It’s not very often you find a game that paved the way for so many other titles to come along. This is exactly what Wolfenstein 3D did for the FPS genre. This game started the road for FPS that led the genre to where it is now. Now after Return to Castle Wolfenstein was released for the PC two years ago with such great results, Activision has brought this series to the Xbox and wouldn’t you know it, the series is still alive and kicking.
There are really two different types of first person shooters that are made. There are one that are story based and then there are those just solely based on being a shooter. RTCW is a game based on a story that is not realistic at all but more of a fantasy setting that will transpire throughout the game. The story is quite complex and doesn’t have a huge overall effect on the game. Basically throughout the game you will be fighting dead and living Nazis who will be striving for world domination.
Return to Castle Wolfenstein is a game that hosts quite a few Gameplay modes to choose from. Some of these modes include basically the campaign mode and the multiplayer modes. The Xbox version of Return to Castle Wolfenstein hosts seven extra missions added from the PC version. And not only can you play the game by yourself you can also go through the game in a co-op mode.
One of the biggest challenge for developers these days with FPS are the computer AI. You will find that in a lot of shooters for the computer will stand there like targets or shoot randomly in the air. In RTCW the computer AI is solid, you actually have people shooting back at you and they don’t always go guns blazing but more often then not they are quite intelligent. Overall although nothing revolutionary the computer AI is solid which gives you a much better reason to play through the single player mode.
The campaign mode has the story but it isn’t overly effective because they don’t seem to use the story to there advantage like we have found in other games (Halo). The game isn’t overly difficult but there will be some frustration throughout the single player mode, and this is mainly due to sloppy level design. There will be times in the campaign mode where you just won’t be able to figure out where to go. Luckily this only happens a few times but it is quite disappointing it does have a few slip ups. Overall the campaign mode gets the job done there isn’t much to it but a lot of fun first person shooter action. Unfortunately the campaign mode only took me around twelve hours to complete so most will probably complete it in a little less then that.
If you heard anything about Return to Castle Wolfenstein for the PC you probably didn’t hear much about the single player mode but more about the multiplayer portion of the game. And like in the PC version the biggest draw for RTCW is the multiplayer portions of the game, and for good reasons. The game supports not only system link capabilities but also Xbox Live support. And now finally I can tell you about a game that uses the Xbox Live capabilities and does an excellent job of it.
During your online play you can get games going with up to sixteen people. What is interesting about RTCW is that it doesn’t follow the normal path of First Person Shooters. Instead of having the normal Deathmatch and Capture the Flag modes you get more variety. In RTCW you have the options of playing an Objective, Elimination, Checkpoint, and Stopwatch. But before you can get into the game you have to choose a side (Either the Axis or Allies). Surprisingly all the modes are team based game which is why it works so well with the Xbox Live and mainly the voice communication. Each team is made up of four different classes from just regular infantry, to being a medic, as well as lieutenant and engineer. Basically each group has there own unique roll to the team and in order to accomplish your objectives.
It’s hard to stress enough how well the multiplayer portion of the game works. There is very minimal lag and the games can get extremely heated. The maps are extremely large and there are quite a few of them. So there is a bit of a learning curve when trying to learn new maps. But once you do get the hang of the maps you really are rewarded with the best Xbox Live game to date.
Here is a game that does a great job of taking 5.1 Surround Sound Support and making it work very nicely. The sound effects were perfectly suited for Surround Sound and it is great to hear the game blasting out of your speakers. The sound effects are impressive but it still would have been nice to have had the custom soundtrack available for those who want to listen to some tunes while playing through the game.
There are some first person shooters that don’t pay much attention to the games graphics and then there are the FPS that are just graphical gems. In Return to Castle Wolfenstein you see a combination of both. A lot of things in RTCW are very nicely done, although you may feel that the graphics are a bit outdated in some minor areas.
You will find that in the single and multiplayer modes one thing stays constant and that is the environments which were quite impressive. Each environment has its own unique look that will impress most of us. Probably one of the more notable environments would be the Beach Invasion environment which represents the Battle of Normandy. And although we have seen that before in Medal of Honor it was just an amazing level to play and my personal favorite.
Probably the more disappointing portion of the game would have to be the characters. The character models just aren’t what you would expect to see in a game such as this. The character models seem pretty square and really aren’t very impressive. Another minor problem is that the graphical effect, when killing an enemy looks pretty fake and choppy. It is hard to really tell if you killed the enemy or you missed him.
Overall the graphics of RTCW are pretty impressive. Besides the minor character flaws the game is a solid looking title that does a nice job of keeping things running at a smooth rate.
I found that although there was a solid single player mode the fun was all in the Live experience. What is great about RTCW was that it seems like every game you get into is a great one. They all seem to be very intense struggles where both sides were fighting hard to complete the objectives. Not only is the Live support great but the System Link is another great addition to the game. RTCW is a shooter that remains at a constant fun rating throughout the game, and that’s been hard to come by of late.
Finally after six months of sub par Live titles I can finally hands down recommend a Live game without any doubts. If you are looking for shooter to add to your collection look no further then Return to Castle Wolfenstein.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.