|Developer:||id, Raven, Endrant Studios|
|Genre:||First Person Shooter|
|Release Date:||August 21st, 2009 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
Wolfenstein. If the mere mention of that word conjures up images of 2D sprites, Doom-style music and mecha-Hitlers then this is the game for you, a game that drags the venerable shooter series firmly into the next gen arena- warts and all.
Set in 1943, this particular iteration of the series takes place in the fictional town of Isenstadt, and once again stars OSA agent and general hardcase BJ Blazkowicz as he takes on the Nazi menace once more.
As usual the action comes fast and frequently, but whereas previous Wolfenstein have mainly been all about the gunplay, this Wolfenstein is all about the powers- and very cool they are too.
Explained through a nicely-rendered cutscene, BJ manages to get his hands on a medallion very early on in the game, a medallion with some very interesting powers- the ability to slow time, render invisible enemies visible, deflect bullets and turn your enemies into ash- the Thule Medallion.
The game's plot revolves around this Medallion, the Nazi efforts to use its power for various nefarious deeds and the pitched battle between two cults vying for control of the coveted weapon/ piece of shiny jewellery.
The medallion also has once other power- it allows the wearer to enter into a realm known as 'the Veil' a world between our reality and that of the 'Black Sun' dimension- a source of power the Nazi's are trying to harness.
Switching between the real world and the Veil makes everything appear with a greenish tint, makes hidden rooms appear, lowers gravity and allows the use of the Veil powers.
It's one of the more interesting aspects to the game, as entering the Veil can reveal different routes into battle or highlight enemies far away. It's also essential for taking on some of the later enemies, some of whom use the Veil themselves.
The plot itself is a little flat and very predictable, but luckily the action more than makes up for the weak storytelling and hammy voice action. And there is plenty of action to go around- BJ has to blast his way through an occupied German city, underground mines, temples, a battleship, a castle and loads of other locations, and face off against a surprisingly wide range of enemies, ranging from the usual Nazi cannon-fodder to crazed, shape-shifting scientists, huge armoured stormtroopers, mutants and a couple of terrifying boss fights, which called my gaming reflexes into use time and time again.
To take on the enemy he has a very eclectic set of weaponry, from the bog-standard rifle and sub-machinegun to the more destructive particle cannon and tesla gun, along with a good selection of explosives, missile launchers and grenades.
The missions themselves are pretty varied, ranging from sabotage to assassination, and are all assigned by different groups within the city of Isenstadt itself- the Kreisau Circle, a team of German freedom-fighters opposed to the Nazi regime, and the Golden Dawn- a rather uppity group of warrior-historians. The city serves as a hub for the game, with missions taking place a short boat/plane/train ride away.
The black market is also present in the city, as are several Nazi officers' billets and piles of hidden gold. The gold can be used to buy upgrades for the weapons and the medallion (black market dealers are apparently doing a good trade in Occult memorabilia.)
There's about 10 hours worth of gameplay in the single player campaign, and the action was enough to keep me coming back, even if the plot was a little twee. The multiplayer section of the game, however, is sadly lacking. Unlike return to Castle Wolfenstein, the game is no trendsetter, instead drawing from the standard objective-based, deathmatch or team deathmatch modes.
Its only saving grace is the Veil powers assigned to the individual soldier classes, giving the soldier an area-of-effect blast and the medic the ability to dispense health packs for example.
The frame-rate suffers somewhat in multiplayer however, and the lack of a cover system really stands out when combined with the unpredictable lag, which seems to clog the servers- it just feels like an opportunity missed, almost like it was rushed to finish the game for release.
Graphically the game is nothing spectacular, about on a par with Medal of Honour: Airborne. Some interesting graphical bugs plague the game, as does the programming on Isenstadt's doors, which open and close without warning in the middle of a firefight- an endless source of annoyance.
Overall Wolfenstein is a solid, if predictable, shooter. While the Veil's powers and weapon customisation add a little variety to the proceedings, the lacklustre plot and poor voice acting cheapen the experience somewhat. The multiplayer is also a sad let down- with the infinite possibilities of the Veil the developers really could have made some interesting game modes.
This is one for either the Wolfenstein fanatic or for anyone who has a few spare quid and wants to shoot some Nazi's without worrying too much about plot- BJ style.
- Cool Veil powers
- Good range of weapons
- Solid shooter action
Not so good stuff
- Dull story
- Poor multiplayer
- Average graphics