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Gamebytes and Bots
Return To Castle Wolfenstein screenshot
Return To Castle Wolfenstein screenshot
Return To Castle Wolfenstein screenshot
FPS, Horror

DEVELOPER: Gray Matter Interactive
GENRE: FPS, Horror
MODES: Single-player, Multiplayer
STEAM RATING: Very Positive


DEVELOPER: Gray Matter Interactive
GENRE: FPS, Horror
MODES: Single-player, Multiplayer
STEAM RATING: Very Positive

Return To Castle Wolfenstein
REVIEW: Played Oct 2011
Return To Castle Wolfenstein
REVIEW: Played Oct 2011

Return to Castle Wolfenstein is not so much a sequel as a revisit to the original game Wolfenstein 3D heralding back to 1992. Using certain themes from that game, the setting is WW2 and the story begins with two agents from a secret British department called the OSA (Operation of Secret Actions) who have been captured by the Germans and imprisoned in Castle Wolfenstein. One of the agents has been tortured and killed and you assume the role of the other, Blazkowicz. Your first mission is to escape while continuing to gather intel on some highly secret activities headed up by certain top-level German officers. If successful, this intelligence will be passed on to the OSA, which based on the findings will then determine your next mission and its objectives.

Return To Castle Wolfenstein screenshot

Through the information you've gathered, the OSA, learns of a plot to launch a new type of rocket at London, which carries a chemical warhead. One of your missions is to sabotage this, but also to continue investigating a project called the SS Paranormal Division. This project is overseen by someone known as "Deathshead" and its activities seem to include not only biological experiments to create super soldiers, but ultimately to resurrect some ancient Dark Knight from the dead. As fantastic as this seems, the evidence keeps leading you toward the possibility of this very thing, especially as you have seen and fought some of these undead during your escape from Castle Wolfenstein.

The game is divided into mission blocks. As well as the mission objectives, there are secret areas that hold supplies and sometimes treasure in the form of gold or ancient artifacts. When you reach a dead end and cannot progress any further, the level is over. At this point, you will get a screen with your statistics and asking if you want to move forward. Once you choose this, you cannot go back, so don't move forward if you want to collect everything. At mission changes, a cut scene takes place at the headquarters of the OSA where it is decided where you will be sent next. The last level will have you returning to Castle Wolfenstein, thus the name.

Gameplay and weapons are fairly typical of first-person shooters. You have everything from a knife to a prototype gun. In fact, you actually have too many weapons if that's possible. Ranging on the keyboard from one through zero, with several types in some slots, cycling them on the mouse wheel is very slow. Using the number buttons proves considerably faster, but requires a lot of memorizing. Several of these weapons are just redundant and really serve no purpose due to ineffectiveness or lack of ammo.

AI difficulty also has a range with regular soldiers often just standing in your sights to the more highly trained special forces that will hide and dodge. Later, the biologically engineered Lopers and Super Soldiers are introduced and provide considerably more difficulty. At such times, a little strategy is required.

The graphics still hold up for the age of this game. Environments are quite detailed and realistic. Older games usually show their age in character rendering, but on the whole, it's still very passable ten years later. In its day, the quality of the details and textures received high praise.

As I'm a fan of not only the FPS genre, but also games with horror themes, I was quite keen to acquire this game, but waited patiently for a rare sale. I'm glad I did wait because it turned out to be rather a disappointment. I was really trying to analyze why I felt that way, but the best I could come up with was that sometimes I was just bored. Although it has all the standard FPS features, it just fails to grab me on any kind of emotional level. When that happens, getting through a game becomes more of a chore than fun. I felt this was a game that somewhat improved as it moved along, but I didn't much enjoy the first few missions. They seemed misplaced. Fighting the undead early on didn't seem to make much sense story-wise and one mission was all stealth, which doesn't float my boat at the best of times. There is a stealth mission later on as well, but it combines with some combat and seems much more in tune with the style of this game.

