Giant Bomb Review

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Wolfenstein Review

4
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It's not going to blow your mind with new, never-before-seen features or anything like that, but Wolfenstein is well-designed and engaging from start to finish.


This guy can shield other nearby enemies, so shoot him first. 
With a simple name like " Wolfenstein," you might think that Raven's latest is a full-on reboot of the series that popularized first-person shooting in the first place. But this alternate historical take on World War II is really a sequel to the popular 2001 shooter, Return to Castle Wolfenstein. That's not a huge point, but it means that you can expect to see some of the same "Nazis experimenting with weird occult artifacts" stuff that has become something of a hallmark for the series. This latest entry offers a good, solid single-player campaign backed by a class-based multiplayer mode that offers a level of persistence that a lot of players have come to expect in a post- Modern-Warfare world.

Wolfenstein chronicles the continuing adventures of B.J. Blazkowicz, American super spy. This time, you (as B.J.) are inserted into the fictional German city of Isenstadt to figure out what the Nazis are doing there. As it turns out, they've uncovered artifacts that allow them to harness the power of an alternate dimension called Black Sun. What's more, there's a sort of phased state that exists between the two dimensions known as the Veil. You quickly find a medallion that gives you the ability to enter the Veil, which changes the color of everything and increases your speed, giving you the drop on the Nazis. You'll also eventually earn powers that harness this dark energy, like the ability to slow time, a shield, and an "empower" ability that makes your shots do more damage and cut through enemy protection. It's the use of the Veil powers that makes Wolfenstein more than just another World War II shooter, and you'll use all of your powers both to solve simple puzzles and to make combat easier.

Of course, you'll have plenty of guns to use, too. The game starts you out with an MP40, and you'll quickly get a single-shot rifle, the Kar 98, and a better submachine gun, the MP43. Everything you get after that is a little more out-of-the-ordinary. That includes basic real-world weapons, like a flamethrower and a rocket launcher, but you'll also start finding things like the Tesla Gun, which shoots electric bolts, or the particle cannon, which shoots a stream of energy that disintegrates most of your targets. There are eight weapons in all. Wolfenstein also has an upgrade system that lets you put any money you find into improving your weapons and your Veil abilities.

You'll have to shoot out this guy's shoulder packs to take him down. 
The game itself has you hunting down the Nazis in charge of the Isenstadt operation while performing missions for a couple of different factions. You'll get your missions in a sort of overworld-type area that lets you roam around freely. You can choose to head over to the black market to purchase some new upgrades, head directly to the safehouse for one of the factions to advance the story, or just sort of wander the streets and search the buildings for additional gold or collectibles. It's cool that Wolfenstein has some kind of open-world component to it, but there isn't that much to do there. So it's really there to just connect the missions together in a meaningful way. When you open up a mission, a section of the city becomes available or a door unlocks that lets you get to the mission in question. Once you hit that door and load up the mission, the game resembles other first-person shooters in that the missions are decidedly linear and scripted. Still, it's a neat little trick. The campaign is pretty good, overall, with good map design and plenty of spots to flex your Veil powers and mow down the opposition.

Wolfenstein has an achievement for finishing the game in under 12 hours, but don't let that fool you. I ended up completing the game in around half that time without skipping any of the optional missions. It's not a particularly hard game, but that's because you're mostly just fighting regular Nazi soldiers, who all carry (and drop) the submachine guns in the game. So ammo for those weapons is extremely plentiful, while ammo for the more exotic devices is in short supply. While you can buy ammo at the black market, you're going to want to use that cash for upgrades, because there doesn't even seem to be enough money in the game to buy all of the upgrades. So the end result is that I went through the entire game relying on either the MP40 or the MP43, only switching to anything bigger during the game's very occasional boss encounters... which are telegraphed by the developers placing rooms full of every piece of ammo you could ever need immediately before you start a big fight.

The single-player campaign is accompanied by a team-based multiplayer component that lets players choose from three different classes. The soldier is your basic fighter; he gets the widest weapon selection and can throw satchel charges. The medic can drop health packs and the engineer can drop ammo and construct or repair turrets, which are features on some maps. Each class also gets a Veil ability, but that has to be unlocked first. For doing just about anything useful in a multiplayer match--even shooting an enemy a few times--you'll earn cash. That cash is spent on upgrades to your abilities and weapons. The system is similar to the perk setup in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare in that even though you can unlock all of the abilities, you'll still have to choose a limited number to actually use in battle.

