10th May2015

‘3D Realms Anthology’ Review (PC)

by Paul Metcalf


There is a breed of gamer, they are getting on a bit now but they still remember the hell of PC gaming in the nineties.  This was when numbers like 2086, 286, 386 and 486 actually meant something other than being bad lines in Hackers and multi-core computing was not something even considered in the home environment, never mind even the idea of 3D gaming (though it was coming).  This was the time of Shareware, and most importantly for this review, the time that 3D Realms Anthology looks back at.

If like me you still remember downloading shareware games, just taking a look at the 3D Realms Anthology list on Steam will bring back some great memories.  Even for the uninitiated the likes of Duke Nukem will be noticeable straight away, especially the inclusion of Duke Nukem 3D.  I’m sure more than a few people also notice the Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project on the list too, which is a must play for Nukem fans.  This anthology just isn’t about Mr. Nukem though, there is plenty more nostalgia at work here.

The 3D Realms Anthology has a mixture of games, from Balls of Steel which is a pinball game, to Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior (Classic) which bring in Doom style 3D shooting into the mix.  Fans of Shareware games in the nineties will see names like Terminal Velocity and their eyes will no doubt light up at some little gems that they have probably forgotten.

Shareware was the idea of giving a sizable chunk of a game away to the gaming community in the aim of catching their interest and hopefully giving them the impetus to pay for the whole thing.  Not just a demo it actually felt like you were being given part of the game.  I’m not sure how profitable this payment model was, but I do remember that as a player it gave me the chance to actually play some games that pulled me away from my usual point and click adventure choices like Secret of Monkey Island, Loom and others from the likes of LucasArts and Sierra (remember Space Quest and Police Quest?).  It offered PC gamers variety, and formed a connection with fans who still remember the names Apogee and 3D Realms to this day.


Looking at the games available in the 3D Realms Anthology there are a lot that may not stand up to our nostalgic memories, but are well worth a try.  Loading up Monuments of Mars for example simply reminded me of the fact that I loved that game, and that it even loaded up no problems was a huge bonus.  I think all retro PC gamers are so glad for the fact that DOS Box is a thing now.  It helps to bring back the classic games that just aren’t designed for the power house machines that we use today.

Some people will look at the list of games with an educated eye and notice omissions…there are some classics not included in this list.  One of them is Commander Keen, but I’m not too concerned selfishly as I already have the Keen games in my Steam Library.  It is a fact though that some games aren’t here, and this can’t be helped.  Not every game can be included in the list made available, but what has been included is very impressive.

For fans of Apogee and 3D Realms I’m sure this is a very easy buy, even if most of the games will just be added to the Steam Library and maybe not even played.  This happens often with Steam, we end up with a huge library and just don’t have the time to play them all.  For people who don’t already have the likes of Duke Nukem on their computer though, this is the perfect chance to fix that.  Yes, this is a nostalgia buy but nostalgia is not a bad thing and the fact that these games are returning to playability is awesome.  Take a dip into the past and you’ll find a treasure trove of little platformer, pinball, racing and karting games that may not look so good now, but are still a reminder of good times in the past.  A history lesson in Shareware, The 3D Realms Anthology is the perfect release for retro PC gaming fans.

**** 4/5

The 3D Realms Anthology is available on Steam now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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