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Return to Castle Wolfenstein Review
developer: Gray Matter Studios
PII 400, 128MB RAM, 16MB Video Card, 800MB HD
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Nov 20, 01 (released)
|» All About Return to Castle Wolfenstein on ActionTrip|
I am an FPS fan.
Nothing gives me greater pleasure than staring down the barrel of a pixelated polygonal gun, dealing cold, steely death to the throngs of enemies placed before me; wandering what seems like endless hallways to reach the end of a level, only to have the next one load, and battle be joined once again.
I am hopelessly addicted.
How did I contract this malady? Easy. I played Wolfenstein 3D, and it was all downhill from there.
Of course, the FPS genre has since matured from those days, from the blue steel walls of Wolfenstein 3D, through the true 3D revolution of Quake, to the near-perfection of Half-Life, the FPS has become the staple of action gaming. Now it has all come full circle, because Wolfenstein lives again, this time with the modern touch of the Quake3 engine behind it.
The single-player story is very straightforward. In 1943 Germany, the player, as U.S. Army Ranger B.J. Blazkowicz, is captured and is being held in the dungeons of Castle Wolfenstein. Upon escaping the castle, a plot is unveiled involving Nazi experiments into cybernetics and the occult. Fortunately, you get to rain on their parade, save the world from fascism, and annihilate more than a few Nazis in the process.
Sounds easy, right? Well...it is.
The single-player campaign was not the focal point of this game (Ain't that the truth - Ed). It couldn't have been. It was far too short, in this reviewer's opinion. I finished it in roughly 10 hours, at the Normal (Bring 'em on!) setting. However, the reason I finished it so quickly was because the story was fairly well put together and the gameplay was a good mix of styles - several run-'n'-gun levels where you run full bore, guns blazing, and 2 very interesting missions involving stealth - complete the entire level without setting off alarms.
The weapons are pretty much standard fare - especially considering most of them are modeled around the weaponry of the era - the allied Thompson, and English Sten sub-machine guns, along with the German Panzerfaust, MP40 SMG, and Mauser sniper rifles. Throw in a mini-gun, a rockin' flamethrower (the best flame effects I've EVER seen!), a lightning-hose based weapon called the Tesla cannon, and that pretty much rounds out the weapons loadout. These weapons are mercifully unbalanced to make the single-player experience go by quickly so you can spend the bulk of your time where it belongs: multiplayer! More on that in a bit.
The AI reminded me quite a bit of No One Lives Forever (a highly underplayed game - if you've never played NOLF, go get it!). The AI is smart, but not too smart. It is much improved, however, if you compare it to the ORIGINAL Wolfenstein (Heh - Ed). Enemies do not simply run directly at you with all speed, squeezing off rounds as they go. This time, they can take cover, pause to reload, kick over tables and hide, and even throw unprimed grenades back at you, if you're not careful! This time around, instead of having an uncanny knack of always knowing where you are, the AI reacts to the environment. Enemies are alerted to your presence by the noise you make: run and they hear you. Walk, and you can sneak up for a quick backstab. If you're firing un-silenced weapons, enemies around you are alerted to that. If they see a dead comrade on the ground, they're on their guard, and inspect the scene. Overall, the AI is smart enough to pass as situationally aware, but dumb enough to still get shot quickly.
8.5 Very Good
Takes the best-of-breed from Quake 3 engine, excellent team-based multiplayer; and it comes with a single-player game as well;
AI needs minor tweaking, single player could be a bit longer, lag on lower-end systems.