Search This Blog

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Perfect Woman Or Perfect Monstrosity?

So looking for something completely unrelated I came across and ebay seller's store that features Poker guards/Markers. Honestly I have no use for the things, but I scrolled through their inventory anyway when I came upon this one. It's probably not safe for work so I'm putting it after the jump.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This is not a review

Unfortunately it's also not a picture of a review and it's not a pipe. The simple fact of the matter is that I've been  unhealthy lately and haven't been doing pretty much any gaming and I just realized this morning what day it was. So no review for you. In lieu of a review I haven't really got anything else special either. We'll be back for more fun and games when there isn't a general household plague happening.

~Stephanie

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Retro Review Tuesday: Wolfenstein 3D

We've been expanding our horizons reviewwise last week I finally did an import game and this week Richard has tackled our first PC title, Wolfenstein 3d. Most people think of the Wolfenstein series as "the game where you kill Hitler" and well it is, but there's a lot more to it than that. It was one of those titles that changed the world of gaming forever.


-Introduction-

With all of our past reviews in mind, this time around we now look back at arguably the most influential game we have done, to date. Back in the early 90s this MS-DOS game would prove to be beginning of the popularity synonymous with the First-Person Shooter genre. In time, it would lead to the immensely popular battle through hell itself known as DOOM. Without this game, the entire genre might have been buried until the only well known ones in existence would be the far sub-par shameless war games we've got now. Its difficulty made it, in any significant gamer's opinion, the most "hardcore" FPS ever to have hit the gaming world. So without further ado, Id's brainchild, Wolfenstein 3D.




-Overview-

Before discussing the graphics and sound, it's important to remember the date of this game, which predates Windows 95 by three years. Graphically, the game ranges from could be better to really quite nice. The sprites tend to look very pixelated, especially your weapons, but the environments aren't too bad and are sometimes rather interesting. You may notice there are no stairs or other changes in floor or ceiling height in this game, another indication of how ID managed to make it run and render as well as it did at the time. There are some pretty nice wall decorations in this game, considering its pixel-heavy nature. You can easily distinguish images of Adolf Hitler, Swastika-displaying banners, and signs that say things like VERBOTEN and ACHTUNG. While the walls are nicely textured, the floors and ceilings are notably simplistic. They do change color, but they are always colored solidly, with no texture or graphics at all. For reasons probably related to a limited color palette, a few objects that should be metallic colored are colored blue such as doors and guns or parts of guns.



Movement is very smooth and if on the right system, creates no graphical complications. Normal enemies are actually drawn from eight angles, allowing their sprites to physically change directions when they were to move sideways, backwards, or even diagonally in those directions, something that was quite impressive for the time. This allows the player to sneak up on enemies and pick them off, easier. One thing that was also quite different at the time was that enemies would sometimes even be walking around on their own while not actually alerted of the player's presence. The player's interaction with items and other non-active sprites is not as impressive, as these objects are only drawn from one angle, likewise with an enemy's corpse. Bosses are also only drawn from a single angle, so you can not sneak up on them.

The sounds are pretty crisp and clean, assuming you're using Sound Blaster to hear them. The metal doors indeed make metallic sounds when opening and a heavy thud when closing. Gunshot sounds range in quality but as a whole sound fine. This game also has speaking in it. It is hard to judge the clarity of it as almost all of it is in German, but it seems to sound alright. The music sounds very MIDI but it's not too repetitive and is different depending on the level or screen. One particular track * even features some subtle Morse code being tapped in the background.

The controls are responsive and simple enough. They are customizable so there's no need to specify what they are on the keyboard/mouse/whatever else. Their functions are shooting, of course, opening/activating, running, and strafing. If unedited, you'll find them similar to the controls of DOOM (you DID play that, right...?). By default, in relation to each other the controls shouldn't be too hard to master.

The characters range from being forgettable to a-defining-moment. B.J., the protagonist, is obviously always in mind, and is certainly a classic video game hero by this point. You don't hear much if his personality, as he says only one word in two instances throughout the game. Boss characters are the only other named characters. While the bosses seen in episodes 4-6 don't exactly leave an impression (The final episode's boss's level is a lot more significant than the boss himself), the original three bosses are classic and can easily become favorite boss characters of yours. Hans Grosse, the first boss, is one of the most classic boss battles video games have to offer, as he and his level are very distinctive in appearance. Dr. Schabbs, the second boss, is also pretty memorable in his own way, what with his unique way of battle and his look. And of course, we cannot forget Hitler. Nothing else needs to be said, there.


