Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War Review
Xbox Live subscribers willing to spend the time to learn the game's maps properly will definitely get a lot of enjoyment out of the game's online component.
The name Wolfenstein conjures up a lot of memories for a lot of people. The older set will probably remember the classic computer games Castle Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, which set you up as a prisoner of war in a castle the Nazis were using as a prison. But more people will remember Wolfenstein 3D, the id Software game that launched the first-person shooter genre. In 2001 id released a follow-up to its breakthrough game in Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and Nerve Software has now brought that game to the Xbox with most of its PC features intact, as well as some new levels and modes. But like its PC counterpart, the great multiplayer really overshadows the single-player campaign.
The story of Return to Castle Wolfenstein is told mostly through a few short cutscenes and the various documents and journals that you find along the way. You play as B.J. Blazkowicz, the hero from the previous game, on a quest to stop the head of Hitler's secret service from acquiring ancient artifacts that have the power to raise a huge army of undead Nazis. Along the way you'll face human Nazis, zombies, laboratory experiments gone horribly wrong, and more. While the PC version opens with B.J. trapped in a cell inside Castle Wolfenstein, the Xbox version tacks on a handful of new opening levels that are better at setting up the game's story.
Wolfenstein's single-player campaign is OK, but it rarely gets very exciting. The level design is fairly straightforward, and most of the objectives are of the "get this item, then get to the end of the level" variety. The Xbox version adds a split-screen two-player cooperative mode to the campaign, but this mode really feels like it was thrown in as an afterthought, as you can't save your progress when playing co-op, and you're limited to playing on levels that have already been unlocked in the single-player mode. In addition to that, the frame rate takes a very large hit when you're playing split-screen.
The enemy AI is probably the single-player game's strongest point, but it isn't exactly earth-shattering. Enemies will take cover behind objects, popping out to fire off a few shots in your direction and then taking cover again. The game also has its fair share of zombies and other undead warriors, and just like any good zombie should, the game's undead tend to just lumber in your general direction, begging for you to blast their heads off. The single-player game has a useful auto-aim function that's great for beginning players, but it isn't without its problems. Zombies are best killed with shots to the head, but the auto-aim locks your cursor on a zombie's chest, forcing you to fight with the targeting reticle to move it up for a headshot. Considering that the auto-aim is best suited for beginners, it should probably have been designed to lock on to a zombie's head in the first place.
The game's Xbox Live support is what makes it stand out. The game can be played with up to 16 players online, and it comes with all the standard Xbox Live player-matching bells and whistles. It also does a very nice job with statistics, keeping track of weekly, monthly, and overall stats in lots of different categories, from points scored and kills to the amount of time you've spent playing as each of the multiplayer mode's four character classes.
While you'd expect a straight-up deathmatch mode from a first-person shooter with the id Software seal of approval, all of Return to Castle Wolfenstein's multiplayer modes are team-based. You can play a plain old team deathmatch game, but the real thrill of multiplayer is found in the objective-based maps. Each map has its own set of objectives, from destroying an Axis submarine to stealing Allied war documents and getting them to a radio for transmission. This means that, depending on the map, one team will be on the offensive while another defends, much like in Unreal Tournament's popular assault game type. This sort of objective-based gameplay requires some pretty refined teamwork, which makes it a natural for Xbox Live and its nicely implemented voice-chat features.
- Player Reviews: 54
- Game Universe:
- Wolfenstein 3D (GBA, MAC, PC, 3DO, JAG, SNES, MOBILE, X360, PS3, ARCH, WEB, PC98),
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein (MAC, PC),
- Beyond Castle Wolfenstein (C64, APL2, A800, PC),
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Operation Resurrection (PS2),
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War (XBOX),
- Castle Wolfenstein (C64, APL2, PC, A800),
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (PC, MAC, UNIX),
- Wolfenstein: The New Order (X360, PS3, PC, PS4, XONE)
- Offline Modes:
Cooperative, Team Oriented
- Online Modes:
Cooperative, Team Oriented
- Number of Players: