of ammunition and health. The player can find weapons and ammunition placed in the levels or can collect them from dead enemies; weapons include a knife, a pistol, a submachine gun, and a rapid-fire chain gun.[2] While the levels are presented in a 3D perspective, the enemies and objects are instead 2D sprites presented from several set viewing angles, a technique sometimes referred to as 2.5D graphics.[4]

The player’s health is represented by a percentage starting at 100, which is diminished when they are shot or attacked by enemies.[5] If the player’s health falls to zero, they lose one life and start the level over with a knife, a pistol, and eight bullets.[2] The player begins each episode with three lives and can gain more by finding extra-life tokens or by earning enough points. Points are scored by killing enemies or collecting treasures scattered throughout the levels.[5] Points can also be scored by killing all enemies in a level, collecting all treasure, finding all secret areas, or completing a level under a par time; the player’s completion ratio and speed is displayed when a level is completed. Secret areas containing treasure, health refills, or ammunition can be found in hidden rooms revealed by activating certain wall tiles that slide back when triggered.[3] The original version of the game allows the player to save their progress at any point, though in many of its ports the player can only save between levels.[2][3]

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