Wolfenstein 3D: Spear of Destiny

Wolfenstein 3D: Spear of Destiny is a first-person shooter for PC by id Software. It is the follow-up to Wolfenstein 3D but the story is actually a prequel. Basically, this time around you’re on a mission to obtain the spear the was used in the crucifixion of Christ. It is believed to hold supernatural powers and you can’t just let that power fall into the hands of the Nazis. So you have to go gun them down and claim the spear from the clutches of evil. The gameplay is the same as the first game so I’ll assume you are familiar with that or my review of it before continuing. It just saves us a little time here. So once again you’re going through labyrinths, collecting stuff, looking for secrets, trying to find the elevators, and killin’ even more Nazis! The Steam version includes the original Spear of Destiny with its twenty some levels plus two mission packs, Return to Danger and Ultimate Challenge, which each have a similar number of levels including secret levels. They are each split up into singular episodes of levels played straight through rather then the 9 floor split of the original.

In the base game there are some new wall textures, new music tracks, and new bosses. There’s a sprite of vines you can walk through that blocks your view in some areas. On the final level you’ll grab the spear and be seamlessly transported into a new level where you’ll fight ghost enemies that can do lots of damage to you up close and can only be temporarily halted when damaged. There is a new final boss and upon defeating it you’ll get the ending sequence and a teaser for the first game to follow. The two expansions offer up new levels and bosses as well, but they also make nearly a complete visual and audio overhaul. All of the textures, sprites, and many of the sounds have been altered, though they all have the same functionality. They even added in a new bat enemy that carries a pistol and makes no noise when alerted. Only the pickups seem to have had their sound files unchanged, though the end level and boss gimmick for each is a rehash of the base game, so it is likely these were built on the bones of Spear of Destiny.

Most of my praises are the same as Wolfenstein 3D since it’s the same engine and gameplay. I do like the way the levels play around more with the assets and AI behavior. It was also a nice touch hat you start each level inside the elevator as a safe zone and that the size is consistent with the exit of the last level. It’s simple but it’s nice attention to detail. The new bosses are a nice touch to look forward to. The expansions are especially a treat as they are much more colorful and the sound design is a bit more pleasant. The color change makes it easier to see ammo on the floor and the new wall textures help a ton in navigating the mazes. Just having the new coat of paint also goes a long way in making it feel a bit less stale.

Though having new visuals and sounds means relearning things like what an item is that you’re picking up or what enemy is alerted based on their new voice clips. The bats not having any alert sounds are also kind of annoying since they almost always get a shot off on you before you can kill them. The levels still have some instances of obtuse or overly labyrinthine design. Pushing secret walls with no indication in order to progress through levels is really not fun. There’s also another instance where pushing secret walls in the wrong order will fuck you out of a key and thus make the level unbeatable. I had saved after fucking it up because I thought I had found an elevator when really it was a fake. This probably wasn’t a mistake at this point as they had messed it up before AND because you can make the walls not push from a certain side. It just should’ve been planned in a way that wouldn’t fuck you. Here’s a fun tip. If you hit the I, L, and M keys you’ll get full health, full ammo, and both keys at the cost of all of your current points. So don’t abuse it if you want a high score, but feel encouraged to if you don’t and also don’t like being cheated by the level designers. It was likely implemented for a reason, right? Other than that, and my general complaints on the original that were not fixed here, the boss recycling was probably the biggest letdown. It’s just pretty much the same final boss experience three times. A bit of a bummer, though the final time has a fun setting. You’ll see.

Wolfenstein 3D: Spear of Destiny is a solid addition to the Wolfenstein 3D experience. It’s a lot more of the same, which means fans of the original should feel right at home here. It also spices things up enough to keep from getting too repetitive. I would easily recommend it to fans of the first if you can get it for cheap. I’d say five bucks or less is worth it. It’s slightly better than its predecessor, but it doesn’t do anything worlds better and isn’t anywhere near as classic so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone over the original. Think of it as a companion piece to Wolfenstein 3D and you should feel right at home killing Nazis 90’s style, baby!

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