What ever you want to call them; 3D shooters, Doom clones, Corridor,
First person perspective, textured mapped maze or whatever they have become
probably the most popular type of game currently available.
Especially now that everything hardware wise currently available has the
power and ability to do them successfully with good detail. With the
Megadrive and SNES rapidly losing favour and market share there's nothing
available apart from portables that can't run them. Even the SNES and
Megadrive have their versions with Wolfenstein available for the SNES
(a very playable version) and Doom games for both (SFX cartridge for the
SNES and 32X for the Megadrive).
Some people may think it all started with Wolfenstein or Doom but it
really all started with 3D Monster maze on the ZX81. I still remember
wondering if I turned the next corner whether that huge Tyranasaurus Rex
would be there. Then came the Vic 20 and then there was 3D maze games
with sound, colour and slightly better animation. It just kept going from
there. 8bit computers never had the power to pull off a full 3D world
but there's plenty of 8bit games that have elements of the later games.
Catch 23 by Martech was a full 3D shooter. Ok the graphics were vector
based but you could explore, enter buildings and even take bus rides.
Plus you could shoot enemies which because of processor limitations did not
scale towards and away from you but simply appeared in front of you at
about three different distances which you then took out Operation Wolf
style. All credit to Martech for this impressive if not brilliantly
playable game. All on a 48k spectrum too. Worth digging out if you use a
Spectrum emulator on your Atari.
So in reality Wolfenstein 3D wasn't a technical surprise when it appeared
it was more the fact that it was so successful in terms of appeal
and playability. It was just so addictive and violent. In case your
wondering there was a Wolfenstein 2D game called Castle Wolfenstein. A
berzerk rip off which I know was available for the Apple II probably PC
as well. I've never actually seen it myself but I believe 'Into the Eagles
Nest' by Interceptor is heavily influenced by it and looks similar. In
fact it doesn't take much to realise that Wolfenstein 3D is 'Into the
Eagles Nest' but in 3D with end of level bosses and a few more power ups.
When I first played Wolfenstein 3D it was on a 286 and it was slow but
still playable with a small screen. At the time I only had the
unregistered shareware version and soon completed it. Being tight fisted I
didn't register but did play the same levels again occasionally. When
I replaced the 286 motherboard with a 486 one I tried the game again and
it became a different game. Effortless speed. Quick turning. Fluid arcade
action. Great!. I then purchased the full retail package by mail order.
Running around shooting every kraut I could find which was entertaining
in the extreme for a while. Sometimes I might get a bit lost in the
later levels and this became tiresome for a couple of minutes while finding
the right way again. There was no map facility on the PC version although
the later SNES version had it. The bosses at the end of every set of levels
were always great fun. Some of them seemed practically invincible and you
were always hunting around for some more ammo to finish them off. They'd
usually say something the first time you come across them like "Gutten
Tag" or "Coming for you!". The last level on the original Wolfenstein
had Adolf Hitler himself in a sort of assault suit with armour plating
fitted plus very large chain machine guns. Once you've destroyed the
assault suit you take him on in his plain natzi uniform. Its all good blood
splattering fun and a fitting end to the game. I suppose by the time the
Jaguar version came out Wolfenstein was old hat and perhaps to many it
isn't that great. I've never actually tried the Jaguar version but I've
heard that its not too good. The Mac version which I believe shares the
same graphics as the jag version is also a bit naff in my opinion. The
graphics are a definite improvement on the PC but it just doesn't play as
well. Something to do with the fast but rough scrolling of the graphics
and slow turning. I personally like the SNES version although not as pretty
as the PC version and definitely less attractive than the Mac version it
still played very well.
Even if Nintendo did spoil it by removing some of the references to Nazis
and describing the guard dogs as giant rats.
Not only is Wolfenstein the first truly playable 3D shooter but its also
the first as far as I know to benefit from a level designer util which
meant people could write their own levels and people did this in their
thousands. There are many great levels available including the obligatory
silly ones. For example the Streetfighter 2 one. The guards become Ryu and
Ken and the boss is Eddie Honda chasing you around the maze. Plus of
course the walls have the Street fighter 2 logo splashed everywhere.
