As the namesake of the game that introduced the world to the first person shooter, Wolfenstein has some very big shoes to fill. When the original Wolfenstein 3D came out, I played it so much that at one point I was finishing the entire game with 100% secrets discovered for every level. Of course, at that time there was nothing else to compare it to until id Software one-upped themselves with the release of Doom. Yet, here we are today with another Wolfenstein title, developed by Raven Software under id’s watchful eye, and published by Activision.

As B.J. Blazkowicz, it is your job to ventilate as many Nazis as possible. The opening sequence introduces you to your character and his pure kickass-edness, leaving a Nazi warship sinking to the bottom of the ocean. On the ship you have discovered a mysterious pendant, which is the key to Wolfenstein’s spin on the FPS this time around. Using the pendant you are able to activate “Veil” abilities, which will help you see secrets, do more damage, put up a shield, or slow down time – all of which will be required to solve a puzzle or beat a Nazi senseless at some point in time. Once you are in control of your character, the game plays out in a quest-hub type fashion, killing your way through missions during which you will find new weapons as well as unlock upgrades for those weapons. All in all, this is mostly standard fare.

Wolfen_Cannery A

"Say Hallo to Mah Little Fruend"

The Pros

First and foremost, this game is very good looking with pretty much fantastic visuals all around. While B.J. himself doesn’t have the prettiest mug on the planet, most of the other characters look fantastic. Looking into the sky with veil sight activated presents copious amounts of debris flying through the air and generally gives a good sense of being in a different world. Now, I have read reports around the ‘net that people are having frame per second issues – maybe I got lucky or maybe my gaming rig can handle it, but I was running at full resolution and full graphical features and never experienced any frame per second lag. The sound is also very good, with distinct weapon sounds, good environmentals and music, and surround sound positioning generally works well. The story is nothing groundbreaking in this game, but it’s also not particularly boring nor is it too in your face. Really, the game is about playing the missions and killing stuff which is what B.J. does best. The cut scenes work well, and have easy controls for skipping or pausing during playback, which is a plus to me. Character progression, such that it is, gives you a reason to search around the levels to find some of the hidden gold, intel, and tomes which will all allow you to get more stuff faster. Having stuff hidden throughout the levels will give some level of replayability, but to me it’s not going to be huge. Also, I have to mention one point of the game that had me laughing in my seat – one of the bosses you are unable to kill outright with any weapon in your arsenal. However, you are able to disable it, at which point the game prompts you to strap an explosive charge to it’s neck and let that finish it off. To me, this was pure hilarity.


The Cons

The game doesn’t really feel very original. In a world drowning in first person shooters, there needs to be something very special about your game to make it worthwhile, and it feels to me that this installment of Wolfenstein is relying a little too heavily on its pedigree. While the “Veil” mechanic has an opportunity to do something really fun, beyond veil sight the remainder of the abilities are pretty common place. Even though you are presented a quest hub style game to pick up quests then pick and choose which to play, the fact that there often isn’t the option to play more than one quest seems slightly pointless. Wolfenstein seems stuck between fully scripted and quest hub style games, and honestly it would have been fine to me if it had just gone the fully scripted route. There are a lot of weapons you will have in your arsenal by the time you’re approaching the end of the campaign, but the game outright tells you that you will never make enough money to buy upgrades for them all, so you need to choose wisely. This feels like a bit of a kick in the pants to me, considering I’m likely going to have one of my early guns the most upgraded simply because I’ve had it the longest. This leads to it being powerful, and never really using any of the other guns, which in fact is precisely how I played through the campaign. Although causing mass death and destruction, I never got into using the particle gun or the tesla gun, and can count the number of times I reloaded the panzershrek on one hand. Granted, if you want to sell off your upgrades for half the cash back and start working on a new gun, you can, but when the machine guns will do the job for 95% of the Nazi’s you face, why bother?


Dammit! and I get stuck with the Pants-Stay-UP Veil power!!

Multiplayer didn’t impress me, it seemed very typical of the million other first person shooter games available to play online, and the veil mechanic was slapped on top to very little effect. Also, for some reason all the fantastic weapon sounds from the campaign are tossed out the window and we’re left with some pretty crappy sound effects for the multiplayer version.

Lastly, as this is the PC version, I need to talk about copyright protection and issues I experienced for a second. Wolfenstein uses SecuRom copy protection which gave me no end of grief while trying to review this game. After the initial install, the game ran fine. The next time I tried to play it, I got a SecuRom error and was not let into the game. Alright, I have a tool called DaemonTools on my system which SecuRom is known to freak out over, so I uninstall it which is annoying but not the end of the world. I am able to play the game fine again and I think I’m in the clear – not so. The next time I go to play, once again I’m being shut down by SecuRom, and at this point I have no idea what is causing the problem. No hints from the SecuRom, Wolfenstein, or Activision site. I randomly try to play one more time and I’m back in the game. The time after, it stops me again. Needless to say, after finishing the campaign for the review, I cannot be bothered to deal with this crap. When your copyright protection schemes are bypassed in the matter of hours by the game hacking groups out there, but they cause your actual paying customers grief day in and day out, it seems to me that the system is a little bit backwards.


Hey! Is this the BEERFEST competition?

Here’s the Deal

I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy playing through this game as most first person shooters tend to be a copy of the last and can get boring very quickly. However, Wolfenstein played well enough with great visuals and sound, along with a supporting story that was somewhat compelling which allowed me to get to the end of the campaign without ever falling asleep at the keyboard. I probably wouldn’t rush out to pick this up, but if you’re a fan of the Wolfenstein series, or just can’t get enough first person shooters, then you shouldn’t be disappointed. If you’re looking to pick this up for its multiplayer aspect, I would suggest sticking with one of your current favorites. Lastly, I would suggest that if you’re comfortable with playing shooters using a console controller, then you might want to pick up the PS3/XBOX360 version of this game rather than the PC due to issues I experienced with SecuRom, although these may easily be fixed in an upcoming patch. 6/10. Mark D.

~ by consolecreatures on August 29, 2009.

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