Wolfenstein is a solid FPS providing plenty of action and gore, however, despite the reputation of the series, it fails to offer new and interesting gameplay elements and will struggle to hold the interest of most seasoned FPS gamers.
Developer: Raven Software
Engine: id Tech 4
Release Date: Aug 18, 2009 (USA), Aug 19, 2009 (AUS), Aug 21, 2009 (EU).
Fans of the previous games in the series may be pleased to see the return of B.J. Blaskowicz, this time looking more refined, but as chiseled as ever. The game opens with your arrival at a train station in a scene eerily reminiscent of the opening scene of Half-Life 2. The train station looks run down, with Nazis everywhere, as you are whisked to one side by an undercover agent who sends you into the fray. Despite these similarities to the opening of Half-Life 2, the game has a feel and look a lot more similar to the Call of Duty series, offering features such as a more than strikingly similar objective system, not to mention optional collectible items. Even the grenade warning system is identical. After an early introduction to the power of 'The Veil' in a train station shootout with the Nazis, you find yourself in the fictional German town of Isenstadt, where the majority of the game takes place. The town is a Nazi resistance stronghold with several important factions camped out there.
Upon arrival in the town you are acquainted with your journal which offers you all your in-game information. This is where the RPG aspects of the game become apparent. Once you've been introduced to the relevant characters, you have free roam of the town which offers various safehouses with different functions, and the chance for random encounters with Nazis therein. The RPG slant continues throughout the game, one of your safehouses is a weapons upgrade and ammo shop which you will need to utilize as the game progresses, considering which upgrades will be most useful to you at that particular time. All of these factors bring very little to the game and feel like a distraction at times when all you want to do is get to the action. On top of this, the NPC animation is rigid, the voice acting is cringingly poor and there are countless seemingly pointless characters whose intentions are to add to the atmosphere of realism when all they succeed in doing is being irritating.
Despite these glaring annoyances, once you hit the action the game comes into a world of its own. As far the gameplay goes it sticks to the basics with a few interesting appendages. The main feature of the game that sets it apart from other FPS's is 'The Veil'. The Veil allows you to transport yourself into an alternate dimension with different rules from your regular dimension, however, both dimensions have the ability to affect each other and you are still susceptible to the bullets of the Nazis whilst in this mode. The noticeable differences in the alternate dimension are your ability to run faster and the glow of enemies around you. As with weaponry in the game, you can also upgrade your Veil abilities at the weapon upgrade shop. It's an engaging feature because instead of your only options being to choose what gun to use and when to throw a grenade in, you can consider using it to pick off far away enemies with ease, or when you are ambushed by a group of Nazis it provides the ability to blast them away from you. Certain features also become a necessity, in particular slowing down time is used regularly in order to pass certain sections, and you will also find many uses for the other Veil abilities, creating a forcefield, shielding you from enemy attacks, and the third power, granting you the ability to add damage to the bullets you fire. Perhaps one notable flaw with the Veil system is the way your allowance to use it functions. In challenging scenarios you may run out of 'mana' for the Veil, but it's quite possible to just stand in a safe area whilst it recharges and have another go at it. The irking appearence of RPG elements rear their ugly head throughout the action part of the game as you must force yourself to look for 'gold' and 'intel' in order to fund weapon upgrades which become necessary later in the game and do little to inspire replayability, only serving to accentuate your frustration.
A lot of thought was spared for the weapons in the game, they are a joy to use and upgrades are genuinely something to look forward to. As is the standard in FPS's, you'll find yourself using the low-end weapons at first, unlocking greater weapons from beginning to end. Many of the weapons are more what you would expect from a futuristic sci-fi game rather than alternate historical account of World War II. A particular favourite is the Tesla gun which electrically shocks anything it is directed in the general vicinity of. The true beauty of the weaponry is that when you run out of ammo for the 'showboat' weapons, you'll have no problem falling back on the likes of the MP40 and Kar98, firm and reliable in any shootout. Whilst the action is fun and entertaining, it can get a little repetitive, and you may find the only thing that brings you back to the game is the superb boss battles. Each provides a unique challenge and various methods of beating it. However, this is simply not enough to make up for the flaws of a game that feels like it was rushed out of the starting blocks. Physics and the environment will be some of your greatest adversaries throughout the game and, in some circumstances, cause gamebreaking events.
The graphics are smooth and rugged, but we've seen it all before, and the sound lacks an immersive impact, many enemies make the exact same death cry time and time again. Older fans may find solace in the multiplayer mode, which tries to pick up where it left off with Return to Castle Wolfenstein, but it lacks the playability of its predecessor and offers nothing that established alternatives can't match and better.
Overall, there are some interesting gameplay quirks, it can be fun at times, and the game is pretty without being spectacular, but there are simply too many factors that let it down and negate the enjoyable parts of the game.
- The weapons are genuinely fun to use.
- It's aesthetically pleasing.
- The story is boring.
- Virtually no replay value.
- Will fail to challenge most FPS gamers.
- Is a let-down to a once great series.