Wolfenstein

Ziel auf das flat-top!

id finally graces the PS3 with Wolfenstein, the latest entry in the labyrinthine Nazi monster scrounger-fest. Sadly, we don't get enough random German sayings in this one *pouts*.
Author: Ryan Green
Published: November 3, 2009
In gaming today, there is nothing more popular to use as fodder than zombies or Nazis (except Nazi Zombies). But back in the early 90s, that wasn’t always the case in gaming. The leaders of the Nazi slaughter genera, id SOFTWARE made its mark on gaming with the Wolfenstein series, which ultimately produced the classic first-person-shooter Wolfenstein 3D. Over the years, the noise machine that was id has died down a lot, but they have on occasion brought some new classics, such as the extremely popular (and I’d argue one of the best FPS experiences of all time) Enemy Territory.


It would be foolhardy for me to say that Wolfenstein will revolutionize the FPS genera. What is plain and simple about this game is that it does nothing extraordinary; sans raise the expectations of Wolfenstein fans. Despite being very vanilla, it can be a fun adventure if you’re willing to cross over into the Black Sun dimension.

Our hero, B.J. Blaskowitz, returns to action in the effort to thwart those crafty Nazis from taking over the world with the power of the Black Sun dimension. B.J. arrives in Isenstadt and is immediately thrown into the conflict between the Nazis and the German resistance. From this hub world, you travel to and from mission locations while looking for gold, upgrading your equipment (with said gold), uncovering intel documents (that fill in the story), and recovering tombs (which are used to upgrade your powers). The town is broken up into three different sections that are slowly opened up completely to you in order to travel and discover secrets. Essentially, you are constantly fighting for your life, as the new enemies you encounter in missions begin to appear in the town itself.

Isenstadt as perpetual mission is a nice way of keeping the player involved in the world, however this is not without its drawbacks. Wolfenstein suffers from the Quest-Giver syndrome; you are always running back and forth doing some busy work and you eventually lose sight of why your mission is so important. Additionally, the town’s layout changes due to battles going on while you’re gallivanting around German, so it can be difficult to find your way to a mission. Thankfully, the game’s interface allows you to easily revisit levels that you have completed so you don’t have to wander around in search of your favorite level. Still, I believe the variety of ways to travel around the town and the various characters you meet outweigh the technically mundane busywork you end up receiving.

The singleplayer experience doesn’t do the series justice, however, as most missions play out more like any other World War II shooter (aside from zombies and energy weapons). The sad reality is that only one level towards the end of the game felt like a true Wolfenstein level, complete with a creepy castle library. For the rest of the game, you play in various locations such as hospitals, farms, and other rather generic locations. While these levels have the dark atmosphere filled with plenty of ambush moments, it never felt authentic.

It is that aforementioned feeling that sours multiplayer. Continuing on with the “Resistance vs. Nazi” theme, the conflict plays out in a typical multiplayer suite. Deathmatch and special objective missions are all that are available, but the class system resurrects some familiar themes from Enemy Territory. Each class (medic, soldier, and engineer) has their own set of upgrades and Black Sun veil powers which are unlocked by playing in matches. Comparable to the singleplayer upgrade system, gold is awarded like XP would be in a Call of Duty multiplayer system. Shooting the enemy or blowing up target objective results in points towards unlocking a new ability or weapon upgrade.

Since the classes have an extensive list of upgrades, there is a lot of depth and customization to how you can play. Unfortunately, getting a good game together isn’t a simple task. Aside from finding enough players, multiplayer matches tend to be highly unstable, even with a low player limit. Lag absolutely destroys this game, and I’m sure this resulted in many abandoning hope early on. Foreseeable, this game-breaking experience will not be fixed. Still, the bastard brother of Enemy Territory can be enjoyed, provided you are a patient player.

Wolfenstein does bring a lot of enjoyable material to the table, but it never follows through with the classic series experience all that often. Although there are frequent throwbacks to the original game, these occur too seldom to feel like a true Wolfenstein 3D successor. I feel it necessary to mention that I did have the game glitch on me at a save point, utterly ruining all of my save data for the game. This shouldn't stop you from playing, as I am the only person, as far as I can tell, that has experienced such an error. So despite the watered down story and distressingly flawed multiplayer experience, Wolfenstein remains a good game with much to offer any shooter fan.
The Verdict
7.0

Wolfenstein takes what would be a generic WWII shooter and gives it some life. The story isn't really presented well at times, but thanks to numerous Wolfenstein staple elements, the game works.

6.5Graphics:

Very mixed, with unusual textures while in the veil and unattractive character models. Some excellent body, weapon, and level designs help keep the game looking good, but man, people are butterfaces.

7.0Sound:

Weapons sound fine but they never really pop. Voice acting is either cheese or good; I'd rather have them all speaking German as I doubt most would know English. Some classic phrases return! Music, at times, doesn't loop well, but gives the epic feel.

7.0Control:

Weapon switching really breaks up the flow of the game, taking you out of the experience all too often. Controls are responsive but nothing to brag about, aside from the favorite weapon quick assignment.

7.5Gameplay:

A solid singleplayer and a passable multiplayer (thanks to lag). Use of the veil powers gives the game a lot more breathing room as well as the extensive upgrade system.