The Wolfenstein franchise has one of the longest and most innovative histories in video games. Not everyone knows how the franchise started the use of stealth in gaming or that it began the class based FPS multiplayer games, but most people do recognize that it started the FPS genre firmly placing its spot amongst the greats in video gaming. Simply named Wolfenstein, the latest entry to the franchise brings the classic story that's been a part of the series since the beginning with the newer gameplay mechanics that have become a staple in gaming today. Sadly, it just doesn't impress.
Once again, we follow the exploits of U.S. solider, William "B.J." Blazkowicz, during the "rarely" used backdrop of World War II. B.J. has been given the task of uncovering the Nazi's plan to use the occult forces known as the Black Sun, and kill plenty of Nazis, Nazi zombies, and some otherworldly enemies on the way. In a very Indiana Jones-like style, B.J. will have to find mysterious artifacts before the Nazis can use them to help take over the world. All that's missing is a hat and a damn John Williams soundtrack.
Let's make this somewhat quick. Wolfenstein is a FPS using WWII weapons to kill Nazis. Right there, you should know if you're in or out. What's different from the countless other FPS WWII games? Not much. There are a few weapons at your disposal that are a much needed break from the WWII arsenal, but please; you won't be using them nearly as much. Something that's new, but pointless, is the city of Isenstadt acts as a gateway to various areas for missions rather than the standard work your way through one level after another. The game also introduces a weapon upgrade system that makes use of money acquired through gameplay to improve the performance and damage of weapons/items. Regardless, not much difference here to really talk about. One of the gameplay mechanics adopted in Wolfenstein is the usage of the special power, aka "bullet time". Granted it's not actual "bullet time", but using the Thule Medallion allows B.J. to go through some superhuman states to battle the enemies and find hidden paths. Is it cool? At times, yes, but it is not a mechanic that will help sell the game. In fact, it's pretty damn gimmicky.
One thing you can count on with WWII games is a great score and Wolfenstein doesn't disappoint. You just can't hate on that classical score that has become synonymous with WWII games. Not much can be said about the voice acting as it's about average as other games with this kind of production. Speaking of production, the cinematic, especially the intro, really does bring back memories of an Indiana Jones movie. Throughout the game, there will be some moments where you will want to check out the details of the environments but they're not awe inspiring. I have to say, and as strange as it is to say, seeing the Swastika plastered all over the place is a plus for me. No I'm not a Neo-Nazi, but I am a guy who realizes that the Nazis were the enemy, and not some other name that's been used by WWII games to take the safe route rather than having Nazi symbols plastered all over the place. Yeah it maybe for the sake of selling games in Germany however who cares, it happened and it's not a damn secret.
For those who didn't know, the Wolfenstein series not only brought the FPS genre into the forefront of gaming, but it also revolutionized online multiplayer. Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory laid the foundation of multiplayer schemes as the leveling up of your character and character classes. It brought something fresh to multiplayer gaming that only a few titles have done before such as Counterstrike, Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 Arena. Sadly, Wolfenstein's multiplayer doesn't build on the innovative multiplayer of the previous games thus creating an average multiplayer which is more of a holdover for gamers until Halo 3 ODST comes out and Modern Warfare 2.
It's a shame that with this fourth entry to the Wolfenstein series, Wolfenstein proves to be more of the same rather than pushing the envelope. Everything about the game is painfully average with the exception of the production that does have its moments. Many will find the game to be a rental at best making it disappointing in two ways. Not only is it the only Wolfenstein game that doesn't innovate gaming in any way, but Raven Software's proposal for making the game free if it sells more than Madden in the month of August, turns out to be just a pipedream (read about it HERE.).