 -The Story-

Story wise, it seems pretty average for what you need in an FPS. It's not laughably ridiculous though certainly not what you'd call plausable at times. Not counting the fact that they've sent in one man to bring down the entire Third Reich. In episode 1, B.J. Blazkowics (Pronounced Blazz-Ka-Vitch) must escape from the Nazi prison castle, Wolfenstein, to continue with his main mission of putting a stop to Operation: Eisenfaust. Using a knife and pistol he aquires from a guard he's overpowered, B.J. escapes his cell and fights his way out of the castle, acquiring stronger weapons and keys on his way to freedom. By episode 2, B.J. has escaped castle Wolfenstein and heads to Castle Hollehammer to stop Operation: Eisenfaust and assassinate its head scientist, Dr. Schabbs from plaguing the world with his undead, mutant soldiers. Come episode 3, it is time to put a stop to the entire Nazi madness once and for all. B.J. heads to Hitler's titanic bunker for a final showdown with the evil Fuhrer, himself.

(Episodes 4-6 are prequels to the first three episodes.)

In Episode 4, B.J. has been sent to put a stop to the Nazi's plans of waging Chemical War in the form of the Giftkrieg (Poison War). He must kill the head scientist, Otto Giftmacher. But his mission isn't over,yet. B.J. must then travel to the fortress of Erlangen to secure the Nazi's secret plans for the Giftkrieg. Once he has retrieved them, he can locate the
military installation at Offenbach, assassinate General Fettgesicht, and put a stop to the upcoming pain and suffering before it begins.


-Gameplay-

The gameplay is, like states, A First Person Shooter. You run around a 3D interactive environment and shoot hostiles while gathering the supplies you need to make it to the end. It's the standard formula and there's nothing wrong with it. Upon starting the game, you'll be taken to a few interesting little screens. Past the title screen, you'll see the options menu. From here you can start a new game, load an old one (saving is only available once you're actually playing), change the screen size, change the controls, change your sound settings, read some game directions and other things, view the high scores, go back to the demo, or quit. If you start a new game, you must first choose your episode from one of the following:

1. Escape from Castle Wolfenstein

2. Operation: Eisenfaust

3. Die, Furher, Die!

4. A Dark Secret

5. Trail of the Madman

6. Confrontation

After that, the game will ask - how tough are you? And you will answer:

Can I play, Daddy?

Don't Hurt Me.

Bring 'em on!

I am Death incarnate!


Choose your difficulty, and you are now playing Wolfenstein 3D.

Upon beginning, you start with just a knife and a pistol with 8 bullets inside. Your basic goal in every level is to shoot down your enemies while maintaining your health and ammo and find an elevator to take you to the next floor (why you can't use the same elevator, who knows, guess then there would be little game involved). You will encounter locked doors so you will also need to find one or two keys hidden somewhere in the level. If you die during a level then you will be taken back to its beginning and stripped of all items except for the default. Upon reaching the end of the level, you are told your time spent in the level and are shown the percentage of enemies you've killed, secrets you've found, and treasure items you've picked up. In all episodes you will meet a boss character at floor 9 and must eliminate them to finish the episode.

You are also scored based on the enemies you kill, the items you pick up, and how well you do in each level. Scoring high enough awards you extra lives, though generally speaking it's best to just save frequently and load from there if you die. To be honest, score was mostly important during the days when Id planned on holding contests based on score but now you'll probably just be interested in completing levels, fighting bosses, and finishing the game.

Your display is located at the bottom of your screen, and gives you your vital information such as remaining health, ammo, lives, your score, the keys you've found, the level you are currently in, and the gun you are using. And one of the signatures of Id's FPS games, your face, which changes depending on how much punishment you're taking. Aside from your numeric health status, it's a fun alternate to gauge how you're doing.


You might find the gameplay of Wolfenstein 3D annoyingly difficult at times (it's difficult at all times, whether or not it's annoying you), as a single shot can ruin all of your momentum. This game was before the time of all game characters being super-human, and closer to the time of single shots to the toe killing you, so as little as two shots can kill you even at full health. 50% remaining health is well within the mortal range.

