E3: Wolfenstein • Page 2

Veiled threat.

Sokal is keen to stress another greying-at-the-temples mantra: "We really allow the player to choose how they want to play the game." Join the queue, mate. But in practice this means if you'd rather play the game traditionally without all the supernatural claptrap, you can stick to regular guns and upgrade them to Commando-like levels of absurd destruction. But if you want to take a walk on the weird side, you can give an occult spin to standard fare like an MP40 or Kar-98. "Once you buy all these upgrades, they suddenly become unconventional and they're these super-powerful weapons that are a lot of fun to use," insists Sokal.

"Wolfenstein is a giver," he adds. We'd often wondered. "All the weapons you find in the game, you can hang on to them throughout. You don't have to have two at a time or anything like that. So we give you your whole arsenal and every weapon in the game is upgradeable, so even the supernatural weapons that you'll be holding you can upgrade."

The upgrade system is built on the classic Wolfenstein treasure-hunting mechanic, which Raven has now "made an economy system out of". "Back in Wolf 3D you run down the wall hitting space bar, and it was such a great moment when the wall opened up," Sokal chirps.

"So that's all of the gold you find in the game, and there's also military intelligence and tomes you'll come across. The more of that stuff you pick up, the more upgrades you'll be able to get for your weapons and your Veil powers." Cowardly corridor creeper? Buy a silencer and scope for your Kar-98. Rampaging run-and-gunner? Go for a drum magazine, slap on a big bore and go mental. It's for the best. Remember, kids: play it your way!

The single-player only E3 build we try out at Activision's pre-E3 event features the Hospital level. By this point in the game BJ has Sight, Mire and Shield powers unlocked. Starting the level, we're left in little doubt that, yes, this is a first-person shooter. Corridors! Crates! Dark and light bits! But Raven - and id, which is closely overseeing development - know how to make a solid, satisfying shooter.

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The undead get all the best prosthetics.

And in raw gameplay terms so it proves. Immediately, the feel of firing off a weapon, the delicious ballistic burst in enemy face feels exactly how you'd want it to. That should be a no-brainer, but it's worth noting given how many other shooters can lack that basic, nailed-on sense of impact.

Beyond weapons we've seen before, BJ is armed with a Tesla gun in the demo, which emits a spluttering, fizzing burst of electricity when engaged. Veil Nullifiers feature in the Hospital. Every now and then the screen turns black and white. When this happens, BJ is unable to use any of his Veil powers until he has located and destroyed the offending Nullifier, usually tucked away in a foe-packed room.

If deployed cleverly this could provide some compelling moments of tension, snapping the player out of a reliance on supernatural 'cheats', if you like. We certainly found ourselves bingeing on them as frequently as possible, like performance-enhancing crack. And you will need you Veil powers here, since Sight is essential in navigating through the tight corridors, with secret passages only highlighted when it is employed.

The level is mainly corridor-based, with lots of duck-and-cover, and enemies springing out on you from all sides. Frenetic and fast-paced it most certainly is. Short, too, as we found ourselves approaching what promised to be an engaging boss encounter, only to have the 360 controller snatched from our paws by a mean-spirited Activision rep.

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We can't help but think of Iggy Pop when we look at this.

If you're wondering about multiplayer, by the way, there wasn't a sniff of it during our session so nothing to report just yet, sadly. But based on this short, latest playthrough, Wolfenstein is unquestionably a solid and entertaining shooter. We never doubted that.

What remains to be seen is whether it can raise its game to create a genuinely memorable experience, and the interplay of Veil powers over the course of the experience will largely determine that. Although shooting zombie Nazis always helps.

Wolfenstein is coming to PC, PS3 and 360 on 7th August.

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