Wolfenstein is the franchise that started it all 17 years ago with the release of the third game in the series, Wolfenstein 3D. It gave birth to the first-person shooter genre, which would later allow id Software to unleash Doom, and three years after that, Quake. id Software is responsible for popularity of the FPS genre, but at the same time, it also feels as if they've lost their touch, with developers like Epic and Guerrilla doing what they do today. Games such as Quake Wars, while only produced by id Software, and not fully developed by them, have began to mar the developers reputation. And unfortunately, the latest game with their name on it, isn't much different. Wolfenstein has arrived, but it's not quite what I wanted...
...on the other hand, it is exactly what I expected: a first person shooter dealing with paranormal events; gameplay that requires a bit of run and gun, some taking cover, some grenade throwing, moving forward, and repeating it all over and over again. Yes, you do have some magical abilities thanks to a medallion infused with powers, but beyond that, it all felt so familiar. But worst of all, where as games like Killzone 2 manage to inject excitement into gameplay, Wolfenstein just feels dull. So, it's exactly what I expected, and unfortunately those expectations are met with disappointment.
Once more, you are thrown into the shoes of B.J. Blazkowicz, our long-time hero of the series. After witnessing a brief encounter on a ship full of Nazis, B.J. demonstrates the power of his discovered medallion and then escapes the ship by jumping through a portal. He later meets his executive officers and is once again dispatched on a mission to stop the Nazis and their plan to discover and utilize a powerful force known as the Black Sun for their destructive needs.
As you complete levels you'll earn rewards in the form of unlockable items and money. The money and items you earn are good upgrading your weapons and powers, granting your arsenal an additional punch. What's nice about the upgrade system is that each weapon has its own unique upgrades, including the grenades, and there's a sizable amount of enhancements per weapon. Gameplay relies on the traditional setup of the shoulder buttons being in charge of your weaponry (shoot, aim, switch weapon, throw grenade), and on occasion you will need to man a turret and take out everything that moves.
Multiplayer is made up of three modes, Team Deathmatch, Stopwatch, and Objective. Unfortunately, as much as I'd love to spend my time describing each mode, it's not worth your time to read it. Not only does the game feature a lackluster and meager three multiplayer modes, but it also features a lackluster and meager 12 player limit. Yes, we're four solid years into this generation, and are still seeing multiplayer games with 12 players. It's especially bothersome coming from such an established franchise. And it seems like gamers were well aware of these drawbacks, as there are barely any people online. This Wolfenstein game should've been an epic adventure. What a shame.
It's an even bigger shame when you realize that the visual quality here is that of a launch game. Terrible character models demonstrate early-generation details that really do not help this game the least bit. Rough texture work is spread all throughout the game, from walls, to ceilings, to the floor, to objectives in the environment, and once again, the character models. Not only do these textures look low-grade from a distance, but they're especially ugly close up. Sure, the framerate runs at, what seems to be a solid 30 frames, but at such a visual expense, this game would've been better off left in the oven and its visuals fine tuned to look good and the game engine to run well.
The audio isn't as lackluster as the rest of the game, as the soundtrack is decent enough to earn a pass, and the voice acting is surprisingly solid, albeit filled with some cheesy moments from our very own protagonist. The one notable problem I have with the audio is that the gunfire simply doesn't pop like it does in many other AAA first-person shooters. I never really felt immersed into the experience, as the sound effects generally felt lacking beyond just the gunshots.
Wolfenstein is a franchise that seems to have lost its touch, as id Software's brainchild no longer sets off any fires, or even sparks, with gamers anymore. Despite being announced years ago, developer Raven Software did no justice to this historic franchise, and Activision surely didn't help by allowing it to be released. Generic gameplay, poor multiplayer offerings, and below average visuals? This I can't even recommend when it hits the inevitable bargain bin.
9/15/2009 Arnold Katayev