Enemies: You will encounter several types of enemies during your mission, all quite dangerous and generally needing to be put down as soon as you see them, as you do not want any of them to surprise you. The variety of enemies isn't immense, though it's easy not to notice as the ones that are present tend to be quite a problem. Frankly, you won't care if you only see one kind of enemy until the end of the game so long as you don't have to deal with any more of the mutants in episode 2. They also speak German phrases which is quite amusing, especially so if you know what they're saying.


Guards - The most basic enemy, they have pistols and shoot rather slowly, pausing before doing so. Still, when up close they can shoot a huge chunk of your life away. They are pretty weak and can be taken down in as little as one shot.

Speech: Sees you - Achtung! (Attention!/Warning!)

Dies - (Series of screams)




Schutzstaffel - Also called the S.S., these large, armored soldiers carry machine guns and prove quite dangerous in groups or even on their own. They take many shots before falling, and drop their machine gun for you when they do.


Speech: Sees you - Schutzstaffel!

Dies - Mein Leben! (My life!)




Officers: Officers are very quick both on their feet and with their trigger finger. They are especially dangerous when hiding behind corners as you often have no time to react before getting shot. Shoot them without hesitation, as they only need a fraction OF a fraction of a second to fire.

Speech: Sees you - Spion! (Spy!)

Dies - Nein, so was! (Well, I never!)




 Mutants: Undead soldiers with guns surgically attached to their chests and blades (for show) in their hands. They are arguably the deadliest enemy in the game, as they can somewhat rapid fire and are totally silent as far as when they "activate." When you know they are around, it's important not to take corners too quickly as they could be waiting for you and you won't know it until, frankly, you're dead.

Speech: Sees you - (Silence)

Dies- Aagghhrrr...



Dogs: Seeming to be German Shepherds, they are quick, and run up to you to bite you right in the face. Despite this, it is quite harsh to have to kill them but a necessity. They are the weakest enemy in the game, and can be killed with one hit from anything.

Speech: Sees you - Bark!
Dies: (Whimper)




Bosses: Once you've made it to the ninth floor or level of an episode, you will battle a Boss character. Boss characters are always very large individuals compared to normal enemies and carry vicious firepower, able to put you down in a single second. They can sustain nearly all of your ammo before finally falling. Once they do, either the episode will end, or you will be given a key to find the end of the level.



Weapons: Of course, you'll need firepower to get the job done. Wolfenstein does not offer the amount of weaponry that we're used to these days and at first it can, admittedly, be a little disappointing. But to be fair, this was before First Person Shooter was an established genre. In time, you should learn to appreciate the arsenal that you are given. Here is a list of the weapons you can find and use in Wolfenstein 3D.


Knife - This is there for you should you run out of ammo or possibly just have a death wish. You have to go right up to an enemy to use it so it's not really ideal for any situation. But if it's all you've got then it's all you've got. Repeatedly tap the attack button to keep stabbing, and hope for the best.

Pistol - You start off with this as well as eight bullets. This is not meant to get you through the entire mission, what with its slow rate of fire and what not so try to find a better weapon as soon as possible.

Machine Gun - These can be found laying around a level or can be taken from a killed S.S. They allow you to just hold down the attack button for rapid fire. It's still not the best weapon but compared to the pistol it makes a galaxy of difference.

Chaingun - Large and Loud, this weapon is the strongest in the game, often hidden in secret areas. It shoots a minimum of two bullets at a time (unless shooting your last), and quickly takes care of any normal enemy, and is certainly ideal for boss battles (seeing as how many bosses carry this same weapon, and often in pairs.) Needless to say it eats up ammo pretty quickly so don't get too "happy" with it unless you have to.

Once you've gotten a handle on all the enemy types and building up your arsenal, you may think you're well on the road to mastering the game, but you'd be wrong. You'll start to really hate your life as a one-man attack team for the allies in the several Wolfenstein 3D levels that are designed, at least in part, like a labyrinth. Beyond every corner could be another hostile or even worse, you could be in the maze with an unknown amount of active enemies that may either ambush you from the front or sneak up on you from behind. Without patience you will not make it far. Many players with over-active testosterone will think that all problems can be solved by non-stop chaingun fire. But with so little ammo that can be held at once, they will find themselves only with a knife and seconds later, dead. Just because it's an FPS does not mean you don't have to be strategic.


Items: Along with firepower, you will need ammo for that firepower, as well as keys to locked doors, health, and treasure if score means that much to you.

