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08/15/09 03:07 AM
iPhone Game Review: Wolfenstein RPG

iPhone Game Review: Wolfenstein RPG

Wolfenstein RPG is a blend of turn-based RPG and first person shooter set in the backdrop of WWII. You play Sergeant B.J. Blazkowicz, who has been captured by evil Axis forces and is being held prisoner in Castle Wolfenstein. Your mission: escape at all costs, gather intelligence, and destroy any weapons of mass destruction.

When the game starts you are treated to a short cinematic movie and scrolling text explaining the backstory of the game. You are free to tap the screen to skip this if you want. Now you will be at the Main Menu. You have a number of selections available from here. You can either scroll using the wheel on the right or just drag down on the menu itself to see all the choices. Options allows you to alter music and sound effects volumes and select a language.

There is an extensive amount of information under the "Game Help" section that explains the basics of playing the game, using items, and how to play the mini games encountered within Wolfenstein RPG.

I recommend getting straight to the action with "New Game". Normally I like perusing the 'how to play' sections of apps, but this game does an excellent job of explaining how to do things and use items along the way. Select one of three difficulty levels and you'll be shown a cutscene with guards debating on whether they should check on B.J. This sets up your escape and provides you with your first weapon.

From here on out, it's up to you to start exploring and killing bad guys.

The game's interface is really easy to use. You move using the d-pad on the left side of the screen. It is really sensitive, so a brief tap is all you need to take a step forward or back or turn left or right. You can strafe left or right by swiping left or right on the screen.

Most everything else you will need to do will be accessed at the bar on the bottom of the screen. Menu give you access to your inventory and lets you save your current progress or reload your last save point. The heart icon shows your current health and you simply press it to access your health replenishing items. The next icon represents your currently equipped weapon and remaining ammo. Simply tap on it to scroll through your available weapons or press and hold to bring up a grid of all available weapons. On the right is a Map switch. Press it to access a mini map showing the currently explored portions of the level. You are represented as a teeny-tiny triangle and you can use the d-pad while in the mini map to move around.

Wolfenstein RPG is turn-based and this is most important and noticeable during combat. You take turns with any enemies you encounter performing an action until combat is resolved. To shoot or melee attack an opponent, simply tap on the enemy when they are directly in front of you. If they are not, then press your portrait to skip your turn and when the enemy moves in front of you then take your action. Punching and kicking require that an opponent be right next to you. You can only take a single action per turn and this includes firing a weapon or using a health replenishing item; however, turning in place is a free action. If you are surrounded, you can only attack one opponent, and each of your foes can strike you once. This can be deadly so you need to either use the terrain to your advantage or decide which foe should be killed first.

There are lots of items to acquire during the course of the game including treasure, books, and syringes. Syringes play an important role since they provide you with different temporary boosts. Some injections replenish health, some increase melee damage, and another increases all attack damage. Don't squander them as you may need them during boss fights. You will periodically have the opportunity to make your own concoctions using a mixing machine provided you have empty syringes in your inventory.

To pick up an item, you either walk over it or tap on it when it is in front of you. You also tap on bookshelves to loot them of items and on walls to activate secret doors. The game really rewards thorough exploration since you aquire medals for each level if you defeat all foes, find all items, and find all secrets. In addition you earn XP for finding and looting items, as well as for combat, and you will thus level up more quickly.

The graphics are an interesting blend of modern polish and retro style. It gives the whole game a neat appearance that fits with the theme of the game and its style of play. The fire effects are especially well done, and I also liked the cutscene movies.

All of the game's sounds are well rendered and of good quality. This is especially noticeable with a good pair of headphones. The weapons all feel like they have a good amount of 'punch' to them. I also really liked all the ambient background noises; for example, in the outdoor levels there are ambient noises like birds and planes flying overhead that really help set the mood.

-Super easy to use interface and menus
-tongue in cheek humor (just try punching a Hitler portrait)
-RPG like qualities with gaining XP and finding items
-each level has medals to earn for finding all items, secrets, enemies, etc
-wide variety of weapons
-quality sound effects give weapons 'punch'
-very helpful mini map
-9 levels that should take a pretty good number of hours to get through
-detailed stats let you see exactly what you've done in the game

-Some may not like the retro-looking graphics, but I enjoyed them
-when you level up the game auto assigns attributes which de-personalizes the RPG fun
-only one save slot, I wouldn't mind having one or two more slots

Wolfenstein RPG is a very well put together game with loads of polish and content. If you have ever played Castle Wolfenstein 3D or Return to Castle Wolfenstein, this is certainly a game that you can enjoy. If you've been looking for a fun RPG type game that you can easily play for a little bit and come back to when you've got time, this can definitely fit the bill. Just keep in mind that while the perspective is like that of a first person shooter, this is really a turn based adventure game. The controls work perfectly with the iPhone's touch interface and make playing this game second nature. I highly recommend Wolfenstein RPG find a space on your iPhone or iTouch.

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics: -4- retro, but polished
Sound: -4.5- high quality, gives oomph to the weapons
Controls: -5- very easy to use controls
Gameplay: -4.5- blend of FPS perspective with RPG elements = fun

Playing Hints and Tips:
-Destroy everything including the includes the furniture! Many times you'll gain XP and you just might find some treasure behind a portrait or tapestry.
-If you want to get all the medals for a level, you need to be thorough in exploring. Keep an eye out for floor or ground areas that look different from those nearby.
-If you're facing a weak enemy, use punch or kick to conserve bullets.

Game Facts:

Developer: Electronic Arts
Release Date: August 11, 2009 (although iTunes shows May 11, 2009)
Genre: FPS/RPG

Price: $4.99

Buy Game: iTunes App Store

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