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Reviewed by Rich DeWester
he mere name "Wolfenstein" is practically synonymous with First-Person Shooter, as it is often credited for being the game that helped popularize the genre. Although time and technology has passed since its last release back in 2001, and the glory of its creation has faded to a legendary status since, it is still mentioned in the same breath as other epic titles such as "Doom," "Half-Life," and "Haze" (one of those is a lie). The franchise is now attempting to re-breathe life into itself, this time with Raven Software’s assistance, fresh off their success with "X-Men Origins: Wolverine."
In "Wolfenstein," you jump back into the shoes of B.J. Blazkowicz (who joins John McClaine and Master Chief for the "How much shit can one guy do?" award) in the middle of World War II. You're treated to an opening cutscene of the protagonist infiltrating an enemy warship on the brink of launching warheads. During his escape, he accidently triggers a massive burst of power from an amulet which wipes out the opposition. Afterwards, you're told that the SS are up to no good and need to be stopped – and since you're the Nazis’ kryptonite, you're off to the town of Isenstadt, which will act as your hub for the remainder of the game.
You will find yourself going between multiple factions and doing missions for them, like an American mercenary. You will on occasion get new veil powers for your amulet to help you in battle or to help with puzzles, such as slowing time or allowing you to see things in another dimension (at least I think that's what that guy was telling me), like hidden passageways, acting as night vision goggles of a sort. The amulet runs on the magic power of the black sun and needs to be recharged pretty regularly. Lucky for you, there are recharge wells like every five feet, so you never really run out of power.
"Wolfenstein" has plenty of weapons to utilize, from your standard WWII fare to the sci-fi spectacular, and it also has a lot of enemy boxes and barrels to blow the shit out of for crossing your mighty path. During your missions, you will find intel and gold which can be exchanged for weapon or veil upgrades at the black market in Isenstadt. (One potential problem with the gold: you will often run right past a table covered in Reichsmarks and pay them no mind. You also see a guy counting a table full of them at the black market, so you know they take them.)
Veil powers aside, the game (like a lot of entries in the genre) doesn't do enough to set itself apart from the rest of the pack. While it makes an attempt at making you feel like you're in an open world, it’s rarely successful. Isenstadt is far too small for a place you spend the majority of the game running around in. The missions themselves are somewhat enjoyable, but lack that something extra to break away from the repetitive feel. Raven did a good job of using the now dated "Quake IV" graphic engine to its fullest, with an impressive amount of detail to the environment.
What’s surprising about the game is the lack of multiplayer options. With a meek three modes to choose from, the game doesn't even use a lot of the modes that its predecessors had (and found very successful). While this release of "Wolfenstein" is far from a bad game, it's still far from great, and with the competition as tough as it is in the genre, new hopefuls need to bring their "A" game. Still, it’s a decent play, and will help pass the time while you wait for Infinity Ward's next release.