Return to Castle Wolfenstein
The Wolfenstein franchise has its roots deep in the first person shooter genre. The original game, Wolfenstein 3D, is considered by most to be the grandfather of the first person shooter. The original Wolfenstein paved the way for classic games like DOOM and Quake, and it laid the foundation of the genre we know today. Return to Castle Wolfenstein attempts to retell the classic story of Wolfenstein 3D with a modern day boost. Nearly 20 years after the release of Wolfenstein 3D, Return to Castle Wolfenstein looks to revive the franchise that created the genre in the first place. With stylish graphics, an extended narrative, and fast-paced multiplayer, the game is both fun to play and well designed.
The story of Wolfenstein 3D was appropriately simple, given the time the game came out. Set during World War II, the game followed soldier BJ Blazkowicz. Taken prison and kept locked up by the Nazis, BJ breaks free and goes on a killing rampage as he escapes from the prison. Return to Castle Wolfenstein takes the same setting and tone of the original game, but amps it up in some fun ways. Players once again take on the role of BJ Blazkowicz, who embarks on military missions to take down the Nazi machine. Working for a government agency known as the Office of Secret Actions, Blazkowicz tries to learn more about the evil General Deathshed and his range of paranormal experiments. Overall, the story is a fun mixture of military action and sci-fi. Besides shooting Nazis and other human enemies, players will encounter a slew of paranormal creatures and biological experiments. The narrative is smartly interwoven with the levels, and it remains fresh and entertaining throughout.
Gameplay is similar in nature to the franchise's original formula, but with a decidedly modern spin. Using a variety of weaponry (both realistic and supernatural), you attempt to fight your way through a number of stages. Along the way, you'll complete objectives, find collectibles and new weaponry, and explore the environment. Like the original game, many levels can feel maze-like. Early stages especially are full of tight corridors and narrow passageways, which you'll have to navigate to find the exit. Weapons are easily obtainable, and you'll get to enjoy blasting enemies with a great range of weapons. From pistols and combat knives to shotguns and SMGs, there are a slew of fun guns to engage with. Each area of the game also contains numerous secret areas to discover, as well as hidden treasures to find. You'll have to search far and wide to find these cleverly hidden spots, but the rewards are often worthwhile.
Overall, Return to Castle Wolfenstein is a great first person shooter that is loads of fun to play. It succeeds in paying homage to the classic shooter franchise while also offering new and fresh ways to play. The environments are well designed and surprisingly destructive, the story mode is lengthy and exciting, and the multiplayer is quick and engaging. Although it is grounded in realism, Return to Castle Wolfenstein explores some interesting supernatural elements, and isn't afraid to let loose every once in a while. Bottom line, the game feels awesome to play, and will go down as one of the finest in the Wolfenstein franchise.
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Ha! Feel like you killed enough Nazis in Medal of Honor. Think again, fool. Nazi-killing never gets old, and RtCWIs a testament to that. It's nothing but you and your luger (or MP40 or whatever other real-life WWII weapon you can find) against legions of Hitler's boys--not to mention the undead and some nasty genetics-experiments-gone-awry. Achtung!
Get online and get killing. But how? If you remember nothing else, remember this: Play as a member of the team, not as an individual. This means, for starters, don’t kill your teammates. That’s not fun for anyone. You might think you’re having fun, but actually, you’re being a jerk. Common mistake. The four character classes in the multiplayer game are designed to complement one another, and a winning team plays accordingly.
New to multiplayer? Here are some simple tricks that’ll make you an asset to your team from the get-go: If you’re on defense, arm yourself with the Venom and hide out in an objective room. Shamelessly camp near the documents or the radio that the opposing team needs. When any member of the other team shows up on your turf, promptly serve ’em a lead salad. If you’re a rookie on offense, try being a Medic. Follow your more knowledgable teammates and provide support until you learn your way around the battlefield. Once you have your bearings, it’s time to specialize. Try each class to see what suits you. Whichever you choose, use your special abilities to help your team attain victory. Here’s how.
