Title: Wolfenstein Platform: PS3/360/PC Platform Reviewed: 360 Developer: Raven Software, id Software, Endrant Studios and Pi Studios Publisher:Activision MSRP: $49.99, £39.99, €59.99 Writer: Martin 'lost' Perry
Wolfenstein returns courtesy of Raven Software and a few friends with B.J once again ready to blast away supernatural Nazis. Can the original FPS still cut it in today's crowded catalog?
Wolfenstein has undeniable pedigree in terms of franchise. As the original FPS its place in history is well earned. Most recently Return to Castle Wolfenstein surprised gamers with a fresh update to the classic formula. That formula reads Nazis plus supernatural experiments equals some really messed up enemies. Raven Software have embraced the heritage of the series and gone to work on a brand new outing for B.J Blazcowicz that strains old fashioned gameplay styles to their very limits.
The plot outline will sound quite familiar to those who have played as the special agent before. In the fictional town of Isenstadt the SS have gone to work trying to secure the powers of a supernatural force known as the Black Sun. The Nazis are holding the town hostage but bands of resistance fighters are coming together to overcome their newly acquired weapons. Their cause receives something of a boon when B.J arrives and quickly locates a medallion that allows him to tap into this mysterious dimensional power. He finds himself able to bend time, penetrate magic shields and create his own. What follows is a rampage through Nazi occupied levels to halt them from using the Black Sun to its full potential.
Wolfenstein's plot plays out through both cinematics and in conversations with the resistance fighters holed up in the hub town of Isenstadt. It's a decent tale but not one that really involves the mind. The knock on effect of that is that various twists and turns hold little emotional consequence for the player. That, quite arguably, doesn't matter as the story really only feels like a thin layer of glue to hold together the various locales and introduce that all important medallion. This particular artefact and the powers it grants you are at the very core of the gameplay.
While B.J isn't quite as unlucky as to find himself without back-up in this war torn city he is expected to carry out the bulk of the Nazi killing. The Third Reich is tricky to topple as one man but the 'Veil' abilities granted by your new toy swing the odds in your favour. Initially you'll only be able to see the world through the Veil. This conjours up the game's one big (and really quite impressive) graphical trick as the entire world around you changes into a much more blue, much more grim environment inhabited by rather strange exploding creatures. Not only that but it allows you to run significantly faster and spot highlighted enemies. Your abilities will, however, grow in number.
Eventually you'll find yourself able to slow time, enhance your weapons and cast a protective shield around yourself. Levels are dotted with wells of Black Sun power that allow you to charge up your power reserves and execute these special techniques. The levels are, however, also dotted with well-armed Nazis all too keen to blow away 'the American spy'. The odds of succeeding are stacked heavily against you and, with the easier introductory levels out of the way, gameplay becomes focused on clever navigation mixed with brutally traditional run-and-gun. You'll be forced to use cover without a new-fangled system to use with it.
That's no bad thing to be honest. Plenty of games offer the chance to hug a box while popping out to blast away approaching enemies but few now offer the less realistic, more visceral cycle of ducking, strafing and shooting. Gamers above the age of 10 will probably get a sense of nostalgia as pull off daring, inhuman manoeuvres to outwit the enemy. Raven Software have succeeded then in using old-fashioned design in a new game then? Well, not entirely.
Unfortunately the expectations of gamers are not limited to cover systems. Our latest crop of amped up game boxes have offered varied FPS experiences that have robbed from the coffers of a multitude of other genres. Vehicle sections now feel like the norm but fresh ideas using advanced physics, massive scale and some have even managed to get platforming right. Wolfenstein doesn't even attempt the first of these suggestions and throughout its campaign will even taunt the player with readily available jetpacks that, no matter what button you press, you won't be able to strap to your back. Opportunities for 'wow' moments are missed as B.J sky dives and uses a truck as a battering ram during cutscenes.
With only the slow-motion Veil power offering any real step away from reality (powered up weapons don't count) Wolfenstein has little to offer players in terms of originality or depth. An upgrade system feels like a token gesture and the dull hub town of Isenstadt fails to build a strong RPG sensibility into the game. However, with strong yet traditional gameplay at its core the game pulls out a trick that few others seem to remember these days – value. On top of the significant main missions there is a wealth of side missions to be found. Monetary rewards for completion and subsequent upgrades are little motivation to play but instead the promise of new locations to put your FPS skills to the test will encourage you to hunt them out.
Along with a barrage of collectable items this bundles into a game that offers a great level of bang for your buck. While Raven Software have forgotten to add in that extra something to most of the levels their volume and consistent quality will drive you to continue you playing. Trips to airfields, inside Zeppelins, to farms, cannery's and more all mount up to build a cohesive structure with levels that make sense. The Nazis have secret bases under almost all of these and so no one location consists of a single aesthetic. These levels are all built well and facilitate the fun even if they stick very rigidly to corridors and closed doors.
