Game Review: Wolfenstein (PS3/XBox360)
I remember the first time I loaded ‘Wolfenstein 3D’ onto my 386 and started playing.
‘It’s in 3D! It’s like I’m actually there!’
It certainly wasn’t ‘Escape From Castle Wolfenstein’ on my Commodore 64.
The series has been around for a lot of hardware changes, and has created a few genre evolutions along the way.
Get the full review of the latest installment inside.
Wolfenstein has a great pedigree, and a lot of promise.
The game is a sequel to Return To Castle Wolfenstein, but you really shouldn’t be worried about continuity of story; this game can be enjoyed by itself.
You play as BJ Blazkowitz, an American soldier/spy during World War II, with a special focus on foiling Nazi supernatural plots. I know… don’t get hung up on historical accuracy or realism in the story, you’ll be happier.
This time around, you’re trying to help Isenstadt from Nazi control, thwart their plans to build a superweapon out of an occult amulet, and apparently steal all the gold the have stashed randomly around town.
Along the way you’ll make friends with some local rebels, ruthless arms dealers, and occult freedom fighters (curiously named the ‘Golden Dawn’).
The main conceit in this game that ‘set it apart’ from other first person shooters is a semi open world. While you have a main hub of activity (Isenstadt) where you can talk to NPC’s, buy upgrades, and get new objectives, your missions take you to other locations.
There is also a handful of supernatural powers at your disposal, that can be useful, and in some cases are absolutely necessary to complete missions.
This is where my first complaint crops up.
More often than not, when you finish a mission, you have to travel back to town… by fighting your way through the level in reverse. This annoyed me in the Halo games, and I think it’s a cheap, lazy way to extend game play. If you’re not going to give me more material for my money, don’t make me play a level twice so you can claim an extra few hours of game time in your press release.
While the main missions can be burned through in about 6 hours, to play every side mission, find every collectible, and see every NPC, it’s going to take closer to 14 hours.
Another complaint I have about the game is the amount of ‘trial and error’ involved in completing a mission.
To give you an example, on the Hospital mission, there is a section that you will NOT be able to pass without dying a few times. You move into the room, troops are alerted, and you die rather quickly. Reload from a checkpoint, head back to the room… now you know what forces you’re up against, and you can plan your strategy. Once the enemies have been neutralized, a NEW threat shows up… and kills you immediately. Reload from a checkpoint, head back to the room… now you know how what to expect from the NEXT wave of enemies, and you can plan your strategy accordingly.
Rinse and repeat.
It took me dying 10 times to get across a single room… and the previous checkpoint was easily 2-3 minutes BEFORE that room. Each time I got killed required a reload and a lengthy sprint just to get back to the action.
Fortunately, this kind of ‘choke point’ in the game only happens 3 times (that I counted). Each time had me setting the controller down and walking away in frustration… and then coming back to play more.
My last complaint? The multiplayer feels tacked on. Three classes, eight maps, and nobody playing. After the amazingly fun experience of multiplayer in Return To Castle Wolfenstein, it’s a let down.
With all of those issues, you’d think I’d be less than enthusiastic about the game, but what it does well, it does well enough to justify a purchase.
The opening cinematic is impressive, the train station fight at the very beginning of the game, the first appearance of a zombie Nazi… all very good. In fact, any time a non-human enemy shows up or occult powers start messing with the environment, it gets pretty damn cool.
When you fire up the ‘Mire’ power, charge into a room, take out 15 soldiers with an axe while they are moving in slow motion… you KNOW you’re having a good time.