Wolfenstein • Page 2

Two wrongs don't make a Reich.

You can also slow down time - yes, that old chestnut - and form a magical shield to absorb bullets. The final power beefs up your own shots and allows them to break through enemy shields. All are dependent on Black Sun energy, which can be refilled from shimmering hotspots on the map, or from barrels of the stuff stored by those naughty Nazis.

The powers do at least offer something of a twist to the Wolfenstein formula, but they're nothing special when compared to what other FPS titles have done with the idea of auxiliary abilities. All four are fairly inflexible, useful only in a handful of carefully prescribed ways, so they hardly shake up the corridor gameplay in any meaningful way.

You certainly won't need the powers to outsmart the enemy, since they're perhaps the dumbest bunch ever to take up arms in a modern shooter. They'll offer a basic illusion of tactics, under the right conditions, but all too often you'll find them shooting endlessly at a door you were behind two minutes ago rather than giving chase, or standing in plain sight, right next to a grenade, waiting for it to blow them to pieces. That's when they're not blowing themselves up, by bouncing grenades off walls into their own stupid faces.

The only foes that will tax you are those enhanced by spooky means, but even they can be taken down without breaking a sweat by applying a simple rock, paper, scissors approach to their power. Assassins are invisible, but appear when viewed in The Veil. Scary knife-wielding Nazi ninja ladies dash at you, all slashy and angry, but slow them down and you can headshot them like everyone else.

2

Everybody in the game sounds exactly like Jeremy Irons in Die Hard With A Vengeance, which is a bit distracting.

Things aren't much better on the multiplayer side of things, thanks to some crude network options and off-putting balance issues. There are eight maps, with three character classes (Soldier, Medic, Mechanic) and three game modes. Objective offers team-based attack and defend missions, while Stopwatch pits teams against each other in a series of alternating retrieval and protection tasks. Team Deathmatch is the one you might as well get used to, however, since nobody seems to be playing the others. Objectives boring! Too much think! Need shoot!

The lobby system is prehistoric, offering a stark server list sorted by ping. Given the strides that both Sony and Microsoft have made in streamlining the online gaming experience for both their consoles, it's baffling to see a game deliberately choosing this ugly and unintuitive system. This means that there's no party support, so if you want to play with friends you need to invite them into the lobby (or create your own game) and then use headsets or messages to make sure you all end up on the same team.

Team balancing is disabled by default, you can swap sides at any time and the game offers Achievements and Trophies for playing on the winning side for at least half the match on each map. This, predictably, results in a rush of score-boosting knuckleheads jumping ship once it becomes clear which team is dominant. And - sigh - that's usually the team that's been assigned the players who have amassed enough gold to buy the flak jacket and heavy bore upgrades. Combined, these two pretty much render the player invincible to attack (at least from new players) while dealing out maximum damage in return.

3

If you're looking for Hellboy, you're in the wrong game.

This is all running on the old Enemy Territory: Quake Wars engine, and it's really showing its age. Character models are boxy, animation is basic and lag is fairly common. The maps, at least, are well-designed and do a good job of catering to the fast-paced gameplay by keeping everyone moving without creating awkward choke points.

It all adds up to a game that doesn't really seem to know what it wants to be. The rather shapeless single-player campaign can be fun, but then "fun" is a lot like "nice" - a toothless and insipid platitude so bland as to be essentially meaningless. Running around blasting Nazis and monsters is fun, at the most basic level, but is it deliberately old-fashioned, or just hopelessly outdated? Given the array of half-baked ideas, half-heartedly implemented to try and spice things up, I suspect it's the latter.

With only genre basics in its bag of tricks, and hobbled at every turn by clumsy implementation, in a gaming landscape that already offers Battlefield 1943 and Call of Duty: World at War's Nazi Zombies mode, Wolfenstein's bargain basement charms are of limited appeal.

6 / 10

Read the Eurogamer.net review policy Wolfenstein Dan Whitehead Two wrongs don't make a Reich. 2009-08-21T06:00:00+01:00 6 10 Follow Eurogamer.net on Steam to get more PC game recommendations

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