Wolfenstein Series: History

July 6, 2019

 

Introduction

 

I have been a fan of these games wince Wolfenstein 3D. This was before Doom or Duke Nukem. The game looked blocky but I did not care. I was in awe of the first game from the first person perspective. Let us go back through a brief history lesson of this game. 

 

History

 

When I was a kid, I was not aware that there were 2 games prior to the Wolfenstein 3D game. So many years later I learned about this and attempted to play them. However they are really hard to come by which is surprising due to the popularity of the games today. I guess there must be licensing issues. 

 

For those that are not familiar with the game. Most of the games take place during World War II. You play the character of BJ Blazkowicz who is a super soldier. You are determined to end the regime of the Third Reich. In the laster games you play as the same character but you are i an alternate universe of what would have happened of the Nazi's would have won World War II. Different take on an old enemy.

 

Castle Wolfenstein (1981)

 

This game was a very early 1980's game that was released on a few systems. It was available at the time on Apple II, MS-DOS, Atari 8-bit and who can forget the Commodore 64. How times have changed as the game was released on the Apple II first and then it was released  to other systems. 

 

As you would expect with these old games, there is not much of a plot. It is more of a search and stealth game than anything else. You are set in World War II and you are trying to escape with certain war plans. Of course you have to do this and try to stay alive which is not always easy. Unlike the  perspective today, this game had a Top-Down view (2D). 

 

From what I have seen and heard, it would seem that this game was not as violent as later iterations. Your goal was trying to sneak more than to kill. The later games are just shooting fests. 

 

As you will see below the graphics are very basic but it did offer some voices in the game. This was unique for the time. Although I can never make out what they really say it was a nice touch back then. It seems to have the same feel as Venture on the ColecoVision. 

 

Castle Wolfenstein - Sample Gameplay

Beyond Castle Wolfenstein (1984)

 

This was the sequel to the 1981 hit Castle Wolfenstein. This was a game made for the Apple II and Commodore 64 but was ported later MS-DOS and Atari 8-Bit. I guess this was the 1984 version of a timed exclusive. 

 

The game itself seems to be very similar. Although it was released almost 3 years after the first one, there was not much in terms of graphical improvements. Audio was also kind of similar. I would have expected something a little more advanced but then again this was the early 80's. They just wanted to make a sequel to the first game. 

 

The idea for this game is very similar. It is an action stealth game where you try to get through levels. This time you are trying to find Hitler's secret bunker.

 

Beyond Castle Wolfenstein - Sample Gameplay

 Wolfenstein 3D (1992)

 

This is where my memories start with this franchise. This was my first experience with a first person shooter. The game was developed by id Software. At this point id Software was only known for their platformer Commander Keen. They were also behind such PC game classics as Quake and Doom. It was created for numerous platforms including both PC and consoles. I played this mostly on my IBM Compatible 386.  

 

This is the first time that you are introduced to William "B.J." Blazkowicz. You escape from a prison facility and then try to get to the Final Boss. In terms of plot, that is pretty much it. 

 

The graphics were vastly improved from previous games and this time you can have multiple weapons at your disposal. This can range from knives to machine guns. The sound was also improved. Then again this was released almost 10 years after Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, so this is not really surprising. This time you also have a health meter that lets you know if you have been hot or not and have to pick up health. You also collected treasure found around the famous Castle Wolfenstein. This gave you points. 

 

This was also the first game where I experienced secrets. While roaming the different levels you can discover secrets and get more ammo or treasure. This added an element of discovery to the game. This encouraged players to go and explore areas where normally they would have just walked by first. 

 

Wolfenstein 3D - Sample Gameplay

 

Spear of Destiny (1992)

 

I cannot really talk about this game as I do not think that I have played it. This game takes place before Wolfenstein 3D. You play once again BJ Blazkowicz. This time you are after the Spear of Destiny as this was stolen by the Nazi's from Versailles. 

 

The look and feel is very similar to Wolfenstein 3D. Today this would have probably been a DLC but back then it was a new game. 

