Review by Ofisil

"Uber or average?"

Review Update #1

Retutn To Castle Wolfenstein is a FPS developed by Grey Matter. Based on ID's FPS pioneer Wolfenstein 3D, it fuses Nazi killing fun with a bit of fiction… well more than a bit to say the truth. Despite the few similarities it is a whole different game that used the word “Wolfenstein” in its title in order to sell a few more copies than it normally would. Is it a bad game? Certainly not… but it could be a whole lot better if it had focused in its good points…

Story: 6.8/10
Presentation: 5.5/10

The whole story revolves around the Nazis' secret operations, whose purpose is the creation of the ultimate weapon, (along others). The story starts with you, a captured American spy. After a brief scene you escape from your cell, (in a totally stupid way), and try to find a way out from Castle Wolfenstein. Before you do though, you'll soon realize that the Nazis have managed to raise some 1000-year-old undead creatures, but they can't control them so they start to get slaughtered by the dozen. But just where the plot starts to get better & better, the HQ say, “Ok, stop that mission, we will send you to other missions taking place in secret labs where strange secret experiments and taking place in order to create… secret stuff”. Problem is that these missions are extremely typical and have nothing to do with RTCW's main plot, but after completing them the HQ is like, “All these new-weapons, super soldiers, etc, are connected to the big stuff, the occult thing you encountered in your first mission, so go back there and stop that”. Yeah, the plot is cheesy, but that's the fun in RTCW. Sexy Elite Nazi babes in high heels, undead knights, secret weapons, super soldiers, etc, etc. It's just cool, unrealistic, mindless fun. Problem is that the game didn't focused in that and instead included a lot of filler missions that will make you feel as if you are playing just another Call Of Duty game.

Gameplay: 6.8/10
Replay Value: 4/10

Remember Wolfenstein 3D's pure shooting gameplay? Well you can forget about it, because RTCW is a whole different game. Yes, you can enter the battlefield with all guns blazing, but that won't get you far, since in this game you'll have to be a bit more careful. No it's not a stealth game, (although there are some stealth missions involved). But you have to rely a lot in sniping & taking cover in order to ambush your foes. I don't have a problem with sniper action but RTCW is slightly bad at it. First of all enemies even in the easiest difficulty mode, are expert shooters, with at least 80% accuracy who by the millisecond they see you will shoot at you. They go down pretty easy and the game is not that hard, but you'll have to rely a lot in quicksaving, especially in your first playthrough. Furthermore all these sniping-oriented gameplay feels out of place in this game. You'll rarely have to use your immense arsenal and almost unlimited supply of ammo, apart from some “indoor” missions that require pure shooting instead of hiding & sniping. The best missions among them are in my opinion the ones where you have to fight both the Nazis and the undead, since the undead are hostile to everyone and make things a lot cooler, more cinematic and action packed.

Mission objectives range from going from point A to B or finding items to killing certain enemies or avoiding the sounding of the alarm. Typical missions that have nothing exciting about them in my opinion. Enemies are a bit dumb although quite lethal due to their shooting skills. They just crouch a bit, run while shooting like you and hide behind a wall once in a while but generally don't expect any special AI. The best human enemy is the Elite Guard, a group of highly trained women that are very fast and extremely skilled at surrounding, avoiding and killing you. They are extremely fun to battle with and even more fun to look at :) Apart from the human enemies you'll have to battle with the undead and other strange creatures that have the good old, simple FPS AI… they run towards you and hit you with all they got and nothing else.

RTCW has a nice, almost cinematic approach, but is extremely linear since each level has only one way to complete it and while as a game it's quite enjoyable, it is very repetitive since most missions only involve going from point A to point B and shoot stuff while doing so. Also it is very, very short. 4-5 hours are more than enough to complete the game and finding all secret areas which are nothing more than areas with more ammo and armor and some treasure items that have no use at all. Of course like all FPS titles a Multiplayer Mode is included which raises the replay value a lot although it's pretty generic. After all, despite what most people will tell you RTCW is all about the single player. Want a great multiplayer game? Play Quake 3 or Unreal Tournament. RTCW is like Doom 3. A nice, but very linear single player FPS.

Graphics: 8.5/10
Design: 7.8/10

RTCW uses an enhanced version of Quake 3's graphic engine and boy does it work. Everything looks very good and has a lot of detail, especially the “skins” of your enemies. All characters, from the simple soldier to the sexy female elite guard and from the fully armed super soldier to the undead ghoul, have extreme amounts of detail and great animation, which unfortunately in order to be seen you'll have to stand really, really although most of the time you'll have to kill enemies from a great distance… Apart from the great skins of characters, we have very good and detailed level design which isn't something fabulous but gives the right feeling to each stage, for example the crypts of castle Wolfenstein have that eerie feel of ancient dungeons, other places show the marks of war with heavily bombarded buildings and German villages look like… well German villages, (duh!!!), all in all great detail. Finally we have great special effects like flamethrowers, Tesla energy fields, smoke, explosions and many more. There is only one flaw here. Most of the game looks really blunt and only in certain levels, will you get a chance to see the marvelous graphics of the game, like in areas with better lighting, destructible objects, better decoration and so on. Pity, pity, pity…

Sound: 8.5/10
Music: 7/10

RTCW has a great, almost cinematic feel to it, due to its great action\symphonic music, which although a tad repetitive sets the right mood for each separate occasion. Additionally we have some good ambient effects that help improve the atmosphere a little more, like nature sounds, radios playing military music and so on. Voice acting is quite good but I just cannot understand why we have German Soldiers speaking English with German accents, why not have some nice subtitles along with the real thing? But that's just my typical nitpicking. The SFX are great with weapons, from the weaker to the stronger sounding very powerful and realistic, (especially snipers and silenced ones). Enemies shout the same, typical, Nazi soldier stuff, “Halt!!!”, “Intruder!!!” and stuff like that something that makes them very repetitive but other, more… unusual enemies have a better sound arsenal.

[+]:
-Fight undead knights, sexy Nazi babes & super soldiers
-Great controls, weapons & a decent Multiplayer Mode
-Highly detailed, characters and levels & great SFX

[-]:
-Main storyline gets a major backseat
-Sniping oriented gameplay
-Very short, extremely linear and somewhat repetitive
-Too much quicksaving needed

Also Play:
Doom 3 (PC)
Call Of Duty (PC)
F.E.A.R. (PC)
Quake 2 & 4 (PC)

Overall: 6.9/10

RTCW could be a 100% pure FPS game. It has cool enemies, great weapons, very good audiovisuals and smooth, flawless controls. It's a good game, but instead of a cool action game looks more than a decent sci-fi\fantasy version of Call Of Duty.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 11/01/07, Updated 01/12/12

Game Release: Return to Castle Wolfenstein (EU, 11/30/01)


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