"Anyone willing to play through the game is probably likely to overlook the corny and unexpected storyline, hell, some might even enjoy it! Whatever the case, RTCW is a strong sequel to a great game. "
Wolfenstein 3D was the first commercial first-person shooter, ever. It set the example for other successful franchises to follow, such as Doom, Half-Life, and Medal of Honor. For it's time, the graphics were revolutionary, giving gamers the first real dose of ''3D.'' Over 10 years, it's amazing to see exactly how much videogame have changed. Wolfenstein is back, with stunning 3D graphics and an all-new storyline. The game is no longer built-up of long, tedious hallways and rooms which look all the same, and you won't only be killing nazis, either. No, this time around, it's much more sinister, and you'll get to use 10 unique weapons to defeat your foes, including some realistic WWII guns. It's sure to bring back memories of your old favorite, but Return to Castle Wolfenstein is likely to make you celebrate the new!
Things sure have changed since the original Wolfenstein. Remember how in Wolfenstein 3D the whole game looked very similar? It was all built-up of a series of hallways, doors and rooms made out of blue bricks, which was fun, but got a bit repetitive after a while. In the sequel, things are definitely spiced-up a bit. The game starts out in Castle Wolfenstein, where the game took place. The first couple levels take place there, but you soon move on to a variety of different areas, including the Crypts and the X-Labs. The beginning of the game is simply excellent. The castle has managed to retain it's original look and appeal, but it's now filled with superbly detailed and animated nazi foes, tall ramparts and glistening torches which light the game ever-so-nicely. The whole game has been given a vast amount of attention-to-detail, which really shoes in all of the weapons and character models. RTCW sports some of the most amazing graphics to date, on any system.
The way RTCW plays is significantly different to the first game. No longer will you be limited to four weapons--You can now wield up to 10. And instead of fighting basically just one enemy, the game is filled with a large variety of them, each with their own different abilities. Unlike games such as Doom or Unreal, RTCW isn't just about running around blasting things to bits. Sure, it has a healthy dose of that, but it's actually more realistic (in game mechanics) to most other FPS'. First of all, all guns have noticeable recoil, meaning that you'll have to actually let up on the trigger every now and then to ensure accuracy. Enemies are also now smarter and more capable, making them quite a match even for our nazi-killing hero. It's never wise to just run into the fire, because you're likely to be blown to bits. You'll need to use some actual strategy, strafing, ducking behind crates, hiding behind walls, and showing some caution when roaming the premises. This game plays the way most FPS' do--your object is to survive while facing impossible odds. You'll use whatever means necessary to defeat your foes, while navigating through tough dungeons and areas, collecting new weapons, keys and of course, health replenishing devices. It's all familiar, and it's all good.
Luckily for online gamers, RTCW also features a very-fun multiplayer mode. Much like other online hits such as Counter-Strike and Unreal Tournament, RTCW allows gamers to engage in a variety of different game modes and maps. It has it's share of bugs, but many maps, particularly the beach are just amazingly fun to play, and rival even the most appealing of online FPS'. Unfortunately, multiplayer also has it's disadvantages. The most obvious is the lag issue. Many online games are perfectly ok to play on a dial-up connection, but this isn't exactly so with RTCW. Even those on broadband (Cable/DSL) connections might experience lag, and this is very frustrating to say the least. Other than this annoyance, online play is fun and addictive.
The only real qualm I have about the gameplay is that it feels unbalanced. It starts out, playing like a fairly-realistic WWII game, and turns into a more sci-fi oriented thriller. This is also shown through the games weapons. The game has certain realistic war-weapon, such as the Mauser Rifle and the M90, but it also has some really fantasy/sci-fi style weapons like the flame thrower and tesla gun. I suppose that I just miss the whole nazi/WWII feeling of the original, and feel that the game starts out Medal of Honor and turns Half-Life.
Especially towards the later portions of the game, RTCW's sound really grips the gamer with some truly atmospheric background ambiance. The sounds get louder and higher at just the right moments as the fearsome enemies pop-out, and frighten you. The voices of all the enemy soldiers are also well-acted. I'm a bit disappointed that they're not in German--That would have been cool--but at least we can understand them. All of the sound effects are crisp and appealing, especially the stabbing sound your sword makes as you slice away at your pursuers.
RTCW uses whatever controls you want it to, as it is highly customizable. Mouse sensitivity, keyboard commands, sound and video options; these are all for you to control. This is how all videogame should be, but unfortunately, that's not how it is. All gamers should be thankful to the developers for making the game so easy to customize and use for your gaming pleasure and ease.
It's a damn shame RTCW had to stray from the style of storytelling which the first game handled so well. It starts out good, but before you know it, things get really corny, really fast. I'm not going to spoil too much for you, but what starts out as an investigation on nazi experiments turns into a battle against huge robots which feel like something torn out of a cheesy science fiction flick. Some fans might like this kind of thing, but I couldn't stop thinking about how incredibly lame and out-of-place it all felt. I was expecting fantasy, because I know the game isn't based on real events, but I wanted something slightly more realistic and believable.
RTCW isn't a long game. It'll take you a little over 10 hours to beat the first time, and then if you choose, you can play it again on a different difficulty (there are only two). If it weren't for the multiplayer, RTCW wouldn't exactly be worth the money, but, fortunately, there is the multiplayer, so don't worry about that. The ability to play the game online and single player is definitely a good one, especially because both modes of play are of high-quality. The online experience of RTCW may not be for everyone, but it's definitely there for fans of internet-based first-person shooters. I'm not ashamed to say it's about as fun as any online game I've played, and as the bugs are slowly fixed, it'll only get better.
Fans have been waiting over 10 years for this game. With the huge success and prestige of the original game, how is a sequel supposed to live up to the hype? What was one of the most influential and original games of all-time has been continued on with a sequel, but comes across more like a sci-fi FPS than a WWII one. But, all in all, that's not really such a bad thing. The gameplay is still fantastic, as are the graphics and sound. Anyone willing to play through the game is probably likely to overlook the corny and unexpected storyline, hell, some might even enjoy it! Whatever the case, RTCW is a strong sequel to a great game. Expect only the best in terms of presentation and gameplay, not to mention fun-factor. Pick this one up today, if you're in for a good single player or multiplayer challenge.
Staff review by James Gordon (Date unavailable)
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