[GDC09] Games On Net previews Wolfenstein http://games.on.net/article/5452/Games_On_Net_previews_Wolfenstein When gamers learned they were being given another chance to step into the shoes of William "B.J." Blazkowicz, way back at QuakeCon 2007, there were some mixed responses. The 1992 release of Wolfenstein 3D changed the landscape of gaming forever, heralding the arrival of the FPS genre, with the 2001 sequel Return to Castle Wolfenstein considered the grandfather of modern multiplayer FPS - could its return live up to the hype? Two years later (and seventeen years after the original release), id Software are still hard at work on the new rendition, simply called Wolfenstein - and while we were at GDC in San Francisco, we had a chance to sit down with their Community Manager, Peter Sokal, check out a decent dose of gameplay and ask a few questions. To get it out of the way, I must admit that Peter sadly remained tight-lipped on anything to do with multiplayer - merely mentioning that "all of what you love" will be included, plus "a bit". To know more, we'll have to wait for the game's release (which, of course, will happen in true id fashion, "when it's ready"). Stepping away from the gaming cliches for a moment (a difficult task when the game is filled with supernatural Nazis), Peter was pleased to tell us that the game is currently in development for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC, despite earlier rumours to the contrary. Even better, all three versions are being developed at the same time, but each one is stand-alone, meaning the PC version is not merely a port of the console copy, being designed from the ground up for the home computer platform. We were treated to a demonstration of the Xbox 360 version, and we watched as BJ arrived in a train station, which just happens to be crawling with Nazis. The fun begins straight away, with bullets, debris and body parts flying in all directions (showing off the Havok physics action), as Peter explained: "Wolfenstein has always been about fast-paced first-person shooter action, with this dark science/occult supernatural feel to it - it's been that way from the beginning, so when we wanted to make this game, we wanted to keep all of that intact." To that end, they've returned to an old friendship, working with Raven Software (best known for classics Heretic and Hexen, and recently hard at work on X-Men Origins: Wolverine). Peter explained that all the staples of the Wolfenstein franchise - unexpected things lurking around corners, fast-paced first-person combat, treasure hunting - they're all still intact this time around, plus some new things designed to "ratchet up" what's going on. And yes, there's still plenty of Nazis there for you to dispose of. So - how does it tie in with the earlier titles? Essentially, it's a direct sequel to Return to Castle Wolfenstein, with Peter going into some detail on the storyline: "In Return to Castle Wolfenstein, BJ Blazkowicz takes down the Heinrich, which was resurrected by the SS Paranormal Division. and in this game, it takes place right after those events. BJ is on a mission, and comes across this amulet, and it's got these mysterious powers. He's not sure what it is, so he takes it back to his superiors at the Office of Secret Actions, and their scientists start to analyse it. They see that there are these crystals in the amulet that come from one city on earth - Eisenstadt, a fictional city in Germany that we have created for the game. Basically, they tell him to go into Eisenstadt, find out what the Nazis are up to, and put a stop to that."This time around, BJ is not alone, with the introduction of three allied factions who are on your side. He's joined by the Kreisau Circle, a civilian resistance inspired by real-world WWII German dissidents, many of whom were aristocrats or members of the gentry - in the game, they help lead BJ to where he needs to be, and can be useful in combat. Then there's the Golden Dawn (also based on a real-world faction), who have discovered that the Nazis have also uncovered an amulet and the power of the Veil, and can help you with supernatural matters. Finally, there's the Black Market, which you can use to upgrade weapons, using treasure, gold and other valuables as currency (if you buy something you don't need, you can sell the upgrade back to the Black Market and go on your way). But what about this whole Veil thing? If you've seen any of the screenshots or trailers, you'll have noticed the green glowy stuff that features heavily. That's the Veil, a bridge to the Black Sun energy uncovered by the Nazis. Put simply, it's a parallel dimension that you can access through the amulet BJ has found. As the game progresses, BJ must learn about how to use the Veil, and the special skills that come with it, by unlocking various new Veil powers (such as the one demonstrated for us - Mire - which adds a sort of bullet-time effect, useful in all sorts of situations). Secret areas of the game will also feature hidden tomes, which are used to upgrade your powers. Pretty straight-forward stuff, but remember of course that the Nazis have their own amulet too, and are working on figuring theirs out as well, with various enemies (such as the Despoiled shown above) able to use its powers against you. Obviously, while id are promising us more of the same, a lot of things have changed. A major change is the introduction of iron sights, adding more accuracy in combat. Another one, which will have some interesting impacts on gameplay is that you can now not fire while sprinting (you'll see your gun cross your chest - has someone been playing a bit of Call of Duty?). Something that is the same is that Wolfenstein is running a heavily-modified id Tech 4 engine (think Doom 3 or Quake 4), with some swanky Havok physics thrown in. It certainly looks pretty by itself, but a side-by-side comparison with a game running a more recent Unreal engine may show up its faults. I don't want to rain on id's parade, Wolfenstein looks like it could be a great game - but whether or not it'll be a great Wolfenstein game is yet to be seen. With the introduction of the Veil, and the apparent removal of many of the monsters we remember fondly from the originals, let's hope this new version doesn't stray too far from its roots - and, above all, let's hope it remains as fun as ever!