Review: Wolfenstein (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)August 25th, 2009 | Written by Josh Schwartzman | Topic: PC, PlayStation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360
Let’s face it, shooters today all borrow heavily from each other, whether it‘s recharging health, weapon features or even the way we fight bosses. In an effort to set itself apart from the other line of shooters out today, Raven Software has blended together a well-polished shooter with an alternate reality that lets you wield supernatural powers. Despite going up against Activision’s other WWII shooter, Call of Duty: World at War, Wolfenstein’s take on WWII history is a welcome change and fans will surely mind the minor mishaps to truly enjoy a solid and enjoyable shooter.
Similar to the previous games, in Wolfenstein you take control of an allied solider named B.J. Blazkowicz who stumbles across a mysterious artifact known as the Black Sun. Not much is known about it except for the fact that the Nazi will do anything in their power to control it, making it highly valuable and dangerous. You soon get taken to the German city of Isenstadt to help resistance groups stop the Nazis once and for all. Isenstadt can be considered a base of sorts, as it is here where you can interact with fellow soldiers, explore the city streets or accept missions. Once you complete a mission you simply shuffle from person to person until you are warped back into single player mode battling Nazis once again. It’s not a bad idea but it isn’t exactly well done either as Isenstadt simply acts as a breaking point from the action, and since the city is so small and a marker tells you exactly where to go, exploring the city in itself seems kind of pointless.
Once you begin accepting missions you will soon come to enjoy the beauty that is Wolfenstein, whether it is the crumbling locales from which you fight or the (over)powered weapons you get to use. Because Wolfenstein takes place in WWII, you have your standard period weapons, such as Thompson machine guns, Nazi rifles, and more, but thanks in part to the Black Sun (remember that mysterious device), you soon come into contact with weapons that would never have been invented in that time period, or even ours. Simply put, they are devastatingly effective and can wipe out entire groups of enemies with one blast. Such weapons as the particle beam (which turns enemies into dust) and flamethrowers add to the level of fun and sizeable mayhem given to you in every level.
Because of the Black Sun, players can also utilize the powers of the Veil, a mysterious alternate reality that lets you wield ungodly powers and obliterate anything that stands in your path. Besides your typical increased strength and defense modifiers, The Veil also allows you to equip specific abilities such as Veil Sight (allows you to see ghosts that when shot explode onto nearby enemies), Mire (basically same thing as bullet time), and Shield (gives you a barrier to fend off attacks for a short while). These special moves can only be performed while in The Veil, and certain enemies can only be defeated when using it as well. The Veil is not infinite, but there are plenty of recharge packs scattered around the worlds that give you energy needed to use The Veil.
Besides the Veil, Wolfenstein also features a plenty in depth customization system that lets you upgrade weapons. Gold can be obtained by taking it from fallen enemies and using this gold allows you to purchase upgrades once you return to Isenstadt. Upgrades can range anywhere from more ammunition clips, longer sight and silencers, but the real uniqueness comes with some of the more powerful upgrades, such as the ability to bend the particle beam to target enemies. Levels are also fully destructible which allows some upgrades to take fuller effect when destroying enemies. Cover can be blown away and structures can be toppled allowing you to fully take advantage of the most powerful weapons and upgrades.
The single player campaign should take a solid six to seven hours to complete and if you still have not had your fill of Wolfenstein you can hop onto Multiplayer to try one of its three modes. Besides Team Deathmatch, Wolfenstein also features Objective (players must defend or attack set targets) and Stopwatch (where players must complete a certain amount of objectives within the time limit). It would have been nice to offer up more modes and with a limit of only 12 players per game, there leaves much to be desired. There are classes that offer up different ways in approaching each mode, but then again there are only three as well; the medic heals other players, the engineer can plant explosives and the soldier. Each class also has their own form of Veil powers which can be unlocked from the start, however there are still plenty of upgrades that can be unlocked while playing Multiplayer, so if you prefer to have the best equipment possible, you will probably spend a lot of time here.
Visually, Wolfenstein looks great in motion. Cities crumble from the destructive weapons, enemies all look diverse and ghoulish, and the Veil mode’s hue of blue and vibrant colors adds to the eerie feel of the atmosphere. The cutscenes could have used more work as they look like jumbled messes, and character’s lips sometimes never even move when they talk. This of course is miniscule when compared to how the rest of the game looks. The audio is almost as equally as impressive, with the weapons all sounding realistic and the ghostly sounds of enemies both in and out of The Veil are mesmerizing.
Wolfenstein might not hold up to Call of Duty in terms of sales, but Activision’s other WWII shooter still has plenty of interesting ideas to please any fan. With powerful weapons at your disposal, supernatural powers with the help of The Veil, and plenty of eerie Nazi soldiers to kill, the fun never stops. The multiplayer feels like a letdown mostly in part to the lack of more modes and options, but there is still plenty to enjoy with what is available. Wolfenstein could have used a bit more polish in some of the rougher areas, but what is left is still incredibly entertaining.