Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War
Tides of War offers Xbox gamers a tantalising FPS experience - but how does it shape up to the competition? Our review tells all.
By Rick Larson
Wolfenstein: Tides of War has finally reached Xbox, but it isn't the most unique game out there. Still, there's plenty of FPS goodness to keep you addicted, so let's take a closer look.
Return to Castle Wolfenstein starts out showing an amazing battle between a wizard and an immortal death knight. The wizard is unable to kill his foe, so he seals him in a tomb deep in the ground. As time passes, the event is forgotten - but the Nazis have great interest in the immortal death knight, believing he's the key to an unstoppable army. The Allies have to find out what the Nazis are after, leading you to take control of the protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz, sent out to discover the Nazis' evil plans.
The gameplay is the driving force behind the Wolfenstein formula. Every button on the controller has an action assigned to it, which at first seems overwhelming, but starts to feel natural in no time. It doesn't offer the best control layout ever - but it's comfortable enough to keep your mind on the game and not the controller.
As with every FPS, shooting like crazy is the order of the day. There are a few puzzles, but most of them revolve around finding bonus treasures that aren't essential to your progress. Throughout the game you will fight Nazis, zombies, and freakish monsters. It would have been nice to see something a little more fresh - these enemies become a little over used, especially the zombies. The AI is decent generally, but enemies act a bit dumb at times.
Most of the graphics look nice in the game, although nothing stands out as amazing. Character models are nicely done, though some enemies are just too bland. The backgrounds have plenty of variety and offer fitting settings, but are also relatively plain. Some objects are destructible, but this feature is very limited. There are no lighting or shadow effects, but this is less noticeable in the heat of battle.
The sound is a bit suspect - voice acting is relatively good, but sound effects and background music could have used some tuning. Much of the background music stays nearly identical throughout the levels and adds very little to the overall game. The sound effects are also rather weak. Explosions and gunshots often just don't sound right. When a zombie is blown up, they make the exact same sound as when they burst out from the ground - often you'll think there's another zombie bursting from the wall about to attack you, when nothing's really there.
When it comes down to it, RTCW is a fun FPS experience. It's better than many shooters on the market, but still can't touch big games like Halo. RTCW does offer something that Halo doesn't though: Live capability. Many consider this one of the best Live experiences around right now. It offers four different classes to choose from, each boasting strengths and weaknesses, which adds a lot to the gameplay online.
Gamers without Live are kind of left in the dust as far as multiplayer goes. There is a co-operative option, but you can't save your progress which is a huge annoyance. To play against another person, you need to have two or more Xboxes and a system link, which isn't too convenient.
Ultimately, even with the multiplayer shortcomings, the single player campaign is a fun experience.