2011-08-28 18:17:53

Wolfenstein, a name that means a lot to the old school gamers, a title that has seen a lot of work. From it's original incarnation as a 2d top down game for the Commodore 64 and peers, to today it has been seen in just about every generation of gamer. I barely caught glimpse of the title on the Commodore, despite having the commodore from 1985 to 1997, I did bump into it once and it only barely has any semblance to Wolf3d, which I think attempted to take the idea of Wolfenstein 2d and turn the same concept into a 3d shooter. One of the first FPS's of all time. 


Wolfenstein 3d was the big game, a highlight of Apogee and one of the first games I played on my 486. The sounds were barely above PC speaker quality, but the gameplay was rich with hidden rooms, nazis to kill, and treasure to obtain. it would hold over us FPS gamers until Doom was released by Id, under the careful guidance of Carmack and Romero.


After doom took hold there wasn't much hope for anything new from the Wolfenstein series, for about a decade or more. Then entered Return to Castle Wolfenstein released by Id, it seemed to add more of a story, and less about a prison escape. This game also highlighted something that was generally glossed over in the original Wolf3d Title, the supernatural aspects of this series.


Wolf3d had Zombies with guns in their chests, something that only really showed up in one chapter of the gameplay, and even then only just barely to be a distant memory. RTCW revealed a deeper attachment to the paranormal by having BJ put a stop to a program designed to resurrect an ancient Germanic Barbarian Sorceror King, to help the 3rd reich dominate with the powers of magic.


RTCW ends with BJ once again stopping the forces of the nazis, and all is quiet again for another decade, before we finally get a game simply titled Wolfenstein. For old school gamers that's all they really needed to call it, and once again the Nazi's are up to their occult hijinks, only this time BJ gets some occult trinkets to help him defeat them as well. In the end BJ gets to slow down time, see through objects, shoot through barriers, and shield himself all with the power of what they call the "black sun", a dimension outside of our own that the Nazi's want to harness as a weapon.


Gameplay for this game is mission oriented, but also centered around the city of Isenstadt, a city you will be criss crossing all over for to reach the different mission areas. This really brought a lot of continuity to the game, as in previous games you either were in a very linear trajectory trying to escape a multi-level castle, or you were air dropped between missions into places that didn't really fit together. But here you have a city divided into chunks, with unfortunate loading screens between each segment(it is unfortunate to not see the game load areas on the fly but this is obviously done to maintain framerate and speed of play) 


The missions while somewhat linear do lend themselves to a couple of different approaches, giving the player the choice to run in guns blazing or take the more stealthy and lengthy approach. You are also given a wide variety of weapons to use, some silent and powerful, others loud but even more powerful. While the game gives you lots of variety, it definitely does not let you stick to 1 gun to kill them all. You will run out of ammo for your favorite toy and so you will need at least a couple of different weapons loaded out to excel.


As you play and acquire gold(another holdover from Wolf3d, finding treasure!) you can spend it on upgrading the weapons you encounter in the game, being the perinneal sniper that I am I chose the Kar98K as my primary weapon to upgrade, it comes as a hand loaded bolt action, but as you upgrade it you can load it via stripper clip, fix a bayonet, strap on a sniper scope, silence it and boost it's caliber. once fully upgraded I was killing Nazi's in rows, dismembering them with ease, and silently so I could remain hidden in the shadows, when I was approached or had to walk into a patrol, the bayonet would easily dispatch close range soldiers.


Other great weapons seen here is the standard MP40, the MP44, a Flamethrower, Panzerfaust, Tesla Gun, and a plasma gun. you get to carry all of these at once in old school fashion, and will need all of them for certain niche tasks.


The story arc in the game is good, as is the voice acting. The game is a challenge and even the multiplayer was well built from what I saw of it. Unfortunately at this point the multiplayer community seems to be primary in the EU, so if you are in Europe it may be worth it to play multiplayer, but US gamers might as well consider this a dead title.


The gameplay was mostly straightforward and while challenging wasn't impossible. The final boss fight certainly netted a lot of deaths, but in the end was satisfying. Not much replay value to be had however so I recommend a rental especially with the death of the multiplayer preventing any multiplayer replay value.

Reason Result
Start 10
Revival of a franchise that is well constructed +3
Storyline is a little Indiana Jones get the artifacts before the Nazis style, which works pretty well. +2
Multiplayer is laggy due to the only people seeming to still play being in EU -3
Last boss is several orders of magnitude harder than anything else in the game -3
Final Score 9/10

Multiplayer being Dead and the difficulty curve scaling 4x for the boss fight seems a bit unfair when playing it, many people will need to consult walkthrough videos on the final boss to figure out the pattern and solution for the boss. Otherwise the game is very respectable and honors the title Wolfenstein for this generation of gamers quite well. We'll see you next decade Wolf! until then, rent this and enjoy it, it's a fun if short romp.