You'll be able to play three different modes on eight different maps. Team Deathmatch is, you know, team deathmatch. Objective and Stopwatch are assault-style modes where one team defends a set of objectives while the attacking team constructs bridges, loads tank shells, or does whatever the map requires to get at and retrieve a specific item. They're as standard as they sound, but the quality of the maps themselves is pretty high.

It doesn't always look fantastic, which occasionally reminds you that this is a heavily modified version of the same technology that powered Doom 3. But the gameplay both online and off is solid enough to make Wolfenstein worth checking out if you're a shooter fan on the hunt for something new. It's familiar enough in spots, but the way the Veil powers function gives everything just enough of a tweak to feel exciting. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
72 Comments
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Posted by iiNF3RNo

woo first comment anyway might rent

Posted by C0V3RT

You're still aren't going to win the bet, Jeff!
Posted by ververdan0226

Awesome, thanks Jeff!

Posted by Delta_Ass

The game lasts 6 hours? UGH.

Posted by lemon360

Madden will blow this away

Posted by ysselzor

i hope he does madden is not cool

Posted by NickNorman

Looks pretty fun...for a rental, maybe. I hate short campaigns, and while the multiplayer looks fun, I doubt it'll last very long. Get ready to drink your rum, Jeff.

Posted by Meltbrain

Sweet. I'll definitely grab it when I see it for cheaps, but definitely not paying full retail for it.

Posted by ververdan0226
@NickNorman said:
" Looks pretty fun...for a rental, maybe. I hate short campaigns, and while the multiplayer looks fun, I doubt it'll last very long. Get ready to drink your rum, Jeff. "
Gin...
Posted by VisariLoyalist

that's off the fo shiz wizzle for reezy peezy.

Posted by buzz_killington

Dude, awesome!!! Getting it tonight. Regardless of the the game's quality, I think Jeff's gonna do that Gin shot...
Posted by addictedtopinescent

prob a rent, Im not really looking for an online shooter to play 
But as Jeff doesn't seem to enjoy Gin, maybe I'll buy it

Posted by Pyroph

Rent/buy this for the single player, the multiplayer is awful. This is no Return to Castle Wolfenstein, do NOT get your hopes up. The game plays like a poor mans Call of Duty *online*, and is full of lag and poor gameplay. The single player however, is really fun, Raven did a good job with that. Too bad they didn't do the multiplayer as well, it's a stinker.

Posted by NickNorman
@ververdan0226: Wow, I said rum. I've got pirates on my mind.
Posted by Walreese55

Just read this on d-toid. All of multiplayer devs got fired. Today. On the release of their game. 

Posted by RawShark

Ah, now I know it's decent, I might buy it. Because I just love Wolfenstein, and I think this'll get undeservedly ignored.

Posted by VashTS

Im sure this review would be a 3 star rating if you were not doing this bet....Dub siren jeff!! NOW! 
 
 Also the Multiplayer is garbage, thats why the team was fired.
Posted by ververdan0226
@VashTS: Jeff said the multiplayer was actually really competent... but have you played the game? Was it really that bad in your opinion? Either way, it's still sad to hear people get fired... best of luck to them.
Posted by DannyJ

I was looking at the Single Player and it looked like it was quite some fun. It was a WW2 shooter, but without the overused feeling. The supernatural elements and the super nazis made it seem pretty damn cool.

Posted by Spacetrucking

Thats a really short single player campaign. I'm a bit disappointed to hear that, Return to Castle Wolfenstein had a long campaign (close to 20 hours if I'm not mistaken).  I hope this is as tightly paced as COD4 was.
 
Also, the multiplayer looks awfully similar to Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (which was a free game) with COD4 style progression/choice system tagged on top. The veil system is the only thing making me buy this game now.

Posted by MrMiyagi

Awesome. I picked it up today.

Posted by Shindiggah

I gotta say I wasnt expecting a 4, I was thinking this game would get a 3 max for some reason I just had a gut feeling it would flop. I guess IM wrong though :P
Posted by DerekDanahy

That's slightly surprising.  Good review Jeff.

