WOLFENSTEIN History doesn't always repeat. by TheMailMan78 August 20, 2009 - Its been years since I played the original Wolfenstein 3D on my friends old 286. Back in 1992 the term "First Person Shooter" hadn't even been conceived yet. All I knew as a 13 year old boy was shooting little Nazis gave me a warm feeling. Kinda like seeing my friends sister in a training bra for the first time. I mean it was so cool to look out of the eyes of the one and only William "B.J." Blazkowicz instead of all the cheesy 2D side scrollers I had grown accustom to in the days of the 16-bit revolution. Wolfenstein 3D was in fact "revolutionary" and remains to be the "Godfather" of all FPS style games. So with this kinda pedigree behind it I assumed Raven softwares latest reincarnation of Wolfenstein 3D titled simply "Wolfenstein" was set to please. After all iD software wouldn't allow Raven to soil the name that pioneered the FPS style game would it? Lets have a look and see shall we? Installation and Interface: Wolfensteins installation went smooth and had all the normal things happen. Punkbuster, DirectX and everything else thats normally needed to play a PC game. There was in fact no pesky DRM which I was happy to see and instead uses a normal old school serial number. Once everything was installed and I had defragged my rig I found the game had installed shortcuts into my Vista "Games" link found on the start menu. I really like this and to this day I cannot understand why more developers ignore that little organization gem Vista provides. Moving on I start the game and I am greeted with a very simple splash screen that simply says "Wolfenstein". So far so good. Edit: The game does in fact use SecuROM 7. I am sorry I missed this but thank you to Fordconcept for pointing it out. Once we get by all the manufacture ads I am finally lead to the games main menu. This is where some things started bothering me. The title screen was very underwhelming and the graphic options leave very little to be adjusted. The control settings are obviously setup by default to use a 360 controller. This is a bad start for a guy like me. Wolfenstein should be a PC game first and foremost. Its where it was born and should stay. Adding support for a 360 controller is one thing. Making it the default is a slap in the face. None the less I struggled on and set up my controls. When I escaped back to the main menu I was greeted with a pop-up telling me there was in fact a new version of the game ready to be downloaded and was asking me if I would like to do so. I did and the damn thing patched up without me having to restart the application! How awesome is that? I wish more games were this way. Graphics and Sound: Some people say that gameplay is the most important part of a game and that graphics are just "eye candy" and don't make the game. These same guys usually have GPUs that could render Toy Story in real time. Hypocrites. If this were true we would all still be playing Pac-Man. Graphics are just as important as any other ingredient of a game. Without decent graphics you will lose atmosphere and in a game like Wolfenstein thats instant death. With this being said my hopes of Wolfenstein having state of the art graphics were in fact small. The game was developed using a quickly being dated engine called "Tech 4". Also known as the "Doom 3" engine. iD software usually develops on a 5 year cycle. Every few years John Carmack (iD Software Co-Founder) wows the world with his new game engines and technological feats. Tech 4 engine was no different......5 years ago. Today the Tech 4 engine still shines and hangs with the best of them if given to the right studio. Its also got a nice thing going for it since its so old. Compatibility and scaling. Anyone with a computer thats two years old should be able to push this engine and get decent frame rates. However for the sake of the review this is what I ran Wolfenstein on. AMD Phenom II 720 X3 @ 3.45GHz MSI DKA790GX Platinum 4 gigs PC 8500 Patriot "Viper" Dual Asus EAH4850 "Top" in Crossfire. On Board Realtek 7.1 HD Corsair TX750 watt Vista Home Premium 64bit The game on my rig ran as smooth a butter. So good in fact that I got tearing in the picture when it was maxed out. I ended up turning vertical sync on. The game opens with a typical CG using a very Indiana Jones esque style. Perfect for a game like Wolfenstein. Why you ask? Because yes this is about World War 2 and the ultimate bad guys "Nazis" but its not meant to be serious. Just think B-movie when you play the game. It will make more sense to you. In game the graphics hold the same style as the CG which is to be expected nowadays. The textures and lighting are very atmospheric and the character models have some really nice animations to them. In fact I once shot a Nazis leg off and he started hopping around on one foot for a good 3 seconds before falling over dead! Kick ass! One thing that Raven added to Wolfenstein that hadn't been done before was they added the ability to aim down the sights of the gun. This was a warm welcome for me. Ever since I got a good taste of that in the original Call of Duty FPS games seem incomplete without it. Overall the graphics while not great were in fact good and do more than enough to get