In the seventeen-year history of the Wolfenstein franchise, the series has often been steeped in innovation. 1981’s Castle Wolfenstein was one of the first stealth-based games, requiring players to clandestinely travel through the title’s network of rooms. Wolfenstein 3D, released onto PCs in 1992, introduced gamers to the first-person shooter, as well as confirmed the viability of the shareware business model.
The seventh and most recent addition to the franchise presents little originality, instead exhibiting an extremely competent and satisfying shooting experience. Simply entitled, Wolfenstein– the game’s production has spanned five years, and four developers. While histories as vagrant as Wolfenstein’s typically result in inferior titles, the game has fortuitously thwarted this trend.
Series star B.J. Blazkowicz returns to the fray, this time with a medallion that grants the American soldier paranormal powers in his fight to rid the world of the Third Reich. The talisman embeds Blazkowicz with ‘veil’ abilities that span from slowing time, traveling through specific wall, increasing the player’s defense, or even penetrating enemy forcefields, all accomplished with a quick press of the directional pad. These abilities are compulsory for the player’s intense battle with games Nazi’s and other supernatural foes. Although the title issues a few cheap shots from these antagonists- like making some opponents invisible, the game’s liberal checkpoints assure that not much headway due to shifty mechanics.
While Wolfenstein flirts with an open-world design, in execution the player typically chooses a mission and follows an on-screen compass, obliterating all enemies in his path. As the game progresses, players may supplement weapons, adding components to increase the muzzle velocity, or enlarge the magazine. The game’s diverse arsenal is superbly pleasing; rifles and submachine guns mow down foes pleasurably, but the game’s Tesla gun and flame thrower make carnage truly enthralling. Unfortunately, the enemy A.I. is uneven, and often running into battle without a weapon readied.
Wolfenstein’s focus is the extensive and passionate single player campaign, but the developers included a middling multiplayer seemingly to entice those with a competitive streak. Combatants choose one of three classes; soldier, engineer, or medic, each with an individual veil powers. Although the mode has three variations, Team Deathmatch, Objective, and Stopwatch, none measure up to the blissful fragging found in Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory.
Wolfenstein triumphs graphically with impressive texture work that allows both environments and people to be impressively rendered. Dimly lit locations are exceptionally evocative, from murky candlelit rooms to festering sewers dripping with waste. Most allies are eerily lifelike, as their eyes and bodies shift to keep the player in sight. Sadly, the game’s multiplayer arenas lack the main campaign’s aesthetics; competitive games use an inferior engine. The game’s framerate is remarkably solid during most firefights, only faltering momentarily when the title resumes from a previous checkpoint. Wolfenstein’s audio is complemented by a superb range of ballistic blasts, which transforma as the player augments each weapon.
Although the latest iteration of Wolfenstein offers little deviation from FPS norms, the title does offer a wonderfully pulpy experience evoking a summer popcorn movie. Those fatigued from ridding the virtual world of Nazis, will likely find themselves rejuvenated by the game’s gratifying gunplay. Although Wolfenstein has several niggling quirks, nearly all of them are forgotten when the player is gripping the controller with vice-like force, resolute on killing all of the Third Reich’s nefarious forces.