Posted by ArclightBorealis

Surprised with this review. I kinda thought the overall package would've been meh, something that would get 3 out of 5.  
 
Might actually check it out. Thanks for the review, Jeff.

Posted by PeasForFees
@NickNorman said:
" Looks pretty fun...for a rental, maybe. I hate short campaigns, and while the multiplayer looks fun, I doubt it'll last very long. Get ready to drink your rum, Jeff. "
Gin
Posted by Peach

Was not expecting such a good rating :/

Posted by Death_Burnout

I'm pleasantly surprised, from the outside this seemed a little...well, it seemed like another dumb FPS, thats enough for me to not care, even though i really liked "Return To..."
 
Still, not for me, but it's nice to know its fairly solid, if perhaps a little short n simple? I like the limited open world hub thing. Put up with plenty of those before!

Posted by Asurastrike

I can't help but think the screens make this game look awful. I liked Escape from Castle Wolfenstein, but I'm not sure about this game.

Posted by JJOR64

I might get this when the price drops.  I really don't have any interest for the game right now.

Posted by BagManForHire

i like it a lot haven't tried multi player yet but im sure i will like 

Posted by JellyFish_Gsus

I think it is time for some gin Jeff

Posted by Kenzo287

I'll give it a rent for you Jeff

Posted by CitizenKane

What is the player cap in multiplayer?

Posted by RagingLion

Surprised that this ended up getting a 4/5.  Was honestly expecting a 3 if not a 2.  Anyway, it's not for me - still too generic and mindless.

Posted by zoozilla

I didn't really expect much from this game, so I was kind of surprised at 4 stars.
 
Still, don't think I'm going to be getting this with so many other promising titles on the horizon.

Posted by brocool

Ze voice over iz horribly good in Zhis game. Itz almosht az if zhey are real Germans! Vow.

Posted by Derios

I'm glad this is good, probably will rent it but maybe even purchase...

Posted by RHCPfan24

This should be a solid rental for me. I want to play it and I don't expect anything that original or mind-blowing, just fun.

Posted by thecleric

Jeff just gave it 4 stars so more people would pick it up and Dave would have to drink Rum.
 
 
Yeah I said it

Posted by BaconGames

I concluded that's it's pretty much Wolfenstein.  It's a shame it's so short, but I believe Jeff when he says the single-player is great.  Hell I liked Quake 4's single player because of that Raven style and I think I'll like this one as well.  I think I'll see if I can get it when it's cheap. 

Posted by mattysen
@thecleric said:
" Jeff just gave it 4 stars so more people would pick it up and Dave would have to drink Rum.   Yeah I said it "
Jeff is a professional! Besides he sounds like he started reviewing it before he made the wager, knowing alot about the game
Posted by Shoeless

I'm not sure why everyone expected this game to be bad.  If your going to continue a series that was bloody amazing back in the day, why the hell would you make a bad game?

Posted by Tru3_Blu3
@brocool said:
" Ze voice over iz horribly good in Zhis game. Itz almosht az if zhey are real Germans! Vow. "
LOLZ!
Edited by RedSox8933

I'm definitely going to rent this, but I still don't think that you are going to win the bet with Dave, Jeff. Only time will tell I suppose.

Posted by mordukai

Jeff is totally doing the shot!

Posted by Soliddragon24
@thecleric: you're just saying what some of us are thinking, good on you
Posted by Tordah

I was afraid this game was going to flop but I'm glad I was wrong. Sounds like another quality Wolfenstein entry!

Posted by sneakysnake128

I knew this game was never deserving of any real hype. Completely lackluster compared to other options.

Posted by Ghostiet

...

No Field Ops in multiplayer? And I am supposed to like it?

GIMME BACK MAH CANZ!

Posted by Yagami

I agree whole-heartedly with your review Jeff. Something i did find a bit of a shame was the very limited amount of ammo provided for the more "special" weapons, like the Particle Cannon. 
Sure, you can buy ammo at the Black Market, however, just as you say - you want to spend money on upgrades.
 
Something I did when I grew tired of a weapon was to sell the upgrades to get back 50% of what I had to pay for it, and invest that in a new weapon's upgrades.

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