Raven, id and Activision showed off Wolfenstein at a pre-New York Comic Con event. While I wasn't allowed to get my hands on the game, Peter Sokal, community manager for id, was on the sticks to provide the guided tour. Unsurprisingly, Sokal was mum on the game's release, “It’ll ship when it’s done. I know, we should probably trademark that line and have other developers pay us five bucks every time they use it.”
The game once again pits you as American Army ranger BJ Blazkowicz against a whole passel of Nazis for some first-person shooter mayhem. This time around, major plot elements of sci-fi and occult black magic keep this game from reminding you of Call of Duty: World at War. “When you take into account the science fiction and the mysticism, calling Wolfenstein a good WWII game is like calling the original Indiana Jones a great WWII movie.”
As BJ, you’re tasked with winning an arms race of sorts. The Nazis are developing new weapons by tapping into the occult powers of the Black Sun, a semi-alternate universe that BJ himself can access through a special amulet. The developers decided to give BJ a little help this time, providing non-player characters to aid in the battles and help push the story.
You start the game with a group of resistance fighters called the Kreissau Circle, a group of German resistance fighters from the city of Eisenstadt. Everything looks pretty typical at first. You blow away Nazis with an MP-40 submachine gun and a Kar-98 rifle. Blowing up a train, supposedly holding a Nazi weapons cache, releases a massive amount of occult energy and things get weird all of a sudden. Furniture, debris and men start floating in mid air, which gives you the opportunity for the first hovering-Nazi-killing-spree in the history of gaming.
In the second (and last) level Sokal displayed, BJ fights his way through a churchyard. The mystic side of the game comes more heavily into play. You can access the powers of the Black Sun by entering The Veil. While in Veil-mode, BJ has heightened perceptions, the ability to slow down time, and even the ability to walk and shoot through certain walls. The Veil also shows you the weak points on upgraded enemies, like the first occult particle cannon-wielding Nazi supersoldier, who inconsequentially, reminded me of a extremely militant Ghostbuster with a leather fetish.
A weapons upgrade system allows you to purchase items such as extended clips and silencers. You can also pick up new sci-fi weapons, like the Nazi particle cannon, after killing enemies. “You never have to lose weapons or manage your arsenal. We didn’t want to limit the player that way,” says Sokal, “Especially since they get to purchase upgrades.”
The game was running pretty smoothly, though Sokal referred to the game as a pre-Alpha build (which he demoed on the Xbox 360). But the enemy AI looked tight as Nazi’s fanned out, found cover and brought the pain to BJ and his crew of friendly Krauts.
As for the million-dollar question I know you’re wondering about, the answer is nein. “We all love Mecha-Hitler, but he didn’t fit in the storyline of this game and we didn’t want to shoehorn him in there.” Either way, Wolfenstein looks like it’s paving a road to yet another sequel. Maybe next time you can take the fury directly to the Fuhrer.