Theres also porn ones with nude woman chasing you around with the walls
covered in pictures of nude woman of course. The gun has been replaced
with... well I won't go into the grubby details. The amount of extra
levels is phenomenal although the quality obviously is all over the
place. The same levels can be used on PC, Mac, Archimedes and possibly
Apple II GS.
Wolfenstein was good but Doom was great. One of my all time favourite
games. Definitely in my top five. I've played this game so much that I
know the levels like the roads around where I live. Its such a believable
3D world and the atmosphere is superb. Totally uprated in design compared
to Wolfenstein. Everything about it I like. I used to moan about the
quality of american software being all gloss and little substance
especially those mundane point and click adventures but Doom came from
an independant production company called ID who weren't sanitised by a
large Yank software firm like EA or Acclaim they just produced the
game they wanted to play. It was a controversial game with the
violence in it becoming so realistic. It made a few headlines in both the
computer press and even the mainstream media. Its success got it
mentioned in the business press. What many people don't realise is that when
people registered the shareware version the majority of money was going
directly into the hands of the ID developers. Only a small percentage was
needed for media duplication and postage. Unlike true commercial software
where usually less than 5% at most gets back to original writers due
to wholesalers and retailers margins, with shareware the situation
was practically reversed. Even better was a complete lack of promotional
costs. Magazines supplied the shareware version on their cover CDs
and others downloaded it or got it off friends. In America tens of
thousands registered it. The developers became very rich. Doom was a
Doom as a single player game was great but as a multiplayer network game
it became far better and many offices all over the world became the
locations for death matches be it at the end of a working day or even in
office hours for those who could get away with it. Also two friends
could link up their PCs locally together using a null modem cable or
remotely using modems for simpler 2 player death matches (version 1.2
onwards). Then later special BBS/internet companies provided death matches.
Even the humble SNES owner could play death matches over the phone line
using special hardware in america.
Quake is IDs latest update in 3D gaming. Its a great game and technically
more impressive than Doom. I must admit I still prefer Doom. Its not that
theres anything wrong with Quake technically its just the Quake levels are
all a bit dark and dismal. Its a bit depressing really. There's some great
monsters but the gothic/horror theme is just a bit tired now. I played the
whole game from beginning to end. The end being some sort of shrub thing
stuck in the middle of some lava. I wasn't as impressed as I thought I
would be. This is Quake from a single person perspective. I know that the
game plays much, much better in a multiplayer environment. Again over the
internet or should I say through your internet provider you can become part
of a multiplayer environment. You can even design your own kit to wear.
Personally my kit would be the colour of the walls if I played it so I
wouldn't be seen so easily but others have dressed up in spiderman
uniforms etc. Also friends and collegues form gangs which all share the
same look (so presumably they don't shoot each other). This is really
what makes Quake great.
Some people may disagree with me here but I feel that the Tomb Raider game
has a more sophisticated engine than Quake. There's more variety in
shapes. The Tyranosaurus Rex is more impressive than any Quake monster.
However it does depart from the 3D shooter area in that the puzzles are
harder and play a greater role in the game. Still its 3D and there is
shooting so it gets in here. However the other games involve a lot more
shooting. I can't say too much about it as I've only recently got the
game and I'm a long way from completing it.
I've done this one last even though technically its somewhere between Doom
and Quake. Its my alltime favourite 3D shooter and as a single player
game far better than Quake in my opinion. Its Duke Nukem 3D. Instead of
Quakes dreary gothic locations, Duke Nukem is more futuristic plus its got
a lot of humour which works well. There's great bosses, some beautiful
locations and above all real playability. The sound works really well too.
Its on budget now I believe and if you've got a PC then its a must
have. Its also coming out for the Saturn, Playstation and N64. I know the
Mac version has just been released and I've played the demo version on a
68040 machine. Its ok but it needs a PowerMac to match the PC. PC wise
you can play the game with a DX2-66 unlike Quake which needs a P75 minimum
Finally here's my guide to 3D shooters on various formats. I don't claim it
to be thorough information. Just info from memory.
