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There aren’t many things that I can put on a list of things I’ve accomplished this Easter. I read my book on chaos, I injured my knee riding my bike and as of last night I finished Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Return to Castle Wolfenstein is the sequel to what is a very historic game. Many people believe first person shooters (games played in a first person perspective that basically involves shooting) as a gaming genre began with games like Doom and Duke 3d, this isn’t the case. It was a game called wolfenstein 3d that started it all and after what is a very long time they decided to make a sequel of the game.
This game had a lot of promise. For a long time before its release there were rumours around the gaming scene: “Did you hear they’re supposed to be making a wolfenstein 3d sequel” and so on. The rumours were confirmed and to the delight of first person shooter fans some of the biggest names in the genre had climbed on board for this project. Anyone even vaguely familiar with games like this should know of ID software. They brought the quake series (I,II and III) to our computers and with it the experience of producing very good games. Also on board were Activision who are famous for their role in producing the mechwarrior/civilisation games and not to mention the popular star trek:elite force.
With these names behind the game big things were expected and I can happily say they delivered nicely. Firstly a bit of say from the experts, PC GAMER the magazine of choice for gamers rates this very highly and they gave it a 94% and a “Game of the month” title. This is a high accolade as being a regular reader (thanks to my brother buying the magazine every month) I can say they aren’t easy to please.
So what is it all about? Return to Castle Wolfenstein isn’t quite what you would think from the title. There isn’t much to do with Castle Wolfenstein in fact. You start the game off as a prisoner of Castle Wolfenstein and have to break out to meet a contact on the outside. This takes up only a small part of the game and from then on you are more or less free from it. I don’t like people spoiling the plot of a film or game for me and so I’m not going to do it here. To give you a taste though I can say you will end up stealing top-secret planes, infiltrating villages and basically doing lots of James Bond type stuff.
What is the game-play like? This is a first person shooter and so as expected in a game like this there is a lot of shooting. This game boasts a nice mix though of pure killing action and stealthy operations. Sometimes it is called for you to run through a level killing all mercilessly but a game full of this would soon loose its appeal. Also present in this game is this game is the incentive to kill with guile and stealth (although most of the time is isn’t required). It is these times when the silenced rifle you carry and your knife become your best friend. You can save yourself a lot of trouble if you kill one at a time instead of taking on a level of 50 plus enemies. This mixture is nice but is too clear cut, a smoother blend of the two would have been more enjoyable instead of levels that clearly require either approach.
Do the graphics live up to today’s expectations? Things have come a long way since the last incarnation of this game as it not only satisfies graphical expectations but also surpasses them. The models of the characters are very well rendered and to be honest this is a very good-looking game. Torches lighting the walls flicker in a realistic way. Enemies look like people and all textures look excellent. Lightening and flame effects in this game are the best I’ve seen in a first person shooter.
A game can be made or broken by its weapons; does this game come up to scratch? Its true, considering all of the game is spent wielding a weapon it is important they are good and well balanced. The game has all of the regular expected of games like this, two different pistols (one of which can be used double handed), 3 different machine guns, 3 different sniper rifles and two different type of grenade. As well as the regulars there are also the extras such as rocket launchers, flame throwers, and others too late on in the game to tell you about (I don’t want to leave you with nothing to discover). Once again a good selection and balance of weaponry means this game is up with the best of them. Another good feature of this game is the “see it, use it” aspect of weaponry. If an enemy is carrying a weapon when he dies you get that weapon, other games stupidly leave this out meaning cries of “Why doesn’t he pick up that bazooka and use it???” are heard when playing. Good addition.
How is the computer AI? There is nothing more boring in a game than enemies that stand there to get shot. I can happily say this game features some of the best AI I’ve seen. The soldiers do things like kick grenades back at you, draw you into traps and use their computer-generated intelligence to find ingenious ways to kill you. Very nice.
Any complaints then? This is a very good game and a recommended purchase for anyone who enjoys computer games like this. The only thing I didn’t like was the difficulty of the game. I played on what equates to medium and I found that the enemy could hit me from miles away with the least accurate of weapons. They are able to see a single strand of your hair peek around a corner which then alerts them to your presence, stealth is difficult. Certain enemies later on in the game are also devilishly difficult to defeat. I was also able to finish this game too soon for my liking.
There are lots of good points about this game that I haven’t mentioned like the very nice in game movies and the multiplayer options but hopefully you will buy this game (usually priced around the £30 mark) and experience it for yourself. It is worth it I ensure you.
Now the technical bits
Minimum system requirements: 3D accelerator with full open GL support (at least 16mb of graphics ram) 400MHz processor 128Mb RAM English version of a windows operating system above Windows 95 800Mb of free uncompressed HDD space Mouse/Keyboard etc Direct X 8.0 (included) 4X graphics card