It is likely that most of us have played or at least seen that historic and wonderously bloody game Wolfenstein 3D, in which you navigate around a Nazi castle trying to escape, but MOST IMPORTANTLY OF ALL, blasting the bloody living daylights out of those unfortunate officers who should chance to meet up with you. Inspired by this, Zenith Nadir went on to create the classic ZZT action game, Lebensraum.
Lebensraum is responsible for inspiring and influencing the next generation of ZZT action shooters, bringing us such classics as Infestation 3, etc. In Lebensraum, you play Jim Cowvitz, a hard man of action who has been sent into the fortress of Lebensraum to discover the Nazis' plans, helping to speed up the end of World War II, which has dragged on for too long. Naturally, as with all hard men of action, you get captured shortly after getting to the bottom of it all, and take up residence in a POW camp. Naturally, as with all hard men of action, you manage to get your hands on a particularly sharp piece of rock, with which you take out the guard and steal his gun. Heh heh. Time to kick some Nazi butt.
What makes Lebensraum special is that when Zenith decided to make an action Wolfenstein style game, he didn't just make a bunch of crappy objects and paste it together with nice art. The work he has done on this game is very obvious, as it literally oozes with quality. Let's take a look at some of the features that Lesbensraum pioneered:
As you start the game, you are given a choice between four different difficulty levels. No, those were not put there just to look nice, there is a noticeable change in the ease of play. For instance, when you start the game on its easiest level, then open the door, you find two SA guards and some health. When playing on the hardest difficulty level, you will find no less than five guards waiting for you, and no first aid kits. Which brings us to another unique point. In a dose of realism, you cannot see the contents of a room, or what lies beyond a corner, until you go in, whereat you will find death, life, or an assortment of the two. The guards, captains, and officers are all sophisticated as necessary in their AI, ranging from dispatched with easily to mildly amusing to aggravatingly difficult. And the dogs will give you nightmares for the next few nights to come. Of course, you won't have limitless health and ammunition. The maximum amount of ammo is 99, health 100, so it is necessary to strategize. However, your health is easy to watch through the fact that on the bottom of every screen is a status bar displaying your condition, be it 100%, Good, or Poor.
All these innovative elements combine to form Lebensraum, the fun and definitive ZZT action game, with loads of replayability. This is a game that deserves to be played and studied before you attempt to make a game of this genre, and I highly recommend it to all aspiring game authors.