Instead we get this...
Where there is nazi's there is Wolfenstein, where there's Wolfenstein, there is paranormal events with strange weapons and American John Wayne bad assery. The time has finally come where Raven has developed another one of id Software's titles, this time being Wolfenstein. However what many will notice is that Wolfenstein has received a boost in its occult / paranormal dealings. Instead of making half machine half monster bad dudes, the Nazi's this round decided to just jump the fence and go right for the balls of the undead themselves. With the new Wolfenstein you will find your way through a town called Isenstadt, which is oddly enough controlled by those guys in black and gray called Nazi's.
But whats different this time? Well for starters this isn't the typical 'follow me and hold my hand' story telling experience we would get with games like Doom, Quake, or Wolfenstein. Well... it is still having your hand held but they give you the illusion of freedom. With the new Wolfenstein you go through the hub town of Isenstadt and collect missions from a selection of resistance fighters, and then branch out to larger more 'story telling' focused levels that guide you through the plot.
There is also a strange power up you get with this medallion you pick up called 'the veil'. When activated it switches your current world into a dark 'undead' alternate reality where things appear in a way as if you were looking through night vision goggles, but you also will encounter some strange wild life that, when shot, will zap and vaporize the crap out of anything in their path. Throughout the game you will gain specific veil powers that will assist you in fighting this modified Nazi regime. For example you have these guys called 'Scribes' and they are basically these bald guys with goggles and a black lab coat that run incredible fast and will also put up shields to protect themselves and soldiers. Well with specific veil powers you can slow down time, and also penetrate these said shields. And in the midst of combat it can be very intense and exciting when you have 3 or 4 of these guys to deal with plus 8 other pissed off Nazi's.
With these differences Wolfenstein has brought a new sort of experience to the series, basically taking features from all other games and cramming them together to make it one hell of a action packed experience.
Here is one thing that I will say I do like about the game.. its one hell of an epic adventure for a Wolfenstein game. While it does start off slow and boring for the first 20 minutes or so, after awhile the game becomes an adrenaline rush. However.. the only way to really achieve said awesomeness is through its hardest difficulty mode 'I am death incarnate'.
Now many of you will say "Woa, hey now that's pretty intense!" I'm here to tell you its not, its actually quite easy to play through on that mode, but they throw enough chaos in this mode that it becomes much more enjoyable than the others. And thank the gods its not like Call of Duty 4's veteran aka Michael Bay Mode where you have a Fourth of July shoved up your pooper around every corner. No, this is a perfect balance in the sense of action and challenges, while still pretty easy, it definitely lives up enough to be enjoyable.
Now in terms of the mechanics and all that jazz, the game plays out really smooth for PC, I had no problems with movement control or aiming, it felt like it was built around the PC and was a smooth experience over all. I will say the control scheme is a little different however, with the new veil powers, and it may take some getting used to if you are used to the control scheme of the past wolfenstein game but its definitely doable and quite enjoyable when you get the hang of it. Like myself I love fast reaction and combat when it comes to this type of game, and with these veil powers you will find your self switching between different powers, managing your veil power usage, and shooting up bad guys all at the same time and it can be quite an adrenaline rush when you have a horde of Nazi's on your hand.
With your weapons & veil powers also comes the ability to upgrade your weapons. Through the experience of fighting off the evil Nazi's you must also upgrade your weapons to improve accuracy, add silencers, reduce recoil, hold more ammo, improve veil power abilities and strength, etc. And trust me you will want to upgrade these, it will be very hard for you to beat this game without upgrading your weapons. But with upgrading comes restrictions.. they even state in the tips on the loading screen that you will not have enough money to buy all the upgrades, so choose wisely. You can however sell old upgrades for half the original cost if you want to switch some around. So you are not totally denied reconfiguration throughout the game. Overall its a neat addition to the game and allows the player to have his or her own 'fighting experience' catered to their style.
There were some issues with gameplay however when it came to the AI & scripted events. To save time I'll just say the AI is bugged in some ways where it will, like many other games, do stupid things or nothing at all, but that's really just about all Ive noticed with it. As far as the scripted events I did notice a few bugs with these where I had to reload at my last save point and do a section of a mission over because I out ran a friendly NPC and killed some dudes, and certain things did not trigger off. It was quite the buzz kill at the time but nothing that was serious enough to where it kept me from continuing on, isolated situations I guess you could say.
Overall the gameplay of Wolfenstein is quite satisfying and definitely isn't lacking in the fun department. While a lot of it is basic, the veil powers give you a nice little twist to the gameplay elements when you are in a chaotic situation, and the vast amounts of content that's in your face while your playing is enough to satisfy anyone. While the game is plagued with a few bugs based in AI and some scripted segments, it is definitely not enough to turn you away from continuing your adventure.
I will say Raven certainly did push the id Tech 4 (aka doom 3) engine to its limits. The visuals in Wolfenstein SP, while some will say out dated, are quite spectacular on PC fully cranked up. The detail in the textures, and the detail in the environments completely void out the 'it looks like plastic' claim everyone associated with the engine for years. Not to mention the pseudo-HDR effects added to the engine also bring a great deal of appeal to its looks.
While you may expect an average world war 2 look to the buildings in the game, Wolfenstein definitely changes that thought around quickly. With its fantasy world, the Nazi regime was the 'god power' of the world and constructed monumental bases that would put NASA and Area 51 to shame. The visual detail in these worlds is nothing short of spectacular when you see them in the game and definitely will keep you from moving forward and force you to just look around in awe at the beautiful level design.
