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Wolfenstein - Wolfenstein

By Stuart Andrews

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

In many respects, this is the definition of a decent, classically-minded FPS. The weapon set is strong and varied, with a carefully considered arsenal of machine guns, rifles, rocket launchers, flame-throwers and more esoteric heavy weapons. Enemy-wise, it scores well too. Admittedly, Raven gets few points for originality. Its fast-moving, wall-crawling attack zombies were last seen in Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and F.E.A.R. 2. The heavy troopers might have been pinched from F.E.A.R. or Killzone 2, and the creepy, cloaked ninja-types are straight from Half-Life and F.E.A.R. All the same, each and every beastie fits well into the game's Himmler meets hellspawn style, and there are just about enough tactical wrinkles in fighting them to keep the core combat interesting. True, your regular Nazi troops could have done with a bit more training - the 'I'll pop my head up in the same place every three seconds' strategy has never been an effective method for survival - but when Wolfenstein is at its best, it's a thoroughly enjoyable genre effort.

Enjoyable, but not exceptional. The fact is that the likes of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Killzone 2, Half-Life 2 and Gears of War have so forcefully redefined the single-player shooter in the last five years that Wolfenstein no longer feels as thrilling as it should. Set pieces we would have called spectacular in 2005 now feel run of the mill, and the quality is not consistently good enough. What's worse, the same goes double for the graphics. Wolfenstein undoubtedly stands at the pinnacle of what's possible with iD's current Tech 4/Doom 3 engine, making skilful use of detailed, high-resolution textures, focus blur, pseudo HDR lighting and a range of other post-processing effects. And yet there are still signs that this is an old engine, whether we're talking about the blocky looking characters and monsters or the cramped, lifeless exterior spaces. Frankly, when Wolfenstein isn't at its best, you haven't just seen and played it all before; you've seen and played it looking better.

If the single-player campaign is a mixed experience, then the multi-player portion of the game is less so. I can't say I've put many hours in, but my basic impression is that it's not much good. The graphics are - inexplicably - even more dated and even less detailed than those in the single-player game, while the gameplay has little if anything to offer over what we've already seen in Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. The mechanics of the main 'objective' mode worked well there, and they work well here too, but I really can't see much else that would keep anyone away from CoD4, Killzone 2, Halo 3, Gears of War 2, Battlefield 1943, Battlefield: Bad Company or probably a handful of other games that I might mention. The fact that ET:QW itself both played and looked noticeably superior is really just rubbing salt in the wound.

I hope, then, that you can understand my confusion. I like Wolfenstein. There are moments, even lengthy stretches, where it's everything I want a new Wolfenstein to be: a slice of fast-paced, frantic Nazi blasting with a cool supernatural twist, and even the city-wandering stuff is not a total loss. Yet I come away from it feeling that this is a game that lost its sense of what it is somewhere along the line, and as a result is a bit of a mess. Fans of the series and hardcore fans of the genre will find enough here to remind them of what made the series so great in the first place, but this isn't a game that stands any chance of putting Wolfenstein back on the first tier of FPS franchises. Given the series' heritage, that has to be slightly disappointing.

Verdict

A decidedly mixed effort. On the one hand this is a solid FPS let down by some odd choices but driven forward by a handful of great levels. On the other, it's not quite fit to compete with the modern greats.

Overall Score

7

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.

Castalan

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.

J4cK1505

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

BobaFett

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!

StuAndrews

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.

Chris Beach

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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