After 8 years Wolfenstein returns to give us another round of Nazi blasting WWII action as lead hero, BJ Blazkowicz. In an adventure inspired by the dark arts, Wolfenstein breathes new life into this classic franchise.
It is pretty amazing that almost 20 years later BJ Blazkowicz is still fighting the Nazi war machine in our games. Wolfenstein’s classic formula of run and gun has taken a few turns along through the years, but in essence Wolfenstein in 2009 is merely an updated version of the original. Even as most shooters have progressed beyond the simplistic game mechanics of shoot, ask questions later, Wolfenstein stubbornly embraces its roots in its throwback return.
The last time we have seen Wolfenstein it was a reboot on the original Xbox in Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001). Return to Castle Wolfenstein was an excellent gunner that provided enough entertainment to remain memorable, although not a striking as its last offering, Wolfenstein 2009 doesn’t slow down when its comes to FPS entertainment. Wolfenstein will appeal to anyone who enjoys straight up shooters without too many add-on's to worry about.
In Wolfenstein, BJ will head into enemy territory take out the Nazi forces! Once again the Nazi’s are up to their old shenanigans in the never ending, always elusive, quest for power. In a plot that feels like a road we’ve traveled before, you’ll be directly trying to stop the Nazi experimentation with the supernatural. Right from the intro cinematic, Wolfenstein pulls no punches and you’ll basically have the game figured out. Cool supernatural amulet, evil Nazi scientists and a whole lot of gunshots and explosions. In a quick rundown that pretty much sums up Raven Software’s Wolfenstein. Not that this is a bad thing because sometimes it's good to turn off the old thinking cap and jump into some straight up action. In that regard, Wolfenstein has you covered.
Blazkowicz, Powered by the Veil
Wolfenstein might stick to a traditional formula when it comes to the core gameplay, but when it comes to unleashing the lead, Wolfenstein has some other plans in mind. The first intereting change in Wolfenstein is its use of non traditional weapons, and one unique items that wouldn't have been possible in the past. The main item in Blazkowicz’s arsenal is an amulet called the “Power of the Veil”. The veil provides a gateway to another dimension along with a few other cool tricks that help one man take on an entire army. Shortly after you start you’re game Raven gives you this unique power which changes Wolfenstein from a rather traditional WWII shooter into something a little more interesting. With the click of the D-Pad you can active any of Veil’s power to manipulate time, travel through solid matter, and empower bullets and more. The powers are unlock through various stages in the game given you a few levels to try out your new tricks before you move onto the next one.
The “Veil” is a great gameplay addition which keeps the game fresh, although its awesome power is a little too much. With the Veil enabled BJ is almost unstoppable, and since its power can be regeneration through reservoirs placed all over the map, there is no reason not to use its power. BJ is stronger, faster, and down right unstoppable when using all Veil, and when you add in the factor that it's given away so early in the game, Wolfenstein becomes unchallenging. On normal difficulty you will jet through the Nazi’s like they are junior boy scouts. Upping the difficulty changes this bit, but the reactions and unbridled power of the veil seems an unbalanced. Given the A.I. isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed; you’ll likely be in a euphoric state of power. This is good for gamers who just want to grab some points and have a run through the story, for everyone else who is looking for a engaging challenge try Wolf on hard and see how easily your skill match up with the Nazi army.
In coloration with the Veil you will get to wield some cool weapons like the Particle Cannon and Tesla Gun that both make the BFG look like a child’s toy. The new Wolfenstein definitely has more firepower than its older counterparts. Aside from the new fangled super-weapons, Wolfenstein has its share of standard WWII guns that can use and upgraded through the games internal Black Market racket. Upgrading the standard weapons like the Kar 98 Rifle is a great option that not only changes how you use your weapons, but also changes the cosmetic look of each gun. Cash to purchase this upgrades is found through out the game in hidden locations along with Intel that helps deepen the Wolfenstein experience.
Welcome to Isenstadt
The storyline elements is very much driven by combat, so expect the typical objects like flanking MG nests while you squad holds off an enemy advancement or exploring a dig site filled with superhuman enemies and collapsing architecture. Wolfenstein tries to branch out even a little more as you get into the game with a central town of Isenstadt acting as a HUB. Unlike other game "resting areas", this HUB is constantly being filled with enemies which can be a little annoying between missions. From this stationary location you will have access to all the options like the Black Market, secret missions and more hidden loot. Even though I applaud Raven Software’s innovation and idea to use a central HUB it out of place in Wolfenstein fast paced world. I would have preferred a little more interactive story-telling mixed into the combat then dilly-dallying around a HUB for a half hour.
After you get exhausted from blowing away the Nazi army with your dominating Veil powers, you might want to head online for some multiplayer match-ups. Online there are three classes of soldiers you can become with unlockable equipment, grenades and recharging abilities. The Veil powers are also carried over to the online game with specific powers being assigned to each classes. The classes are the solider, the medic and the engineer. Each class is fairly self explanatory, and just like other online class based games, expect to see a whole lot of soldiers and a few troopers trying out the other classes.
Online you will get to experience three modes; self-explanatory "Team Deathmatch" 6 vs. 6, "Objective" mode where you take turns at accomplishing specific objectives, and "Stopwatch" which is simply a timed version of Objective. The multiplayer modes in Wolfenstein will likely leave most multiplayer shooter fans wanting more, in the numbers and mode types. I was really surprised to find out that Wolf didn't have a simple Deathmatch mode. At the moment the Team Deathmatch mode is the most popular mode online, and you will find enough servers running Wolfenstein games. The interface is also a little chaotic when compared to the spoils of Matchmaking services. Finding a decent server without lag can take some work, however once you are hooked up on a good server, the fun starts. It’s just a shame the multiplayer mode wasn’t improved upon more then this basic version. When you compare Wolfenstein to Activision's other titles like Call of Duty or Quake Wars, Wolfenstein can’t measure up.
The production values behind Wolfenstein is quite surprising. Raven has done an excellent job making the visuals pop with a lot of detail added into the set pieces. The level of destruction in the environment isn't building crumbling like 'Red Faction,' but it is pretty impressive when the danger gets amped up. The special weapons and the Veil add another element of visual flair to Wolfenstein with their glowing special effects that light up the dark colours in Wolfenstein's "real world". For a criticism, I would have liked to have seen a little more creativity go into the re-imagination of some of the Nazi soldiers. The special units look cool, but a little more uniqueness would have gone a long way. Finishing up the polish of Wolfenstein is the equally impressive as Wolfenstein pumps out full volume adrenaline with its fantastic weapon sounds and effective musical score. Wolfenstein didn't need to do much, and even without getting too crazy, Wolfenstein pulls through with a good next-generation showing.
Wolfenstein returns to rekindle a little of its Nazi killing magic in it's first next-generation offering. Not only does Wolfenstein recreate a little dab of this magic, its embraces the world of magic and the supernatural to give this old standard a fresh perspective. The new dimension of Nazi slaughtering weapons and powers turns Wolfenstein from your average run-of-the-mill shooter into something a little more. Like a few other classic franchises like Quake, and Doom, Wolfenstein struggles a little, but ultimately holds its own in a genre that has surpassed linear storytelling and simplistic shoot em’ up action. Wolfenstein might not be as wild as its 3D debut, but it can still give put a childlike grins on your face as you blow through the single player campaign and hit up a few multiplayer matches. This one is for the straight up shooter fans, nothing more, nothing less.
Gameplay:7.5, Graphics:8.5, Sound:8.5, Innovation:7.0, Mojo:8.0 Final: 7.9 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 07.26.09