 

Spear of Destiny - Sample Gameplay

Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001)

 

I remember buying this game for my original XBOX. It was also available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS and Playstation 2. This time the game was published by Activision. Although id Software did not take part in most of the project, they oversaw it and received credit as Executive Producers. This was kind of a reboot. Now we are getting closer to the new versions of Wolfenstein. The story is deeper and of course the game received a fresh coat of paint. 

 

Although the story seemed to be more in depth, I remember thinking this was not a real Wolfenstein game as there were ghouls and creatures at some point. This is due to experiments that the Nazi's have conducted on certain humans. 

 

This was the first Wolfenstein to have a multiplayer component. Although, back then I did not have XBOX Live Gold, so I could not really play it. There were a few different modes to choose from. Objective, which provides you with some objective and you have a limited amount of time to complete the task. Then you have Checkpoint which is basically a capture the flag game. 

 

Return to Castle Wolfenstein - Sample Gameplay

Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (2003)

 

This game was supposed to be an expansion pack for the previous game. It did not add to the story but added new content to the multiplayer. There is nothing more to say really. 

 

Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory - Sample Gameplay

 

Wolfenstein RPG (2008)

 

This game got favourable reviews upon its release. It was released on iOS (mobile). There were similar games to this as in Doom RPG and Doom II RPG. I would not be able to talk much about it as I never saw the appeal and I am not a huge RPG fan, so this was not for me. Unlike its darker predecessors, this version of Wolfenstein is a little bit lighter in tone. 

 

Wolfenstein RPG - Sample Gameplay

Wolfenstein (2009)

 

This was a game that was released on the 3 major platforms at the time, Playstation 3, XBOX 360 and Windows. I do not think that I ever finished it. May be I would play it again if it was free on XBOX Live Gold at some point. 

 

This is a sequel to Return to Castle Wolfenstein released in 2001. Once again you are in a World War II setting but this time you are really exploring the paranormal side of the Wolfenstein world. There are some crystals that open up the Black Sun and you goal is to get it and destroy it before it is too late. I must admit, as I have said, Although the game play was good, the story fell flat for me. 

 

Maybe after all these years, my perception would have changed. I may stream it at some point. 

 

Wolfenstein - Sample Gameplay

 Wolfenstein: The New Order (2014)

 

Wolfenstein: The New Order came out for multiple systems including the usual suspects, Playstation (3 and 4), XBOX (360 and One) and Windows. I remember when this came out, I was not sure that I would get it since the last game was not that great. I was very hesitant to pick it up. Then I heard the reviews and people liked it so I decided to buy it. 

 

This is a sequel to the 2009 Wolfenstein. This time you re in an alternative timeline where the Nazi's won the Second World War and you play the character of BJ Blazkowicz. You fight through various missions in order to stop the Nazi's from having even more rule. 

 

This was the first Wolfenstein game to really have great combat but also a compelling story. I was really taken in by the quality of this game and I was not expecting that. The visuals for back in 2014 were gorgeous. I remember being in awe at that time. 

 

Although the story is more detailed, the premise is the same. You are someone that kills Nazi's until you defeat the end boss. I will not bore you with the details of the plot as I could write a few books. :)

 

Wolfenstein: The New Order - Sample Gameplay

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

 

This game is a standalone expansion pack for Wolfenstein: The New Order. The gameplay is more of the same as the above. However this time it is prequel to the last game. You play BJ Blazkowicz again as you try to discover the compound where the Nazi's reside. 

 

I remember this game being fun but a little shorter. I thought that it could have been included with the last game as a flashback moment. In any case it is another strong entry to this franchise. 

 

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood - Sample Gameplay

 

 Bottomline

 

So there you have it. A mini recap of the history of the Wolfenstein games. There have been some good and some bad games but it is one that seems to stand the test of time. From the first to the last game, it spans 36 years. That is nothing to scoff at. 

 

My personal favourites are the new games starting with The New Order. I also enjoyed Wolfenstein 3D a lot back in the day. The weaker entries are the first 2 which I am not sure how much fun those would be today. I never really played them and I do not have any desire to do so as well. 

 

I think the reason why the series that been successful is because it manages to be able to reinvent itself. They went from 2D to 3D. Then they went to more modern type games with the RPG style games and now with the very deep story, I cannot recommend these games enough. 

 

Let me know what you think? Which games did you like in the series?

 

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