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3D Shooters *********** 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 phenomenen indeed. 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 really. Finally here's my guide to 3D shooters on various formats. I don't claim it to be thorough information. Just info from memory. 32X *** 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. 3DO *** 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. Amiga. ****** 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? Amstrad CPC *********** 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 same processor. Archimedes/Risc PC ****************** 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 Atari Falcon. ************* 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? Atari Jaguar. ************* 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 people like. Atari ST. ********* 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. BBC *** Historical link: Cholo & various 3D maze games. C64 *** 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 *** 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. Megadrive ********* 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. N64 *** 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 N64s abilities. Playstation. ************ 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. PC ** 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. Saturn ****** 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. SNES **** 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. Spectrum ******** Historical links: Cholo, Mercenary, Catch 23 Vic20 ***** Historical links: 3D Maze ZX81 **** Historical links: 3D Monster Maze Well thats as much as I can think of now on 3D Shooters. Martin Wilson