Just Doom as far as I know. Its not a very good version. Inferior to
the Jaguar version and to be frank inferior in playability terms to
the SNES version. The window is a fixed size I believe or at least can
not be full screen you always get a border.
Doom is rubbish. Dead slow or at least not quite at a playable speed. Po'ed
is good and technically as good as 3DO 3D shooters get. Its quite
addictive especially chopping the monsters with a butchers knife. A
later weapon is a drill and the whole screen becomes filled with blood when
you use it, then when the enemy finally dies a hand comes across the screen
and wipes it clear again. Its as gory as it sounds. Wolfenstein is
available but I haven't a clue what its like. Compared to the Saturn
and Playstation the 3DO doesn't quite cut it. Its not quite fast enough.
Po'ed has a mixture of texture mapped polygons and plain polygons.
Demolition Man is a multi-type game with a Doom section amongst them.
Good texture mapping if nothing else.
Not much for the old 68000 series except very crude limited doom clones
in tiny windows or with very jerky 3D scrolling. Alien Breed 3D is
good for accelerated 1200s. In fact theres quite a few playable Doom
clones for fast Amigas but they don't match PC games. There is Doom (slow)
and Quake (ha ha!) engines available. The Amiga graphics system isn't
very good at doing Doom games due to the way its mapped so the speed
of Amiga Doom type games is always a bit slower than you expect because
of the processing time wasted in converting the graphic data into segments
that can be sent to the Amiga screen. Breathless is a good looking Doom
clone if you've got a 68060 but who has?
Historical link: Cholo, Catch 23, Mercenary
Apple 2 GS
Wolfenstein. I've no idea what its like though. The Apple 2 GS was used
to develop the SNES version and also got its own version. They share the
Well there's Doom and Quake engines if you've got the speed for them.
Doom needs Risc PC speed and Quake needs a Strong ARM. Older titles
exist like Wolfenstein. Destiny should be out soon and looks to be a
terrific game. Prophecy (not 100% sure of the title) is a combination of
Wing Commander and Doom. Blast the hell out of their space ships then
land on their planet and blast the hell out of them with eye contact.
Later this year or possibly early 1998 a new range of Risc PCs will be
launched which are far faster (upto 500Mhz possibly) with much faster
motherboards and optional Pentium second processors. These will be
capable of running incredible 3D shooters.
Atari 8bit Computers
Historical links: Mercenary
Running looks good. Out soon. Bad Mood enables you to look round Doom
levels but no monsters so far. Theres meant to be a Quake engine going
about but its very slow, scratch that incredibly slow so I wonder what
the point is. I'll say it again to any competent programmers out there,
How about a Wolfenstein engine?
Doom!!!!!!!!!!!!,Doom!!!!!!!!!!, Doom!!!!!!!!!. a good version, if a
little slow. Get two Jags (they need to be later ones to work well together)
and play death matches. Err. apart from Doom there's Wolfenstein (ok if
nothing else) and Alien Versus Predator which I think is rubbish but other
Nothing really for FM unless you want to include the rubbishy Darc II game.
I suppose you can include that old Psygnosis 3D Arcade Adventure shooter
game. If only I could remember the name. Its the one with the picture of the
metallic fly. There's Substation for Ste and Falcon. Unfortunately its a
poor game with little to recommend it.
Historical link: Cholo & various 3D maze games.
Historical link : Doom! Err.. I kid you not there was a rumour on the
internet that it was being developed in Poland. There was an accelerator
for the C64 which plugged in the cartridge port and had a 6502 based chip
running at 20MHZ and used 128k of cache memory as used in PCs. Presumably
it was being written for that. C64s are very popular computers in the
countries that once were the Iron Curtain. The C64 was always completely
hopeless for 3D games with its naff 1Mhz processor but it did have a
version of Mercenary.
Mac users have there own so called Doom beater called Marathon. Its not
as good to be honest. It looks more like an Amiga Doom game. Its not bad
though. Recently converted to PC I believe. Plus there's
Doom!!!!!!!!!!!! and Wolfenstein. Duke Nukem is just out. The Mac market
is split down the middle with many games now being PowerMac only even
though more Mac users have 68 series processors. Don't consider a Mac as a
games machine the games tend to be inferior to PC games and more expensive.
