Laz Rojas’ WolfenDoom Review

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Wolfenstein 3D is a historic game. The “grandfather of first-person shooters” as they say. The next big first-person shooter was id Software’s own Doom. And one of the greatest things about Doom is that it was specifically designed to be modified and, as a result, it has one of the largest modding communities in the gaming world which is still going strong today. With how legendary Wolfenstein 3D is, it was only a matter of time before players would attempt to recreate it as a mod for Doom. Laz Rojas’ WolfenDoom is a mod or total conversion that brings Wolfenstein 3D into Doom which means the gameplay that is carried over benefits from the features of the Doom engine. I did play the mod with the latest build of the GZDoom source port.

WolfenDoom comes with several packs and each one contains a different set of levels. I only played through two packs; the Original Missions and Nocturnal Missions which equates to all six episodes of the original game. I disabled mouselook or in other words, the ability to aim up and down since you can’t and don’t really need to in Wolfenstein 3D. Bringing Wolfenstein 3D into the Doom engine means it features the enhancements and improvements that come with the newer engine plus many of the improvements and features that come with whatever source port you decide to use.

As of this review, the mod’s thread on the ZDoom forums offers the latest version of the mod which was released in 2019 and features tons of fixes and the thread’s author worked hard to bring ZDoom compatibility to all of the WolfenDoom packs. Unfortunately, the mod is no longer maintained or updated and users in that same thread have reported that some elements of WolfenDoom are now broken as a result of updates to ZDoom and GZDoom. Most of the packs that come with the mod don’t feature any of the fancy effects offered by GZDoom except for The Lost Episodes which contain recreated levels from the Return to Danger and Ultimate Challenge mission packs along with some enhancements.

At its core, WolfenDoom is a mod for Doom II. However, I suppose you could look at it as a Wolfenstein 3D remaster of sorts because several aspects of Wolfenstein 3D have been updated or improved thanks not only to the newer engine but also the numerous authors that contributed to this mod’s development. What’s most impressive about WolfenDoom is how good of a recreation it is as it relates to the Original and Nocturnal Missions. You will notice some differences between the original game and this mod but in my opinion, WolfenDoom feels more like an updated or remastered version of Wolfenstein 3D than it does a Doom mod. And it’s the levels that have been meticulously recreated that drive that feeling home.

Almost everything, both good and bad, from Wolfenstein 3D has been carried over into the mod and these two packs. From the maze-like level design to the music. Every level comes complete with the repeated wall textures and decorations. Health is still replenished by eating food, you can still find treasure, and you’ll use the classic four Wolfenstein 3D weapons to kill the classic Wolfenstein 3D enemies. While the enemy sprites remain unchanged in these packs, the weapons have received a facelift and look a bit more realistic. It should be noted that some of the other packs feature different sprites for weapons and enemies, among other things.

I only played through the packs that contain the recreated levels from the original game. That said, the levels are excellent recreations and most of the enhancements offered in the mod and source ports as it relates to these packs are cosmetic only. Some areas feature different ceiling heights but you’ll traverse through the same rooms and corridors that were present in their original counterparts. Elevators were added into levels and doors and secret passageway entrances now open by moving upward in typical Doom fashion. Since the level design remains faithful, that means the levels are still repetitive labyrinths and it’s still easy to get lost or stuck. But one of the benefits WolfenDoom has being a Doom mod is the automap feature and you can reference it at any time.

The presentation is one of the reasons why WolfenDoom does such a good job at capturing the feeling of Wolfenstein 3D. It retains the look of the original game accompanied by Wolfenstein 3D tunes. The mod features textured ceilings and floors and the status bar resembles that of what you would see in Wolfenstein 3D. The new weapon sprites perfectly fit the theme and also fit in well with the visual enhancements. Not only do they look better but they also sound better helping to make for more satisfying gunplay. Enemy sprites appear to be ripped directly from the original game so they look exactly the same. One big noticeable change is different lighting effects. Some areas are simply darker than others. As simple as that sounds, it goes a long way in creating atmosphere. It also benefits navigation because it makes some areas more recognizable which was helpful whenever I had to backtrack. Unless it’s a bug, one thing that wasn’t carried over is different treasure sprites, at least not in the two packs I played. All treasure shares the same sprite but it’s not a huge deal and I actually didn’t notice until I was well into Episode 2 of The Original Missions pack.

I think WolfenDoom is a fantastic mod. It’s an excellent recreation of the original game. If you play through the Original and Nocturnal Missions, the gameplay and level design will get repetitive after a while but that’s not the mod’s fault. It’s just faithful to the original game. But it’s also more than that. It comes with almost twenty packs and most of them contain brand new levels and assets. Needless to say, you get a lot of content. It is a shame WolfenDoom is no longer maintained and we can only hope someone decides to dig into it again in the future. And because some elements are now broken thanks to updates to GZDoom and ZDoom, you might want to use older versions of the source ports.

I would absolutely recommend WolfenDoom to anyone. I think fans of Wolfenstein 3D will really get a kick out of it and if I’m being honest, it’s more enjoyable to play than the original game and that’s because of the features of the Doom engine and source ports. Nothing can diminish Wolfenstein 3D’s impact and WolfenDoom doesn’t try to. It’s just a love letter to one of the greatest games ever made. Definitely check it out.

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