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Wolfenstein Review

Wolfenstein Review

Publisher: Activison
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
UK Price (as reviewed): £24.99 (incl. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $42.99 (excl. tax)

Wolfenstein is probably one of the most well-known and important titles ever among hardcore gamers, though it's important to note that we're talking about the franchise as a whole and not this individual game when we say that. Not only were the original Castle Wolfenstein games solid stealth RPGs in there own right, but they went on to inspire id to make Wolfenstein 3D.

We all know (or should do anyway) where that lead to eventually, but it's not an exaggeration to say that Wolfenstein 3D was the grandfather of modern shooters and that without it we'd likely never have had games like Doom, Quake, or any of the games that they collectively made possible through their popularity and technological advances. Wolfenstein is legend, really.

The problem with legends though is that if you don't let them stay ageless then they'll easily fall behind the times and go flat. Had Wolfenstein been left alone after Return to Castle Wolfenstein then it would have endured and enjoyed the type of rose-tinted nostalgia that very few games ever receive. Instead, Wolfenstein has been kept alive and now the legacy is starting to wear thinner than a pair of old socks.

Wolfenstein Review Wolfenstein Review
It glows, that's how you know it's evil

It was inevitable really. If you keep churning out games in a series then, no matter how good the originals were, it's a statistical fact that you'll hit a dud sooner or later. On a long enough timeline the survival rate for everything drops to zero, as they say.

At the end of it all, that's what Wolfenstein (and now we're talking about this particular game, not the franchise as a whole) is. A dud. A blank round. It's nothing-y and two dimensional and hollow and flat. It's not exactly boring and you can still squeeze some fun out of it if you love your FPS shooters, but it is predictable that the only fun to be found is that mindless kind of switch-off-your-brain fun, not the high-adrenaline tension we'd expect from modern games.

A lot of it comes from the texture of the gameplay and the new features which have been hoofedly rammed in to bring the title up to date – but the story plays an important part too. The problem with the plot is two fold. Firstly, it's a serious story in a game which never really needed a serious story. Secondly, it's the exact same story as we've seen before in the infinitely better Return to Castle Wolfenstein, which benefited both from being a better game and coming when expectations for gaming plots was a lot lower.

Wolfenstein Review Wolfenstein Review
Who you gonna call?

You know how it goes, we're sure. You are William 'B.J.' Blazkowicz (yes, BJ), the chisel-jawed and leather jacket wearing crack operative for the allies during World War II, who is tasked with investigating the unusual occult-focused actions of the Nazis, which are this time centred around a town called Lsenstadt. It's up to you to get in there, uncover the Nazi plans, and then sabotage and assassinate those plans into misery. Mainly though it's a case of shooting anything that moves.

Apart from a few tweaks it's essentially the same plot as the earlier games of course and though Raven's latest Wolfenstein does push things down a slightly different track it's impossible to notice the similarities. They border on duplication at points and, even though you find yourself teaming up with resistance forces (that put big, obvious tags on their front doors) and experiencing a slightly more open and objective-based Wolfenstein, it still feels like some things have just been copied whole-sale from earlier games.

The entire tone and premise of the series feels a bit misjudged too. The only thing that's eerie about your first meeting with the monsters that the Nazis have been experimenting with is how familiar it feels, for example.