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Wolfenstein - Wolfenstein

By Stuart Andrews



Our Score:


Luckily it's really not all bad news, and it's the missions themselves that save the new Wolfenstein from disaster. Sure, some are still hugely uninteresting - you can guarantee that any mission where you have to infiltrate building X and steal document Y will be a tedious Nazi-blasting session straight out of old-school Medal of Honor - but there are still sections where Wolfenstein suddenly remembers exactly what it should be all about, and at these times the game takes off with a bang.

The classic Wolfenstein formula isn't especially mysterious or complex. Take BJ, add Nazis, throw in weird technology and an element of horror, then shake well and leave until the bullets start to fly. Raven showed with Quake 4 that it could put together well-structured levels and orchestrate big action moments, and Wolfenstein does pack in a few corkers. An early mission in a mysterious ruined temple is just a taster for the treats that follow, including an infiltration of a huge Nazi underground research base, an investigative mission in, around and beneath a most unsavoury hospital, and an all-out assault on a Nazi super-weapons plant.

Skilfully throwing in creepy new foes, dishing out deeply lovable new weapons and putting together fierce, challenging encounters, the best levels in Wolfenstein leave you wondering where the inspiration disappeared to for the rest of the game. These might be riffs on old themes swiped from past Wolfensteins, Gears of War, Resident Evil, F.E.A.R. and Half-Life, but they're nonetheless entertaining for that, and the chills and thrills come at a pretty steady rate. You can't downplay the importance of a top-notch score either, and Wolfenstein has one of the best in recent memory. There are times in this game where everything just gels, and the experience is everything I hoped for, if not more.

To give it full credit, some of Wolfenstein's additions to the formula work perfectly well. The biggest is 'the veil' an otherworldly dimension BJ can access through an ancient, magic artefact. In its most basic form, accessing the veil enables you to see enemies in the dark and move through secret passages or up mystic ladders, but new crystals soon add new abilities. Again, there's nothing new about these - hello F.E.A.R.-style slowmo, enhanced damage and a shield - but these new elements work well within the game, and some attempt has been made to integrate them into puzzle elements or make them the keystone of specific combat set-pieces.

Sensibly, Raven has also lifted another cool idea - this time from the Resident Evil games. Weapons and veil powers can be upgraded at black markets with gold cheekily snatched from Nazi hangouts, giving you the chance to buy telescopic sights, ammo upgrades, damage upgrades and accuracy upgrades for your guns, along with crystals that enhance your veil powers. By being reasonably tight with money Raven has made it hard - if not impossible - for you to maximise all your guns and all your powers, so instead you need to think about how you're going to fight and the sort of weapons and skills you'll need to do so. Personally, I turned the default rifle into a top-notch sniper weapon, beefed up the assault rifle and lightning gun equivalent and never looked back, but I'm sure there are other ways you could go that would prove equally effective against your supernaturally boosted Nazi foes.

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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