Castle Wolfenstein is back with more zombie-fighting action set in WWII Germany, but can it capture the attention of First Person Shooter fans in a genre crowded with modern titles?
There is hardly any fan of first-person shooters who has not played the original Castle Wolfenstein on PC. Alone in the dark, wandering through the maze-like corridors of the titular Nazi castle, it was one of the first games to truly creep players out.
Return to Castle Wolfenstein and its expansion pack, Enemy Territory, gathered a massive following for their well-balanced multiplayer modes. Return to Castle Wolfenstein also amped up the supernatural aspects of the game to include zombies and other ghoulish incarnations on the Nazi side. Now, Ravensoft and Activision are crafting a third installment in the series, simply called “Wolfenstein”. This new game heavily mixes sci-fi and occult aspects of the previous games with an open-world design. Hopefully, the new installment of Wolfenstein can deliver both a solid single-player campaign and the kind of well-designed team-based multiplayer we expect from the series.
Early screens for the game have been somewhat disappointing, visually. Player models appear to have low polygon counts, while some surfaces appear unnaturally bumpy and shiny. Contrary to earlier speculation, the title does not run on id’s new The 5 graphics engine. Rather, the game has been developed using a modified version of the Quake 3 engine, which is already beginning to show its age. Despite graphical issues, the real test will be whether the new Wolfenstein manages to achieve the right balance between creepy scare-fest and intense action that the series is known for.
The story so far sounds intriguing: Nazis are working to open a portal to another dimension, called “The Veil”. B.J. Blazkowicz is back to thwart their supernatural meddlings, but in order of do so, he must adopt some otherworldly skills himself. B.J. will reportedly gain some special abilities, such as the power to open up his own portals to venture into the Veil. A number of weapons will also lean toward the fantastical. One of the first weapons that Ravensoft has revealed is a lightning gun that allows B.J. to literally electrocute foes into dust.
The game will take place in a large, open German city. In between story missions, players will be able to accomplish side quests and even team up with members of the resistance to disrupt the Nazis’ plans. The open nature of the game also allows for greater player choice about how to complete missions, a hallmark of more modern shooters. One of the benefits of pursuing side-missions will be to accumulate treasure, which can be used to purchase new upgrades for weapons and skills. Of course, there are really two cities in the game, because B.J. and other characters can slip in and out of the alternate dimension at will. The Veil looks kind of like the regular dimension, except creepier, a little bit like The Gloom from the Night Watch films.
Another addition to Wolfenstein will be voice acting. Not only Blazkowicz, but every other character you meet in the game will be fully voiced, to help add to the cinematic feel to the experience.
With the Sci-fi themes and supernatural sub-plot, it is clear that Wolfenstein is not for those who like their First-person Shooters to be historically accurate. Despite some grumblings from fans, what we have seen so far actually looks like a great deal of fun, and we can’t wait to get our hands on a demo.
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