Wolfenstein (Windows)

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Written by  :  Kaddy B. (791)
Written on  :  Nov 12, 2009
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

12 out of 15 people found this review helpful

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While not everything it could've been, Wolfenstein 6 is a fun experience.

The Good

I've been with the Wolfenstein series my whole life. The original Castle Wolfenstein and its stellar sequel rocked my world back in the good ol' days when floppies were still floppy. When the now infamous Wolfenstein 3D made its debut, it and the Commander Keen series cemented id Software into my brain as gods. That hasn't changed, I've gobbled up everything ID has spewed out. I'm still devoted, and can't wait for RAGE and I was the first to pick up a copy of Wolfenstein 6 (I refuse to just call it "Wolfenstein") from my local game store.

The game follows a squashed, somewhat Serious Sam-ish looking B.J. Blazkowicz (Seriously, why is his head squashed, 20 years younger, and have black hair? If this game is so close to RCTW, why isn't his hair blond like it normally is?) after stealing a magical doohickey from a Nazi doohickey on water and he goes to a Nazi town filled with Nazi doohickeys and blah blah blah YOU KILL A BUNCH OF NAZIS WITH THE DOOHICKEY TO GET MORE DOOHICKEYS. Does the story in a Wolfenstein game really matter?

The game world is, in a way, a callback to Raven Softwares Hexen series that used a 'hub,' but Raven has definitely improved the Hub system. Basically, what that means is you are confined to a map and move around different squares on that map and then unlock levels as you progress. Raven makes other calls back to Hexen including the Ravens Nest, a bar that appeared in Hexen, and the Tomes of Power, items which originally appeared in Hexen as well. It's nice to see that Raven remembers their roots. The game world is detailed and fun to explore, as there are several secrets to discover which unlock power ups and weapons, as well as give you money which you actually need this time for more than just score value.

The single player campaign is yet another call back to the old days, while most shooters these days make a short single player with little focus, Wolf 6 actually cares about making an impression with its single player campaign and lasts you awhile, taking you through several levels and lots of missions. I was pleasantly surprised with the games length. There are also several boss fights which will turn your ass into gravy, but that's just how I like them. They are also all clever and well thought out, providing something unique to the challenge and occasionally freshening up the gameplay.

Upgrading weapons is worth your time, and sometimes can drastically change a weapon, almost enough to make them completely new or different weapons. The Mp44 can be converted into a repeat fire sniper rifle, the Mp40 can be converted into a stealth tool, and so on. The weapons for the most part are standard fare for World War II games, but they all sound good and are fun to shoot. As with any good Wolfenstein game, you will soon get more exotic weapons to work with, such as the Tesla cannon from the last Wolf game and the downright awesome... uhm, gun with a really long German name I can't pronounce with a '22' at the end. I just call it the flesh pounder, since it literally blasts your enemies skins right off their hides. While ammo for these guns are rare, they are really cool and fun to use.

The Nazis are fun to shoot, unlike some, the novelty of shooting Nazis hasn't gone away for me, although this might be because the only WWII shooters (I have played a few WW2 RTSes, like Company of Heroes) outside of the Wolfenstein series that I have played are Day of Defeat Source and Call of Duty 1/2. No Medal of Honor or other such games to spoil it for me. They are also fun to shoot because the gore is silly, over the top, and cool. If you are feeling bloodthirsty, Wolf 6 is for you.

While I know some may not like it, this is one of the rare games where respawning enemies works and makes sense. It works because you will roam the streets of the town a lot, both to get to your mission and to search for secrets, and having the respawning enemies means you will always put up a fight so the action keeps going. The reason I say it is justified as well is the fact that in real life, the Nazis often called in reinforcements and there were always patrols, and they "respawn" in patrols so it actually makes sense here.

Deathshead is a great villain.

Also, the Castle level rocks.

The despoiled are cool too.

Exploring the town and levels for secrets is rewarding and the hub world means that there are more areas that are usually locked off like games in this and makes the town feel a bit more realistic.


The Bad

Speaking of Call of Duty, Wolf 6 is a little too close to those games in certain aspects. The hud is downright stolen from Call of Duty 2, from the regenerating health to the "You are hurt! Get to cover" screen, and even the tossing the grenade back thing and the compass, which is just moved from the bottom of the screen to the top. This is disappointing because I do not like regenerating health much (In fact, Call of Duty 2 and 4 are the only FPS games with regenerating health I do like.) as it makes the game a little easier than it should be, and the other elements are practically unchanged so sometimes you might be thinking you are just playing Call of Duty 2 with more gore and science fiction elements.

