Review by majikmonkee75

Reviewed: 05/30/03 | Updated: 05/30/03

A lot is missing from this game...

One of the first “first person shooters” for the PC, Wolfenstein set the stage for future games of the sort by introducing us to the exiting world of gaming through the eyes of the character we were controlling. It was also the first “first person shooter” on the SNES, to my knowledge, and although most elements survived the translation, there are some massive differences between this version and the PC original. If you were a huge fan of the PC version, this version will probably frustrate and confuse you, and you should stick with the original. If you’re a fan of SNES games and are looking for an interesting first person shooter, well, this one might keep you occupied for a while. Here’s my take on it:

Story 6/10

As agent B.J. Blazkowicz, your mission is to infiltrate the enemy forces’ strongholds, kill any enemy soldiers (or creatures) that try to stop you, and make it to the exit in each level. Pretty simple. In the PC version, it was the Nazis you were up against, but it isn’t really clear who you’re fighting in this game. It’s been a long time since I read the instruction manual (or had it for that matter), but I don’t think it says anyway. All visual and dialogue references to the Nazis have been removed from this version. Hitler was one of the bosses in one of the episodes on the PC, but here, he’s been moved to the last stage, had his mustache removed, and been renamed the “Stadtmeister”. I understand that some folks wouldn’t appreciate these references, but for me, it feels like the fighting is kind of aimless when they take a game, change it around, and throw you against generic enemy forces instead of a named enemy like the original. Those of you who played the PC version will probably be thinking of them as the Nazis anyway...the enemies still look the same as before (well...for the most part).

Gameplay 5/10

B.J. seems to have gotten sluggish since his debut on the PC all those years ago. I remember control on the PC being very smooth and fast, but here, it seems like B.J. is walking up to his knees in swamp muck and just woke up with a bad hangover. You slowly, laboriously turn left and right, making aiming very imprecise, which causes you to take frequent cheap hits from enemies you should have been able to get the drop on. The enemy and object sprites are very pixelated and blurry, and often you can’t tell if you’re shooting at an S.S. soldier (oops...or whatever they call them in this version) or a blue vase sitting there minding it’s own business...from a distance, movement is the only way to differentiate enemies from harmless inanimate objects. After a while, you kind of get used to this, just don’t suddenly switch to a game with great graphics, or you’ll go into shock from the transition. Most of the levels mirror the originals in the PC version, but there are also some enormous differences. First of all, anything “gross” from the original, like skeletons hanging in cages, or bloody smears on the floor in rooms has been removed. Unfortunately, they haven’t put anything in it’s place, making for some very dull scenery from time to time. Some enemy types, like the dogs, have been removed from this version, and replaced with enemies that won’t offend anyone to kill, like giant rats. This goes especially for the bosses, where they’ve replaced like three or four of the ones in the original game (who mostly resembled Nazi officers), and replaced them with far out freaks like knights with gattling guns and four armed mutant hulks, so as not to offend any specific group (even though it does still give a bad name to knights. So far no mutants have come forth to protest). The thing you’ll notice the most if you’ve played the original is the lack of blood altogether. B.J. must be using modern “smart weapons” like rubber bullets or something, because after blasting an enemy into oblivion, they simply fall down, perhaps stunned instead of dead. There was no question whether they were dead in the original, as downed enemies would go down as bloody heaps, and the bosses would often literally explode into gory masses when defeated (with a special a special “replay” cam even!). Nintendo has opted to save us from such violence altogether by removing the blood, the gore, and any other elements they have deemed “harmful” or not “politically correct” from this game. What is left is basically just a game with little feeling and very little realism to it. I’m not a psychopath, and I don’t need blood in a game to enjoy it, but there’s definitely a “gaping hole” feeling that comes from playing this game if you’ve played the original, and seeing all of these things missing. Add in the fact that the graphics are much worse than the original, and the control far less responsive, and you’ve definitely sucked a lot of the life right out of this game. Still, it has its charms, and it’s not a complete loss. Just don’t compare it to the PC version, and you might still have a good time with it.

Graphics 5/10

Well, I understand it takes a lot of work to design the sprites in a first person shooter so they look good from a distance as well as right up in your face. There are some serious problems here, though. As I mentioned before, as enemies get further away from you, their graphic quality decreases drastically, to the point where you can’t tell a pot or a tree from an enemy soldier taking pot shots at your arse. You’ll waste more than a couple of your precious bullets firing at decorative junk, while the real enemies are behind you laughing and filling you full of lead. The scenery and walls are kind of bland, and they could have benefited from putting SOMETHING on the banners that used to have Nazi symbols on then instead of just leaving them flat red for this version. They probably couldn’t decide on a replacement that wouldn’t offend someone out there still. I, personally, am offended by the lack of effort in this respect, but that’s just me.

Sound 5/10

Don’t expect too much from the sounds in this game. They sound like all of the characters have pillows strapped to their faces, as the voices are muffled (and in German, so don’t expect to understand them). The sound of opening doors is loud and obnoxious, and the noise when you pick up bonus items can be somewhat annoying, which doesn’t really help matters. The music is okay. It’s upbeat, but very repetitive...it will probably drive you nuts if you get stuck in a level (which you more than likely will). Let’s just say you won’t find yourself looking for the soundtrack to this game on the net any time soon. Not the best, but still, I’ve heard worse.

When all is said and done, this game is playable, but it lacks the fun of the original for the aforementioned reasons. The feeling of intense action and danger just isn’t there, and the whole graphics issue takes a lot out of this game. Part of what we enjoy about first person shooters is the realism, but if you can’t tell what the enemies are until they’re right up in your face, that’s not very realistic. Still, Wolfenstein fans might still find it interesting, especially for the sake of the oddities like the different enemies and a couple of added weapons. If you’re a SNES player looking for a first person shooting game, you’ve only got two choices – Doom or this game. A fairly decent game that suffers from more than a couple flaws.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

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