A specialist in all types of armament, the Soldier can choose any weapon. He should always be in the thick of the fray, covering a strategic location or defending a crucial objective. In addition to wielding weapons the other classes cannot use, the Soldier starts with the most ammunition (except for grenades). Because he constantly engages the enemy, however, his ammo supply and health need regular replenishing. Back him up with a Medic and a Lieutenant. The following strategies make the Soldier even more effective.
Aim for the head. One or two headshots are worth half a clip of body shots. Call for ammo and health. Press Left on the D-pad for medical attention, Right to plead for ammo from the Lieutenant. Cover objectives. Soldiers pack a lot more heat than other classes. Use it for important jobs, like guarding or assaulting team objectives. Snipe. Use the Mauser to assist team members from a distance by picking off the enemy. Remember, aim for the head.
Protect Engineers. As a Soldier, it is your job to keep the Engineer alive while he tries to complete demolition objectives. If you’re outnumbered while on escort duty, go ahead and bite off more than you can chew. Spread your fire around. Get the enemies’ attention and earn your teammate valuable time. It’s better for your team if you’re executed by three enemies while your Engineer succeeds than if you take out two opponents while the third nixes your Engineer before his work is done. Take one for the team.
A specialist in explosives, the Engineer breaches fortified locations and destroys objectives. He can defuse the enemy’s explosives before they go off, negating the resources and time they spent planting them. The Engineer can also repair broken stationary guns. And his many grenades are perfect for clearing out a room or destroying a gun emplacement. By now, it should be clear that the Engineer is often the pivotal figure in a battle’s outcome. The wise Engineer doesn’t behave like a Soldier; he conserves his ammo for necessary self defense and concentrates on doing his job.
Blow things up. The Engineer sets explosives to open a path for his team or to destroy an objective. The red dots on your compass lead you to obstacles or objectives you can destroy. The larger the dots grow, the closer you are. Planted dynamite, which glows yellow, needs to be armed before it can do its work. Use the pliers on planted dynamite until the blue progress bar is full. When the dynamite is armed, it glows red.
If you complete your demolition duty, switch to grenades and destroy camping enemies and enemy-held MG42s. Repair stationary guns. Only an Engineer can repair a destroyed MG42. To fix the broken weapon, use the pliers as you would to arm dynamite. Be sure to tell your team that the gun is up and running again. They might not notice your handiwork in the heat of battle.
He heals the wounded and revives the fallen. When a Medic spawns, all his teammates gain an additional 10 Health Points. He carries little ammunition and has no choice in primary weapons.
Bear in mind the old adage, "Discretion is the better part of valor." Running from battle serves the Medic well, because he heals himself over time and has the highest health limit. The Medic can help his teammates attack the enemy, but he should not do so alone. Mainly, he should spend his time aiding wounded or incapacitated teammates. An adept Medic can make sure his team is always fighting, leaving little time for the opposing force to catch its breath.
Heal the wounded. Give medkits to teammates in need. Dispensing first aid kits depletes your power, which regenerates over time. When you’re temporarily unable to drop first aid kits, simply wait until your power bar refills, then continue the healing! A full power bar yields four first aid kits.
When a teammate calls for a Medic, an icon appears over his head. If you are far away, follow the icon on your compass to locate him. The closer you are, the bigger the icon grows. When you find him, patch him up pronto. If no one else needs immediate attention, escort a Soldier or two and help them fight rather than wandering aimlessly or hanging back waiting to be called. Be proactive. Just because you’re a healer doesn’t mean you can’t dispense a little pain.
Revive the fallen. Look for incapacitated men reaching for the sky and screaming for you. They need your attention. To revive a fallen man, pull out a syringe and give him a shot. You have only 10 syringes, so use them carefully, according to your team's needs.
