Review: Wolfenstein - PC, PS3, Xbox 360 - 7.4
08-24-2009ostatnia aktualizacja 11-23-2009, 20:04
Raven Software, id Software, Activision
Wolfenstein struggles to remain relevant in modern gaming...
Without a doubt the progenitor of the FPS genre, the Wolfenstein franchise is one of the most influential franchises in all of gaming history. Curiously, news on any new games in the series had been quiet through the previous and current generation, as franchises like Halo, Call of Duty, and Half-life took the FPS spotlight. Announced in 2006, frequent id Software partner Raven Software has finally launched the next installment in the franchise. But in a world where the FPS genre has seen the likes of Crysis, can Wolfenstein stay relevant and provide anything compelling for series fans and newcomers alike?
Of course, the protagonist of the previous entries, B.J. Blazkowitz, makes an explosive return in an intro cutscene that sets up the premise of the game. The Nazis are hunting for artifacts linked to a power called the Black Sun, like the medallion B.J. finds before the game begins. You're quickly dropped into the city of Isenstadt, an arena where several resistance groups clash with the Nazis over said artifacts. Series veterans know not to expect much from the plot or story-telling, which is primarily conveyed through a series of badly-compressed, pre-rendered cutscenes. But then again, it's never really been a selling point of the franchise.
In general, Wolfenstein epitomizes the standard shooter experience. You go through a multitude of environments, defeating Nazis with a range of different weapons. Where Wolfenstein attempts to inject some originality into the formula is with its Veil mechanic. Basically, your medallion allows you to enter a parallel dimension that enhances your eyesight, makes enemies obvious, and reveals explosive creatures called geists. On top of this, the game gradually introduces three powers: bullet-time, shield, and bullet enhancement. In addition to this, there's an upgrade system for your various weapons and powers that is built upon gold that you find scattered throughout the city. It's not too deep, but it augments Blazkowitz' abilities quite significantly to the point where you will be slowing down time and deflecting hundreds of bullets back at elite SS commandos while sniping machine gunners.
Being based in World War II, you'll understandably come across famous staples like the MP40 and Kar98K. Given that this is Wolfenstein, you'll also understandably find an arsenal of paranormal firearms such as the Telsa gun and a Particle Cannon. Each of these is extremely satisfying to use, raining death and destruction down on unsuspecting soldiers.
Wolfenstein's strength comes from its solid shooting. Particularly, it offers some great boss battles based on your Veil abilities. These multi-tiered encounters are sorely missed in current gaming. Unfortunately, the rest of the game isn't flawless. The difficulty curve is very abrupt at times, throwing an obscene amount of enemies that could deplete your Veil powers and still have the numbers to kill you. Some frustrating moments include invisible assassins that can kill you in a split second, something that's never fun. The enemy AI is generally weak, usually sticking to one piece of cover and rarely reacting to grenades at their feet. Other oddities like a confusing save system and a broken door-opening mechanic often get in the way of the fun.
Built upon its predecessor, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Wolfenstein features a trio of multiplayer gametypes. Objective and Stopwatch are the objective modes that have the Axis defending against an encroaching resistance team. As with the single player, the Veil is an important mechanic here, giving each class their own unique power: soldiers gain an offensive strike, medics an area-of-effect heal, and engineers the ability to run faster than is humanly possible. Like with most shooters nowadays, this component is serviceable and fun, but won't hold your attention for long, what with giants like Halo 3: ODST and Modern Warfare 2 just around the corner.
Shockingly, what is perhaps Wolfenstein's weakest aspect is something that id games usually excel at: technical and audio presentation. Built on the ancient id Tech 4, Wolfenstein displays some bad-looking character modeling and animation. There have been some upgrades in the depth of field and lighting arenas, but the game definitely doesn't even approach current standards. Thankfully, there is a lot of variety in the levels - ranging from streets to zeppelins. Like all other aspects of the package, the visuals are adequate, no more, no less.
A combination of bugs, AI issues, and aging technology make it difficult for Wolfenstein to stand out in the sea of other shooters. However, for series veterans, Wolfenstein provides a solid, old-school shooting experience. Let's just hope that Blazkowitz' next adventure is a little more ambitious.
Gameplay: 7.5 – Solid shooting action is well-complimented by the addition of Veil abilities. Unfortunately, unimaginative AI and over-powered enemies will lead to some frustration.
Presentation: 7.0 – Wolfenstein doesn't pretend to be a narrative masterpiece, but that's not enough of an excuse for some poorly done cinematic work.
Graphics: 7.0 – Once a technical powerhouse, id Tech 4 simply can't keep up with modern video game engines: characters are poorly-animated and texture detail is woefully inadequate at times. Fortunately, there's enough variety in the environments to keep things interesting.
Sound: 8.0 – Weapon sounds are appropriately punchy. Voice acting is fine for what it is.
Value: 7.5 – The main campaign, while fun, won't last you too long. Multiplayer is a temporary diversion, at best.
Final Score: 7.4 – Wolfenstein might be fun, but the overall package doesn't present anything remarkable enough to let it compete with current FPS heavy-hitters.
Marcin Skok Editor-in-Chief "The Gaming Corner
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