The multiplayer modes mirror Return to Castle Wolfenstein pretty closely. That amounts to a good standard of online play but, again, not a ground-breaking experience. Those who find the aesthetics and premise of the game particularly interesting will likely linger in the lobbies of an entirely enjoyable online experience. Solider, Medic and Engineer classes offer familiar styles of play and your likely to find a well-worn glove that fits. Team Deathmatch, the attack or defend focused Objective and the timed Stopwatch modes all combine to offer more value in this great package. They just aren't likely to challenge any of the popular games in terms of playtime.
I enjoyed Wolfenstein a lot. It's well made, well thought out and it's free-form gameplay offered the chance to really unwind. Your likely to find yourself quite blown away within the first hour or so by the possibilities that lay before you. The more entrenched you become in the town of Isenstadt and the otherworldy glow of the Black Sun dimension the more this feeling fades. Perhaps the Castle level explains it all best. You expect a spectacular sprawling journey through open courtyards but are instead greeting with more enjoyable run and duck gameplay with a big but hardly deadly boss to round things off. Wolfenstein won't set your world on fire but it provides fun by the bucketload with enough content to heartily recommend it as a purchase.
Score: 3.5 out of 5
Loads of content, especially by current gen standards. Definitely worth buying.
The supernatural Nazi thing never gets old but plenty of 'normal' guys keeps the more monstrous enemies feeling like genuine threats to your safety.
Refined, traditional FPS gameplay that rewards the daring and combines some neat special powers.
Strong presentation throughout with well-suited voice acting.
No real set pieces or particularly impressive moments. Rarely breaks its own mold.
Can get a little repetitious and doesn't lend itself well to long play sessions.
A few encounters aren't particularly well balanced which can lead to depressing restarts as the middling A.I. picks you off.
I'm interested in this game, but far from convinced of a purchase.
If I ever do buy it, it certainly wouldn't be this year. With all the games I already have to finish, not to mention the many excellent games coming over the next couple of months, this game just doesn't have to pull to warrant a purchase any time soon. Maybe early next year, when its cheaper and my gaming to-do list has been shortened by the holidays, I just may seek this out. Until then, I really don't think I will miss it.
I bit the bullet and bought it for the PC when gogamer had it for $30. I can't wait for it to arrive and blast some nazi's again. It is very hard to get a game to be unenjoyable when nazi killing is involved.
Im sorry but 3.5 out of 5?! That score connotes that wolfenstein is somewhat decent, but in reality it SUCKS GIANT BALLS. Its generic in every sense of the word, absolutely every aspect of its story, level design, game mechanics, etc are completely half arsed. It deserves 1 out of 5, if not 0 for how badly they fucked up multiplayer!
I dont give a fuck what the professional "bribed" reviewers are prepared to rate this, I expect a bit more objectivity from someone reviewing a game on a community website. And thats quite apart from the fact that there are enough reviews from respectable sites which confirm that this game is utter dog turd:
Xbox World 360 Magazine UK - 50%
"It's not terrible by any stretch but it is utterly forgettable and, even though its belated release comes at a time when most shooters have packed their bags and headed for the safety of 2010, simply doesn't pack near enough pizzazz to stand out from the throng. Fans of BJs everywhere wail as one as another once-proud franchise bites the dust."
Eurogamer - 60%
"With only genre basics in its bag of tricks, and hobbled at every turn by clumsy implementation, in a gaming landscape that already offers Battlefield 1943 and Call of Duty: World at War's Nazi Zombies mode, Wolfenstein's bargain basement charms are of limited appeal."
Edge Magazine - 50%
"For all its foibles, Raven's brand of brazen, aimless carnage is a gruesome thrill with just enough dynamism in each battle to keep its anachronistic heart beating. [Oct 2009, p.88]"
PSM3 Magazine UK - 49%
"Massively ordinary shooter with a bizarre plot and rubbish AI"
"Onoes, my hatorade for a game is not reflected by teh reviews I is reading! They must be teh bribeds! PLANTS!! PLANTS!!one"
I realize that with every single game release, everybody either absolutely loves a game unconditionally, or they universally hate it and it's banned and never sold again, but once in a while...when the moon is just right...and the wind blows from the east...opinions end up differing. (And it happens without any sort of monetary compensation!)
It's totally ridiculous, I know, but I'm just reading what Wikipedia says on this.
You're probably getting hate mail because you didn't hate on the MP aspect. Its absolute GARBAGE when compared to RtCW. The legion of wolf and et fans were expecting a triumphant return to the wolf universe multi-player, and instead got a steaming turd that doesn't run well, obviously made for consoles first and foremost, and is quite frankly an embarrassment.
The 'community' is still waiting for ANYTHING from the community manager SOKAL, who after creating a thread asking what we took issue with on the official WOLF forums that went for 35 pages, closed it with a comment that hell get back to us. That was the better part of 3 weeks ago.
Yes, the single player part was enjoyable, but any true wolfenstein fan did not buy this game just for the SP, they were hoping for good MP.