Ammo Clip - These are how you renew your ammo supply. How you get them dictates how much one holds. If taken from an enemy they hold 4 bullets. If found new, 8.  You can only hold 99 bullets at one time which is rather annoying since you'd think with the rapid-fire guns you carry they could have at least given you a 199 bullet capacity, but you'll just have to deal.

Keys - Some levels hide a Gold Key, a Silver Key, or both. While keys and locked doors come in two different colors, they are in no way color coded, and you don't know which key opens which door until you try.

Chicken - A plate of chicken here and there is just what you need to keep going. They are worth 10 percent health.

Medkit - A slightly more legitimate source of health and will replenish it by 25 percent.

Dog Food - Usually located, you guessed it, where you find dogs. You can munch on that and gain 4 percent health back.


Blood and Bones - Drastic times call for drastic measures. If your health drops to 10 percent or lower, B.J. will drink the blood and chew on the bones of the deceased just to survive. It will replenish 1 percent of your health.

Treasure - There only for points, these come in various forms such as chests or chalices. You are rated after each level on how much out of 100 percent you've collected.


Extra Life - Usually found in a secret area, these award you an extra life, but more importantly, replenish all of your health and give you a cool addition of 25 bullets.


Item-wise, what you need isn't generally covered in the normal part of the levels and often you will find yourself seeking out the secret rooms.A big part of Wolfenstein is would be the many secret rooms that it holds. Secret rooms are discovered by pushing on certain walls. If you push on the right one, you will hear a "crunching" noise and the wall will audibly slide backwards, usually revealing a secret room. Secret rooms are often filled with weapons, ammo, health, treasure, or even more.Still, don't be surprised if the inside is disappointing. Sometimes secrets are entirely pointless.


Starting the game from any episode will at first make it quite difficult to get on your feet. You have just a pistol and a very small amount of ammo to get started with. How you start pretty much sets the tone for how the rest is going to go, and if you start off poorly, you may consider just retrying it until you do better. Assuming you're playing it chronologically, the first few levels of episode one have a very introductory feel. You just cruise around shooting some weak, helmeted Nazi guards while trying to get a feel for the game. So far, you don't need keys or all that much firepower. But soon enough, around the time the S.S. start to appear in large groups, you need to get better weapons and a better sense of survival. The game starts to get more challenging and aggravating when you start to encounter locked doors. Keys are often hidden in the worst places. Most notably, more than one level puts a key in a large room with a "patsy" guard in there to kill. Of course, doing this will alert about a dozen other enemies to your presence, just outside the large room. It becomes a bloody fight to the death, all for that one little key. Situations like this explain a lot of what you're in for during your play through of Wolfenstein 3D.




-Conclusion-

Wolfenstein 3D is an extremely important piece of work in the history of video games. It popularized First-Person Shooters in ways that would eventually lead to other greats such as Id's own DOOM or 3D Realms' Duke Nukem. Playing it is a very special feeling if you are a person that can appreciate this. With its many levels, hundreds of secrets, and prestigious difficulty, this classic shows that even almost twenty years later it can still entertain if you're lucky enough to have the means to play it. We are very excited to be able to review it and would certainly recommend that you find a way to try out this truly great game.

~Richard M.


*Music from the video game music preservation foundation.



Don't forget to stop by our shop for retro gaming collectibles:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Retro Review Tuesday: Parodius Da!

We have yet to do a retro review of an import game so I thought it was time we remedied that. So given that two of my most favorite things in the world have been combined into a single video game, Octopi and Side Scrolling shooters. I thought it was an absolute necessity that we discussed a game in the Parodius series. I decided on Parodius Da! on the SNES/ Super Famicom. Which is often wrongly referred to as the first in the series, though it's actually the second. It's worth noting that  I played the translated PAL version aptly titled Parodius: Nonsense fantasy.

Introduction
 I don't know the real story of how Parodius cam to be. But I have a little theory, somewhere in Japan the developers at Konami were out celebrating the run away success of Gradius 1 & 2. Having created one of the best side scrolling shooting games of all time and what became the model for basically every subsequent space shooter into the 21st century, they had a lot to be happy about. They went to bar after bar on an all night bender, hitting up clubs with names like The Penguin, The Sumo, The Showgirl and Super Happy American Fun Town. Eventually they found themselves back at the Konami offices still full of Saki, Asahi Super Dry, and takoyaki and the Parodius series was born!


Rest of the review after the jump..

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails