Games like Killer Instinct, Doom, Duke Nukem, have 3D scenarios but use 2D characters.

I know they're called in such way it demonstrates it's not technically all 3D, but I can't remember the name.


There's the term "2.5D", which combines a lot of concepts, a lot of them still heavily in use today.

What games like Doom and Duke Nukem 3D do is called Billboarding. Here, a 3D environment is used and 2D sprites (usually always facing towards the camera) are inserted into the world. The term "billboarding" derives from the way it is presented - a flat "board" facing the camera and displaying the content.

Other techniques, such as axonometric and particularly isometric view are also used in a lot of instances to give the illusion of a 3D environment, rather than a true 3D environment.

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    Isn't this also the term used to describe games like Donkey Kong Country, which has 3D characters on a 2D plane? – Zibbobz Jan 16 '14 at 15:11
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    @Zibbobz Something of that kind is listed on the article I linked to as well, although it's probably more of an adaption of the Skybox model. – user98085 Jan 16 '14 at 15:18

The term "2.5D" also refers to gameplay that is presented in a 3D environment but doesn't allow the player full freedom of movement - they are restricted to a 2D plane. In the case of Doom et al. the character can move forwards/backwards and left/right but never up/down (except for jumping).

This also enables the use of sprites rather than 3D models, as the developers can be sure that the enemies will never be seen from above or below.

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