Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox
Publisher
Activision
Developer
Nerve Software
Genre
FPS
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence, Blood and Gore
 
Grade
The Good

• Large detailed areas
• Great online and multiplayer
• Sharp audio package

The Bad

• Stealth and auto-aim aren't great
• Single player mode has very little replayability

 
Grade
B+

History books never made a big deal about it, but since so many videogames (and comics) seem to believe that Hitler and his SS were interested in the occult, it must be true. In Return to Castle Wolfenstein, you play as B.J. Blazkowicz, an American soldier during World War 2, whose mission is to find out and destroy Heimlich Himmler's occult project. Initially, you'll be mowing down legions of Nazis and their hired help, but once the story gets under way, you'll find yourself fighting all sorts of monsters and undead creatures.

Set up in levels, the game drops you into the action with objectives that you need to complete before leaving the area and moving onto the next area. At it's heart, RTCW:TOW is your standard corridor shooter, where the player will start at one point and shoot their way to the end, throwing the needed switches or killing enough enemies to unlock the next door. If you come across a locked door during a mission, it's sure that you haven't killed enough enemies or that a switch still needs to be found. There are some stealth elements, like being able to sneak up and stab enemies from behind and being able to look around corners, thrown in to break up the action, but you'll find your means through the game is based largely on your ability to dodge enemy fire while mowing them down. Also added to the basic formula are hidden areas and treasures sprinkled throughout each level. Finding and collecting them all will reward you with new weapons to begin the next level.

At your disposal are a wide range of WWII-era weapons, including Lugers, Mausers, Grenades and Tommy Guns. While your targeting reticule will turn red when you have someone in your sights, you'll find that head-shots take out your human foes faster. Non-human enemies, on the other hand, require more brutal means of disposal and the further into the game you get, the more challenging the battles get. The enemy A.I. can be both good an bad at times. There are times when the enemies will run for cover and can provide a challenge, and then there are times when they just run into the line of fire. Throw in the fact that no matter how many times you play through, the enemies are located in the same spots, which tends to take the replayability out of the single player campaign.

While the single player campaign is pretty cut and dried, where RTCW:TOW really shines is both in the multiplayer and the online play. The multiplayer is largely focused on team play, whether it be co-op or team missions, where each of the players have a different role that's essential in the long run. Each of the classes adds their own part to the team, whether it be as demolitions, standard muscle or the ability to drop ammo or heal your team.

The graphics engine for RTCW:TOW delivers large areas with a good bit of detail. You'll be impressed with how large each of the locations in the game are. A lot of texture work has gone into the game to make it look convincing. The lighting is good, but after seeing what can be done in Splinter Cell, I was hoping for something a little more dramatic, which would have fit the concept of the game well. The character models, while a little blocky, show a good bit of detail. You can tell some effort has gone into researching the uniforms and weapons of the era.

The voice-acting is pretty sharp, even if the Germans all speak poorly accented English. Sneaking up to enemies will give you an opportunity to listen in on well-scripted conversations, some pertinent to the story, while others are just there to add flavor. Both the music and sound effects do their part to add to the theme and ambiance of the game.

To be honest, their are a few things that really detract from the single player campaign. Most notably, the stealth portion is rather weak in that you have to find enemies that are standing with their back to you for long periods of time. Once you fire a bullet, expect the rest of the enemies in the area to be aware of you, thereby removing many opportunities for stealth kills. Also, the auto-targeting automatically aims at enemies' torsos, which makes aiming at their heads for quick kills all the more challenging.

While the single player part of the game is good, even if a little standard in execution, if you have Xbox Live or play with friends a lot, Return to Castle Wolfenstein is a fine purchase. In fact, if you want something to spend your time online with, this game is a prime candidate for your attention and time.

- - Vane

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