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He's down. Got hit by an axis MP40. And he's at the other end of the trenches. There are more of them out there, and I think there might be a sniper on the upper base too. Should I risk going out there to revive him? Or should I sneak the other way, ducking past the nazis and run for the all important objective?
Welcome to Wolfenstein online.
I haven't been around Ciao for a while, and I can lay most of the blame for that squarely on the shoulders of this game. There are some great reviews on here centering around the single player aspect, but I would like to take some time to look at the Multi-player game in depth for two reasons :
1. The single player game didn't enthrall me. I like an engaging story line and character interaction. I like my World War II games to reflect on what happened historically. And I get scared by the zombies :D ;)
2. The Multi-player element of Wolf was developed by an entirely different team than the single player. It *is*, in all essence, an entirely seperate game, and makes Wolf worth buying on its own. I have decided to place this review here, and not in the online section, because the Multi-player is only part of the overall game.
When you first get into a game online, you are given the choice of playing Allies or Axis. Games are played out within a time limit, and each side has certain objectives to achieve. These may be defending, attacking, or both depending on which map it is.
*The Classes* Within each team, you can play one of four roles, each with its own merits and disadvantages.
Lieutenant : Can carry one of three weapons. Can hand out ammo packs to other players and themselves. Can call in two types of air attack.
Engineer : Can plant and defuse dynamite. Carries several grenades. Carries one type of weapon.
Soldier : Can choose weapons other classes cannot, including a venom gun (high speed, multi-barrelled machine gun), a flamethrower, a mauser (sniper rifle) and a panzerfaust (rocket launcher).
Medic : Can use only one weapon. Can hand out medpacks to boost health. Can use syringes to revive fallen team mates. Has the highest health points, but starts with lowest ammo.
All classes carry a knife, a pistol, and at least one grenade.
As you can see, it certainly gives the game a bit of variation, and allows the player to pick a class that will suit their particular strength. All the classes are important, and a good mix of classes on a team will give that team an advantage. It is possible to win without some of the classes present, but its a lot easier when you have all of them :)
Which brings me nicely onto...
Wolfenstein is a game that thoroughly promotes teamplay, setting it apart from many other games. Its not an all out frag-fest, where running around playing Rambo is the name of the game. No, Wolf is a tad slower (although it has its fast and furious moments), which allows strategy and tactics to be brought into play. You'll often find teams using the in-built voice commands available to alert others of incoming enemies, or to co-ordinate a clever attack. Timing is everything after all :)
The voice commands are incredibly useful, and sometimes vitally important. You can give out quick instructions ("Follow Me!"), alerts ("Incoming!"), Requests ("Medic!"), statements ("I'm on defence!"), and notify everyone which class you are playing ("I'm an engineer"). You can even give a little victory cry ("Jahvol!").
*Maps and Objectives*
There are a number of different official maps (roughly ten I believe - two of which are available through the latest patches), all of which are varied both in setting and gameplay. The maps cover different places, such as a beach, a submarine storage area, a snowy allied stronghold, an axis communication tower, a castle etc. Most of the maps usually have a good mix of both indoor and outdoor areas.
Each map has its own objectives, whether that be to blow something up, or retrieve some documents or artefact and take it to a designated place. Sometimes one side will have to defend, while the other attacks (e.g. on the beach map, where the allies must rush the beach, blast open two points in the wall of the axis base, steal some documents from the basement, then take them to be transmitted at the top of the base). Other maps will have both teams attacking and defending (e.g the depot map, where both teams must try to blow up an objective, while simultaneously defending their own).
The maps are usually quite large in size, but not so big that you're likely to run around not bumping into anyone. Lets not forget, this *is* a social activity :)
Points are scored by individual players for doing a nuber of things. Engineers will get points for planting dynamite, medics get points for reviving, lieutenants get points for handing out ammo etc. Everyone gets points for completing a main objective, and for killing enemies. The points are shown against your name when it comes to the end of a match, although, since its a team game, it doesn't really matter what you get.
