Name: Return To Castle Wolfenstein
Developer: Grey Matter, Multiplayer by Nerve.
Price: £34.99
Min System Spec: PII 400, 128mb RAM, 16mb 3D card
Recommended System Spec: Not Published
Official Web Site www.castlewolfenstein.com
Reviewed By: Single Player: Fugue, Multiplayer: Mack

Return To Castle Wolfenstein-Multiplayer

If you are a regular on our forums you will know that I (Mack) was not very enthusiastic about this game and even considered not buying it, the reason was simple: the thought of killing more zombies and stuff like in "Doom" did not appeal to me. ID software just can not seem to make a game without the inclusion of some sort of satanic influence, and it's really boring the pants off me. But the surprise was that ID did not make the multiplayer aspect of RTCW, the entire multiplayer game was coded by a company called "Nerve" (using ID's Quake III engine). Anyway there is my dig at ID out the way, now on to the review.

Half-life, Quake, Unreal, Strikeforce, Day of defeat and counterstrike all play excellent on-line, they are games and in some cases mods that have totally dominated the on-line community. Counterstrike is probably the most popular on-line game, simply because the concept of team play is essential, and it's this concept that Nerve have taken a step further with RTCW.

RTCW has boldly ditched the common multi modes that seem to come packaged with every game these days, I refer to Capture the flag and deathmatch, quite a bold move when you consider how popular they are on-line. Instead they have opted for just 3 game styles:

  • Objective (MP) this is the default game style. The Allies and Axis each have one or more objectives to accomplish in a set time, the first team to accomplish all of it's objectives wins.
  • Stopwatch (SW) Similar to Objective but with a twist: After every round the teams switch sides and have to beat the other teams time from the previous round.
  • Checkpoint (CP) Similar to UT Domination. The teams battle for checkpoint flags strategically placed around the map, the first team to simultaneously every checkpoint flag, or the team that controls most of the flags when the time expires wins.

Not much choice when you consider H&D2 is set to ship with 10 different multiplay modes and most other games have at least double as many options. So will it shock you when I say RTCW is one of the best multiplayer experience I have ever played? And I have been playing on-line games since 1996.
So what makes RTCW so special?

Two ingredients that make me sit up and take notices are:
good net code and excellent gameplay.

RTCW has both of these, the net code is excellent, and that's down to the extensive tweaking of the Q3 engine. The gameplay is equally as good, without the need for loads of patches, yes amazing as it may sound RTCW does not need any urgent gameplay patches for multiplay mode, that's got to be a first these days. It does need a patch to address the CD-Key issue that sometimes refuses you connection to a server even if you have a genuine copy!

Gameplay.

RTCW relies heavily on teamplay, so much so that I have witnessed teams with large amounts of unorganised players get hammered off a few well-organised players. Here is how it works:

Each team is made up of 4 different player classes Soldier, Medic, Engineer and Lieutenant, each class has different abilities:

Soldier Class This is the default class for both sides and is the only class that can use all of the two handed weapons such as the Flamer, Sniper and Venom gun.

Engineer Class This class is a demolition expert, the only class that can destroy objectives and large obstacles with TNT, they can also deactivate enemy bombs. The engineer class can also repair static MG emplacements if they are damaged.

Medic Class This class is a battlefield saviour, he is the only class that can heal your wounds and even revive the dead (more on this later), the medic's own health will also regenerate over time.

Lieutenant Class This class causes mayhem on the battlefield, he can call airstrikes by throwing a smoke grenade as a marker for the amazingly accurate bomber support and artillery strikes by looking through his binoculars and simply pressing a key while observing the target. He is also capable of supplying you with much needed ammo should you live long enough to run out.

You choose to play either the Axis or Allies, then you choose your player class followed by your weapon choice. It's important to select the correct player class for the team, so if your team has maybe only one medic it may be a good idea to select this class or you will find first aid very hard to come by during the game. A winning team should have a good variety of player classes and weapons. Once the team has a good balance and everyone knows how the maps and objectives work you can have some excellent games.

