NetGuide NZ - WOLFENSTEIN

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WOLFENSTEIN

IT’S 1943. The tide of war is turning against Nazi

Germany. Undeterred, the Third Reich seeks to

harness the power of the occult to achieve victory

over the Allies. Nazi scientists are experimenting

with the mysterious trans-dimensional energy of

the Black Sun. Their goal is to fulfil Hitler’s dream

and create an unstoppable army of supermen.

Activision’s new paranormal WW2 shooter,

Wolfenstein, has a pedigree that is akin to

gaming royalty. In the early ‘90s Wolfenstein 3D

revolutionised the way computer games were

produced, popularising the first-person shooter

genre and turning it into the staple gaming

fodder it is today. The well-received follow up,

Return to Castle Wolfenstein saw release in 2001,

which again pushed the genre to new heights.

The series draws from the intriguing

suggestion that the Nazis were investigating ways

of using the supernatural to aid them in their war

against the Allies. In the Wolfenstein universe,

the Nazis have somewhat succeeded in this aim,

creating monstrous mutants and hyper-advanced

weaponry. Wolfenstein tosses historical accuracy

aside, preferring to give you a particle cannon

over a bolt-action rifle to take out the acrobatic,

flame-throwing, leather-clad Nazi femme-fatales.

Call of Duty, this is not. Wolfenstein is pure

B-movie escapism. The sci-fi /paranormal take on

the WW2 setting makes for a refreshing change

to an overused historical gaming era.

All-American hero, William ‘B.J.’ Blazkowicz,

returns to take us deep behind enemy lines on

a daring mission to stop the Nazi scientists from

unleashing Armageddon. With the help of the

resistance, B.J. must overcome the fruits of the

Nazis’ forbidden labour, including the hideous

mutants known as The Altered, armoured Veil

Heavy Troopers, as well the reanimated corpses of

The Despoiled. On this outing B.J. has some tricks

of his own in the form of a special medallion that

when charged gives him access to The Veil; a sort

of parallel plane, green in colour, populated by

weird highly explosive blue puffer-fish thingies.

In The Veil B.J. has access to special abilities that

enable him to slow time, move super-fast, stop

bullets and increase his weapon damage. There

are also hidden routes that can only be accessed

whilst in The Veil.

But while Wolfenstein has all the hallmarks of

a great game, it plays remarkably blandly with

only the odd glimmer of excellence. Wolfenstein

uses the same, albeit modified, visual technology

as 2004’s Doom 3, and unfortunately it shows.

The game looks OK, but that’s it. Some of the

environments are impressively huge and well

detailed, but it’s not enough. Although obviously

a marked improvement on the 2001 game,

Return to Castle Wolfenstein, the graphics just

don’t cut it for a late 2009 video game. It not

that Wolfenstein is a bad game; it’s just that the

competition does it so much better. Don’t get

me wrong – I had a blast playing the game, but

personally I’d have had a lot more fun playing

through Call of Duty: World at War again.

Where Wolfenstein really lets itself down is

in the multiplayer game. It feels so clumsy and

tacked on that I’ve no idea why they wasted their

time putting it in. It’s like a multiplayer game

of Quake circa 1996, with everybody jumping

around like bullet-dodging kangaroos. A few

Veil special abilities spice up things up a bit,

but not enough to make it interesting. With

brilliant online multiplayer modes in games like

Call of Duty 4 and Killzone 2 available to us, we

should expect much more than Wolfenstein’s

abysmal offering.

Wolfenstein is a first person shooter by

the numbers, feeling more like a contractual

obligation rather than the careful updating of a

classic. Ordinarily, I’d recommend this as a casual

diversion if you had money to burn, but with the

Christmas rush of ‘triple A’ titles on the horizon,

your money ought to stay in your pocket for now.

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