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Friday | December 9, 2016
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Wolfenstein (2009) PC

Wolfenstein (2009) PC

 

All screenshots taken via Sparkle 285 GTX at 2560 then resized to 1280 for display reasons.
Videos taken from Fraps Pro via Sparkle 285 GTX at 2560 then rescaled in flash for display reasons.

We recently reviewed the console version of Wolfenstein 2009 and we came away a little unimpressed with the overall experience – even though the core gameplay was pretty good. By no means a bad game it however didn’t knock our socks off – something we are hoping the PC version might rectify today.

A brief recap – You take control of BJ Blazkowicz and you are called to the German town of Isenstadt to help out the local resistance with a battle against the Nazi’s. The hordes of Hitler have been up to some devious doings at a local archaeological dig involving a mysterious magical substance called Black Sun energy. In a nutshell, they have stumbled upon a demonic alternative dimension called The Veil and they are taking it’s power to create another demonic superbeast.

As we all know, Wolfenstein games have always had rich connections to the supernatural world and the dialogue helps to set the mood for the setting. Generally the dialogue is interesting and points us in the right direction but I would have liked to seen it edited a little for a faster pace.

The game is not truly linear in fashion so you can explore the town and find various people who give you missions to complete. I like this idea in a slightly more role playing context, such as Obvilion or S.T.A.L.K.E.R. but it seems a little out of place in a gun totting Wolfenstein title – even a 2009 version.

This town is your central hub location and is a connection point for the various rooftops, sewers and alleyways that cross throughout it. There are also loads of german soldiers in it, so when you complete missions you have to wade through enemies to report back to the NPC that their mission has been completed. There are options to head into the sewers to avoid many of the confrontations if you grow weary of the constant confrontations.

The environments are quite good in their diversity as you will firefight your way through various locations such as hospitals, factories and farms. By simply following a symbol on your compass you know you are headed in the right direction, however the only downside is that this negates the map because with that symbol you are never lost.

On your travels there are many intelligence documents, magical books and gold to acquire and you can upgrade your weaponry for more damage, bigger ammo clips and improved target range. If collecting these objects is not something you relish then you can safely ignore most of them and still complete the game.

Combat is pretty good and remains true to a Wolfenstein genre, you have a variety of standard weapons at your disposal as well as a few, awesome supernatural guns, which look stunning when effectively deployed on the various battlefields. You can also run, jump and duck much like any other FPS title on the PC.

To bring a little something different to the game there are a mixture of ‘veil powers’ on offer which are unlocked in the early part of the game by retrieving crystals from key Nazi locations. It works well as an idea to bring a supernatural touch to the game. The most simple Veil power lets you see the world through a bluish fog – this points out secret doorways and ladders and enemies are highlighted, much in the way a thermal reading would be implemented. The developers have also implemented a bullet time mode which while somewhat overused now, works well in specific situations to raise the odds in your favour. Another power lets you create a magical shield to stop bullets and the last one is a weapon power up, which lets your bullets break through enemy shielding. All of these abilities are tied into the Black Sun energy system which is recharged from various hotspots or from black sun energy barrels, found in some locations throughout the maps.

 

The powers do add a nice touch to the gameplay which is for the most part rather traditional – and I know this game is getting slated via many publications right now, but I must be a traditionalist, because I find Wolfenstein 2009 a good trip down memory lane with the obvious benefits of a reasonably up to date (modified) engine. I much prefer the PC version when compared with the console counterparts because it feels much more intuitive and enjoyable than playing with a gamepad.

These powers incidentally are not required to beat the enemies as they are rather dumb to be honest, much in the way the creatures in Doom would follow specific motion paths and become target practice. Granted they perform basic tactics under the right conditions but they aren’t the greatest of shots and they do manage to look rather dumb, such as when in the vicinity of grenades.

The supernatural foes however make up somewhat for the stupidity of the main german troops as you have to find the specific power to locate them, then subsequently destroy them. Nazi Ninjas for instance are lightning quick and a nightmare to kill, however if you use bullet time mode then you are in a much stronger position to end their existence.

Graphically we found the game much nicer on the PC with the right hardware. We tested the game with a Intel Core i7 920, 4GB of DDR3 and a 285 GTX graphics card running on Vista 64bit Ultimate. Certainly this is a little on the higher end of a modern day gaming system, but the game was perfectly playable at 2560×1600 with all menu settings cranked to the max (averaged 50fps). The only issue I noticed was quite a lot of screen tearing if Vsync was disabled – however with a simple menu change it becomes smooth as silk. So in summary, while not a class leading graphical first person shooter, it does more than a good enough job to suck you into the world and present a nice medium for your supernatural combat. Sure, if you were being critical you could slate the character models as looking a few years old but I have to say that generally the game looks very reasonable, especially some of the environmental design ideas, which I found very impressive.

Multiplayer was a reasonably fun experience with a total of eight maps available and three character classes (Mechanic, Soldier and Medic) as well as three game modes. Objective is a team based attack and defend system, Stopwatch puts teams against each other in a series of protection and retrieval missions. Team Deathmatch is self explanatory and works well and certainly seems to be the popular online mode as the other two have much lower player counts. Simple, straightforward run and gun is still the order of the day for fans of this game.

Wolfenstein on the PC is the purchase of choice as it addresses a few of the issues with the console versions and offers much higher level of detail as well as a more intuitive control system which helps you to enjoy the game. Sure, parts of it are dated, but as an overall experience I really enjoyed myself. At the end of the day, I can say there have been very few first person shooter games this year that have sucked me in until they were completed, but this was one of them.

Gameplay
88

Shooting Nazi german soldiers is still fun and a trip down memory lane.
Graphics
85
Effective and well detailed, but a little bland in today’s environment.
Sound
90
Very impressive effects and ambient noises.
Value
80
7-8 hours single player and a little limited in multiplayer.
Overall
87

The PC version is the one to buy. Recommended.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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