Ultimately, the most you could say about the single-player portion of Return to Castle Wolfenstein is that it's just a standard FPS that doesn't offer anything unique. Although it received great reviews when released, even then it offered nothing new to the genre. However, it does seem that many people are very nostalgic about it. Apparently, in its day, it was one of the best multiplayer experiences going and generated a lot of excitement. That was long before my game playing days and unfortunately its multiplayer component is not much supported any more. That the publisher also seems to be clinging to Wolfenstein's glory days by keeping the price high relative to what it should be ten years later, I wouldn't be in any rush to purchase it. However, at the right price, which means cheap, its single-player campaign is very passable if not greatly exciting. It is, however, also quite challenging.

Wolfenstein: The New Order was released in 2014, the first main entry in the series since 2009. It now has a stand alone prequel called Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. As a nod to RTCW, it's set in 1946 and once again returns the player to Castle Wolfenstein as Blazkowicz.

Game Issues Experienced

Many people experience serious lag in this game and oddly frames per second can vary widely depending on which direction you are facing. This game uses OpenGL, so one thing that helps is enabling triple buffering in you graphics card controls. There are other various solution if you have the box copy, such as renaming the .exe to quake3.exe (always backup original files first) as it uses the quake engine, but this does not work in the Steam version.

Ultimately, the best solution for me was to install the file imagecfg as this sets the game to run on a single core. This little piece of code has worked extremely well on several older games. You can try setting the affinity through Task Manager, but on some games this doesn't take, whereas imagecfg does. Alternately, you can refer to the following guide Steam Community to see if any of the suggestions work.

You need to press quick load twice to return to the place you quick saved or it will load on a previous save.

A mod is now required to play multiplayer as the servers were shut down. s4ndmod
UPDATE: The official servers are back up, but there are still problems. Refer to the following. Steam Community

Development Note

Return to Castle Wolfenstein's claim to fame was really in its highly popular multiplayer. The Wolfenstein series has a long history starting with the first game published in 1981 and the second in 1984. Both of these were top down 2D games, which focused on stealth. The third game, Wolfenstein 3D, shifted focus to a fast paced action shooter and is credited with being the grandfather of first-person shooters.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein was followed by a sequel simply called Wolfenstein (2009). However, it received lukewarm reviews and sales were low. The game became unavailable for unknown reasons during Wolfenstein's rights transferral to Bethesda.

NOTE: For the vast majority of PC games, many digital distributors will offer "Online" CD keys that can be added to your Steam Library
Other games in series:  Wolfenstein 3D
Spear of Destiny, Wolfenstein The New Order
Wolfenstein The Old Blood
Wolfenstein II The New Colossus
See Wikipedia for full list
  • Genre: FPS, Horror
  • Developer(s): Gray Matter Interactive, id Software
  • Publisher(s): Activision
  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows, OS X, PS2, Xbox, Linux
  • Release: Nov 2001
  • Mode(s): Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Media: Download, Optical Disc
  • DLC Available: No
  • OS: Windows 2000, XP
  • CPU: Pentium 2 400 Mhz or equivalent
  • RAM: 128 MB, 16bit high color video mode
  • Hard Drive: 800MB + 300 MB for Swap file
  • Video: 16 MB 3D graphics accelerator, full OpenGL support DirectX 8.0a
  • Sound: DirectX 3.0 compliant
  • Shader Model:
  • Input for PC: Keyboard & Mouse
  • DRM: Steam, Gog Drm free
NOTE: Minimum requirements are those officially published at the time of the game's release.
Official Site - Bethesda
Achievements: None
To indicate what kind of performance you may get, compare your specs to the system this game was played on. You can also try  Can You Run It
  • Version:  Steam Download
  • OS:  Windows XP SP3
  • CPU:  Athlon 64x2 4200+ 2200MHz
  • Ram:  4GB
  • Disk Drive:  DVD/CD
  • Video:  ATI Radeon 4830
  • Shader Model:  4.1
  • DirectX:  9.0c
  • Resolution:  1650 x 1050
  • Input:  Keyboard & Mouse
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