First Level: Wolfenstein

The Schutzstaffel. If you’re creating a game, making a movie or writing a book with any kind of reference to the Second World War, Nazi Germany’s immensely powerful million-strong agency certainly gives you plenty to play with, and this Raven-developed first person shooter from Activision certainly makes use of the material.  Whilst First Level isn’t the place to talk about racist selection and the torture of twelve million people, it does give Wolfenstein a little bit of grounding before it goes completely head over heels into the bizarre.

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Wolfenstein is set in 1943, at the height of the Second World War.  Nazi Germany has strongholds in Europe and the SS, armed with a single-minded focus on the occult (and in particular, the Black Sun) appear set to win the war. Enter Nathan Drake’s lookalike winner, B.J. Blazkowicz, armed with nothing but his fists (at least at first) and a strange metallic device capable of getting him out of even the stickiest situations.  Also rather handy is “The Veil”, a mysterious but nicely implemented gameplay mechanic which we’ll cover in the full review later.

Raven’s technical grasp of id Tech 4 (Doom 3, Quake 4) might have pushed the boundaries a little (better shadows, some nice special effects) id’s once impressive engine is starting to show its age.  Alongside six-month old titles like Killzone 2 Wolfenstein’s low resolution textures and generally quite flat lighting effects might mean that the game can shift at it’s own pace and throw lots of cannon fodder your way but anyone looking for a demonstration of their console’s prowess should possibly look elsewhere.

That’s not to say this is a bad looking game, the section’s I’ve played through so far are competent enough and as readers of TheSixthAxis should know, we’re not all about the graphics here – the gameplay is superbly polished and the gunplay is swift and decisive with every bullet making a lasting impression.  The action is quick and flowing, the pacing seems spot on so far and the difficulty curve bang on, sure, the enemy AI isn’t going to win awards but remember, Wolfenstein has a lot more to throw at you than just Nazi soldiers…

Previous First Levels:

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