Review by CTudor

"Amazing game but lacks innovation..."

The year is 1943, and World War II is still raging across Europe. While on a mission behind enemy lines in Castle Wolfenstein, you, BJ Blaskowicz, are captured along with a fellow US Army Ranger, and imprisoned deep in the bowels of the demonic fortress. Your mission is to escape and survive the castle at all costs.

Gameplay

The game is split up into several missions, which in turn, are separated into different parts. Each mission is introduced with a lengthy cut scene which explains what you are going to be doing and your objectives, and missions are also littered with a few cutscenes now and again to keep the story flowing well, but not too many that the game feels too 'bitty'.

The levels have been designed extremely well and even with the extraordinary storyline, keeps the game realistic and believable. Whereas recent games have displayed certain areas where you need some kind of sixth sense to know how to do it, Return to Castle Wolfenstein's great game design makes this annoyance a thing of the past, and endless quicksaving is not necessary, even for the most spineless gamer.

Contrary to some people's beliefs, Return to Castle Wolfenstein is not just a mindless FPS and stealth must be used in many situations to succeed, and in most cases, a more sneaky approach to the game will result in rewards in Secret rooms which contain health, ammo and treasures.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein has some of the most impressive AI I've seen in a long time, and enemies WILL crouch behind tables, take cover behind pillars and do athletic rolls, they won't they will also no longer stand by a ticking grenade either. When a Nazi spots you, he will run for an alarm and shout for backup.

The controls are very easy to get to grips with and the game runs very smoothly even on machines on the brink of the minimum specifications.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein does have some innovation in it, Grenades can now be held in your hand while the timer ticks down, just so you can throw it and have it explode before the enemy can react, and the flamethrower is just plain beautiful.

The bad news? Grenades are still notoriously difficult to throw accurately and there are some cases of impossible rooms, which may require a quickload or two.

Difficulty

Challenging for first timers on the easiest setting, but experienced FPSers will find it a walkover. Harder settings will suit most players.

Just don't fall into the Quicksave trap. Remove the F6 button of your computer if you're that tempted to ruin the tension in the game.

Story

It's World War II, and BJ Blascowicz is on a behind enemy lines mission in Castle Wolfenstein trying to spy on the Nazis. In Germany, Blascowicz makes some horrifying discoveries concerning the Nazi war effort. The game is quickly turned from a typical war-game something much more supernatural...

The story does get a bit stringy at times but is moved along well by well-placed cut-scenes. The levels make the storyline all the more realistic and believable. Also, clipboards and letters found during the level will sometimes thicken the plot, revealing the Nazi's horrific intentions.

Graphics

The graphics are simply the best graphics in any game on the PC, and arguably on any console as well. Return to Castle Wolfenstein uses the Quake III Arena engine and they haven't disapointed. The graphics are better than Max Payne's photorealistic textures and the textures are enhanced with the breathtaking models and environments.

Sound

It's not often that sound plays an important role in a game but in Return to Castle Wolfenstein, it definately does. Hiding behind a corner and listening to two Nazi's speak often reveals some of the plot and Nazi's sometimes have something amusing to say.

You can hear enemies footsteps on the stone floor, alarms will sound when you are spotted and there is a delay between the sound of the gun and the bullet hitting the enemy, especially with the Sniper Rifle.

The sound of the guns is done to perfection, and the screaming guards as they burn alive makes the experience just that little bit more satisfying.

Replayability

As in the original Wolfenstein games, there are still secret areas which contain treasure items, health and ammo. These are very hard to find if you're the kind of player who runs through levels as if they have horse blinkers on, and some valuable infomation may be missed if the level if rushed.

Multiplayer

This has been the biggest success to come out of the Return to Castle Wolfenstein game. It features a brand new outlook on the multiplayer game with new 'classes'. You can now choose to be a medic, a lieutenant, a soldier or a mechanic. Each of these classes has their own special items, and for some missions, you need to have an engineer to succeed. Medics can revive fragged players and throw health boxes, Lieutenants can call airstrikes can throw ammo boxes and Engineers can use dynamite and repair mounted guns.

The most popular multiplayer map is the infamous D-Day landing Beach map and you can choose to be either a member of the Allied or Axis team.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein features about ten multiplayer maps with three separate types of game (Checkpoint, Objective or Stopwatch).

Don't feel left out if you have a 56k modem though. The game runs well with a 56k modem, and you are guarenteed a great experience.

To buy or to rent

This game is a must for all PC gamers, so a definite buy. It's not yet good enough for 'Best Game ever' as it lacks in innovation, but its a strong contender of 'Game of the Year'. On par with great games like Baldur's Gate II.

Verdict

This game is SO close to getting a perfect 10, but it lacks in innovation and the story is a bit stringy at times. It did everything right but needs to take that one extra step, so only gets a nine.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein is a game to be savored, you won't get one as good as this for a long time... until Unreal 2 comes out, that is.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/03/02, Updated 02/03/02


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