Return to Castle Wolfenstein is a first person shooter computer game published by Activision and originally released on November 19, 2001 for Windows. The single player game was developed by Gray Matter Interactive and Nerve Software developed its multiplayer mode. Id Software, the creators of the original game entitled Wolfenstein 3D, oversaw the development of the game and were credited as executive producers. The multiplayer side, developed by Nerve Software eventually became the most popular part of the game, and it was the grandfather of many features that online multiplayer FPSs have today. Splash Damage, an independently-owned game developer in London, England, and one of the leading Shooter developers in Europe, created some of the maps for the Game of the Year edition.
It features a story-based single player campaign (taking up certain themes from the original game), as well as a team-based networked multiplayer version which features different character classes that must work together in order to win. There are four classes — lieutenant, medic, engineer, and soldier — the soldier can be one of several subclasses depending upon the special/heavy weapon that he selects. Some unique weapons not found in other World War II-themed first-person shooters include the airstrike beacon. The multiplayer demo included a beachhead assault map similar to the opening of the movie Saving Private Ryan.
The game is partially based on the 1968 movie Where Eagles Dare, where a U.S. Army Brigadier is captured and taken prisoner to the Schloß Adler, a fortress high in the Alps above the town of Werfen, only reachable by cable car, and the headquarters of the German Secret Service in southern Bavaria. The supernatural element is based on the story of Castle Wewelsburg, a 17th century castle occupied by the Germans under Heinrich Himmler's control, and used for occult rituals and practices.
Unlike in the original Wolfenstein 3D, only a handful of the single player missions in Return to Castle Wolfenstein take place in the infamous castle/prison. The single player game takes place in Nazi-occupied Europe during 1943 and revolves around U.S. Army Ranger William "B.J." Blazkowicz, who, along with another agent (Agent One — referred to in passing in the PC versions, and seen in the Xbox, PS2, and Mac OS X versions), is sent to investigate rumors surrounding one of Heinrich Himmler's personal projects, the SS Paranormal Division. The agents are, however, captured before completing their mission and are imprisoned in Castle Wolfenstein. Taking the role of Blazkowicz, the player must escape the castle and continue investigating the activities of the SS Paranormal Division, which include research on resurrecting corpses, biotechnology, and secret weapons. During the game the player will face numerous foes, including Waffen SS soldiers, elite Fallschirmjäger (paratroopers), legions of undead creatures, and horrific Übersoldaten (supersoldiers) formed from a hideous blend of surgery and chemical engineering conducted by Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse. The end boss is an undead Saxon warrior-prince named Heinrich I.
To make the game eligible for sale in Germany, the developers removed the Nazi swastika in Return to Castle Wolfenstein. In its stead, the German forces' logo is a creative logo that is combined from a stylized double-headed eagle (reminiscent to the eagle that was the national insignia of Nazi Germany), the Quake III Arena logo (a game previously developed by id Software and whose graphics engine that Return to Castle Wolfenstein' is based upon)and a "W" (standing for Wolfenstein). Every direct reference to the "Third Reich" was removed; thus, in that edition, the player is not battling Nazis, but a secret sect called the "Wolves" led by Heinrich Höller, whose name is a pun of the original character Himmler (Himmler roughly translates as "Heavener", Höller as "Heller").
Oberführer Wilhelm Strasse or Deathshead is a gifted researcher who heads the SS Special Projects Division
Strasse's brainchild is the Übersoldaten project, an attempt to produce the ultimate soldier using cybernetics and bioengineering. His first attempts were the Lopers but they became self-aware and killed any human they saw. Not discouraged, Deathshead created the Super Soldiers, towering cyborg soldiers that were heavily armed and armored. He posted the prototypes in certain areas of the X-Labs and at the dig site near Castle Wolfenstein. Deathshead's non-prototypes were made Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler's Death Knights by the sorceress Blavatsky.