*Graphics and sound*
Well, since I got a new graphics card, its a lot prettier than I thought it was! :)
But seriously, I was using a 16mb card previously, and it had no affect on the gameplay, just the visuals. When you have got a decent graphics card, you'll see that Wolfenstein, both in multi-player and single player, is a nice looking game. Shadows are cast onto walls, bullets fly by you as streaks of light, smoke actually drifts in the air and dissipates gradually, cobwebs hang in cellars. If you shoot a crate, it will leave big bullet holes, if you shoot a wall, smaller holes will appear. The character animation is good, and each side is kitted out in their apropriate uniforms. The colours are all relatively muted, adding to that overall 'WWII, military feel'.
Sound is pretty important in Wolf as it can give you a good indication of where people are coming from. I would recommend using earphones so that you can accurately distinguish directional sounds, but even a basic speaker set up will do. You will usually always need to play with the sound on so that you can hear voice commands from your team. So no playing those mp3's in the background when you're on my team, you hear? ;)
Well, its a hell of a lot of fun :) Particularly once you've mastered the controls and know your way around the maps, which will take some time, but is ultimately worth the effort. Don't worry if you're not overly great when you first start, or if you've never played this kind of thing online before. It will come through practice - I'm here to tell the tale :)
There are inevitably some down points though. As in real life, there are some real idiots around, who will TK (team-kill) at any opportunity, and try to ruin your fun. There are servers that deal with this by turning off friendly fire (FF), meaning you can't injure anyone on your own team. Or, of course, you can just go and join another game :) There are also people who don't want to work as part of a team, or people who will shoot you when you are running around with an objective just so that they can pick it up themselves to get points (commonly known as point whores *excuse my french - just letting you in on the lingo*). And - the big one - cheaters. Yes, online games will always have a minority of cheaters out there. Many of the servers now have something called 'Punkbuster' enabled, which means your computer is checked to see if you are cheating are not, and if you are, then you're kicked out of the game. This will not keep out the most hardened cheater, but is certainly another defence against them.
Gameplay is also going to be affected by the kind of connection you have. ADSL or ISDN connections are going to get the best ping rates (the rate at which your computer can send information back and forth to the server), but it is perfectly possible to play with an ordinary 56k connection. If you are connecting to a game on 56k, then stay in slightly smaller games that consist of up to 20 people (or so), and try to connect to a server in the country you live. No matter what you do, or what connection you have, you will sometimes get lag. Lag is when your ping goes up to the point where your computer and the game server don't send information quickly enough to make the game run smoothly. Usually this only lasts for a few seconds or minutes, but if you're suffering from problems, try a different server.
*Getting into a game*
No use knowing all about it if you don't know how to get in!
You can find an online game through the main menu of Wolf itself, but I would advise against it if you play often. It takes a long time for all the servers to show up, and it doesn't give you a good enough description. Instead, I would use a free program called ASE (All Seeing Eye). Its easy to use, supports a number of online games, and allows you to filter out servers based on your preferences (i.e. to only show UK based servers). You can find ASE at udpsoft.com.
There is a large, and rapidly growing, Wolfenstein community online. This caters for many different things, and in many different ways, such as websites, downloads, maps, programs, message forums, and clans. You'll be able to find a wealth of information on the game and its tactics, and connect with other players. Its also a good way to keep up with any new official patches or maps that are available for the game, as you'll need these to be able to play online. *Always make sure you have the latest patches before trying to play*
All in all, Return to Castle Wolfenstein is a great Multiplayer game. It stands out from the rest with its unique take on team play, and its ability to be all things to all people. Playing not only makes you feel like you're really in the heart of a battle, but that you're also having to use your head to get ahead. Having your team work like a well oiled machine and pull together to win is a decidedly sweet experience, which everyone should try at least once :)
And although its 'only' the multiplayer section of the whole game, its truly value for money. Each game is different, each foe is unpredictable, and you can play for hours on the same map and still not get bored. So stick on your helmet, pull out your tommy gun, and dive out into those trenches soldier. Wolfenstein needs you.
------ Official website - http://www.activision.com/games/wolfenstein/ -----