Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: Trilogy - iLOW3D

Title: Trilogy - iLOW3D
Creator: Ipank7000

Dos Version Released:
Length: 30 Levels
Level Format: Episodic (3 episodes)
Story: Original
Graphics: Original + New 
Sound: Original + New
Special Features: New weapons, new enemies, enemy blocking tile, changed ceiling colors, teleporters, limit to the amount of weapons you can carry 

Initial impressions: The title screen gives a good impression of what this mod will be: inspired and close to the original Wolf3D, but not quite. It seems to be a reimagination of the original first three episodes, and the first level does start out the same way as Wolf3D Episode 1: you start in a prison. But quickly the player discovers that this mod is its own thing: the ceiling colors have been changed, there are new sprites and there are new enemies. All these elements blend in really well, they fit right into the environment of the original Wolf3D. The dual-wielding guards especially, an enemy the player discovers early on, fit in really well.

Gameplay: The gameplay is quite action-packed, as there is never a small amount of enemies in the levels. It can make this mod really challenging, especially in Episode 2, where the mutants show up. Another element that keeps the gameplay interesting is the limit imposed on the amount of weapons the player can carry. This adds a new tactical element that keeps you invested in the game, while at the same time providing a new challenge. It's just too bad that sometimes your dropped weapon disappears (most notable with the pistol and machinegun). It's the only negative for what is otherwise an interesting feature. Speaking about the weapons, all the original Wolf3D weapons are there yet they are more interestingly balanced. You have the pistol but you can also dual-wield two pistols. You have the machinegun, dropped by the SS. You have the chaingun, which shoots faster but takes some time to fire. And then there are a couple of new weapons: the flamegun, which shoots powerfull balls of flame but has a limited reach. The rifle, in the original EXE hampered by its inconsistent accuracy (fixed in a patch) but ultimately great for long distances. The only new weapon I didn't like was the STG; it didn't add anything to the mix, it was basically just a slightly better machinegun. As the difference wasn't that noticeable at all, it just feels like a waste of a weapon. And finally, there is a secret weapon in every episode, but I won't spoil those for you.

Mapping: The mapping is the highlight of the mod. It feels close to the original while at the same time Ipank7000 gives his own spin to it (both with the help of the features he implemented and his own mapping style). What's immediately noticeable from the first level is the changed ceiling color, an element at times forgotten by mappers, which is unfortunate because it's something that can both add to the atmosphere of a level and can be combined with certain walls and objects to create aesthetically pleasing environments. This is something that Ipank has done really well in this mod.
The guard placement always keeps the player on his/her toes. The combination of deaf and non-deaf guards ensure that the player never knows for certain if a room/hallway has been totally cleared of enemies or not. This is effective, but some of its effect is lost over the course of the 30 levels. This is because a couple of tricks are consistently used throughout the mod, most noticeably the 'SS around the corner' trick. Next to that, in episode 2 levels 5 & 6 started out the exact same way with an ambush at the start of the level. It's hard to keep things interesting for 30 levels, and while the mapping is outstanding there aren't enough new tricks/features introduced to avoid some fatigue. Which isn't unique to this mod, as I personally feel a lot of mapsets suffer from this. But despite these critical notes, the mapping in this mod is fantastic and illustrates that Ipank might just be one of the best mappers in the Wolfing community at the moment.

Likes: The mapping is outstanding and is THE reason to gives this mod a try. Ipank7000 combines his own mapping style really well with the features he has to his disposal, creating something that feels both very close to the original Wolf3D yet at the same time feels as its own thing. The limit on your weapons arsenal keeps things interesting. I loved the fact that the mod was so action-packed; it's certainly very challenging, but it's also very fun and satisfying when you get past a level. The only level that tilted more towards frustration than a challenge was E2L1. While still a great level (and greatly used the Spear of Destiny theme song), the mutants make it a really tough floor. But that's what mutants do, the bastards!
The new enemies all fit in really well with the original ones. I loved the fireball mutants; they were fast, both their own moving speed and the speed of the projectile they shot, but the range of their projectile was limited. Overall the new enemies were balanced quite well. The only enemy which I personally feel they don't add that much are the STG guards. They are basically bigger, tougher to kill SS. The rest all add a new flavor to the mix, but the STG guards just feel like they needed to be included as the 'new' enemy introduced in episode 3, but they just lack something unique.
Dislikes: The original release still contained a couple of bugs that really hampered the mod. This is unfortunate, as the mapping is done so well and all the new features fit in so fantastically, that it's just messy and sloppy to not have an executable that is bug-free. A couple of bugs (some of which have been fixed in later releases): the accuracy of the rifle, a couple of mapping errors, configurations set in the menu change without the intention of the player and some of the dropped weapons disappear. There were also a couple of instances where solid objects were non-blockable all of a sudden, without reason. Normally these would hide pushwalls, but it felt non-sensical to have those randomly. It makes the game world feel inconsistent.
Fatigue set in during the first half of episode 3. I felt like I had seen most of the mapping tricks before, and the STG guards didn't add anything new to the mix. Luckily, the second half of E3 was really action-packed which injected some new life into the mod. But mapping tricks being overused is something Ipank7000 needs to keep an eye on for future releases. This is a problem for many mappers, and most mapsets suffer from this problem.

Ron's Score: 8.5/10
Difficulty: Very challenging
Best Levels: E1L8, E3L6, E3L8 & E3L9 
Worst Level: E2L1 (if I had to name one; it's still a good level)

Wrap-up: This mod features some fantastic mapping that combines the original feel of Wolf3D with new features that blend in fantastically. It is unfortunate that some bugs and repeated mapping tricks hamper the experience, but overall I would say that this is a must-play mod by one of the best mappers of the Wolfing community.

Where Can I get it?: You can download the mod HERE or by clicking on the screenshot at the top of this post. Youtube user xdman is doing a playthrough of this mod, which you can find right HERE.

Disclaimer: All reviews are only my opinion when playing the mod and are not intended to discredit anyone or the hard work they have put into creating their mod.


  1. Woah! I was looking for retro gaming blogs for ages but now I found this.. Takes me back to my childhood. Really awesome blog! I was reading this review and as I have a Mac, I thought it wasn't worth giving a try to wolfenstein mods, as I just couldn't get the original to work. But I'm glad I did! It worked and.. What an awesome add-on indeed!

  2. That's good to hear, thanks for the comment! :) And indeed, awesome add-on.