The gaming industry suffered a big loss with 3D Realm's unofficial closing in 2009. Seeing such a prestigious company fade due to a pesky lawsuit and lack of funding was tragic. But a developer responsible for defining 3D gaming doesn’t go down so easily. Nearly five years later, the team makes an epic comeback by offering gamers a 32-game collection of their greatest achievements for only $39.99. 3D Realms Anthology is a glorious reminder of just how much the developer contributed to the gaming world.
All titles, many of which have added gamepad support, are repackaged into a custom-made launcher built to run on Windows. Additionally, they’ve included a soundtrack with nine remade tracks from classics like Duke Nukem and Shadow Warrior. The best part is...everything is DRM-free. The games have aged surprisingly well, some controlling and running better than when they originally released. The 3D Realms Anthology proves that great gameplay is timeless.
"3D Realms Anthology is a glorious reminder of just how much the developer contributed to the gaming world."
Booting up a favorite like Bio Menace for the first time in over two decades is immensely gratifying. Even the classic DOS boot-up screens are kept intact. Added gamepad support makes platforming in many of the side-scrollers significantly easier, although trying to perfect jumps in Commander Keen is still infuriating. Considering that many of today’s indie games are revitalizing the pixel-art aesthetic, the games’ visuals don’t feel as archaic as some might expect. Titles like Bio Menace or Alien Carnage might be easily mistaken for a contemporary indie release. Even rougher looking 3D titles like Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold carry a nostalgic allure that’s impossible to dislike.
Replaying many of the platformers with an Xbox 360 gamepad feels fantastic, but the same can’t be said for the FPS titles. Games like Shadow Warrior and Duke Nukem 3D require the use of directional arrow keys for movement and can’t be remapped to WASD keys. Since 3D Realms went through the trouble of modernizing most controls, it’s surprising they haven’t added simple key reconfiguration options for 3D shooters.
"The tunes alone are worth the asking price, and 3D Realms even included the option to purchase the album individually."
In a way, the old-fashioned scheme preserves the games’ integrity, but the awkward mapping may turn off younger gamers. The lack of VSync is also disappointing. So much work went into rejuvenating the package for modern computers, yet a simple VSync option isn't present? Trying to force VSync via the GPU’s control panel doesn’t work either, so players are stuck with flickering images. Nonetheless, these are just small hiccups that honestly don’t take away from the Anthology’s overall quality and value.
The included soundtrack further highlights the company’s triumphant return. Interceptor Entertainment’s Andrew Hulshult lends his talent to reviving nine tracks across eight revered games. The soundtrack comes packaged in various playable formats, including mp3, wav and uncompressed flac. The tunes alone are worth the asking price, and 3D Realms even included the option to purchase the album individually.
"The 3D Realms Anthology is one of the finest classic game compilations since the Sonic Ultimate Genesis Collection."
It’s amazing how well some of these oldies still play. Games like Terminal Velocity, an arcade-style flight combat simulator, controls as fluidly as its contemporaries. Arctic Adventure’s sadistic level designs are reminiscent of the recent Super Meat Boy, and Raptor: Call of the Shadows has undoubtedly inspired many of today’s Shoot em’ Ups. These games are a testament to 3D Realms’ unprecedented creativity and innovation.
The 3D Realms Anthology is one of the finest classic game compilations since the Sonic Ultimate Genesis Collection. Younger gamers raised on fancy graphics and complex gameplay mechanics may not fully appreciate what this collection has to offer, but those feeling nostalgic for some of the finest PC titles of the late 80’s and 90’s should pick this up in a heartbeat. 3D Realms is back! The industry is in desperate need of new ideas, and who better to bring something new to the table than the guys responsible for taking gaming into the third dimension.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: PC