Developer: Raven Software
Genre: First-Person Shooter
This game was reviewed from the Xbox 360 version.
Long, long ago, in a land far, far away(Dallas Texas, to be precise) a small game development company named id created a game called Wolfenstein 3D. With graphics not much better then a Gameboy Color game, this first-person-shooter rose to the top of sales charts, having made an entirely new way to play the video game--and anyone with even a small knowledge of video game history can tell you what it was. While Wolfenstein's spiritual successor Doom is credited for perfecting, or rather making mainstream the idea of the FPS, Wolfenstein essentially invented it.
And so, about 18 years later, a new game with the moniker Wolfenstein is released, this time developed by id's close partner Raven Software. Obviously, remaking a game made almost two decades ago that had a storyline you'd only know if you read the manual wouldn't have went over too well these days. Instead, Raven made Wolfenstein a direct sequel to Wolfenstein 3D's sequel, Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Taking place directly after the events of Castle Wolfenstein(and I mean DIRECTLY after the events. Poor BJ doesn't even get a break) you follow war-time hero and G.I. Joe-esqe spy, BJ Blazkowitz as he again confronts the Nazi's twisted attempts to gain control of the occult for their own nefarious means. What this game ended up as is a perfect sequel to Castle Wolfenstein. While I say perfect, I don't mean the game itself is perfect. but rather that Wolfenstein gave me the exact same feel as Castle Wolfenstein did back in 2003(yes, I was late to the party on that game). The setting, atmosphere, enemies, even weapons will feel very familiar to you if you had played the games prequel.
Nazis are still right up there with zombies as the most killed vidya game characters.
For this Wolfenstein, Raven software seems to have decided to take Gears of War creator Cliffy B's idea that FPS games can benefit from RPG elements to heart. Like games such as Bioshock, any gun you get in Wolfenstein can be upgraded, given you have enough money for the job. Gaining money can be just finishing missions or finding bags of the green stuff lying around. For whatever reason people leave bags of gold lying around, we'll never know. But who cares, its a game. Thats the fun about it. Anyway, as each weapon can be upgraded with various attachments (scopes, silencers, extra clips, etc.) the powers you gain through a mysterious medallion in the game are also upgradable. These upgrades become unlocked the more you progress through the game's various missions. The problem with the upgrade system for the powers of your medallion are that it just doesn't do that much to make it too much better of a tool. For the weapons however, the upgrades are something worth paying for, especially for guns such as the Kar98 rifle and the Tesla gun. The upgrade system works, if not so much for your medallion's powers, for your weapons.
The gunplay itself is very familiar. Following the traditional gunplay of its prequel, Wolfenstein features the same run-and-gun action as Castle Wolfenstein, this time supporting an auto-regeneration health system. Compared to Halo, Rainbow Six and other games that use regenerating health, you have a good lot more in Wolfenstein then in other games, letting you usually just run into a group of Nazis or monsters and just open fire with disregard. Personally, I have never been a big fan of regenerating health in single player games. Wolfenstein could have worked just as well with the traditional 100 hit points health scale, used in past Wolf games, but heck. What shooter DOESN'T feature regen-health these days. This health type does work well in the connecting areas where you will spend your time in between missions, helping allies and buying upgrades around town, as well as using your powers to find secrets.
Speaking of powers, the abilities you find in the game are inside what is called the Veil. The Veil itself is one of the coolest aspects of the game. It uses a bar of magic that can be upgraded to hold more magic at a time. The bar has auto-regeneration too, however the rate of refilling is far too slow for combat purposes. For this reason, there are many different "hot spots" in each level where you can run to refill your gauge, and they are so frequent, that you could essentially stay in the Veil for entire levels at a time. Now the Veil is a bit hard to explain, other then "parallel dimension". While in the Veil, the games colors start glowing neon and enemies turn to a bright green color, making them easier to see and shoot. Secrets and weak spots on enemies glow red, and are easier to find. Previously unreachable areas now have Veil ladders or doors you can use to access the off-limits area. In the Veil, you run significantly faster then you do outside of it. It really is a neat concept, and unlike many game concepts, the implementation of the Veil works much better then a simple gimmick. While some of the powers you gain through the Veil's power wheel may be considered unnecessary, the Veil itself is used for all facets of the game; platforming, puzzles(albeit as shallow puzzles as you can get) and especially the gunplay.