You rarely get Mac budget games. They do have the benefit of actually
working without a lot of fiddling though.
Theres a couple joke 3D shooters with simplistic 3D corridors. More in
common with the old Vic 20 than the PC. The same sort of look as Amiga 500
doom type games which isn't surprising considering they both share the
same processor running at near enough the same speed. One is by Domark and
even has a split screen mode.
Doom 64 is good but doesn't really push the console and its only a
single player game when really the N64 could have done a version with 2
players split screen. Turok is excellent but bugged in places. However
its Doom with Dinasaurs which is brilliant! There's not enough dinasaurs
though and I felt that the game was limited in scope by the fact it
uses a cartridge. Still Turok really is great to play. Especially big
head mode. Turok has the most advanced 3D shooter game engine so far. Duke
Nukem and Quake are coming plus other N64 specific 3D shooters. The price
of Nintendo software as ever is a rip off. Upto 80 for a game, no
thanks. Hexen 64 has been released in Japan/USA but its meant to be
rubbish and no better than the PC version. It was never very good in the
first place. The Saturn version of Hexen looks better than the N64
version although its not quite as smooth. Obviously a real insult to the
Doom is good although no better than a DX2-66 PC. I don't really know
much about 3D shooters on the Playstation I'm afraid. Acclaim has said
that the Playstation will get a version of Turok. Expect more levels,
more monsters but less detail. Its obviously got a good version of Tomb
Raider which is similar to the PC version in medium res on a fast 486 I
believe. Unlike the Saturn the Playstation will be getting a version of
Tomb Raider 2.I expect theres quite a few Doom ripoffs for the Playstation
that I don't know about. Certainly a very capable console although I
wouldn't have thought it could do much better than Duke Nukem technically
without drastically slowing down.
The PC gets a version of practically everything. Even the N64s Turok
will be coming to the PC. Your totally spoilt for choice. Don't forget
though PCs depreciate on a daily basis. Pay 1500 for a PC now and its
worth less than half that secondhand in a years time. A console may be a
better bet if all you want to do is play games. However a cheap secondhand
286/386 can be less than a hundred and will enable you to play Wolfenstein
quality games possibly even Doom in a small window (386). A cheap 486(40MHZ
or less) 250 will enable you to play Doom well. A DX2-66 enables you to
play Doom very well plus ok speed Duke Nukem. Outlaw is a recent 3D shooter
set in the old West which is great fun. Outlaw is by Virgin as is the new
Star Wars doom game 'Jedi Knight Dark Forces 2' which seems to be using an
engine similar or the same as Quake. It looks fantastic and I don't even
like the Star Wars films.
Exhumed is meant to be good. Doom isn't so good. Duken Nukem and Quake
are coming. Quakes meant to be looking good on the Saturn and very
playable. That will surprise some Playstation owners I'm sure. I
don't know if the Playstation is getting a version of Quake but if it
does it will come later and won't be as good. In fact news has it that
now programmers are finally getting the hang of programming the Saturn
its looking to be a far better console. Recent proof of this is the fact
that Duke Nukem is more than twice as fast as the Playstation version and
looks better to boot. In fact the Saturn version of Duke is looking
better than the N64 version but it isn't quite as smooth. Tomb Raider
isn't as good as the Playstation version I think. Hexen on the Saturn is a
good conversion of a mediocre 3D shooter. There won't be a version of Tomb
Raider 2 for the Saturn and future big releases for the Saturn especially
by european firms look less and less likely.
Theres Doom but a lot of the detail is lost like floors and ceilings.
Theres also no game saves or passwords so you've got to complete it in one
session or pause it and leave the console on for hours and hours when your
not using it. Wolfenstein is very playable and doesn't use a support chip
like Doom (SFX) which is impressive considering the SNES only has a 8/16
bit processor based on the 6502 running at under 4MHZ. Mind you it does
have a graphics system running at 22MHZ so that probably helps.
Historical links: Cholo, Mercenary, Catch 23
Historical links: 3D Maze
Historical links: 3D Monster Maze
Well thats as much as I can think of now on 3D Shooters.