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Review: Brutal Wolfenstein 3D

Anti-Valentine reviews PC games and writes about the video game industry.

Wolfenstein 3D was originally meant to be so much more. As fans of the game and of the series will know, there were gameplay elements catering to a stealthier approach that ended up being removed due to technological constraints. Id Software or course said they were going with a more action-orientated approach. Its arcadey shooter approach worked though because it very obviously helped garner interested in the budding first person shooter genre. And of course once Doom was released the following year, well, the rest is history.

Features that were originally planned for Wolf 3D

  • Dragging dead bodies out of sight.
  • Swapping uniforms with fallen guards to use as a disguise.
  • Silent attacks on enemies that wouldn't arouse suspicion.

Brutal Doom has been influential itself in motivating people to revisit old school shooters, and modders to do more than just give a game a new coat of paint with 3D models and high resolution textures. The focus is more on gameplay. Now while some might dismiss Brutal Doom as a glorified gore mod, at least in my opinion, it does add more to the game, and has inspired countless addons that do the same. You have a visor mod which acts as the HUD for the player, new weapons, new enemies, new enemy abilities (check out Project Brutality for imps that can cling to ceilings, revenants that can use their jetpacks to fly, and hell knights that can execute even more vicious attacks and fatatities than before). In fact judging by what I've seen, some of these ideas generated by the community are making it in the base game of Brutal Doom. And the maker of Brutal Doom has even made a new campaign to showcase a lot these new features, with more amazing new levels to come.

Some have commented that Brutal Doom is how the original Doom should have played in the first place.

In more recent years we've seen the Brutal treatment applied to Quake, Half-Life, Duke Nukem 3D, and now this approach is being taken with Wolfenstein 3D, and from then on possibly even Brutal Spear of Destiny in future.

Years ago after trying various source ports for Wolf 3D, I found I was left wanting more, and now this is where I've found what I was looking for. You don't need Wolf 3D to play this, as it is a mod for Doom II, and not only are there more accurate weapons to that time period, such as the Luger pistol, Kar 98 rifle, MP 40 submachine gun (as well as allied weapons like the Thompson submachine gun and M1 Garand), but also new animations for shooting and reloading, which includes being able to aim down the sights of weapons, and being able to execute melee attacks.

You also have access to grenades that you can use to help clear out rooms of soldiers, of which there are new types, like the flamethrower troopers and the SS commander (the sprite borrowed from SoD). Existing enemies famous to those who remember and still play the original have been upgraded too – some guards carry rifles instead of just pistols, and those sneaky officers carry MP 40 submachine guns and sometimes they themselves can throw grenades at you! Boss encounters have been upgraded too so if they weren't challenging enough before, they sure as hell are now.

Secret areas are more rewarding then ever, as you can often find supplies caches like weapons and ammunition left by the allies, and there is even destructible terrain, like blowing up pillars so you can reach hard to reach places. And yes, those green barrels you find around levels can and do explode when shot, just like in Doom. In fact, many of the levels in the game are being redesigned so they look a lot more pleasing to the eye – higher ceilings, more elaborately designed walls and floors, and better lighting effects will make this dated game really pop. There are also stairs in levels and elevators, taking you to higher and lower terrains within a level.

There have been several versions of the mod released to date, culminating in the latest remastered version 4.5. Version 5.0 is still a work in progress, and when finished, promises to be quite a lot more advanced than previous versions already available.

Some were sceptical at first about the concept of this mod. They claimed that if you wanted to play a gory version of Wolf 3D, just play ROTT – which I'm sure will receive its brutal makeover at some point too.

It's a stigma that the Brutal slogan has yet to shake, but I think while other games might fall prey to it more often than not, Brutal Wolf might just be one of the exceptions, as it goes beyond mere minor changes, and explores more in the way of changes to gameplay and level design while trying to maintain the core feel of the original.

Needless to say, I think it has a lot of potential, and what has been shown so far is only a fraction of what is possible and will be achieved in future.

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