The Lieutenant is like a scaled-back Solider with some crucial special abilities. He can call in massive air strikes to destroy barriers or clear out a group of hostile soldiers. Less flashy but perhaps more important, the Lieutenant provides his teammates with extra ammunition. He can use his binoculars to gather intel about troop movements and warn his squad of imminent danger. He shouldn’t charge in on the front lines like a Soldier, but neither should he be too far away from the action, where his ability to call in air strikes and distribute ammo are near-worthless. Try pairing the Lieutenant with a Medic so he can use his combat skills to inflict damage and never want for health.
Distribute ammunition. Drop ammo packs at the feet of team members in need. If you run out, just wait a while to recoup your power. A full power bar yields four ammo packs.
When a teammate calls for ammo, an icon appears over his head. If you are far away, follow the icon on your compass to locate him. The closer you are, the bigger the icon grows. (Sound familiar?)
Don’t get unnecessarily sidetracked by firefights; remember your role on the team. It’s better to distribute ammo and have multiple effective combatants than for you to play Rambo while your team is trying to fight with pistols and knives.
Bomb ’em. Pick a spot ripe for an air strike and plant a smoke cannister there. Shells will strike a large area surrounding the smoke. Bombs fall straight down toward your marker, so air strikes won’t be effective under overhangs or arches. And obviously, you cannot use this ability indoors. You need 50 percent of your power bar to call for an air strike.
Try calling in a strike behind opposing snipers, who can’t see past the view of their scopes and won’t notice the signal smoke before the bombardment sends them to hell—uh, that is, to the reinforcements queue. This trick works on outdoor MG42 emplacements, too.
Have you been wishing for a sequel to the classic Wolfenstein 3D? I sure have. Finally, after a long wait, Army Ranger B.J. Blazkowicz is back for another round of carnage. Return to Castle Wolfenstein is true to the spirit and essence of Wolfenstein 3D, as this time you and your partner are sent back to see what’s going on inside Castle Wolfenstein. Almost immediately, both of you are captured and your partner is tortured to death, leaving you alone to either escape with the information or die before divulging top secret information to the Germans. Sometimes your best move is to sneak around, other times it’s best to jump into the battle with guns blazing. The trick is knowing when each move is right. When in doubt, sneak around: you will live longer.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
There are three difficulty levels of gameplay: "Don’t Hurt Me," "Bring ‘em On," and "I Am Death Incarnate." I would recommend playing on "Don’t Hurt Me" first, which is a plenty difficult level despite the name. You will find yourself wanting to play on each skill level.
I found the default key setup to be a bit of a mess; it just did not work for me; however, key assignments are easy to customize. When you load the game up you can go into options and controls and then customize each category for look, move, shoot, and miscellaneous. I found myself going back to what I have used for other first person shooters, since it is comfortable and familiar.
There is a new twist to this game; you must reload your weapon when the clip runs out. One of my biggest gripes with first-person shooters is that they never take reloading a weapon into account, either yours or your enemy’s. Be sure to press the "R" key for reloading your weapon after each battle. The last thing you want is to be caught reloading at the beginning of a gunfight. Keep an ear out for when your enemy is reloading his weapon and make your move during this time. He cannot shoot when he is changing clips of ammunition. Also keep an eye on your ammo count, you would not want to bring a knife to a gun fight.
There seems to be a way to exploit a bug in the gameplay -- if you open a door and then step back and get perpendicular to the door frame the guards will come to this point and seem to get stuck in the door way allowing you to shoot without taking a bullet. Although this is effective in winning the battle, I hope that there is a patch soon to take care of this glitch.
There is multiplayer support for this game but in a different manner than expected. In most first-person shooters you have an option for a death-match against either live or AI creatures. This is perhaps the biggest weakness of Return to Castle Wolfenstein. How can you have a first-person shooter game without having a death-match mode?
The only multiplayer option available is a team mode where you have to join up with others on the web or have one heck of an in-house network. The minimum number of players for a good multiplayer game is eight. More than eight makes the game even better, provided you can find that many strangers online that you are willing to team up with. Select your playing partners carefully; there always seems to be one jerk in the group when you play with strangers online. When you find a group you like, you may what to setup a regular game time and meet back with the same people again. The maximum number of players seems to be up to the server capacity and how many people you can get online and in the game at the same time. I have not gone looking for a physical limit but I am sure there is a limit out there.
