Wolfenstein Review

World War II resumes as Raven Software drags the mighty Wolfenstein franchise from its crypt. We go for the headshot.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, September 8, 2009

Isenstadt is the game’s hub city, albeit a very small, scantly populated one, patrolled by effete, mentally deficient Kraut grunts, psychic super-troopers and taciturn, mentally deficient resistance fighters. Having touched base with the latter, you’re fed a steady stream of missions devoted to that timeless activity of Fucking The Third Reich’s Shit Up.

An hour or two later, B.J. encounters an organisation of anti-Nazi Black Sun nerds known as the Golden Dawn. “Secondary” missions become available from the Dawnies, but as they’re (a) very limited in number and (b) compulsory the impression of non-linearity soon dissipates. You can, however, search Isenstadt at your leisure for hidden tomes, intelligence reports, gold bags and black market suppliers between missions, all of which factor into the game’s pleasantly fleshy upgrade system.

Big tough guy with prominent glowing bit. You work it out.

Big tough guy with prominent glowing bit. You work it out.

The actual shooty bits are steeped in precision-aim, run-away-to-let-your-health-recharge ubiquity, which is a bit of a pisser given the game’s pedigree. Basic weapons include a sniper rifle (dangerously overpowered once tricked out with scope, bayonet and expanded magazine), weak machine gun, strong machine gun and bazooka, but the developer soon dispenses with realism and hands you the markedly more badass Particle Cannon (think sci-fi flamethrower), paralysing Tesla gun and something redolent of Halo 3’s Brute Shot, but far more devastating.

There are also the powers of B.J.’s Thule medallion to consider, mapped to the D-pad and unlocked Metroid-style by beating pattern-behaviour bosses. “Veil” is a shout out to the much-mourned Soul Reaver series, phasing you into the metaphysical hinterland between the Black Sun dimension and ours (somewhat at the expense, it must be said, of the frame rate). Certain (well-signposted) walls fade away to nothing in this realm, while others sprout glowing ladders, providing access to the occasional side route or item nest.

“Mire” is slow-mo, “Empower” stuffs B.J.’s bullets with testosterone (so to speak), and goodness gracious me what do you think “Shield” does? Keep pushing those envelopes, Raven Software. All Thule abilities leach power from a Black Sun energy bar; to refuel it, you must stand in one of the otherworldly radiation sinkholes which litter the levels.

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