Unlike the other SS antagonists, Deathshead does not believe in the occult and prefers to arm the Nazi war machine using advanced technology. Heinrich Himmler asks him to join the resurrection ceremony for Heinrich I but Strasse declines to attend due to his disbelief in the occult. After the protagonist destroys one of his Übersoldat warriors, he escapes in a rocket plane and goes into hiding, not to be seen again for the rest of the game. Strasse earned his nickname from his skull-like visage, which has a scar running across it. (The nickname also may be a reference to the 3rd SS Division Totenkopf symbol used by Himmler). Strasse also shows a grudging respect to Blazkowicz after he successfully defeated the Übersoldat: this is shown in a letter to Himmler that warns Himmler not to underestimate the agent.
The Übersoldat is Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse's greatest creation. It is a brutish cyborg with technological and cybernetic enhancements. The most powerful is encountered in the X-Labs facility, where Strasse's research takes place. This Übersoldat was equipped with a Tesla gun and Panzerfaust combination, making it exceptionally deadly. Two more Übersoldaten are encountered near Heinrich I's resurrection ceremony. These two have less firepower however as they had only one weapon each, the Tesla gun and Panzerfaust respectively.
The Übersoldaten are heavily-armored and can take a massive amount of damage, functioning as game bosses. Combined with their heavy armaments, this makes them very dangerous. In respect to the Übersoldat cyborg units, Strasse quotes in the game, "Now we will see the superiority of the machine over flesh and blood."
Oberführer (Senior Colonel) Helga Von Bulow is a high ranking officer within the SS Paranormal Division and also founder of the order of the Eliteguards, the SS Paranormal Division's all-female security force. She is Blavatsky's pupil and is a firm believer in the occult. Although a capable leader, Helga tries too hard and makes rash decisions that jeopardize the safety of her troops. While the Elite Guards are loyal to her, the male soldiers under her command are skeptical of her choices. Helga and her colleague, Professor Zemph, located the Dagger of Warding in a mausoleum next to the Wulfburg Church. Helga eagerly desired it while Zemph warned her that taking it will unleash a dangerous evil on the world. Her mind made up Helga shoots Zemph, takes the dagger, and is immediately dismembered by the fearsome Olaric.
Heinrich I was an evil warlord who launched a campaign of conquest in Medieval Europe. He had studied the black arts and used them to his advantage. In the intro movie, a noble wizard confronted Heinrich and magically sealed the tyrant in limbo. After many years, Heinrich was revived from his stasis by the sorceress Blavatsky who worshiped him as her master. As a reward, Heinrich turned her into a zombie slave. The protagonist, B.J. Blazkowicz, faced Heinrich in a fierce duel of sorcery and guns and defeated him once and for all. He is allegedly Heinrich I of Germany.
The only non-fictional character of this game, Himmler was claimed by various sources to have been interested in the occult. In the game, he appears in a short cameo in the last cutscene, watching BJ defeat and kill Heinrich I from a good distance. He expresses bitterness at the Ranger's victory and somberly walks away to give a report to Adolf Hitler.
Upon starting the game in the PC version, the player's only weapon is a fighting knife (appears to be the model Camillus made for the USMC Raiders), though almost immediately he obtains a Luger from a fallen guard. He can also use a kick simultaneously with any weapon, though the kick does minimal damage and is primarily useful for bashing open doors or inflicting property damage.
The third weapon the player finds is an MP-40 German SMG, which uses the same 9 mm ammunition as the Luger. Shortly thereafter, the player also obtains a scope-less Mauser rifle, which has high damage and accuracy with its 7.92 x 57 mm rifle ammunition. A scoped Mauser is obtained later on.
In later levels the player receives a silenced Sten submachine gun, which uses the same ammunition as the MP-40 and Luger. He also receives a Thompson submachine gun and Colt .45 which are slightly more powerful than MP-40 and Luger, though with substantially rarer ammunition.
As the game progresses, the player also finds a flamethrower (though ammunition is somewhat rare), the Fallschirmjägergewehr Model 1942 (FG 42) paratrooper rifle (which uses the same ammunition as the Mauser), and two fictional weapons: a Tesla cannon and Venom Minigun. An experimental American silenced sniper rifle with infrared scope, called the M1S "snooper" is also available. All use non-interchangeable ammunition.
