Review by hangedman

"Owes nothing to its roots, its allegiance is now to gameplay."

The Nazi party refuses to die.

It's pretty much universally accepted these days that Nazis are bad. In terms of finding someone evil, you can't go wrong with Hitler. So, what more can you do to create vile and despicable enemies? Wolfenstein goes the extra step and throws in the Zombie, the walking dead, and follows it up with creating ROBO-Zombie Nazis. I challenge you to find a more evil opponent worthy of your Mauser rounds.

This alone should speak substantially about the success in RTCW, as the feel captured by the game is campy horror with a mix of WW2 and cult films thrown in for good measure. Keeping with the unbelievable atmosphere of this game, you play BJ Blazkowitz, one of two super-spies operating from the ''Office of Secret Actions.'' I bet that place is so secret that they had to kill the guy that made their official seal, just because they're that secret. Unfortunately for BJ, agent number 2 finds himself on the wrong side of a giant electrode, leaving you as the only one qualified to battle the minions of Hitler, as well as the undead followers of Hienrech II, as well as any combination of devotees between the two, like undead Nazis.

One man, as always, can make a difference.

RTCW starts off with a bang holding true to its roots, as you escape your cell with nothing but a knife and a Luger to decimate the countless number of opponents ready to kill you back. The level progression is always straightforward, new weapons are just waiting to be found, and enemies give you a real run for your money whenever you think you can put them down once and for all.

Surprisingly, RTCW is very different from the gore-fest many of us remember from the first game, in addition to its equally bloody sequel: Spear of Destiny. What's interesting is that going into RTCW, I was expecting a game similar to the one that I played years ago, barring a graphical overhaul as well as expectedly different enemies, weapons, and levels. RTCW is perhaps the first sequel I have seen in the world of First Person Shooters to go in a direction other than the tried-and-true format.... and succeed.

Gah! But how? Wolfenstein was great!

RTCW abandons the conventions that many of us wanted, namely maze-like corridors and gushing blood, instead going for a game closer to Medal of Honor than the game which shares its name. Instead of” der squashed infantrymen” I remember from years gone by, RTCW opts for a realistic and streamlined look. The game looks better than Medal of Honor, running off of a modified Quake III engine, and through this techno-marvel is able to achieve the most realistic facial expressions I've witnessed in my recent memory. The environments are just as lavish, with crumbling textures and gutted burning buildings.

Furthermore, the game stays away from the mazes of the first Wolfenstein, instead trying its hand at German towns, castles, and military facilities. The result is a resounding success and breaks apart and preconceived notion you may have had about reviving an old game for today's less than discerning crowd. Really, if you're going to do something, go all out. RTCW does.

Even the weapons are something to love, with a hybrid of larger-than-life original creations as well as historically accurate WW2 weapons like Tommy guns and MP40s. For every German potato-masher grenade, expect to find an experimental Tesla gun or motorized gatling gun. The beauty is that even though obviously fictitious, the weapons back up the historical / fantasy dichotomy of the game. Really, there's a lot of attention to detail here.

Buy, rent, or steal?

There's very little to dislike about RTCW. The difficulty is dead on. The presentation is crisp and cinematic. The enemies are beautiful and smart, and the weapons are fun and nifty. Even the multiplayer is something to be proud of, as a team-based objective necessitates working together and helping out your fellow man. I love it.

If there was any criticism to render unto RTCW, it might be within the fact that it relies too much on standard FPS fare to propel it from one level to the next. Essentially, the level progression has been the same thing since Doom, but I've come to accept that as part of the genre. RTCW's excuse is that it's able to do what other games have done in the past just as well, if not better than most. Plus it has Zombie-Nazis.

If you've got a PC that can run it, I highly recommend getting RTCW. As far as first person shooters go, this game touches all the bases and does everything right. Even if you're miffed about the amount of blood, or perhaps the shift from camp-horror to a more authentic WW2 theme, RTCW does enough to help you see the good in the very different road that it took. For lack of a better word, RTCW rocks.

*Luger + zombie = Angry zombie. Find out the hard way.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/16/02, Updated 03/16/02

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