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September 17, 2009
Wolfenstein - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Wolfenstein looks great on the PS3.
It's been a massive 28 years since Castle Wolfenstein was released for the Apple II and DOS computers, 17 years since the groundbreaking Wolfenstein 3D was unleashed for pretty much every platform at the time and 8 years since Return to Castle Wolfenstein was launched upon the world on several platforms.

This latest game, simply called Wolfenstein, was originally - in July 2004 - announced as a sequel to that last game, but with such a passing of time since that game, this release is more like a reinvention and reinvigoration for the much loved series. Bu can this game still make an impact at a time when World War II themed shooters have stagnated in the market? Activision will surely be hoping so...

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The game is choc-full of bloody Nazi's.
You are B.J. Blazkowicz, a highly decorated member of the office of Secret Actions (OSA), who is sent on a special mission into the heart of the Reich to investigate evidence of the Nazi's possession of a new and mysterious power. While behind enemy lines, you discover they have done much more than develop a new weapon. The Nazis are harnessing the power of a dark parallel dimension called The Veil; in order to create a weapon of war-ending magnitude.

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Wolfenstein's graphics engine pushing the PS3.
So this is a First Person Shooter, and yep, we've had plenty of fun playing this game. As we mentioned in our preview when you look at the weapons list it looks a bit sparse and disappointing with only half a dozen or so on offer. Where this game differentiates from other games is in the ability to modify and upgrade the weapons as you progress through the game earning new abilities and cash in the missions. These weapons include MP43 Automatic Assault Rifle, Kar 98 Bolt Action Rifle, MP40 Automatic Submachine Gun, Flammenwerfer (flame thrower), Panzerschreck (Rocket Launcher), and the rather futuristic Tesla "Electric charge" Cannon and Particle "Veil Beam" Cannon.

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That Nazi soldier is not of our world.
The enemies are, as expected, Nazi's and while some of them are a bit stupid there's enough of them running around to keep you busy, and then you get to the 'not so human' enemies which move around at blinding pace, have some supernatural styled powers, or are just plain buggers to dispose. The difficulty level ramps up brilliantly through the game and while it never gets insanely hard, you'll encounter a couple of challenging moments before the end credits roll.

Where this game really branches out from the 'normal' FPS is the paranormal, or Veil, powers. It is possible for you to move between the real world and the Veil world at any time with Veil powers mapped to the D-Pad. You only have a certain amount of power before it drains out and you need to find a point to recharge it, but the locations to recharge are numerous.

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Those aren't human powers.
So now we come to the area of the game where Activision should have really kicked some major ass - the multi-player modes for up to 12-players at once. Given their superb recent outings with their Call of Duty franchise, and the reduced number of players in comparison, we hoped for something very special indeed. While the single player component of Wolfenstein was developed by Raven Software, the multi-player component has been developed by Endrant Studios. The result; a disappointing, laggy, online game. Now we're running on a pretty decent 8Mbps cable connection here, but the majority of the games we got into had considerable lag and frame rate issues. In part it could be down to connecting with people in America instead of Australia, but it still doesn't bode well.

Game modes include Team Deathmatch (obvious), Objective which sees the Resistance completing objectives to defeat the Axis, and the Axis defending their research, while Stopwatch is very similar to Objective but sees the two teams swapping over half way to see which team manages to complete the objective in the shortest amount of time. These online modes include three soldier classes - Soldier, Engineer (who will be required to complete all objectives) or Medic (for healing and resurrections). As you progress through the online multi-player you can purchase upgrades for each of the classes with improved weapons and Veil powers.

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Nazi's battle in the streets.
Graphically Wolfenstein looks impressive overall with some great character modeling and visual effects, but it's not without its flaws. Powered by id Tech 4 (which was used for Doom 3 and Quake 4) the game has been enhanced by the developers with the addition of depth of field effects, soft shadowing, post processing effects, and of course the required Havok physics which allows destruction of objects (naturally crates contain plenty of required ammo). Unfortunately the game does suffer from a fair amount of screen tearing and a drop in frame rate - in particular when you enter the alternate Veil universe.

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That's one well equipped soldier!
Audio is another area where this game proves itself more then capable. There is plenty of speech throughout the game, and the scripting and delivery is pretty good. Likewise the music is pretty impressive and it changes tone according to the action on-screen. The highlight though has to be the impressive gun effects and explosions which are meaty and sound pretty brutal. Surround sound channels are used to good effect and assist in locating enemies off the screen.

Ultimately Wolfenstein is a competent, often entertaining, shooter on the PS3. as a single player game you can expect 10 or so hours of gameplay, multi-player could add some more value and time, if you get a good connection. It's fun, and certainly worth a look.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSIt's a little choppy at times, but overall solid enough.
SOUNDPlenty of gunfire and explosions, voicework is passable too.
GAMEPLAYThe Veil powers really add something fresh to the mix, and even without, it's a fun FPS.
VALUEThe single player game is long enough - just, multi-player is a bit too laggy at this stage.
OVERALLWolfenstein, despite some of the flaws, is still a very entertaining FPS which fans of the franchise, or genre, will enjoy. Worth checking out if you need something to do.

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