What’s great? Wolfenstein is. We were shown the Raven shooter at GDC and, without a doubt, it was one of the coolest games we saw during the entire conference.
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First off, BJ is back, and if you thought that things would be smooth sailing for him since his last visit to Castle Wolfenstein, think again.
The Nazis are up to their old occult tricks again, trying to win world domination using supernatural forces. This time, they may just have a shot: they’ve discovered the Veil.
The Veil is this huge supernatural energy thing they’re trying to harness.
As it’s a Wolfenstein game you get to use the Nazis’ own supernatural weapons against them in an effort to prevent the Veil going full-blown. All weapons in the game, even the supernatural ones, are upgradable via the Black Market.
One is a massive gun that shoots laser-like Veil energy. About the size of a rotary cannon, this thing annihilates all in its path. It’s amazing.
Before we get into all of that, lets step back a bit.
Return to Return to Castle Wolfenstein
First off, the game takes up where Return to Castle Wolfenstein left off, with BJ freshly exhausted from his fight with the final boss. This time around though, he must interact with three different factions: the Resistance, the Golden Dawn Scholars, and the Black Market.
The Resistance help lead BJ to places he needs to go, and give helpful cover fire. The Golden Dawn has discovered that the Nazis have acquired an amulet that allows them to harness the power of the Veil — which you will eventually use against them.
The Black Market; well, that’s where you go to upgrade weapons. Currency for upgrades is provided in treasure, gold and other valuables.
Here is where Wolfenstein becomes the non-traditional WWII shooter.
Once BJ acquires the amulet, he will be able to harness the power of the Veil to fight back against the Nazis. The power inside the amulet depletes – via an on-screen icon – but power stations along the way allow you to charge it back up.
The amulet allows you to see hidden enemies. This is called Veil Vision, and turning it on shows secreted Nazis and adds a slight bullet time effect.
This is just one of the many Veil powers you earn, and each one is also upgradable. If you find you are running out of currency to upgrade your powers and weapons, each level is replayable. Veil Vision becomes handy in this respect as well, allowing you to see hidden items.
The Veil can also give you hints as to where enemies are weakest. As you progress, so do your enemies, and they become aware you have the amulet. As they get tougher, they can cause the Veil to malfunction.
The game’s AI also knows when you’re out of ammo, knows when to flank you, and can think for itself in terms of how best to stop you. You’ll need to think on your feet.
During the demo we were taken through a battle-beaten village, a church and an archeological dig site. BJ can go in and out of almost all buildings in the game, and enemies are around almost every corner.
The dig site, at the end of the demo, showed an artifact the Nazis had dug up. We were not told exactly what it was, but it looked a lot like a broken Stargate.
When the battle inside commenced, BJ blew the thing up with the super Veil gun mentioned earlier, and this whole bunch of Veil energy came out and basically annihilated all but one Nazi in the room.
Said Nazi then soaked up the Veil and turned into a creature called the Despoiled. Looked like a mean super-zombie with blue Veil energy glowing from holes in his body. We’re not sure what else happened with him, because the demo ended there. “Boss battle” sounds about right.
Raven was pretty nondescript when it came to giving us a release date, especially since the demo we watched was the pre-beta build, and wouldn’t tell us if this Wolfenstein contained any more dominatrix Nazi women — so there’s still hope yet.
All in all, Wolfenstein looks totally badass. Let’s hope it lives up to the awesomeness of the series as a whole.