First things first, it’s a brave move for a first person shooter to not have a multiplayer tacked on these days. With the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield, we tend to get a short campaign which is usually something like a Jerry Bruckheimer movie tacked onto what can be a great multiplayer experience. Fortunately, Wolfenstein sticks two fingers up at convention and gives us a good solid single player campaign instead. It’s fitting really since the original Wolfenstein was the first FPS.
For those who don’t know, you play Captain B. J. Blazkowicz (Stop sniggering at his initials). It starts off during World War 2. You’re flying towards a Nazi compound, battling fighter planes etc until you crash, rescuing another plane. Almost single handedly, you storm the compound, shooting Nazis and dodging gigantic robots and make your way up to the top so your comrades can follow. This is where you meet Deathshead and shit kind of hits the fan. Whilst escaping, B.J. (Stop!) takes a chunk of shrapnel to his head piece and ends up in a hospital. That’s the prologue. We get to see some cool montage work here as B.J. (Really? Again with the sniggering?) spends fourteen years slipping in and out of consciousness in a mental hospital. Skip to 1960 and some bad guys turn up at the hospital, kill your doctor and his wife and kidnap their daughter who was the nurse looking after you. Turns out the Nazis won the war and conquered the world. B.J. snaps into action and you can resume Nazi killing mode! Hurrah! All throughout the game you’ll come across newspaper clippings that’ll help fill in the blanks of those blurry fourteen years. It’s worth reading these when you can.
The gameplay itself is pretty much what you’d expect really. You run around shooting bad guys until they die from it. On its hardest difficulty you can expect to be constantly filled so don’t be afraid to drop it down a bit. There are, after all, five difficulty modes. If you’re playing through on Uber mode, then I’m going to salute your bravery. It’s balls hard. Enemies are quite varied from normal machine gun totting Nazi soldiers to cyborg dogs to even bigger robot dogs to holy-shit-it’s-huge robots. One good thing I found about Wolfenstein was there aren’t too many guns in it. You get pretty much one kind of machine gun, one kind of pistol. At least I’ve yet to come across any different ones. So you don’t have to weigh up the pros and cons of one pistol to another. More importantly, you can dual wield weapons. Bonus. You can also pick up a weapon in each, so none of that two weapon loadout stuff other shooters use. One point I’ve seen people complain about is the lack of auto pick up on ammo and health etc. Personally I don’t see why this is a problem. Have we really become that lazy that pressing a button to pick something up is a relevant complaint? It kind of works as a testimony to how good the game is when this is the only kind of complaint you get. I just see it as another nod to the original Wolfenstein. Missions themselves are pretty simple but fairly long so you can truly immerse yourself in them. You’ve got a few choices to make here and there; some of them actually have an impact on the game. To tell you more about those would risk spoilers though so I won’t.
There’s also a healthy smattering of collectables littered around the levels to find. Some of these are hidden in some really clever places as well so be prepared to look everywhere if you want them all. Amongst these collectibles are Enigma code pieces, collect them all then come out to your menu and decode them for some other extra stuff. As ever though, these kind of collectibles help with the game’s replay value as you’re most certainly going to miss some first time around. I think currently I’m missing a fair few.
Another neat feature would be the perks. Simple stuff like kill five soldiers with throwing knives and you unlock the ability to hold more knives. It’s better for this type of game rather than a constant collection of kills to earn precious unlock points. Well, I preferred it this way anyway.
Appearance wise, it looks exceptional too. Only at one brief point at the beginning did I see a character that looked a bit rubbish. He was supposed to look terrified but it just looked a bit wrong. Again though, this is possibly the only complaint I have with Wolfenstein’s appearance so that can’t be bad can it. It’s all bleak concrete and stern grim faces with a smattering shining steel Panzerhunds and black uniforms. I’m really impressed with the design of some of the mechanical characters, particularly the dread inspiring Panzerhund. It just fits the fear inspiring regime perfectly. The characters you meet along the way are really well done too (bar that frightened soldier I mentioned earlier). Everyone has a battle scar of some kind, whether it’s physical or mental. One character definitely has both. These folk do genuinely look like they’ve been through a war and resulting occupation.
A big issue I’ve had with several games of late is the voice acting. I’m happy to say I don’t have that problem here. The dialogue is great, well written and well acted. I’d go as far as to say it has one of those lines I’ll remember as being pretty cool for a long time. There are quite a few great lines throughout however. One issue I have with the voice side of things, and again, it isn’t a big concern either, is at particular points in the game, B.J. mutters to himself, sounding like Jack Bauer or something. It isn’t bad; I just found it a bit odd really. A bit like he was trying to do a voiceover for a perfume commercial, rather than battle weary mutterings.
There’s a neat little Easter egg as well. Find it and you’ll get to play a bit of the original Wolfenstein in all its 8-bit glory. Another nod to Wolfenstein’s roots.
It’s a good sign that the only flaws that have been talked about are the lack of auto pick up and a perfume commercial voice. If there are any other flaws with it, I’ve not come across them myself, which could be put down to I was having too much fun to notice or they’ve just been picked up by people nit picking and looking for an excuse to down rate the game. I’m also glad that Wolfenstein doesn’t have a multiplayer section. In my opinion it would detract from a very good single player mode that actually has one of the best campaigns I’ve played in a long time. I figure too many folk would have skipped straight past it to go and level up online and get shouted at by some angry teenager for shooting them in the head.