Apart from the structural and environmental design of Wolfenstein's world comes its characters. This is definitely one department Raven did not slack off in. Different from the previous version you meet many resistance fighters that are a part of the story and you evolve with them as the story unfolds. With new friendly faces comes some nasty evil ones. Of course you still have your German soldiers and your SS goons, but you also get some more nasty little critters thrown in the mix that are souped up with 'veil' powers like the Veil Assassin and the Veil Heavy Trooper. Each one of these different creatures have a beautiful design to them and some have very interesting ways in which they need to be destroyed. Oh and yes guys the hott n sexy SS females are back in the game, but this time they like to stab you, throw fire balls at you, or hit you with electrified whips ;).
Overall the visual design of Wolfenstein is quite pleasing considering its on an engine that's a little over 4 years old. The character design, and the structural layouts of the world are unique in their own way and stay true to the Wolfenstein Universe, old school fans will not be disappointed with the way the world unfolds before them.
One thing we all look forward too with a Wolfenstein game is the sounds, either with its epic orchestral soundtrack, or the wonderful German voices we always love to hear when in a panic. Wolfenstein delivers one of these greatly with its epic soundtrack, but falls short on some of the voice acting elements of the game.
With the soundtrack we once again receive and epic drum pounding theme that we hear when something bad ass is about to happen, or a slow dreary song when something unnerving is about to occur. Regardless the placement of the soundtrack was very well done for Wolfenstein and matches up just perfectly if not better than its previous game Return to Castle Wolfenstein.
The worst of the sound would have to be the voice acting, while in terms of quality its good, and not all of it is bad, some of it however just makes me cringe and kills the suspension of disbelief while playing the game. For those of you who have ever played STALKER, you remember this one guy that stood on a catwalk in this warehouse of one of the main towns.. and every time you walked by all you would hear is "GET OUT OF HERE STALKER!, GET OUT OF HERE STALKER! GET OUT OF HERE STALKER! GET OUT OF HERE STALKER.." and it was never ending? Well this unfortunately does happen with a few NPC's while playing through the game, even while in combat, which turned out to be a real buzz kill on the enjoyment. With the exception of that major annoyance, and several other small ones.. the voice acting over all isn't that bad, but definitely not fined tuned or placed well like the soundtrack of the game.
OH! One other downer I forgot to mention about the voice acting, DAMN YOU RAVEN FOR NOT HAVING PURE GERMAN IN THIS GAME! There was only one classic battle cry I heard in my entire play through of the game and that was 'mein leben'. Not once did I hear the infamous "HALT!" or "Achtung! Achtung! I'M YELLING OVER AN INTERCOM IN GERMAN" from Return To Castle Wolfenstein, instead it was all cliche German American sayings, like "STOP AMERICAN!" or "ARE YOU FRIGHTENED AMERICAN?" which unfortunately didn't turn out as awesome as I hoped it would.
Apart from the soundtrack, and its voice acting, Wolfenstein brings a great deal of ambient sounds and does a very good job with using sound effects at the right moment. There are times when you are walking around slowly, trying to sneak through places and you start hearing creepy sounds that just throw you off guard and mess with your head, sometimes eventually pushing you to just say F-- this and start shooting everyone instead of sneaking past them. Other times you just start looking in every direction, like when you have a Veil Assassin stalking you, I wont spoil beyond that but I will say it knocks you around a bit.
Overall the sound design for Wolfenstein was well done, with the exception of its voice acting ofcourse, which it wasn't enough for me to totally bash the sound department although I wish It had more of an authentic German touch to it like the previous Wolfenstein game. Regardless Raven did an excellent job of bringing the player into Wolfensteins universe and driving them forward with some great sound placement and one epic sound track.
Multiplayer, or, How to fire 60% of a development studio
Boy oh boy.. where do I get started with this one. Well.. theres really not much to say about this other than.. stick with RTCW Mp, and Wolf ET. Really that's all there is to say.. beyond that is just a waste of words and useless information that's going to displease any read more than this will. If I could sum up how bad this multiplayer experience was... it would be this: In terms of performance, this game plays worse than Doom 3 & Quake IV's multiplayer component. In terms of resembling WolfMP, it does not.
There is just no way to really justify this game having a resemblance to WolfMP or ET on any level. The classes were stripped of features, and given 'veil' power abilities which really do nothing, and the whole weapon upgrade system was tossed into the game as well. It was a cheap attempt to cross over CoD4 with Wolf MP while taking away most of Wolf MP's core components other than its gameplay modes. Just.. leave the MP alone.. I have to reinstall WolfET just to cleanse my brain of this wretched multiplayer quake 3 mod that was packaged with a wonderful singleplayer experience.
Wolfenstein will captivate those who have always loved the Wolfenstein series, you will get a fun adventure with some new unique ways in playing the game. The story, while very basic, is still an awesome cheesy paranormal story with the return of some old characters, as well as the addition of new ones. If you were a fan of RTCW, and the Wolfenstein universe as a whole, the single player will not disappoint. Just remember to play on the hardest difficulty ;).
I refuse to tie in Wolfenstein's multiplayer component with this game, they should have just taken Wolf ET and tossed it onto the id tech 4 engine and packaged it with this game, and the game would have sold like hot cakes, thats all we wanted. So in turn, the multiplayer does not belong in the summary lol.
Singleplayer : 8.5 / 10 - While its on old tech, and has some flaws and generic gameplay, it's still quite a blast and one hell of a fun addition to the Wolfenstein universe.
Multiplayer: 4.0/10 - While it might be fun for a generic run, that fun only lasts about 10 minutes. With most of WolfMP's core features gone from this new version, its no wonder a large chunk of a development studio got laid to waste on the games day of release.
added note: If you are a collector of the series, buy the game, if you want to play the SP and don't care for the collecting, rent it. If you are looking for multiplayer, pull an Atari ET and bury that shit in the desert. read