Retrowatch: Wolfenstein: Spear of Destiny - Another Helping of Classic Nazi Shooting
Welcome to another edition of Retrowatch, a weekly series where we take a look at a good game from years long past. In order for a game to be covered on Retrowatch, it must be at least 15 years old and most of all, it has to be good. Any game that scores below a 7 out of 10 will not be covered.
This week we are going to take a look at the expansion to Wolfenstein 3D, "Spear of Destiny."
"Spear of Destiny" was developed by Id Software and published by FormGen. It was released for the PC on Sept. 18, 1992, and FormGen developed and released an additional two episodes titled "Return to Danger" and "Ultimate Challenge" in May 1994.
For the release of "Spear of Destiny" on both Steam and GOG.com in later years, both Id Software's original episode and FormGen's two additional episodes were placed together in one pack and sold as a single product, giving players a total of 60 levels.
"Spear of Destiny" is very much a case of giving players more Wolfenstein 3D. While it doesn't bring anything new to the table apart from a few new bosses, it is still a fun shooter that any fan of the original will enjoy just as much.
A Mission to Retrieve the "Spear of Destiny"
The plot to "Spear of Destiny" takes place before the events of the original game. It follows B.J. Blazcowickz as he attempts to retrieve the Spear of Destiny from the Nazis after it they stole it from Versailles. The Nazis plan on using the spear as a part of a plot to create a nuclear weapon or summon demons.
Blazcowickz must battle his way through a massive base of 20 levels -- 18 normal and two secret levels. After killing tons of Nazis, several high ranking officers, and a Mega Mutant, Blazcowickz retrieves the Spear of Destiny. Upon touching it, however, he is transported to the realm of the Angel of Death where he must defeat the demon to return home.
Upon defeating the Angel of Death, he is transported outside of the base and found by allied troops, where he is hailed as a hero. Just like in the original game, the plot is very much secondary, while the gameplay is "Spear of Destiny's" primary focus.
The little twist at the end of the game, where you face off against the Angel of Death, is great and most players don't see it coming. It definitely shows the influence of what would later become DOOM, and causes quite a bit of unease upon realizing what is happening.
As for the two additional episodes by FormGen, they both follow the same plot as that of "Spear of Destiny." In each episode, the Nazis have once again stolen the Spear of Destiny and Blazcowicz must again retrieve it.
Just like the original game, the plot does exactly as it is intended to but if you are looking for a deep and complex story, "Spear of Destiny" isn't going to provide it. With the two additional episodes giving the exact same plot line, there is no reason to play them unless you are looking for nothing but more levels to play.
Don't Fix What Isn't Broken
That must have been the motto of Id Software when developing "Spear of Destiny," something I am very much in agreement with. There is little that could be changed with the gameplay from Wolfenstein without a complete overhaul or changing the game engine.
With that, the gameplay is exactly the same as Wolfenstein 3D. You battle your way through each level filled with dozens of Nazis. Each level has secrets hidden throughout, containing treasures, health pickups, ammunition and in some cases a secret level.
The arcade elements of a score system and lives remained and work just like they did in Wolfenstein. The lives are made redundant due to the ability to save your game at any given time. The scoring system, however, still gives the game a bit more depth for those looking to achieve the highest score possible.
As always the game is fast paced and action packed, giving plenty of adrenaline-filled moments throughout each of the levels. It still has the same problem that the original had with levels being purposely made to be like a maze. But there are still enough levels that are easy to navigate through to make the pain of the mazes a bit more bearable.
The two additional episodes from FormGen do bring in a few changes to the game, such as new textures, characters, new sound effects, one new enemy, that being a bat with guns and new voice overs for the enemies. After playing through both Wolfenstein and "Spear of Destiny" one after another, the changes despite being minor were welcoming. They do give a slight breath of fresh air.
The new qoutes of dying Nazi's are quite exhilarating and there is nothing like hearing a Nazi screaming for his Mommy upon his last breath.
Apart from those changes, there is nothing different about FormGen's two episodes. If you are looking for nothing but more Wolfenstein then you will enjoy them, but if you were looking for something more, you probably won't.
If You Love Wolfenstein, You'll Love "Spear of Destiny"
Spear of Destiny is as good as Wolfenstein 3D. If you love the original game, you are going to love this. If you don't then "Spear of Destiny" isn't going to change how you feel about it. While it is equal in every way to Wolfenstein there was room for improvement with an expansion.
A few more new enemies and a new weapon would have sufficed. The fact that there is no change is the reason for me giving it a 7 as oppose to an 8 as I did the original. An expansion should always give the player something new and "Spear of Destiny" doesn't do that.
Is it worth playing? Absolutely, if you enjoy the gameplay of Wolfenstein. If it is a case that you see it as just being too old, it is definitely a game to simply respect from a distance.
I hope you have enjoyed this edition of Retrowatch, and I hope you will join us next Monday, where we will be taking a look at another retro title.
Interested in seeing more Retrowatch reviews? Check out my review of Wolfenstein 3D.