The graphics aren't anything special. They do their job OK, but the engine is showing its age and the game doesn't make use of the excellent lighting system, making it seem even more dated than previous games that used the engine. The Nazi character models look good enough, and the environments are detailed but a weird glare effect makes them look strange and unrealistic. There are some good special effects like gore and explosions, but otherwise the game looks underwhelming and animations are poor.

While the sound of guns are great, the voice acting is subpar, and with the Nazi's it is ridiculous. It was satisfying in Wolfensten 3D to shoot a Nazi and hear him shout "MEIN LEIBEN!" (Although there is an occasion in Wolf 6 that they do shout that and make me clap like a stupid little kid in glee) and kinda scary when you would be alone and then hear someone shout "Shutzstaffel!" before filling you with lead. The Nazi's sound downright dumb and silly speaking English, and their accents sound more like bad Arnold Schwarzenneger impersonators than they do real Germans. Although for the sake of exposition I understand them speaking English on occasion, but for the most part, their voices should be more varied and in German so they sound more authentic.

The games plot gets in the way sometimes. As I said before, do you really care about the plot in a Wolfenstein game? Whenever the story feels you HAVE to watch a cutscene or stand around and listen to exposition, you yawn and want to fall asleep. It's all boring and all it amounts to is "YOU HAVE A MAGIC DOOHICKEY AND GUNS, KILL THINGS!" but that makes it all the more painful to hear people explaining what the magic doohickey is, why you have guns, and making it seem that the act of killing Nazis is more than killing Nazis. The only time I actually woke up during these cutscenes was when there was something cool on screen like a Nazi becoming despoiled or whenever Deathshead would come on, because Deathshead kicks ass. He's easily one of the coolest and creepiest SS guys since that dude from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The gameplay, while fun, can get repetitive at times and at others, a little too easy. The new "Veil" thing sounds decent on paper, but the execution is sloppy and makes the game even easier. It has bullet time, a shield, crack cocaine, and X-ray goggles with green stuff splashed on them. While the X-ray goggles help you see secrets and are useful at times, and it IS kinda cool to look at the Nazis in this mode since they are all decrepit and creepy lookin', the X-ray goggles make areas easier to navigate and make you faster. Bullet time is the same old stuff you're used to and actually makes the game less fun, the only time I ever activate it is after I got the upgrade that makes it so if you activate it around a group of Nazis, they are flash fossilized. THAT was cool. Crack cocaine just makes you run around extra fast and bullets chew up everything without much effort. The shield works as advertised, but just makes the game less challenging which is no fun. The only time its fun to use these powers for anything other than finding secrets is during boss battles, otherwise it makes the game too easy and isn't as cool as it should've been.

The AI is antiquated, while it works in groups well enough, it does stupid things and feels relatively weak.

The multiplayer is truly terrible. While the groundwork is decent, and based on the superb multiplayer component from Return to Castle Wolfenstein and its spin off, Enemy Territory which is one of the best online games ever. However, its spoiled by several annoyances, such as the fact that only 12 players can play (Seriously, 12? Quake let you play with 16 and it came out in 1996!) and EXTREME lag. The maps aren't too plentiful or fun either, and its a shame considering how amazing the last games multiplayer was. All Raven had to do is copy and paste the multiplayer from RTCW, allow 32 players, and stuff in a few cool maps. They did that with Quake 4 and while it showed a lack of creativity, it was still a great update of Quake III. The changes Raven made here are disappointing, if you are going to change something, make it better, not worse.

The castle level ends :(

The Bottom Line

All in all, Wolfenstein 6 should please fans like me who like a side order of gore and science fiction with their world war II shooters. The biggest problems lie in the fact that the game is too easy, and relies a little too heavily on antiquated tech. The game IS fun, and the amount of fun you'll have shooting things is cathartic and entertaining but at times the gameplay feels too familiar to anyone who has played Call of Duty 2/4, and while those games are great, they aren't what I think of when someone says "Wolfenstein." The multiplayer sadly isn't anything to speak of, but the single player campaign is lengthy and fun. It doesn't reach the potential of its predecessors, but its still a fun game worth a look for fans.