Wolfenstein is where it all began.
It is the alpha to the omega of first person shooters that crowd our consoles of late and now we have been given another shot at controlling B.J Blazkowicz as he takes on the evil Nazi forces that threaten the… oh well, you get the point.
Has the franchise kept with the times or is it time to let the old dog rest?
Wolfenstein continues the story of B.J as he uncovers more of the Nazi occult shenanigans and goes behind enemy lines to put it all to an end.
Even though Wolfenstein was originally set in World War II it does suffer from the same fate as most other World War II shooters recently and that is that we have played enough of them to almost completely be able to say that we were there.
What makes Wolfenstein different is the occult angle, meaning that all is not as it was when Tom Hanks and Matt Damon were running around shooting various weapons at tanks.
Wolfenstein has taken a little bit of a different approach to the usual “on-rails” shooters of late by having you operate out of an explorable town in which you will speak to different characters and then make your way to certain areas to embark on your next mission. While it allows you to take breaks from the action to do things like explore and upgrade your weapons, it feels like it slows the pace down to a crawl, leaving you feeling like you just want to get on with it.
Gameplay is solid as far as shooters are concerned although unlike most “blockbuster” FPS titles, the pacing of the firefights can get a little slow and heavily reliant on your Veil (more on that later) abilities. Nazis in the Wolfenstein universe also tend to have an insane amount of love for tossing as many grenades at you as possible, and something that made the combat structure feel a bit weak is that every time you face a group of Nazi’s, you will almost always see a couple of conveniently placed exploding barrels that can be used to dispatch them.
Due to mystical crystals that you find, you are also given the ability to do some crazy things like step into an alternate dimension called “The Veil” which open up new routes as well as allow you to do things like slow time down, shield yourself and move faster.
While the occult aspects of the game have been implemented to enhance the shooter experience, it is here where I found myself feeling let down.
I believe that Wolfenstein has gone around in a big circle only to bite itself in the backside. The original Wolfenstein was the father of FPS games and from that point on, nearly every shooter released was in one way or another, a clone with some differences.
I came to the sad conclusion that the franchise that started it all, that created the base template of shooters for years, has eventually folded in over itself by being a clone of all those games that once cloned it in it’s original form.
Slowing down time, upgrading weapons and so on have all been done before and mixed together with the very tired World War II setting the game comes across as feeling incredibly generic in every way.
Graphics can be impressive at times and sound is nothing major to write home about but as far as all that is concerned, the game is technically sound. The game also comes with multiplayer options but to be brutally honest, I was not attracted to it after giving it a go and the international performance is barely playable even when on an unshaped 4mb line, which means no quick bouts of online play like Call of Duty or Battlefield.
In the end, Wolfenstein is not a bad shooter and can still be enjoyed by casual gamers. For seasoned shooter fans however, it will come across as all too familiar and tired.
Wolfenstein feels like it has finally run its course. The series is either going to need a complete re-imagining, or it should focus on bringing back the much loved Enemy Territory multiplayer mode and focus on that instead.
Still plays like a solid shooter with some included abilities and crazy weapons
A pretty good looking title that varies in quality depending on location
Adequate but nothing special
A decent romp with collectables but again, nothing special
A decent shooter, albeit a very generic one.
Last Updated: September 4, 2009