It’s been so long since Wolfenstein was enjoying the limelight that we have to wonder whether this particular ship hasn’t long since sailed, yet id Software’s original Nazi-bashing dungeon crawler is once again revived.
Will modern pocket gamers even remember the original, and if they do will they still be interested in revisiting such aging corridors with so many impressive new RPG adventures already littering the mobile gaming shelves?
These are surely questions that id Software asked itself before putting Wolfenstein on mobile life support, but it does have the revamped Doom RPG game from 2005 to answer some of those questions.
This was another old franchise brought to the mobile with an entertaining RPG twist, and it seems Wolfenstein RPG is built on those solid foundations.
Naturally you once again step into the ultra-macho boots of B.J. Blazkowicz - Nazi-thwarter extreme and sole good guy wandering the dank, 3D corridors of the infamous Castle Wolfenstein. The Nazis - sorry, I mean ‘Axis’ (sheesh) - are performing experiments on your comrades and the locals, and it’s up to you to put a stop to their evil escapades and escape from the labyrinthine castle.
As with Doom RPG, the game adopts a distinctly different pace by performing all the combat using a turn-based system.
Fans of the FPS theme might find this a distasteful idea, but in practice it works surprisingly well, especially considering the difficulties a mobile handset inherently suffers from when it comes to providing working controls for a 3D shooter.
You can kick, punch, dodge, run and, of course, unload streams of hot lead exactly as you’d expect – you simply have to add a small amount of strategy to the mix to ensure you’ve got the mettle to win out against a room full of Axis agents.
Truth be told, it’s hard to decide how the turn-based fighting stands up to a free, FPS style of combat. In the long run it’ll come down to personal taste, and although it slows the gun play down quite a lot, the forgiving nature of RPG combat is a big help when it comes to mobile gaming.
The developer is well experienced enough in both genres to make it work without hampering the entertainment levels, however, so even a staunch FPS gamer is likely to find Wolfenstein RPG’s unorthodox combat system quite tolerable.
The rest of the game is mostly identical to the Wolfenstein we remember – with a superbly retro-esque sheen to the slick, slightly jagged visuals and sprite-based characters.
The castle itself is packed with enemies and characters to talk to as the story unravels and you learn about the various experiments the Axis has carried out - the results of which you can employ to boost your health, speed, agility or adrenaline levels during your escape.
It also brings with it the wonderful black humour that id Software does so well, which is at its best during one-liner retorts between B.J. and the guards, from the drug addled NPCs, and during the excellent mini-games such as Kick the Chicken.
All of this conspires to elevate Wolfenstein RPG above the normal move-at-90-degrees dungeon crawler or simplistic RPG so often seen on the mobile platform.
The storyline and humour add levels of depth to the engrossing gameplay and reinvigorate the classic franchise not only for eager retro heads, but for those pocket gamers who’ve never trodden these murky corridors before.
Wolfenstein RPG is stonking good fun and even after four years since Doom RPG first introduced the concept of re-genre-ing a classic franchise, we find we’re still big fans of the concept.
This is a game for stalwarts of the original series and RPG pocket gamers who’ve never crossed its path. It’s more than capable of rebooting the whole Wolfenstein mania, which is high praise indeed.