Wolfenstein (2009 video game)
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|Director(s)||Eric. C. Biessman|
|Engine||id Tech 4 (heavily modified)
Havok (physics engine)
|Release date(s)||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
|Media/distribution||Optical disc, download|
Wolfenstein is a science fiction-horror first-person shooter video game co-developed by Raven Software, id Software, Pi Studios, and Endrant Studios and published by Activision. It is the sequel to Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and uses the id Tech 4 engine. The game was released in 2009: in North America on August 18, Australia on August 19, and Europe on August 21.
The story is set in the fictional town of Isenstadt, which the Nazis have taken complete control of in order to mine rare Nachtsonne crystals necessary to access the "Black Sun" dimension. As the game progresses, happenings in Isenstadt become stranger (German patrols are replaced by supernatural creatures, etc.). Locations in or nearby include sewers, a tavern, a hospital, a farm, an underground mining facility, a church, the SS headquarters, a dig site and caverns, a cannery, a radio station, a paranormal base, a general's home, a castle, an airfield and a large Zeppelin.
- Agent/Captain B.J. Blazkowicz (Main Article: William "B.J." Blazkowicz): The player character. He has high respect among the three groups due to his fighting abilities, and his previous achievements (during the events of Return to Castle Wolfenstein).
- Caroline Becker: The leader of resistance group the Kreisau Circle. She is unsure about Blazkowicz at first, but learns to trust him after his missions manage to inspire civilians to fight back at the Nazis, increasing recruitment for the Kreisau Circle. She is killed by Hans Grosse toward the end of the game.
- Erik Engle: Caroline Becker's second-in-command. He is a lighthearted fellow and very trusting of Blazkowicz. He takes over as the leader of the Kreisau Circle after Caroline Becker is killed.
- Sergei Kovlov: A young Russian scholar who is a part of the Golden Dawn. He introduces Blazkowicz to the Veil and the Black Sun, teaches him how to use the Thule Medallion and provides useful information about the supernatural enemies.
- Dr. Alexandrov: The leader of the Golden Dawn. He gives Blazkowicz many of the missions, but is later revealed as a turncoat who brought the Golden Dawn for the purpose of translating manuscripts for the Nazis. He is betrayed by the Nazis and shot dead by Hans Grosse.
- Stephan and Anton Kriege: They are brothers who run a black market weapons dealership. Although they both only care about money in the beginning of the game, Stephan starts to break down towards the end, and starts caring about people outside of business, to his brother's dismay. Late in the game, Stephan reveals that he has shot his brother dead for betraying Caroline Becker to the Nazis.
- General Victor Zetta: The Nazi General who brought the SS to Isenstadt in the first place. He is a high-ranking member of the SS Paranormal Division. He appears as an overweight man normally but as an armoured slug-like monster in the Veil, and must be defeated in a boss fight. Characters in the game often remark on his curious behaviour and later speculate on whether Zetta was a human who became a monster through veil exposure, or a veil creature which had disguised itself in Zetta's form. This is never elucidated.
- General Wilhelm Strasse: The Nazi General who is called “Deathshead” serves as Zetta's replacement after he dies and is also the head of the SS Special Projects Division. Deathshead is eager for revenge following the events of Return to Castle Wolfenstein where Blazkowicz ruined his Übersoldat (Super Soldier) project. He is the driving force behind the creation of the Nazi super weapons, and plans on winning the war with Black Sun powered weaponry.
- Hans Grosse: A muscular Nazi who serves as Deathshead's henchman. He is a strong and incredibly well-built man, seen in a cut-scene to take several punches from a civilian in a bar fight before killing him with a single blow. He kills Caroline Becker, and serves as the game's final boss, donning a suit of mechanical armor and wielding twin chainguns (recreating his appearance from Wolfenstein 3D) and another Thule Medallion with the same powers as Blazkowicz's.
In the beginning, a Nazi naval officer and a group of German sailors on board the battleship Tirpitz have been tricked into thinking B.J. Blazkowitz is the general after donning the general's hat, boots, and jacket. After seeing blood dripping from the edge of the jacket, the sailors realize that there's a spy on board who has killed the actual general. As Blazkowitz fights the men on board he's forced to surrender by an officer, who orders him to show him the glowing object hidden in the jacket. He finds a mysterious medallion in the general's jacket and the officer orders the men to kill him, but he accidentally pushed the trigger which projects a shield over him that reflects the bullets back at the men, creating a cosmic energy wave that melts the men and officer. Hijacking a plane from a German airman, he escapes off the exploding Tirpitz and returns back to the OSA headquarters. During a meeting at OSA headquarters, he learns that the medallion needs crystals called Nachtsonne (found only in Isenstadt) to make use of its full power. The Nazis have begun digging for crystals, led by a Nazi general named Victor Zetta. Blazkowicz is sent to Isenstadt, but his cover is blown by an unknown informant. He then meets up with agents from the Kreisau Circle, and with them, makes it to Isenstadt.