This is a great way to play but it should not be the only multiplayer option. I hope there will be an expansion pack sometime in the future to support a death-match mode and more missions. One nice thing about the multiplayer mode is that there are specific settings that do not mess with your normal gameplay. For example, you can turn down the graphics quality to keep the pace of the game up, if connecting via a slow Internet connection. The loss of some of the wonderful eye candy is worth the ability to run at a faster rate online. Not having to mess with your off-line game settings is a wonderful plus to the game.
The graphics are stunning. I can honestly say this one area where this game leaves all the rest in the dust. The graphic presentation is wonderful. There are incredible details and textures in all aspects of the game. You will see great detail in uniforms, tables, walls, stairs... everything. Watch the facial expressions of your foes, each guard seems to have great expressions, and hopefully they will not live long enough to show you much other than the pain of death. When using a scope or binoculars you get marvelously clear close-ups. One of the reasons this game has a mature rating is that the graphics are very real. When you shoot the enemy off a high place the fall of the body looks as good as any Hollywood stuntman I have ever seen. The default setting is a bit dark, so you may want to turn up the contrast. I found the graphics at the start of game to be so riveting that I sometimes forgot to defend myself. Aficionados of the original Wolfenstein 3D will be pleased to see this updated version, keeping the standard high for the day while keeping the memory of the original alive.
The sound is very important to this game. You will need to keep an ear out for unseen things coming your way. Turning off alarms is all-important. If you do not cut the alarms, the guards will be waiting to meet you with almost-certain death. Dark music as you are creeping around is a fun touch and it will keep you on edge. The alarm sounding will drive you nuts, so find the switches and turn it off. Each time you break in a door or smash an item you make noise, so choose wisely what you break or kick and when -- sound travels and it will attract attention. Gunplay will certainly draw a crowd. Keep in mind that kicking and using the knife will make less noise. Historically, unless you were in multiplayer mode, sound in most games did not seem to alert the bad guys; these days are over and the use of sound adds a nice level of realism. The explosions and gunplay sound real. Good speakers or headphones are a must for this game.
There is one thing that is a little off in the sound for the game. In the original Wolfenstein 3D the guards would yell at you in German. This added a nice touch of realism. Now you get the guards yelling in English with a German accent. This seems a bit of a cop out and a departure from the memory of Wolfenstein 3D. An option to have the guards speak in German would have been nice, allowing you the choice. Maybe this could be added to an expansion pack. We can always hope...
PII 400 or Athlon processor, Windows 95/98/ME/NT4.0/2000/XP, 128 MB RAM, 800 MB hard drive space plus 300 MB for the Windows swap file, 3D hardware accelerator (with 16 MB VRAM) with full OpenGL support, a sound card, and a mouse.
Reading the instruction book will help, but it is not required. If you use the default key assignment you can find a nice keyboard layout in the CD cover. The book will give you some helpful information but none is essential to get by the first mission. I would, however, recommend taking some time (when you break for food, perhaps) to glance through the book. You may find some nice tips that will help you as you get farther into the game. It is also recommended to watch the mission briefings since you will learn what the objectives are for that mission. You can bypass the briefing with the escape key but at least watch them the first time.
This game is rated M for Mature (17+) for good reason. The graphics and violence are NOT for kids. My wife would not even let me play it if our kids were awake. If you are old enough to play, beware: you will quickly become addicted. It has been a long time since I have been excited by a first-person shooter. For a while they all seemed to be pretty much the same; most lacked a good story and smooth play. I will be playing this game for a long time, despite its few shortcomings. I suspect anyone who purchases this game will agree with me: perfect no, fun YES! Score 90 out of 100. I can see this game getting several awards this year. Let freedom ring; go for it B.J. Blazkowicz!