In Check point mode where you have to control the flags you can get some amazing battles. I was in a game with forty players and after the initial mad dash for the flags a kind of front line formed, both sides controlled 3 flags each and had pressed on to each others territory where a stale mate situation formed. The map was set in the ruins of a town and both sides were launching vigorous attacks on each other's positions. The scene was like something out of Saving Private Ryan, grenades were being lobbed, tracer rounds could be see coming from the tops of burnt out buildings from snipers, smoke grenades were going off, and airstrikes were raining fire on both positions. Suddenly the Axis charged out of the ruins and made a dash for our flag, the charge was met with a fierce hail of bullets from what seemed like every building around me. You could just hear calls for medic over the sounds of the guns as the axis side were torn to shreds, Axis medics tried to reach their comrades but they too were shown no mercy. One Axis flame-thrower did manage to penetrate far enough to fire his weapon through a window of one of the houses, seconds later two allied soldiers ran out covered in flames screaming, then they dropped down dead. (Or so I though, now this is what makes the game very interesting, read on…..)

When you are killed in RTCW you do not instantly respawn, this is a good idea as it makes you think twice before attempting a stupid one man charge. Respawning takes place every 30 seconds, so when you die you will see a counter on your screen counting down the respawn time. So if you die soon after a respawn has taken place you will have to wait 30 seconds, sometimes you can be lucky and die just before a respawn is due and only have to wait a few seconds. Now remember when I said the medics could raise the dead? Well they can, when you die you can shout for a medic, once you have shouted the medic will pick you up on his mini radar and home in on your position. Once he finds you he can inject you with a magical substance which revives you, he then simply gives you some first aid packs to boost your health back to normal. There are no health or ammo pickups to collect on any of the levels, if you are wounded you need to call a medic and if you are low on ammo you need to call a lieutenant, these two classes can replenish your supplies.

The gameplay is fast and furious and puts all other team v team war games to shame by it's excellent variety of classes and weapons, not to mention atmospheric maps, it's just a shame there are not many to choose from at the moment. H&D was the only game that ever made me feel like I was in a war, but after sampling the hardcore on-line battles of RTCW I can now add this to that exclusive list. Some may compare it to Day of Defeat, but I think the only similarity is the theme, it's like comparing a Ferrari to a go-cart, both have 4 wheels but are in a different class.

Team Killing Idiots

Ask any serious on-line gamer what's his pet hate, ok bad lag will probably be top (more on that in a moment) but I bet team killing idiots are not too far down his list. Any game that has friendly fire will attract kids that think it's funny to shoot their own team, Nerve have come up with a great way of dealing with these sad individuals. If you kill a member of your own team an alert message is displayed to your entire team, then an option is given to kick them off the server, if enough people vote yes, the guilty person is kicked. I know what you're thinking, accidents happen. Well I usually play the role of flame-thrower and let me tell you I have fried a few members of my own team as I was learning to control this beast of a weapon, I have never been kicked yet. It's pretty obvious when someone is team killing on purpose as you usually get warnings every few minutes, when this happens they are kicked without compassion.

Net Code

Now to the lag factor, to make it simple I use a 56k modem through probably the worst ISP in the UK, you know, the one who promise a connection anytime, what they really mean is sometimes. The game is very playable on servers with up to 40 players, I did join a game with over 60 and found it a bit too bad. I think that's all that needs saying on this matter.

Scoring

If you are the competative type that likes to see his name at the top of the scoring list then you are in for a treat, RTCW has a very good scoring system and it's not just built around frags. You can scor points for taking a check point, blowing up an objective, shooting an enemy, handing out ammo and even reviving a fallen comrade. Nerve have moulded the multiplayer towards clans and teamplay, many RTCW clans are emerging and talk of a league is echoing around the chat channels.

Conclusion.

The future looks bright for RTCW, with new maps and weapons on the way as well as some good looking mods. So if you like the idea of running around ruined towns, villages, storming the beaches of Omaha, fighting through huge bases or even on a train, all in the setting of WWII with excellent graphics, gameplay, sounds and Net code, this game is for you. It's a H&D fans dream.

 

 

Fan Sites

www.rtcw.co.uk

www.planetwolfenstein.com

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Reviewed on

Windows 98
Athlon 1GHZ
512mb Ram
Geforce2 MX
Sonic Fury


How it Performed
Ran excellent at resolutions up to 1024x768 in 32bit on max settings occasional
No crashes, no bugs apart from cd key issue.

Score
8/10
Reviewers Comment
A great multiplayer game that I think could topple counterstrike. It will probably not appeal to Quake fanatics, it's more for the tactical team players. I would have given it 10/10 if it had a coop mode.

 

 

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