In Isenstadt, he meets the brothers Stephan and Anton Kriege, who run the Black Market where Blazkowicz can upgrade all of his weapons and powers. (He pays for upgrades with gold earned from missions or found scattered throughout the game.) He also meets the leader of the Kreisau Circle, a former schoolteacher named Caroline Becker. Becker sends Blazkowicz on a mission into the dig site, where he finds a young Russian named Sergei Kovlov. He also finds an exact copy of the medallion that he found on the Nazi warship, which Kovlov calls the Thule Medallion. Kovlov introduces Blazkowicz to the Golden Dawn, a group of scholars who specialize in the occult, led by Dr. Leonid Alexandrov. The youth also shows Blazkowicz how to use the Thule Medallion. With a crystal contributed by Kovlov, Blazkowicz is able to enter the Veil, a barrier between the real world and a dimension known as the Black Sun. Using the Veil, he manages to escape. As Blazkowicz completes more missions, he gains new weapons and new powers for the Thule Medallion. Eventually, he manages to kill General Zetta, who turns out to be a monster when viewed through the Veil. The Black Market, the Kreisau Circle, and the Golden Dawn then move to a new location in Isenstadt to escape retaliation for Zetta's death.
Shortly after the move, Caroline Becker is captured and held in a nearby castle. Blazkowicz helps the Kreisau Circle stage a rescue mission. He confronts Zetta's replacement, Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse, who is eager for revenge after the events of Return to Castle Wolfenstein. During a struggle, Caroline is killed by Hans Grosse, Deathshead's henchman. Upon Blazkowicz's return to Isenstadt, Stephan Kriege informs him that he has killed his brother for being a mole and betraying both Blazkowicz and Caroline. Blazkowicz then finds out that a Nazi superweapon, powered by Black Sun energy, is about to be fired at the city from a zeppelin. He boards the airship, where he discovers that Dr. Alexandrov is also a mole. Alexandrov's treachery is repaid by an execution at the hand of Hans Grosse. In order to prepare the weapon, Deathshead and Grosse enter the Black Sun through a portal that Nazi scientists had excavated and reassembled. Blazkowicz jumps in after them. In the Black Sun, he encounters Hans Grosse guarding the machine that powers Deathshead's superweapon. Grosse greets him in a mechanical suit outfitted with two chainguns (recreating his earlier appearance in Wolfenstein 3D), and a Thule Medallion identical to Blazkowicz's. Blazkowicz kills Grosse by jamming the Nachtsonne crystals from his medallion into Grosse's. He then destroys the machine, but Deathshead flees through the portal before B.J. can capture him. The explosion takes out both the portal and the zeppelin on the other side, effectively destroying all ways of accessing the Black Sun (incidentally rendering Blazkowicz's Thule Medallion useless as well). In a post-credits cutscene, Deathshead is seen clambering out of the zeppelin wreckage, screaming in frustration.
Wolfenstein uses an improved version of id Software's id Tech 4 video game engine, the technology behind Doom 3 and Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars. The game was developed by Raven Software for Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The modifications to the game engine include depth of field effects, soft shadowing, post-processing effects, Havok physics, as well as the addition of a supernatural realm, called The Veil. While in the Veil the player has access to certain special abilities, such as the power to slow down time, to get around obstacles that exist in the real world, or even to be able to defeat enemies that have an otherwise impenetrable shield (similar to "Spirit Walk" from the previous id Tech 4 title Prey) The multiplayer part of Wolfenstein was developed by Endrant Studios. Wolfenstein is the only recent id Software game not planned to have a Linux port, with the person in charge of Linux ports at id Timothee Besset commenting that "It is unlikely the new Wolfenstein title is going to get a native Linux release. None of it was done in house, and I had no involvement in the project."
On the day of Wolfenstein's release, the first PC patch was released to address several issues with the online multiplayer component. The multiplayer development studio, Endrant Studios, soon laid off some of its workforce after the completion of the development of Wolfenstein's multiplayer.
Motion comics 
Four promotional motion comics, each about 3 minutes long, were released. Each was based on a particular installment in the Wolfenstein series and served as a nostalgic reminder. The first one recreated Wolfenstein 3D's escape from Castle Wolfenstein, the Hans Grosse killing and the final battle against Adolf Hitler. The second was based upon Wolfenstein 3D's prequel game Spear of Destiny, and recreated its final battle, in which B.J. fights the cybernetic Death Knight and the Angel of Death for control of the Spear. The third comic was based on Return to Castle Wolfenstein and recreated the battle with Olaric, the destruction of an experimental plane and later the final battle against Heinrich I. The fourth comic was based on the Wolfenstein's own cinematic introduction and shows B.J. infiltrating a Nazi battleship to steal the first Thule medallion.
Upon release, Wolfenstein received good reviews. Reviewers, such as GameSpot, praised the single-player campaign for the science-fiction elements and use of futuristic weapons such as the particle cannon. GameSpot criticized the game for sudden drops in framerate when the Veil is activated, but modern hardware has overcome the initial release limitations.
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