Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Game of the Year

aka: Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Edición Especial, Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Special Edition, Return to Castle Wolfenstein: The Extended Edition

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The Game of the Year release of Return to Castle Wolfenstein contains:

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Credits (Windows version)

246 People (163 developers, 83 thanks) · View all

Directed by
Executive Produced by
Art Direction by
Programmed by
Character Artist
Technology and A.I. Programming
Texture Artist
Technical Design Lead
Lead Level Designer
Level Designer
Models and Animation
Writer and Sound Design
Production Coordinator
Additional Programming
Additional Level Design
Spec. Ops. Consultants
Promotional Assistance
[ full credits ]



Average score: 90% (based on 2 ratings)


Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 13 ratings with 2 reviews)

At least they weren't Illinois Nazis

The Good
In Germania 943AD, knowing he could not destroy him, a druid imprisoned an immortal Dark Knight (nope, not him) into the bowels of the earth. One thousand years later the Third Reich dug him up. Such is the basic story for Return to Castle Wolfenstein—an interesting premise that goes undeveloped for most of the game. I should say here that I did not dislike the game, but I do chastise it for not being more.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein is a very successful multiplayer game that feels like it has a single-player version tacked on. It’s up to BJ Blaskowitz to save the world by defeating the insidious Nazi plan to… well either resurrect an ancient warrior or create biomechanical super soldiers or use some super rocket or all of the above. Didn’t Nazis used to be evil enough? Anyway along the way he’ll have to fight… um… Nazis, ancient warriors and super soldiers with only a small arsenal and the ability to save anywhere.

Level design is hit or miss (see below). The best levels involve the castle itself with its crumbling architecture, secret passages, and multiple zombie hiding places. Other great levels include a village overrun with occultists and an expansive graveyard with eldritch monoliths.

Weapons are fun except I never understood the difference between the two grenades and sorely missed having a shotgun.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein is an update to the Wolfenstein series using an updated engine making this Wolfenstein 3-D++. In a vacuum, some formless void where we haven’t seen first-person shooters since Wolfenstein 3-D, this works well. But in the post-Half-Life world, with dynamic, immersive, and even branching gameplay being offered, Wolfenstein invites unkind comparisons.

The Bad
While graphically superior, Wolfenstein can’t hold a candle to the Thief series. Lacking dynamic lighting and any sensibility about stealth gaming, Wolfenstein’s levels dealing with avoiding alarms and plundering Nazi gold come off as unpolished. “Humorous” dialog between Nazi soldiers feels lifted from No One Lives Forever’s cutting room floor. IronStorm, though flawed, presented the player with a better story, more distinctive gameplay, and more thoughtful level design than can be found here. Finally, Wolfenstein uses the mission/level type of design, replete with summaries that reveal how many of the secret areas you’ve found. Aren’t we past that?

Enemies come in a small variety of flavors: Enemy Sturmabteilungen, graduates from LucasArts Stormtrooper sharpshooting schools, preferring to fill the air with lead than aim, Leather-clad Ilsas, Black-clad paratroopers, and Bosses—few in number and embarrassingly easy—including old Dark Knight himself.

Game of the Year, my ass...

The Bottom Line
In spite of this, I enjoyed the game having paid less than full retail. While I, as a single player, continue to feel abandoned by the multiplayer movement in gaming, there was enough here that I felt I got my money’s worth. For instance, I was interested enough to keep searching for those elusive bottles of 1938 Chateau Latour.

Windows · by Terrence Bosky (5375) · 2003

Breathtaking experience... but sadly, a little more than just that.

The Good
This is by far the best technically achieved shooter to date. Not to mention that aside the fact graphic looks extremely detailed and wonderful, this game runs more than fine on some older machines. Let's be serious, it's hard to play some FPS nowadays unless you have a decent upgrade on your computer. Well, this game will allow you hours of fun without an upgrade of a sort.

This game gives you a feeling of a World War II on a slightly higher scale... you get to know a bit more about all those lunatics than you'd just want to shoot. But no doubt, everything about WWII looks great, from enemy soldiers, their AI, vehicles, structures, U-boats, planes, weapons, and the atmosphere is just plain ultimate and very authentic.

Well balanced background music nicely boosts up the atmosphere while the sounds are fine and versatile. But sound effects aren't the only ones good here, even better are the graphic effects (think of a scene when tank destroys the church tower, or when the experimental jet fighter does a loop towards the sky). The game gives you plenty of variety in level design so you won't much feel like walking over the same terrain (unless when you'll be thrown back at that very same terrain), and it's neat to see certain tricks such as shooting through the wooden floor or ceiling, making it collapse to gain a passage.

The game starts very intense and creepy, and promises to give you such a great story... but that's just what it promises. It doesn't go too well into direction towards being so good. Still, it doesn't leave you empty-handed. Every level is a new experience, tactical as well as full of fun, but that is as long as WWII is concerned. But then you get to see the real face of Id Software... sigh....

The Bad
It wouldn't be Id Software and it wouldn't be crap if it weren't for the same creators that don't care about anything but the graphic. No doubt, game is perfect in many aspects, but imitating Doom and Quake during WWII is where it comes to worse. It all seemed so possible until you get to confront minions of the undead warlord and hordes or skeletons. The thing is, most of those supersoldiers and what not is impossible to kill (or destroy, assuming they may already be dead to some point) without getting wounded. And that is a fact. And more to the fact, that is simply unacceptable! To make an opponent which you cannot whack without getting seriously wounded yourself. Those floating lighting creatures come to mind. The best weapon cannot destroy them before they reach you, and their speed is simply too boosted.

This game seriously screws things up with adding anything but WWII, but with Id it was only to expect, and as much as this thing will annoy you, some of the levels are seriously well done. So, if you wanna experience some of the best parts in the history of FPS games, bite the bullet and risk playing crappy levels aside. That's the only way to enjoy this game, you gotta play it all, or none. It still beats the crap out of Allied Assault bigtime.

The Bottom Line
I was really skeptical towards this game, especially since knowing how Id Software cannot do anything without adding some monsters on the scene. I wasn't wrong about that hunch in this game, either. This game so strongly depicts the best you could experience in a WWII first-person shooter, but they just had to add everything to make this game look close to Quake. But okay, majority still resides on fighting the nazis, so guess this can be tolerated... still, they did it a bit too much.

They said X Files meets WWII, and that may as well be close to unraveling the truth behind this game, 'cos X Files series did become worst in due time, and this game goes a little too far into supernatural. But even still, this game may guarantee some fun on a ground level, and is definitely the finest product that ever came out of Id Software, but I'm just as well very close to saying 'only one'. World War II is majority in this game, the rest is to add a point to the story that would be able to become as standalone and interesting even if there would be no WWII. But since it is time of WWII, the game takes good advantage of it to turn it into even more creepy story with lots of ammo rounds included.

Additional great thing about this GOTY version is that you get some behind-the-scenes concept, and lots of additional itzy-bitzy thingies one may care to appreciate. For the same price, it's still better than getting original one, isn't it? Plus you get the original Wolfenstein 3D in case you may skipped that masterpiece decade ago. It's a worthy package, that's for sure.

Windows · by MAT (238609) · 2003


Subject By Date
GOTY/special edition/collectors edition Starbuck the Third (22654) Mar 23rd, 2010

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  • MobyGames ID: 6720


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Corn Popper.

Additional contributors: AdminBB, Luis Silva, Jordi Vilalta Prat, Starbuck the Third.

Game added July 8th, 2002. Last modified February 23rd, 2023.