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Nerve / Gray Matter / id



M (Mature)



Q2 2003



- The Wolfenstein goodness returns
- Additional material over the PC version
- Two-player co-op mode can be a hoot
- Standard shooter controls make it easy to get into
- Full Xbox Live support



- I can’t pick up chairs?
- What about a save anywhere feature?
- AI can be a super-soldier or Sergeant Bilco
- Locked doors get on my nerves



Review: Return to Castle Wolfenstein (PC)

Review: MechAssault (XB)

Review: TimeSplitters 2 (XB)



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Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War

Score: 8.7 / 10


return to castle wolfenstein tides of war xbox review        return to castle wolfenstein tides of war xbox review


Besides having a really long name, Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War (ToW) has a pedigree that most games can only dream of.

ToW can be traced all the way back to 1983 (Castle Wolfenstein) then through the rag tag group at a small company called id Software in 1992 (Wolfenstein 3D). The two games only have similar subject matter – you’re trapped in a Nazi castle and it’s your goal to escape, killing Nazi’s along the way – but their approach was quite different. ToW sticks to the path laid down by id all those years ago with first-person action and an unending stream of Nazi’s.

You play as B.J. Blazkowicz, sent to investigate a Nazi archaeological dig in Northern Africa with another agent of the OSA (Office of Secret Actions). This portion of the




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game is completely new. In the PC version, you simply began in Castle Wolfenstein. The new section fills in the background details of why and how B.J. ended up at the castle. The rest of the game is nearly identical to the PC version – blast Nazi’s, stop a paranormal plot, take on a horde of half-dead “things”, uncover hidden treasure, navigate and escape the huge castle,


save the world, etc. – with a few exceptions.

It’s probably nit picking, but you can’t pick up chairs for added cover (as is possible in the PC version). This always proved handy when armor was in short supply. My other gripe is the checkpoint save system – mostly because the PC version sported a “save anywhere” setup. Max Payne had it, why not ToW? In places I would slough through areas thick with enemies before reaching the next checkpoint, which is fine when I don’t have to replay the same friggin’ areas over and over because I made a misstep very close to the checkpoint. Some of this can be attributed to the difficulty levels (I recommend "Bring It On!"), which make a drastic difference in terms of challenge even though most of the big events are completely scripted and don’t rely on the enemy AI, which scrambles all over the place in terms of intelligence.

The AI is hit and miss; it's not as consistent as one might like. Sometimes they’ll behave believably (i.e. running for cover) and other times they’ll suddenly become super-soldiers who can spot you from a mile out. Some of this super-soldiering can be mitigated by the fact you can go through the single-player game in a split-screen co-op mode. (Which is a stroke of genius!) And a big roster of weapons like grenades, Lugers, Muasers, MP-40s, can make things easier too.


return to castle wolfenstein tides of war xbox review         return to castle wolfenstein tides of war xbox review

Nothing bad can be said about control. Nerve did a great job converting the PC layout to the Xbox. Although a keyboard and mouse are just better for first-person shooters, the controller does a good job. There is some customization available, but the most important is the vertical and horizontal sensitivity. Without this, I would have been pulling out my hair. The default settings are painfully slow. On the easiest difficulty settings this isn't a problem. On the higher difficulty levels (and multiplayer games) it's common to be dead before you even can even turn around during an ambush situation.

Graphics take a backseat to no one. The much-praised and acclaimed flamethrower looks as good as ever (particularly when you’re using it) and the rest of the game is no slouch. The environments look great too but the star is really the weapon effects especially the Tesla gun. You may notice the very occasional instance of graphical stuttering but that's just you being anal retentive. Cutscenes get a special mention too, especially the lip sync.

ToW just wouldn’t be complete without a robust multiplayer mode so it will gladden Live subscribers everywhere that it ToW has some of the best multiplayer available. The balance is near-perfect between the Allies and Nazis making online battles extremely engaging. There are the typical classes available – from engineer to medic – so you can pick a class that suits your play style. While the 16-player limit might seem a handicap at first, it’s more than enough for the maps you’ll play on.

It’s not high on story or heavy stealth elements, but Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War delivers in liberal and visceral amounts of action. And you get what you pay for.

- Omni
(June 15, 2003)


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