By Dave Gilmore
1:44 PM EDT, May 10, 2012
“Wolfenstein 3D” is the “Seven Samurai” of first-person shooters. Without the proper context, it seems like something sparse and ancient. In its simplicity, though, rests a mechanical genius that lead to two decades of shooters that continue to flourish today.
To celebrate 20 years since its release, Bethesda Softworks’ website is hosting a browser-based version of the game for free. In addition there is an extensive director’s commentary available from John Carmack, co-founder of id Software, the game’s original developer.
While the “Wolfenstein” brand has tried to resurrect itself with 2001’s “Return to Castle Wolfenstein” and 2009’s “Wolfenstein,” nothing has quite captured the magic of “Wolfenstein 3D.” The game remains highly playable and enjoyable, and given that so many players only experienced the free shareware version copied onto a 3.5” floppy disk, some of the levels will actually feel brand new.
“Wolfenstein 3D” is as classic as games come. It’s from an era where characters ate whole turkeys lying on the ground for health and you were trying to achieve a “high score.” It taught a generation of kids some basic German and some apocryphal tidbits about World War II. More importantly, it led to “Doom,” “Duke Nukem 3D” and countless 3D shooters afterward.
ZeniMax Media, which was founded by Bethesda Softworks founders Christopher Weaver and Robert A. Altman, acquired id Software in 2009.
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