id Software’s beloved Wolfenstein franchise went on a pretty long hiatus. The last time we heard from William “B.J.” Balzkowicz was way back in 2001’s Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Agent Blazkowicz is still fighting Nazis, but this time, he’s got the power of The Veil to keep the Nazi regime from controlling the world.
As with previous Wolfenstein titles, you play as the Nazi killing, American super spy William “B.J.’ Blazkowicz during the World War II era. B.J. travels to the town of Isenstadt as the Nazis are conducting research there, but no one knows what exactly they’re up to. As B.J. completes missions, it’s revealed that the Nazis have been digging up artifacts that allow them to call forth powers from an alternate dimension known as the Black Sun in hopes to create super soldiers. B.J. finds a medallion that allows him to travel to a midway point between the two dimensions known as The Veil. When B.J. first is given access to The Veil, his surroundings change to a greenish tint and his speed is slightly increased. As B.J. progresses through the game, he will find crystals that allow him to harness a particular power while in The Veil. The powers B.J. receives allow him to slow time, deal a greater amount of damage, and even shield him from enemy attacks. Wolfenstein keeps veil powers in check as B.J. can only use The Veil for a certain amount of time before running out of juice. Luckily, the game world is full of spots where B.J. can refuel his veil.
The way Wolfenstein’s story takes place is by accessing particular points in the town of Isenstadt in order to access a mission. After a mission is complete, B.J. will return to the town, where he can reconnect with resistance members to inform them of his discovery and receive new missions. Certain points in Isenstadt will actually be locked off if you haven’t accessed a previous mission that leads up to that one, and previous missions will always be available to replay to raise your dead Nazi count, or to search for gold, intel, or tomes. Gold will allow B.J. to purchase weapon and veil upgrades, intel will give B.J. important information pertaining to his mission, and tomes are collected in order to unlock more powerful veil powers.
B.J. can also make his way to the black market between missions, where he can upgrade his weapons and veil powers. Weapon upgrades aren’t necessary, but they add many tweaks to your weapons such as improved accuracy, damage, and ammo capacity. Veil power upgrades can further enhance the respective power’s ability which can make them even more devastating than they originally were.
The majority of traditional German World War II weapons can be found in Wolfenstein. The MP40, MP43, and K98 Mauser are some of the most notable weapons from the era. Wolfenstein doesn’t stop there though; it also offers some weapons that obviously could only be found in the game. The Particle Cannon shoots a ray of energy at enemies, which completely decomposes them into ashes. The Tesla Cannon shoots bolts of elecricity, which gives a new meaning to the phrase ‘shock and awe’.
Navigating through Isenstadt and during missions are made simple by the on-screen navigator. I found it more useful than other title’s navigator as this one even goes as far as to direct you which hallway corridor you should be turning down. It might make the game a little too easy to make your way to certain objectives, but I rather find something too easily than too difficult. There is also a journal that can be accessed that gives you a top-down map of your current whereabouts, mission objectives, and even intel that you pick up during your missions.
The variety in enemies is sufficient. They’ll range from regular footsoldiers, up to officers, and even going as far as enemies with the power of The Veil. Some enemies may not be damaged by regular attacks, for that, The Veil allows B.J. to see weak points on the enemy.
As is customary with most modern day FPS games, Wolfenstein comes packaged with a multiplayer component. There are three different game types for players to choose: Objective, Stopwatch, and Team Deathmatch. Objective has one team completing a number of tasks in order to win the match, while the other team defends against the other players’ advances. The mode reminded me a lot of Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, but it just didn’t have the same execution or addictiveness as that game did. Stopwatch has the same rules as objective, but it times the first team to complete the objective, while the second team has to complete the objective within the first team’s time. There are also three classes players can choose to be: Engineer; Medic, and Soldier. The Engineer is vital to the war effort when it comes to the Objective and Stopwatch modes. They’re the class that can build and destroy major points of interest in the game. They also drop ammo packs. Medics keep the team living long enough to win matches. They drop health packs as well as bring the unconcious back to life. The soldier can use a wider selection if weapons, such as the Flamethrower and MP43.
The Veil is also used in multiplayer, allowing players to enter it in order to spot the enemy better, or by using their class’ special power. Engineer can boost his speed up, Medic can activate a healing aura that heals everyone around him, and Soldier can throw a veil bomb, which detonates and shoots out deadly veil rays.
Multiplayer also allows players to rank up. Ranking up does not give players any additional benefit, but instead, players can upgrade their gear from gold that is received during gameplay by killing enemies as well as from completing objectives.
FINAL THOUGHT: Wolfenstein’s single-player absolutely shines in comparison to the dull multiplayer. The Veil powers help make firefights with enemy soldiers fun and missions that are accessed through a central location rather than one objective after another in a linear fashion make me wish more titles would adopt this style of play. The multiplayer gets old quick and might entertain players for an hour or two, but the real gem on this disc is the single-player.