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Nov 10, 2009

Review: Wolfenstein

Activision, ID Software, Raven Software
Available for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC

Nostalgia can be a huge motivator. You can see the effects of it in the market currently as a generation of 80s kids is now all grown up, and creating and buying icons from their childhood. The gaming industry is definitely one of those markets that is seeing more and more icons from my childhood return in sequels and re-makes. Sometimes this can be a good thing like the case of the Telltale Games and their revamp of the Sam & Max and Monkey Island franchises or a bad thing like the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise which really just needs to die.

One game series to get a next generation make over is the Wolfenstein series which was first created in 1981 by Muse Software with the game, Castle Wolfenstein. The newest instalment in the series is a direct sequel to the game, Return to Castle Wolfenstein which was made by Id software and created in 2001. Return to Castle Wolfenstein followed the story of an American soldier, William “B.J.” Blazkowicz, as he tried to escape from a Nazi stronghold and overthrow the regime.

Well, Blazkowicz is back in Wolfenstein and this time, he’s taking on the Nazi army from the outside. Set during World War 2, Agent Blazkowicz is sent to by the OSA to Isenstadt look into a mysterious medallion he finds on a Nazi warship during a mission to stop an attack on London but when he arrives, the Nazis not only knew he were coming but they have an ambush prepared for him. B.J. manages to escape but during the process sets off a strange weapon in the Nazi’s possession which removes the gravity from the area.

After B.J. meets up with his contacts in the area, you discover the Nazis have been looking into the occult and B.J. manages to steal another medallion from them much like the first one he found on the warship. This one, the Thule Medallion, allows you to enter a strange barrier dimension which stands between our world and the world of the Black Sun which is full of strange floating monsters.

The medallion also gives you special powers like veil sight which allows you to walk through walls or veil shield which protects you against bullets. In order to power up the medallion, you must find crystals called Nachtsonne to increase its power and they can only be found in Isenstadt.

Beyond the medallion powers, Wolfenstein plays pretty much like any other FPS game as you must run and gun your way through the levels. You will be given a multitude of weapons to find, purchase and upgrade throughout the game but I pretty much stuck to one gun throughout. You will have access to a black market to buy your weapons, ammos and more between each level.

The game at first starts out on a linear path but will soon open up to a sand box type world where you will have the opportunity to choose what mission you go on. After you complete a mission, you will be able to teleport back to base and purchase new weapons and upgrades. During missions, there are side items to locate like Nazi gold and intelligence reports.
The A.I in the game is horrible as most soldiers will stand still as you toss grenades at them. Honestly, the game is only really difficult because the developers decided to cram the game full of enemies and throw them at you in mass amounts. Some levels have so many enemies being thrown at you that the only way to pass them is with the use of the veil powers.

As I am not a huge FPS fan, I tend to base my love of the genre of the other aspects found in the game as shooting hordes of enemies for several hours is just not enough to keep me interested. I generally like a game with a good plot, graphics or some sort of hook. This game was lack quite a bit of those.

While the storyline in Wolfenstein is cool enough, the way it was present was poorly done in my opinion as it took forever to get the information across. Instead of giving the player a nice entertaining cut scene to explain the story, you have to instead talk to several informants and contacts to find out what is going on and you don’t get to talk to them just once – no, you have to talk to them multiple times which just seems to drag on and on.

Graphically the game is not bad with the occult special effects wowing you at every move but when you compare it to current games on the market like Halo ODST and even Call of Duty: WoW, the graphics could be better. The characters were incredible rigid in the cut scenes and there were a lot of glitches like walking partially through walls or enemies getting stuck in open doors. Such a shame that the graphics weren’t up to par since this game had huge potential.
The audio wasn’t much better as each unimportant character sounded stiff and similar as if they pulled the development team in to do the extra voiceovers rather than hire a real voiceover guy for them. The soundtrack was decent with a lovely epic battle music track following your every move as you blow those nasty Nazi soldiers away.

For a fan of the Wolfenstein series, this is a good game to pick up and relive your childhood but for players looking for something with a little more meat, I would suggest looking at other FPS games on the market before you head here. Wolfenstein is a decent FPS but decent is just not enough here to stand out in seas of Call of Duties and Halos.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Rent it

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