The player also uses several varieties of explosives throughout the game, which include the Panzerfaust, dynamite and the "pineapple" and "potato masher" hand grenades of the Allies and Axis, respectively.
Several weapons have alternate modes of fire, which are activated by a key press. The Luger's alternate mode is a silencer (found on an early level), the Colt's alternate is dual-wielded Colts, and both the rifles have an adjustable telescopic zoom as their alternate modes (neither scoped rifle has a visible crosshair in normal fire mode). The FG 42 featured a non-adjustable scope and had a visible cross hair in normal fire mode.
The silenced Sten and Venom miniguns can both overheat. The spread of bullets will increase as the Sten is fired (even though it is the most accurate of the SMGs), seen also as an enlarging aiming circle. While it is fired, a bar appears on screen which indicates the relative temperature of the weapon. Upon reaching a specific threshold, the weapon ceases firing until the bar has completely disappeared, indicating that the weapon has sufficiently cooled.
It is possible to pick up and drop chairs in the single-player portion of the game but only if the player has a single-handed weapon active, such as one pistol, a grenade or the knife.
Wolf MP is an objective game mode, in which both the Axis and Allies have a series of objectives to complete to win the round, with one team's objectives normally preventing the other team from completing their objectives. There are primary and secondary objectives. Primary objectives have to be achieved to win the round, where secondary objectives don't necessarily need to be achieved, but can aid in certain ways in completing primary objectives. Primary objectives include blowing something up, or escaping with the documents, and secondary objectives include capturing flag/spawn points.
As far as the classes are concerned, medics can leave medic packs to heal comrades, but can run out of ammunition quickly. Lieutenants can provide packs of ammo, as well as calling for air strikes, but need a medic to stay alive. Engineers are able to blow up walls using dynamite. Lastly, ordinary soldiers can choose between four different heavy weapons.
On a side note, despite advocacy on the part of some of the player base, a few weapons were left out of Wolf MP, most notably the Tesla Gun and the FG-42 Paratrooper rifle.
All multiplayer modes can be manipulated through the console, and TWL/CAL leagues were prominent in the early 2000s.
Game Of The Year add-on maps
With the original release of the game, 8 stock maps were offered. "Beach" was the map designated for the demo, and was officially the 'first' multiplayer map. The Allies must infiltrate an Axis base, steal documents, and transmit them via radio. "Sub" pitted the Axis against the Allies in defending a huge docked submarine. Many of the maps were based on the single player game's venues, using many of the same situations. "Castle" was one such map wherein the Axis must defend a coffin that holds a sacred obelisk. The Allies must destroy the coffin, steal the obelisk, and take it to a waiting truck. Also, "Village" was drawn from a single player level, wherein the Axis must defend a crypt that holds gold. The Allies must steal the gold and take it to a waiting truck. In "Base" the Axis defend two radars, which can only be destroyed by an engineer's dynamite. This map was strong in using all of the classes in the game. "Destruction" was the only stock Capture-The-Flag map, where six flags must be captured and held simultaneously to win. "Assault", a sniper-happy map, meant the Allies must defend a large radio-dish tower, with the Axis attacking either underground or top-shelf. The largest of the stock maps also was the only dual-objective map, "Depot"; where both teams must complete the same task — destroy the other's objective.
With the release of the Game Of The Year edition, seven new maps were offered. "Ice" pitted the Axis attacking a stronghold, with the Allies defending documents that the Axis are to steal and transmit via radio. "Chateau" — a popular map — had the Allies attacking a large house. The Axis must defend the documents held in a pit in the middle of the house and prevent the Allies from taking them to a radio to be transmitted. The largest Game of the Year map was "Tram" which was based directly from one of the initial levels of the single player game. The Allies must march up the hill, steal documents in the castle, and take them to be transmitted, with literally every hallway being taken from the original SP map. "Keep", based on F. Paul Wilson's story "The Keep", stages the Axis defending an obelisk held inside a castle turret. The Allies must steal it and take it to a waiting truck. Another map where engineers are essential is "Dam", where the Allies attack a hydro-dam, and must destroy the main generator. "Rocket", again based on a single player level, had the Axis defending a key that enabled the rocket situated in the middle of the map, to fire. If the Allies succeeding in bringing it to the control room, the rocket was fired. Finally, "Trenchtoast" — unofficially the least-popular Game of the Year map, was another capture-the-flag offering. All of the Game of the Year maps were fast-paced and easy to learn.