the point across. The music in this game is top notch. Nothing fancy but it fits the mood of the game perfectly. It can be very subtle orchestra music all the way to a blaring symphony. Very cool and sometimes creepy. The sound effects are nothing out of this world but serve the game well. Barrels exploding, guys yelling and such sound fine. The only complaint I have is with some of the gun blasts. This is something personal for me. I in fact have shot most of the weapons of the game in real life. I have high expectations for the "pop" of a gun in a game. Wolfenstein was a let down for me in this arena. For most it wont matter but for me its irritating. The voice acting is a riot. Its not bad Japanese style acting but more of a Joe Bob Briggs b-movie style voice acting. Again this is the style of the game and it works well. Gameplay and Multiplayer: Remember how I bitched about the 360 controller being the default? Get ready for some more bitching. The default controls suck and whatever you set walk to is also "up" in the menu. I like to use my mouse for walking so whenever I click on a menu item the damn selection moves up. Most people won't notice this but for the few that may its very annoying. In the game however it won't matter. Everything there is pretty straight forward. Primary and secondary fire. Strafing and crouching. The usual. A good feature that Raven added to the Tech 4 engine was a more extreme "bob" to the player when running and walking. This really added to the game. It kinda feels like your a camera man in a movie running. Very cool. Another thing Raven did is add the "Veil". It allows you to switch between dimensions and do stuff you can't do in the mortal world. Super speed and passing through matter are just a few of the things you can do in game. It really adds to the atmosphere also. However I won't go into detail because its tightly knitted into the plot. The game itself has a free flow system which makes the game kinda unilinear. You can pick and choose where you want to go and what missions you want to complete. Kinda like Far Cry 2 but you are confined to one city. Once you accept a mission from a plot member they mark it on your map and you make your way across town to the mission. Usually there is a truck there waiting to take you to a remote location not in the city. Dig Sites, Churches and such. Once you complete the level you go back to one of the bases and pick up some plot twists and on to the next mission. I know it sounds repetitive but its not. Raven did a good job keeping things interesting. One thing they did is added a weapon perk system. All the gold you find along with missions get you money. You can use this money to buy most anything you want for your gun collection. Drum magazines, bayonets etc. Its a small feature but it does in fact add to the game. I like it as an addition to the Wolfenstein series. Now to the section many of you have been asking about. How is the multiplayer?! Well in a word I would say its sucks. It doesn't even feel like the single player game in any way shape or form. I now see why the studio that was in charge of the multiplayer portion of the game was fired right after release. It brings nothing new to the series. In fact they even used the same sound effect as Enemy Territory! There are only a few objective maps and they get boring fast. Another thing they did is put the player cap at 16. What year is this 1999? What made things really sad is they added a perk system with persistent stats and everything. I doubt many people will play this long enough to "unlock" all the weapon upgrades but if you invest enough time you can build one hell of a weapon. Not that you can use it because the game only allows one perk per weapon at a time. This worked in Call of Duty 4 because the gun perks were complemented with other things like air strikes and UAVs. All you have here is the option to ether have extra ammo OR a optical sight. Just not both at the same time. What the hell was iD and Raven thinking with this portion of the game. They really could have put Wolfenstein back on the map but not only did they drop the ball but stomped on it. Some however enjoy the game. When I was in the servers online I asked around and believe it or not some people loved it. However most didn't. For me they multiplayer is crap. For you it maybe gold. To each there own. Conclusion: Over all I enjoyed Wolfensteins single player. Its got a unique charm to it. The game for me doesn't live up to its heritage but honestly I didn't expect it to. iD supported the game but did not develop it. It was developed by Raven. Personally I'm not a big fan of Raven since what they did to Quake 4. Wolfenstein is a better game and Raven while not making the game great did in fact make a good game. For my budget minded readers I would hold off on paying full retail. The game is good but not worth the full price. Wait till its in the bargain bin because the replay is absolutely zero. Anyway I hope you guys enjoyed reading my review and if you have any questions feel free to ask. Screens: Disclaimer: This review is the opinion of one member of TPU, TheMailMan78 and does not in fact represent the opinions or beliefs of TPU or its respected owner and advertisers.