Back in 1992 video games were generally 2D. Some games had made use of pseudo-3D style graphics, but only in very limited ways. Hence, when Wolfenstein 3D came out, it was unlike anything anyone had seen before. Minds were blown, and gamers got their first look at a first person shooter game.
Of course, Wolfenstein 3D was not truly a 3D game. The 3D aspect was nothing but an illusion, but the effect was still completely convincing to gamers of the time. Wolfenstein was, simply, the experience of seeing through the eyes of a soldier. A gun appeared at the bottom of the screen, as if the soldier were holding it. And enemies approach as if attacking the character the player was essentially possessing.
In hindsight the game is exceptionally crude. But one can never forget that Wolfenstein was a technological masterpiece of 1992, much like online pokies are the masterpiece of today.
The original Wolfenstein had a sequel called the Spear of Destiny, which was much the same as the original, but with various added assets. It would not be until 2001 that a true follow up was created, titled Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Now using full 3D graphics, and a much more detailed and impressive setting, the game was another Wolfenstein success. Of course, by that time many other first person shooter game existed, and competition was stiff. Still, the game managed to stand out from the competition and wow gamers.
Another sequel came in 2009, titled simply Wolfenstein. This iteration of the game, however, was not what could be considered a great achievement. Painfully similar to many other first person shooters of the time, the game did little to stand apart, and ultimately received a lukewarm reception from critics and gamers alike. It seemed that Wolfenstein had finally reached the end of it’s road.
The New Order
Against all expectations, however, another Wolfenstein released in 2014, titled The New Order. The game bravely went against the trends of first person shooters at the time, abandoning all senses of realism in order to offer a shooter experience closer to those from decades prior. Combined with a strong focus on story, the game was another runaway Wolfenstein success. Heaped with praise and selling millions of copies, the game showed that old franchises are never truly dead.
Following up The New Order was The New Colossus, the most recent of the Wolfenstein franchise. The game, although not seeing the success of the previous, was mostly well received, paving the way for even more Wolfenstein games. It can only be imagined that there will be many more Wolfenstein games in the coming years.
Where the franchise goes from here can only be imagined. But, when comparing the first Wolfenstein game to the most recent, one can’t help but marvel at the evolution. The first involved no more than a soldier fighting Nazis, with the most recent envisioning a strange alternate reality, where bizarre retro technology leaps elevated the Nazis to new levels.