To Castle Wolfenstein
Few games can claim to have created a genre, Wolfenstein
3D released in 1992 did just that, not only was
it one of the first 3D games it began the gaming
industries love affair with the first person shooter.
Classics such as Doom and Quake followed ID's first
adventure placing you in the role of a US soldier
doing battle with evil Nazi's, and of course their
a decade later the long awaited sequel doesn't stray
too far from the original games concept, you are
once again a US soldier going up against the German
Army, Zombies, Super Soldiers and half bodied spinning
electrocuting things. It's a strange mix of WW2
action and fantasy that sounds very dodgy, but it
succeeds on every level.
are several games using the Quake 3: Team Arena
engine in development but this is the first to show
just how good it can be for both indoor and outdoor
environments. The interiors look fantastic with
plenty of moody lighting and excellent details,
it also runs very smoothly even on what would be
considered fairly low spec systems by today's standards.
exterior locations include wooded valleys and snowfields,
there are no weather effects to speak of but as
most of the game takes place indoors it's hardly
There are plenty of nice effects including fires,
destructible objects such as chairs, paintings,
flags and even suits of armour. Some very nice little
touches include cobwebs and curtains moving in windows,
it all looks stunning.
weapons all look pretty good and have good muzzle
flashes/shell cases and nice reload animations,
the characters also move very realistically (most
apparent in multiplayer games with team-mates),
death animations are good and occasionally amusing
as bodies fall from heights and down stairs.
As with most FPS there is nothing new here, it's
standard linear gameplay with your route blocked
by a series of locked doors until you find the one
that opens. There are switches to push, levers to
pull, water to swim in and gas bottles exploding
to blow holes in walls. Hidden throughout the levels
are secret rooms full of health packs (or food)
and ammo and some treasure items to collect.
Two cursors guide you through the levels, a hand
icon that appears over doors, food, tables (that
can be tipped up for cover), buttons and levers
etc that can be interacted with, and a shattered
block icon over objects that can be broken. By exploring
rooms most secrets are relatively easy to find using
the icons. Ladders are easy to negotiate once you
get the hang of descending.
Each mission has a few objectives to complete before
you can go on to the next, these involve finding
documents, killing Generals, protecting scientists'
etc. Occasionally you may have to meet with resistance
fighters (note to self: red circle with line through
means don't shoot) who supply you with new weapons,
there are a few civilian characters which definitely
should not be killed.
As with most of these games you can carry a ridiculously
large amount of weapons and ammo, health packs are
liberally scattered about the maps. For the most
part you face human enemies, some are elite units
such as athletic female guards armed with silent
Sten's or tough engineers with Flame-throwers.
Only in early levels do you encounter zombies, unfortunately
they seem a little out of place even though this
is a story based on the supernatural. Most of levels
are straight forward blasting action with the occasional
stealthy mission thrown in, these require you to
take out guards with silenced weapons, if an alarm
is tripped its game over. There are a few "Bosses"
to deal with though they will hardly cause most
experienced FPS fans any real problems.
a terrific amount of variety as for the most part
the game requires you to blast everything in sight,
the locations vary from the games title Castle Wolfenstein
to Laboratory complexes. Some of the more stealthy
missions are excellent, one in a town requires you
to take out a bunch of Generals using a silent Sten,
another involves sneaking past guard towers into
a base complex.
Although very good the levels are an odd mix of
Project IGI type stealth, Half Life "lab blasting"
action with the odd Rune like monster brandishing
a shield thrown in for good measure. Cut scenes,
showing your superiors discussing your heroic efforts
help the story line unfold as you progress, the
missions are fairly easy and it has to be said the
single player game is a little short.
Your arsenal includes all the familiar weapons plus
the odd "special" a very good chain gun
called the "Venom" and a Tesla gun that
shoots an electric charge causing enemies to fly
back comically when hit. The rest are standard WW2
shooter fare, Thompson, Colt, MP40, Luger and scoped/un-scoped
rifles, grenades and timed explosives.
The flame-thrower is the highlight of the game,
seeing it sweeping around a room is amazing and
leaves bodies lying on the floor burning for a short
time, the effects are nothing short of stunning.
Another nice addition is the silent Sten, which
is great for the stealthy missions, it also overheats
quickly. Some weapons have alternate modes, for
instance a silencer can be attached to the Luger.
weapons in sandbags or on vehicles can be used,
in fact grabbing an MG42 at certain points in the
game is pretty much essential to deal with hordes
of enemies. Grenades have nice explosions (and can
be kicked back at you) but are a little weak, the
FG42 paratrooper's rifle with scope is particularly
good but not when you are on the receiving end.
Throughout the game the AI is excellent although
there is little or no teamwork used by the enemy,
most will find cover when shot at while nearby guards
will home in on your position. Using silenced weapons
can give you the element of surprise as can sniping,
but some sharp eyed sentries with binoculars will
raise the alarm if a body is spotted.
The more elite units are quite tough, female guards
with silent Sten's roll and run between cover, some
of the "monsters" will hunt you down once
they have spotted you, the bosses are distinctly
lacking in intelligence. There really is nothing
particularly revolutionary about the AI but then
this is a basic run and blast em shooter so tactics
are a bit irrelevant.
game sounds are all very good, weapons have distinctive
sounds and shell cases can be heard hitting the
floor. As you approach some rooms guards can be
heard talking to each other or occasionally calling
out to others in different rooms, others will shout
out if they spot you and then the shooting starts.
Some enemy's sounds can give away their positions,
such as the female guard's heels clicking on stone
floors. One of the monsters taps its fingers on
the floor while its larger cousins actually make
the screen shake when close, its little touches
like this that really add to the atmosphere.
There is plenty of background noise from aircraft,
explosions and gunfire. The music is ok though not
exactly memorable, on the default settings it's
just about the right volume in the background so
not to detract from the in game sounds.
An excellent if a little short single player game
and some of the best multiplayer action in a FPS
game for years, apart from the cd key issue when
joining multi games it's bug free which is a major
plus these days. The fantasy side to the game is
only a very small part so WW2 fans need not be put
off, if it's realism you are after waiting for EA's
Allied Assault would be a better bet.
well at resolutions up to 1024x768 in 16bit
on default settings, occasional slow down. No
crashes, no bugs apart from cd key issue.
surprisingly good (if a little short) single
player game, the zombie/monster side of the
plot is thankfully only a small part and battling
human enemies is great fun thanks to some fairly
impressive AI. Multiplayer is superb, it's easy
to set up and very playable on a 56k modem with
up to 20 players, some excellent features including
a voting system to kick off those pesky team
killers, for multi fans this really could give
Allied Assault some serious competition.