Lifting the Veil
May 4, 2009 – It’ll be released when it’s done. This is the typical response given any time someone asks about the release date for a game that has anything to do with id Software. Despite this statement seemingly reassuring gamers of the title’s quality when it finally gets released, it isn’t exactly music to the ears of the eagerly waiting fans. This holds especially true for Wolfenstein, the newest entry in one of id’s oldest and most beloved franchises.
The last game in the series, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, was released way back in 2001. Then, when 2005 rolled around, id announced that they’d be working with Raven Software on the latest title in the franchise that essentially created the first-person shooter genre, entitled simply Wolfenstein. At least it looks like the wait may finally be close to over, as “when it’s done” is estimated to happen this July.
Fans of the previous games in the series will be happy to know that they will once again be put in the shoes of series mainstay B.J. Blazkowicz. This time around, B.J. stumbles upon an amulet that, upon further inspection, leads him to the fictitious German city of Isenstadt. It appears as though even with all the trouble B.J. has given the Nazis in the past, they are still alive, kicking, and once again plotting to take over the world. However, this time their victory isn’t reliant on Mecha-Hitler but instead on their ability to find and use something known as The Veil.
The Veil is actually another dimension that lies directly over top of our own. The Nazis, having uncontrolled access to this dimension, could very easily spell doom for the entire world, since they’d not only be able to use it to create more advanced weaponry for their troops but also an extremely powerful large-scale weapon of destruction. Thankfully, utilizing the amulet he found, B.J. can enter into and make use of The Veil and its powers at will. Players will definitely need to make effective use of The Veil and the powers it provides, as it will be the key to surviving against the constant onslaught of Nazis.
The most obvious benefit of slipping into the blue-green-lighted Veil dimension comes in the form of exploration. Observant players may spot symbols spread around the streets of Isenstadt that point out potentially beneficial differences between your dimension and that of The Veil. In your world there may be a solid wall blocking your way, but in The Veil there will be an opening that you can squeeze through. This can lead to helping you get the drop on some unsuspecting soldiers, getting around otherwise impassable objects, or even uncovering hidden treasure or gold that can be used to upgrade your weapons. Full details on the game’s weapon customization are still pending but every gun in the game is said to be able to become formidable if you’re set on using a specific weapon.
The Veil will also directly help B.J. dispatch his foes in a few interesting ways. The first is its ability to point out weak points on enemies, making them easier to take out quickly. At one point, B.J. comes face to face with a heavy guard wielding a particularly powerful weapon. He must slip into The Veil to find this foe’s weakness, which happens to be the tanks on his back, in order to take him out and take his gun. The weapon in question is the particle cannon, a gun that can instantly disintegrate enemies and draws its power directly from the Veil.
Aside from being able to determine a foe’s weaknesses and using Veil-powered weaponry, The Veil will also grant B.J. a slew of powers that he can call upon. Again, Raven Software is remaining quiet about most of the game’s powers but talked briefly about one of the early ones that players will come across. I’m speaking of Mire, which is essentially Wolfenstein’s interdimensional version of bullet time. While this power sounds fairly traditional and basic, I’m sure there are plenty more elaborate and interesting ones still under wraps. These powers will also be able to be upgraded like the game’s weapons but will involve finding hidden tomes instead of relying solely on your wallet.
B.J. won’t be alone in his quest to stop the Nazis either, as there will be three different factions of potential allies in Isenstadt. The Kreisau Circle is Isenstadt’s local non-Nazi inhabitants who have taken up arms against your common enemy. These guys will also give you insight into the military aspects of what’s going on in the game. Next is the Golden Dawn, scholars who focus their attentions on the more outside-the-box activities in the game. From them, B.J. will earn a greater understanding of The Veil and the underlying occult activity that is ever-present in Wolfenstein. The last group is the Black Market, who will take the treasure you find off your hands and provide you with weapon upgrades in exchange. They can be incredibly useful but their loyalties must always be questioned since money determines which way their moral compasses point.
Multiplayer has also been confirmed for Wolfenstein, but again, Raven Software is keeping the full details close to their vest. However, the main theme for multiplayer seems to be delivering the classic Return to Castle Wolfenstein multiplayer action with the addition of B.J.’s newfound Veil powers. I’m not sure how this will turn out since previous attempts to take bullet time online have had miserable results (ex: Stranglehold), but here’s hoping Raven can make it and all of the still unannounced powers work well and without a hitch. Be sure to keep your eyes on Wolfenstein in the coming months to make sure you don’t miss checking it out “when it’s done.”