by Chris Davis
reviewed on X360
Visually, Wolfenstein is a very good looking game. The local of Isenstadt is presented in a very authentic way and feels like a Germanic city that’s been turned into a war zone. Character models act and move realistically in a manner typical of many other AAA titles on the market. Entering the Veil reveals the same world with the same models present but with a greenish tint to everything and a vortex-like sky giving a bit of an eerie feel to everything. All of the explosions are nice and the visual splendour of disintegrating your Nazi foes draws a smile to your face. The game also uses a nice dismemberment system so, for you sickos out there, you can take apart bodies piece by piece if you wish.
The only thing I can complain about regarding the technical side of the game is the voice work. Sure, I understand that the Wolfenstein series as a whole has a bit of a campy feel to it, but does it need to be expanded upon? Everyone in the game speaks English, no exceptions, with everyone but B.J. speaking with a strong accent. Sure, you’ll catch an “achtung” or a “nein” every now and then but for a game that is set in Germany you’d think that most of the denizens would speak, I dunno, German?
The problem with shooter games out there nowadays is that even though they look to have a decent or even strong singular component, for some reason they have to tack on another component to make it feel like a “complete package.” Thus, because Wolfenstein has a decent single-player campaign it must “naturally” have a multi-player segment. While this can be a benefit to the overall experience for many games, more often than not it is a detriment. This is clearly an example of the later.
To put it bluntly, Wolfenstein’s outsourced (built by Endrant Studios) multi-player is bad. It’s not just bad; it’s embarrassing. Though it isn’t necessarily a bad thing that the game utilizes the old style lobby selection system instead of a matchmaking system commonly used in games like Halo or Call of Duty, the way the system works leaves a bad taste in your mouth from the first minute. The lobby selection screen takes a good twenty seconds to load up a list of rooms and gods help you if you accidentally refresh it. Even if you make it into a room there is no guarantee you’ll be there for long either as stability issues abound. The game does not use a host migration system either so if the host quits don’t think that you can keep on playing.
When you actually make it into a game and begin a match is when you begin to notice some of the strong issues present in the multi-player. While the game utilizes a class-based system composed of either the Engineer class (support, heavy weapons), the Medic class (healer/reviver, light weapons) and the Soldier class (mid-range weapons, explosives) there is no option to really customize it to your liking, nor do you get a feel for variety.
Weapons carry a precariously low amount of ammo (one reserve magazine) so even if you survive a strafing session you’ll most likely have to switch to your pistol (why isn’t there one in the single-player by the way?), a weapon that carries more ammo than your primary weapon does. The game utilizes both a ranking and a cash-based reward system, allowing players to both build up cash to unlock new weapons and upgrades while you rank up to unlock them. While the ranking system comes at a decent pace the reward system is broken. Though there will no doubt be fixes for these bugs in the future, even if you complete a match there is no guarantee you get to keep the cash you earn.
This reviewer played several matches all the way through (battling lag the entire way) and was given multiple messages talking about how I earned enough cash to buy a new upgrade but the fact of the matter is that when I got back to the unlock menu to buy some upgrades it said I didn’t have any money. What? The reward system clearly needs to be addressed before this reviewer will play further. There also seem to be issues with the lobby system as players can still talk to one another even after they leave the room.
It seems that the most embarrassing part of the multi-player is not the gameplay so much as the tech specs. While the single-player campaign uses a highly modified and very well running id Tech 4 engine (the same engine that powers Doom III and Quake IV), it seems that Endrant Studios didn’t get the same engine Raven Software was utilizing, as the visuals are simply awful. Everything you see in the game, from the models, to the textures, to the overall design screams boring. The textures are particularly low-res and don’t even begin to compare with the quality present in the single-player. This downgrade from the campaign just looks plain bad, but coupled with the buggy system issues and the broken rewards and you’ve got a recipe for an almost deplorable experience. And yet I ask the question: why have so many of the achievements/trophies be multi-player longevity ones when they overall experience isn’t worth the effort?
Es ist schade!
For a game like Wolfenstein it certainly has the unfortunate problem of having to live up to its legacy. While the single-player is pretty decent experience to have for those looking for a different kind of World War II shooter, the multi-player is a very lackluster affair that probably should have never been added on to the game. Fans of Enemy Territory should stay clear but the game is definitely worth a weekend rent.
Good campaign to play through, open world gameplay.
Horrible multiplayer component.