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Wolfenstein review



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Our Score:


Wolfenstein and I go back a long way. The original was possibly the first PC game I ever played, sitting at the keyboard of my housemate's 386 not long after the game first launched. Over a two year period I played through the original on every difficultly level, followed by iD's sequel, Spear of Destiny. Just less than ten years later I was captivated by Raven's first re-imagining, Return to Castle Wolfenstein - a game which suffered from comparisons with its contemporary, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, but which I found hugely entertaining. I say this because I don't want you to think that I came into the new Wolfenstein wanting to put it down or to complain about iD and Activision milking the franchise. I came into it rooting for the game, wanting it to be good. I don't care if Wolfenstein is backwards looking, dated or lacking in innovation. As long as it looks, plays and feels like a modern day Wolfenstein should, then I'll be happy.

Instead, I'm a little bit confused.

Things could be worse. One hour in, I was merely disappointed. Bar one brilliant section, the first level was a hackneyed approximation of a Call of Duty, making even Treyarch's worst efforts on CoD3 seem inspired by comparison. After that, the game seemed to have taken a weird left-turn into STALKER-ville, opting for the kind of free-roaming, talk to contact X, follow contact Y shenanigans you expect from the love-it/hate-it FPS or Fallout 3. Wolfenstein's hero, BJ Blazkowicz, has come to the charming German town of Eistenstadt to foil yet another Nazi plan with occult props. To do so, he needs to work with two groups: a resistance setup called the Kreisau Circle and a mysterious occult society, The Golden Dawn. Only by travelling around the city, completing missions for one and then the other can you advance the plot and wreck the German plans. Previously just your basic one-man army, the still strong and silent BJ now has to get in with the locals and serve their needs.

It's not necessarily my concept of Wolfenstein, but that doesn't mean it's a bad one. Linear levels, one after the other, are a little passé in this day and age, and the setting - a city slowly being torn apart by war and dark magic - has plenty of potential for atmosphere. Unfortunately, the area you actually get to travel around is surprisingly small and meagrely populated, and the levels are large enough to act as a boring buffer between bouts of action, without being interesting or well-developed enough to turn them into anything beyond that.

What's more, the more the game goes on, the more the streets become populated with Nazi troops, technologically enhanced super-troops and all sorts of eldritch horror, meaning that the stretches between missions turn into more extensive running battles. Again, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, and there is a point at about the halfway mark where you're enjoying some entertaining, challenging firefights in the public squares and major thoroughfares of mid-town Eisenstadt. After a while, however, the fighting just gets in the way of progress, and there's a sense that the game is - essentially - being padded out. It hardly helps that you find yourself fighting again and again and again in the same locations, and while you can evade combat by moving across the rooftops or through the sewers, confusing layouts and artificial barriers make doing so even more irritating.

Adam Foreman

August 23, 2009, 1:33 pm

I would love a special edition of Return to Castle Wolfenstein using the new engine and make some extra levels taken from this one. I loved the original RTCW so much, I still have it installed on my PC now.

Doc. Caliban

August 23, 2009, 5:39 pm

I passed on this game because, like this review, almost every screenshot on the web includes the 'paranormal' aspects of the game, which make is come across as being almost nothing but radioactive zombie mutant Nazis galore. I'm old enough to have played Wolfenstein 3D in The Day, so all this glowing stuff is not really my thing.

And because of that, I almost missed an awesome game!

As it turns out, despite the screenshots that almost every article / review / advert show, this aforementioned content is about 10% of the game, tops. It's almost entirely good old old-school shooter, and I loved it. It's a great game.

Doc. Caliban

August 23, 2009, 5:48 pm

One plus of this game, IMO, is that unlike top shelf titles such as COD4, there is very little, if any, use of the ridiculous "perpetual respawn" of enemy if you hang back and try to clear an area out instead of just running and gunning straight into the machineguns. There are a finite number of enemy troops in a given engagement, and you're allowed to deal with them as cautiously as you choose without being forced to waste all your ammo in a "move forward or we'll just keep spawning them" arcade game.

Well done.


August 23, 2009, 7:34 pm

I've waited for this release since Wolfenstein: ET - excitedly installed it first thing on friday when postie delivered it from Amazon ... and oh my goodness.

If I could ask for my money back I would - I'm shocked at how poor it is.

Single player game is average at best - and generaly uninspired - with filler in the town to stop you finishing too fast.

Multiplayer game - not even as good as Wofenstein:ET - and it was the multiplayer game I really wanted. So I'm back to playing Enemy territory:Quake wars and waiting for something to replace it.

Stay away from this miserable game - if you really want to try it wait for a few weeks as I'm sure it will be heavily discounted online before too long.


August 24, 2009, 3:47 am

There are what in Drakes fortune?? thanks for the spoiler TR. No biggie but I am kinda half way through that game right now

I do understand comparisons need to be made and therefore spoilers will occur suppose its my fault for picking up the game so late


August 24, 2009, 2:30 pm

@Castalan, I also ordered from Amazon and want to return the game! The sprint bobbing in single player makes me feel ill. Somehow they've managed to copy most gameplay aspects of Call Of Duty correctly but not that one. Thankfully it's turned off in multiplayer.

I was really looking forward to some classic RTCW style objective maps, but so far the level design has not been as impressive as the original. And why they had to mimic the Call Of Duty 4 experience-based perks system is beyond me. The significant difference here to XP points in Wolf:ET and QW:ET is that they're persistent and not just for the duration of a campaign. So as a new player you'll find yourself disadvantaged to those who've been playing the game for a while.

Ultimately, if I want to play objective style maps I'll be sticking to QW:ET or Team Fortress 2 and if I want Call Of Duty style combat, I'll stick to Call Of Duty!


August 24, 2009, 2:42 pm

Sorry about J4cK. I hope it won't ruin what is one of my favourite games of the last five years for you...

As to Wolfenstein, I think the spread of comments says it all. Some players might find Wolfie a great example of an old-school FPS, but I think it's just not consistently good enough. I'd love it to be great, but I can't escape the feeling that it's a second-rate shooter with a handful of genuinely brilliant sections (and the multiplayer is a major disappointment). That's enough for fans, but if you've only got the cash for a few games in the next few months, I think you'd be crazy to part with your cash on this one.


August 24, 2009, 4:32 pm

So far (just done the Cannery/Super Weapon bit) its been quite good fun, I've not minded decapitating my way through the same old patrol after the missions, its a bit of light relief, calmness after the usual hetic last sections.

But is it worth it? They want £30, but based on the actual game and the fact that they want £50+ for the next COD, Wolf should be £20 or less, it just doesn't have the tech, the imagination or the flawless presentation (PC menu sucks, the characters don't face you when your talking etc). Expensive prices for AAA games, fine I can accept that, as long as the publishers accept that most of their games are A- at best.

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