The boss battles are some of the high points of the games gunplay. With very few exceptions, each boss requires a different strategy then firing like crazy till the thing drops. Without spoiling anything, most boss battles require using the bosses strengths against it or the environment to drop the boss. Some enemies need the same strategies. Enemies like the Scribes and Power Soldiers are resistant to normal gunfire and require you to change your way of attack when facing them. The AI itself is a mixed bag. While some enemies will blatantly stand out in the open for you to pick off, other will hide behind cover to take pot shots at you until you aim at them, when they will retract to cover, peaking out to see if your still aiming at them. Pretty much every enemy battle you'll fight, at least one of them will toss a grenade in your direction. Usually, their grenade aim sucks. I've had enemies throw grenades at the wall in front of them and blowing half their team up, while other enemies will run out of the blast radius of your grenade. Like Call of Duty though, you can always throw their grenades back at them, especially since they take almost 3 seconds to detonate. So yes, the AI can be very stupid, or they can be fairly intelligent. Just like humans, so hey. Maybe they did plan on that. Doubt it though. Oh, and I feel I should mention that some of the later boss battles will make some of you rip your hair out. They aren't simply "cheap"...they're pathetically cheap, if that adjective can even be used in context here.
After you've upgraded your more powerful weapons like the Kar98 rifle, enemies will begin to dismember depending on where you hit them at. Just like Fallout 3 and Soldier of Fortune, the limb removal is a neat aspect, but it doesn't change the gameplay in any way. As a graphical feature though, the enemy's animations when hit in certain areas are pretty entertaining, and strangely realistic looking. Some will just drop their weapon and slowly drop to the floor. Others will grab their neck and drop fast if you shot them below their head. Some will just flop over. I liked the different animations based on hit detection in the game. It somehow made it feel more like I was fighting a 1942 Nazi then 1991 Wolfenstein 3D nazi.
Another graphical feature, and arguably the coolest one is the look of the Veil. When you click the "Veil" button on your controller and travel to the Veil, all the walls and roads and enemies are coated in a different, miscolored look, sometimes glowing, sometimes radiating, sometimes simply a pallet swap of color. Seeing the Veil's floating bomb creatures suddenly appear and disappear is a pretty neat thing to see, as are the bullet-time effects when you utilize the Mire power of the Veil, or the bullets reflecting off your invisible shield. I'd say thats the best feature of the Veil. Looking cool. Some guns such as the Tesla and Particle Cannon share some of the same "blue lightning" effects used in the hot spots of the Veil. They work.
The graphics otherwise are fairly standard looking UE3 graphics. Shiny, detailed, and absolutely tolerable. In other words, the graphics aren't anything amazing or special, but they are better then most other games on the market. The detail in the levels is pretty impressive, the expansive Nazi fortresses or the large town squares without any noticeable pop-in. Technically speaking, the graphics were perfectly sound, with very few noticeable glitches. The fire, though...it could have used a little work. The flamethrower makes up for it though. The characters sometimes look a bit funky though, and I've seen the same character fighting side by side with their same character model multiple times. Not to mention that every Nazi looks the same. But that is fairly standard in video games.
The game benefits from the music and sound effects, though to be honest they are forgettable. I can almost assure you there will be no songs in this game which you will be whistling, humming, or even remember after the single player is over. The sound effects are the same way. Uninspired, but they certainly work. The voice acting goes from mediocre to horrific, with BJ being the best voice in the game. Still, thats not saying a whole lot, honestly.
The biggest offense I think is just how little replay value this game has. After you run through the campaign, though it holds up fairly well, it only took me about 6 hours to complete in its entirety. I will update this when multiplayer works.
Whoops, wrong game. Though you wouldn't know that just by looking at the name.
I'm afraid I won't be able to comment on the multiplayer at the time. This isn't because I can't play it, but any match I get into thus far has had extreme lag problems, rendering it unplayable at the moment. The review will be updated when if I can be into any real matches.
Final Score :3.5/5
Wolfenstein is the sequel to id's 2001, Return to Castle Wolfenstein. The game's gunplay is solid and the weapons are cool, if fairly unoriginal. The super power you gain in the game called The Veil medallion is the high point of the game, boasting impressive and useful powers in the game, and are fun to mess around with as well. Enemies are varied, though some are rehashes of other enemies and some are downright stupid ideas. Bosses are the high points of the combat, and for the most part are a blast to fight against, specifically the last boss, which is partially a huge tribute to the original Wolfenstein 3D's mecha-hitler. Other bosses will make you wonder what Raven were thinking when they made them so difficult. The level structure is standard, and decently varied. There are many secrets in the game, and upgrading your weapons is helpful, though upgrading your powers isn't so much. The graphics are pretty impressive, specifically the Veil's effects, but its not groundbreaking. The level of detail is high for environments, but the characters look bland. The VOs are underwhelming, and the music is forgettable. Multiplayer has unacceptable lag problems, and the campaign lasted only a mere 6 and a half hours.