Wolfenstein is back! What many consider to be one of the defining first person shooters for the PC has returned with modern graphics and physics to let us know the franchise is still alive and kicking. In keeping with tradition the game is focused on the paranormal, but does it keep up with the standard set by its predecessors?
The gameplay is exactly what you would expect from a modern day Wolfenstein. You will start off the game with the most basic of weapons and fighting the weakest of units. The game quickly progresses while introducing you to more difficult enemies. In addition to your standard allotment of weapons you will also have access to four powers that will let you interact with the veil world and use the fabled black sun energy. These powers are key for some parts of the game, but the majority of it can be played without them. Many of these veil related powers are there to help you solve the games assortment of puzzles. These powers will also help you in combat should you choose to use them. For those of you that don’t like to shoot your way through the level, you will be able to slow time or put up a bullet resistant shield giving you time to strategize or escape your enemies. Veil vision will allow you to see enemies weaknesses and other secret passages.
No Wolfenstein would be complete without an arsenal fit for a one man army. Within the first hour of game play you will have access to three basic German weapons, each of which can be modified and upgraded at your local black market vendor. These upgrades will allow for everything from sound suppression to increased damage or less recoil. As you progress through the game you will unlock more upgrades and weapons. Many of the super weapons are cleadly modern versions of the original weapons that received much love; for example, the particle canon will completely vaporize your enemies into green dust.
Like many other modern games Wolfenstein has strayed away from using a menu system for mission selection menus, but rather gives the player a world that strings everything together. Missions can be accepted through a variety of factions in the game allowing you to complete missions in the order of your choosing. These missions are spread throughout the city which forces you to rely on your map. While not perfect this RPG-like system gives the game a refreshing outlook but hinders the overall experience. On several occasions you will fight your way through the same parts of the streets while on the way to your next mission, prolonging the game in an unnecessary way.
While the game has four difficulty settings, even the normal mode will provide a modest amount of difficulty. Players looking for a challenge can turn up the difficulty only to find themselves surrounded by even better placed grenades and more accurate soldiers.
As usual the Nazis are up to no good. Your job as BJ Blazcowicz, and American spy, is to disrupt their plans by any means necessary. Working with local resistance group you will destroy cargo and other vital elements to the Nazi war machine. Working with the other faction, the Golden Dawn, you will track down super natural items and explore the powers of the Black Sun. The story itself is quick to progress, but with some pretty obvious twists. If you were expecting any character development you’re going to be let down. The game from the start is clean cut action with a smattering of cinematic to introduce new enemies and missions. But let’s face it – Wolfenstein has never been about the story, it’s been about the action.
Graphics, Sound, and Physics
More than 17 years after the release of the original you would expect a modest improvement in graphics. Running on a heavily modified Doom 3 engine you will be treated to a reasonable amount of eye candy. However, much of this comes in the form of explosions and the physics; textures seem a little dull and dated. The good news is that because the engine is a new more optimized version of an old engine, you’re not going to need a lot of horse power to get a decent looking game.
The sound effects in this game are one of a kind. Some of the sounds, in particular the report of an un-silenced Kar98 rifle stand out as a testament to the sound engineers who worked on this game. However, there are other sounds, although rare, that make you wonder if they stopped caring. This game is a mixed a bag of sounds that will delight or horrify your ears. The same could be said for the overdone voice acting.
Physics is what really makes this game shine. The explosions and anti gravity effects that are present throughout this game really brings it into the twenty first century.
Multiplayer is the biggest let down of the game. This element was clearly added in hind sight with no new or engaging elements. The matchmaking system is so poor that it it allows higher ranked player with more skills and health to play against new players, making for some of the most one sided matches I have seen. A simple patch could potentially fix this, but that would still leave the game with a less than par multiplayer system.
Our test system has the following specifications:
- Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 (3.0GHz) processor
- 4GB DDR2-800 Kingston HyperX Ram
- EVGA GeForce GTX 260 Super Clocked (Core 216) or EVGA GeForce 9600GS0 368MB
- 150GB 10000RPM Western Digital Raptor hard drive
- Windows Vista 64-bit
Wolfenstein is capped at 60 frames per second (FPS), and even maxed out, our test system never wavered below that level. 60 FPS is perfectly playable and the game was very enjoyable at high settings.
Wolfenstein has the following minimum specifications:
|Operating System||Windows XP/Vista|
|Processor||Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz or AMD Athlon 3400+ processor|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce 6800 or ATI Radeon X800 with 256MB or more of memory|
|Hard Drive Space||9GB|
|Internet||Broadband for Multipler|
Since Wolfenstein is based on the DOOM 3 engine, which is now over five years old, any recent computer with a dual-core processor, GeForce 7/8/9 and ATI Radeon HD X1000/2000/3000/4000 series graphics card should run it with ease. As always, ask us in the forums if you are wondering whether your system can run it!
While it isn’t the best first person shooter out this year, any of the diehard fans won’t be disappointed. There is plenty of action to be had throughout the campaign even if does get a little repetitive. It should be noted that the PC version is less expensive, at $49.99 compared to its $59.99 console counterpart.
Amazon: Wolfenstein (PC)
Amazon: Wolfenstein (Xbox 360)
- Nearly nonstop action
- Great sound effects (with a few exceptions)
- Non linear story
- Upgradable weapons to suit your style of play
- Farley good enemy variety
- Interesting powers to combine with various strategies
- Voice acting could be better
- Somewhat redundant city battles
- We still don’t know what BJ stands for!