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Anyone who has been playing videogames during the last two decades surely knows 3D Realms as one of the most influential producers of the period. Titles like Duke Nukem, Shadow Warrior, Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure and Raptor:Call of the Shadows were most likely responsible for the decrease in productivity registered during the early 90’s and are, even today, considered milestones of the gaming industry. After a period of financial trouble in which the company had to fight for its life multiple times, 3D Realms decided to celebrate its two decades of success with a bundle containing 35 games and known as the 3D Realms Anthology. This pack, which was first available only through the company’s official website, has now been published, with minor differences, on Steam and allows players to travel back in time and play the titles they most likely grew up with. The Steam Edition of the 3D Realms Anthology contains all of the titles published by the Texan company, excluding the original Wolfenstein 3D and two Commander Keen episodes: Invasion of The Vorticons and Goodbye Galaxy, bringing the number of titles to 32: Arctic Adventure, Balls of Steel, Bio Menace, Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold, Blake Stone: Planet Strike, Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure, Crystal Caves, Dark Ages, Death Rally, Duke Nukem, Duke Nukem 2, Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project, Duke Nukem 3D, Hocus Pocus, Major Stryker, Math Rescue, Monster Bash, Monuments of Mars, Mystic Towers, Paganitzu, Pharaoh’s Tomb, Raptor: Call of the Shadows, Realms of Chaos, Rise of the Triad: Dark War, Secret Agent, Shadow Warrior (Classic), Stargunner, Terminal Velocity, Wacky Wheels, Word Rescue, and Xenophage. The pack also includes a collection of soundtracks titled 3D Realms Anthology Re-rockestrated – Soundtrack.

The games are exactly as they were 20 years ago, retaining their qualities and flaws.

Dosbox will at time result in compatibily or performance issues

It is great to have the chance to sit down and play some of these classic titles, but while the guys at 3D Realms promise to deliver an adapted version of their games designed to run on both modern PC and Mac systems, the bulk of the 3D Realms Anthology is made playable through the use of DosBox, a decision that will at times result in compatibility problems and poor performances. Both sound and graphic performances, tested on different machines, will vary greatly. While the whole Duke Nukem saga, for example, will always run flawlessly, titles such as Raptor: Call of the Shadows or Shadow Warrior will feel and sound laggy, with the latter even needing additional tweaking in order to start properly. Input lag and the inability to play these games at native resolutions on newer monitors due to DosBox not being designed to allow so only add to the feeling of tackiness the 3D Realms Anthology delivers, a feeling further reinforced by the fact that a more modern version of some of these titles is available on Steam for a quite reasonable price.

The anthology surely includes a few pearls and the 3D Realms Anthology Re-rockestrated – Soundtrack is definitely one of them. A 9 tracks collection of music and medleys from the games executed by Andrew Hulshult, the soundtrack delivers a powerful punch and is a great one to listen to while playing or simply as a background for studying or working. Including pieces from Duke Nukem, Stargunner, Shadow Warrior and Whacky Wheels among the others, this collection features just the right amount of screechy guitars and electronic music to make it a must own for any retro-gamer. It is surely a great addition to the Anthology, although it would have been nicer to see more soundtracks being features in this particular pack.

The 3D Realms Anthology Re-orchestrated soundtrack is the perfect addition to your music collection.
The 3D Realms Anthology Re-orchestrated soundtrack is the perfect addition to your music collection.

Quality is still better than quantity

In conclusion, the 3D Realms Anthology is a product with a lot of qualities and a few flaws. It is clearly a must-own for 3D Realms fans and for all who wish to have the chance to play some of their favorite games from the last two decades. At the same time, the way the pack is presented makes it look more like a cash-in on older glories and simpler times than an actual celebratory product. A similar version of this pack was released on 3D Realms‘ official website roughly a year ago and included additional titles such as Wolfenstein 3D, which didn’t make it to this version allegedly due to the fact that ID Software preferred to publish the game on Steam separately. The price is surely a selling point, with the whole anthology being available for $39,99 and with the amazing soundtrack pack being worth half of that sum, albeit that makes wonder why the company simply didn’t feel like it was worth to spend the same amount of dedication and time on making their titles playable on modern machines, removing the need for OS emulation and additional tweaking in order to achieve a decent result.

If what you’re looking for is a chance to own all of the titles that made 3D Realms famous, the Steam Edition of the 3D Realms Anthology is definitely the pack you have been waiting for, but if all you wish for is a chance to play some of your favorite games from the past while being able to fully enjoy the advancements in technology and the improved stability and quality that your current generation machine can deliver and believe that quality is still better than quantity, perhaps looking for the single titles on Steam or on any other retro-gaming specialized platform might be the best option.

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Alessandro has been a gaming enthusiast since the age of five. Gaming his way through different platforms and their evolution, he acquired extensive knowledge of the gaming industry and the world surrounding it. He’s been covering the topic on different outlets, mainly focusing on Indie and smaller titles.