3D Realms Anthology review (PC)

The 3D Realms anthology is a wonderful look back at the early 90s PC gaming era with tons of original productions that were never released on other platforms. A nostalgic trip at where some of today’s franchises came from as well as a chance to scoop up some games that wouldn’t look out of place as a present day indie title.

Back in the early to mid-nineties, Epic and Apogee (which later turned into 3D Realms) were two of the more dominant PC-focused publishers out there. Epic turned into the company that brought us Gears of War and the Unreal engine later on, whereas 3D Realms is mostly associated with the Duke Nukem franchise these days. Back in the early 90s era however, both studios offered a wide range of different games – Apogee/3D Realms being the most prolific of the two. And now… the 3D Realms Anthology brings 32 of those classic games to Steam!

death rally

The range on offer in this collection is diverse and spans pretty much the entire gaming spectrum. From side scrolling (puzzle) platformers to 3D shooters to traditional shoot ’em ups, it’s all here. You’ll even find pinball and a Mario Kart clone in the shape of Wacky Wheels. Personal favorites also include the original Death Rally, a top-down racer from the days where those weren’t quite as prolific, and Blake Stone – a more obscure 3D shooter that followed Wolfenstein but took that engine to a sci-fi setting. It was one of the first 3D shooters I ever played and it’s great to see it again, even though it didn’t age gracefully.

Ironically, this is true for most of the 3D games in the 3D Realms Anthology. Rise of the Triad, Shadow Warrior and Terminal Velocity were all excellent showcases of 3D gaming at the time, but the core gameplay wasn’t as refined as what we see in present-day games. Looking back at these games now serves mainly as a nostalgic look at how far we’ve come in the past 20 or so years. However, most of the games in the Anthology are not actually of the 3D variety, and those have stood the test of time remarkably well. Many recent indie games are opting for a gameplay-oriented design with retro graphics, and within that context a lot of these 3D Realms games fit in remarkably well. The aforementioned Death Rally in particular hasn’t lost any of its appeal, but other highlights include shooters like Raptor and Stargunner and puzzle platformers Crystal Caves and Paganitzu.

duke nukem 3d

It’s good to point out that this collection doesn’t contain the full Apogee/3D Realms catalogue, with those notable series missing in action here being Wolfenstein and Commander Keen, both developed by id Software who we believe now also hold the publishing rights. Even without those titles on board, this is still an amazing slice of gaming history and now available on Steam – check out the full list of contents here: http://store.steampowered.com/sub/61948/

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