In all, the maps offered for the game were well-designed and stood the test of repeated playings. Like most multiplayer games, custom maps were offered from various map-makers. Return To Castle Wolfenstein, designed for its 2001 release, was built to allow for "dial-up" downloading of custom maps from whichever server the player was connected to. Unfortunately, the 13 kbit/s maximum speed allowed, meant that a 10 MB map simply took too long to download, and only "hardcore" players were willing to search out the maps via third parties to play them.
Throughout the evolution of the multiplayer game, various modifications and custom scripts were written for it, allowing for true, console in-game changes. "Degeneration", "shrubmod" and "banimod" were popular modifications, and custom maps were still being released 5 years after its inception. Initially, the multiplayer was criticized for heavy defensive weaponry, and one-sided maps. However, it was quickly determined by clans that the proper usage of the various classes of character dictated victory. Medics could revive a fallen comrade (before he was "gibbed", or made un-revivable), and engineers could set dynamite to blow up objectives. Still, the game was essentially a submachine gun war, with 90% of the players possessing either an MP-40 or a Thompson; almost equal in ability.
The most competitive mod for RtCW though was OSP which was used in all the major LAN (Local Area Network events) around the world. From Quakecon to the more recent and most likely the last RtCW LAN, CPC2, all used OSP as the competition's mod, mainly due to the control given to teams and admins during the games play — it also removed less competitive variants that other mods included like the poison needle, damaging someone when landing on them and custom modifications that were normally found on most servers with a different mod. OSP is considered a more realistic and at the same time simple mod that lets players get straight into the game and improve their aim and tactical approach which in turn leads to higher competition between teams.
1943. The Second World War is at its height. While Allied forces have stalled the expansion of Hitler's Third Reich, the Nazi war machine still has its boot on the throat of mainland Europe. However, the Führer demands nothing less than global domination. Enter Heinrich Himmler's feared Schutzstaffel (or SS) and its plan to master an occult force known only as the Black Sun. With this mysterious power source at its disposal, no army on Earth could stand in the Reich's path. No army but the man who had single-handedly shut down Himmler's Übersoldat program and thwarted the resurrection of ancient superhuman king Heinrich I, that is. Once again, the world requires the particular talents of special agent B.J. Blazkowicz.
It is being developed by Raven Software and iD Software and will be published by Activision. No release date has yet been announced. Raven Software last cooperation with iD Software was for the game Quake 4.
At the Activision-Blizzard press event on July 15, 2008, the sequel "Wolfenstein" was officially announced.
In 2005, id Software and Splash Damage announced a follow-up to Enemy Territory entitled Enemy Territory: Quake Wars using the id Tech 4 engine. This new game features similar large-scale gameplay but instead of taking place in the Wolfenstein universe it is a prequel to Quake II and Quake 4.
On August 3, 2007, GameSpot reported that Variety confirmed Return to Castle Wolfenstein and that the writer/producer team that was involved with Silent Hill will be involved with the Wolfenstein project. The movie will be written and directed by Roger Avary and Samuel Hadida is the producer.
Roger Avary has been arrested in January 2008 for DUI and manslaughter after a friend of his died in a car accident while Avary was at the wheel. No news has yet emerged about Avary's involvement with this project.
Todd Hollenshead, chief executive of Id Software at the time of the original article stated "The trend you're seeing with new games is, to some extent, a reflection of what's going in the culture ... For instance, you've now got games with terrorists and counterterrorists. And World War II games such as Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Day of Defeat reflect what you see in popular movies."
"I don't doubt there are going to be people that go out and distort what the multiplayer gaming experience is and say, 'Oh, I can't believe you guys did this.' There are a lot of critics of the game industry, and they look for things to criticize."