Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War Review

Computer gamers have been familiar with Castle Wolfenstein games for quite some time now.  The venerable series of games that pit a lone American soldier against hordes of Nazis and their supernatural minions can actually be credited with launching the first person shooter genre.  Console gamers now finally get their chance to stop the occult arm of the nazi war machine in its tracks in Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War (RCW).

In RCW you are B.J. Blazkowicz, an American soldier working for the OSA.  Your latest mission takes you behind enemy lines in North Africa to investigate the Nazi's keen and mysterious interest in local archeological sites.  Initially your mission will appear to be pretty standard as you make your way through the tight quarters and alleyways of a North African city while collecting intelligence documents and killing any Nazi soldiers that get in your way.  Before too long, though, you'll find yourself entering ancient tombs and catacombs ... and battling the horrors that the Nazis have dug up.  From there you will have to fight both Nazis and their zombie hordes in Castle Wolfenstein itself and other locations in the heart of Germany.  If you've played the PC version of the game, the locations after Egypt will be familiar to you.

The game gives you the opportunity to wield a variety of weapons, from combat knives to flamethrowers and panzerfausts.  There are also high-powered fanciful weapons which include a tesla gun that fires electrical charges and a chaingun that fires armor-piercing rounds.  Like most shooters you must scavenge for your ammo and search for medkits to restore your health, but RCW keeps things challenging by making them harder to come by than in most first person shooters.  If you fire your weapons indiscriminately you will run yourself out of ammo - and that's if you even survive charging forward with guns blazing against the game's computer-controlled enemies.

The AI in RCW is quite competent and your enemies will behave realistically.  The computer knows how to use cover and vary its attacks in order to keep you on guard and on your toes.  If you replay the levels you'll find the enemies in the same locations, but that doesn't mean that the battles will play out in the same way.  The AI's attacks are not scripted and it shows a good degree of situational awareness.  If it takes you a bit longer to kill an enemy and you make a lot more noise with your shooting, you can be sure that nearby enemies will come running to investigate.  Overall, the single player campaign provides enough challenge wrapped in a pretty original storyline to make RCW one of the better console shooters available.