In this game, the player takes control of a lone prisoner who has been taking captive in a large castle occupied by the Nazis. Getting out of the cell and picking up a weapon is just the beginning; the ultimate goal is to acquire the war plans of the Nazis, and escape from Castle Wolfenstein alive.
Castle Wolfenstein is notable for being the first game that incorporated stealth-based gameplay mechanics. The player navigates the hero through the top-down corridors and rooms of the castle. The main gameplay challenge lies in dealing with the guards who patrol the castle and will be alerted to any noise made by the player. It is possible to shoot the guards, but the ammunition in the game is scarce, and some guards are very hard to kill, so the preferred course of action is moving without being noticed. If the player surprises a guard with a gun drawn, the guard will surrender, and the player will be able to frisk him for valuable items.
The player should also search the treasure chests scattered across the castle. Some of them contain war plans, which are essential for winning the game; others have useful items, such as bullets, grenades, bulletproof vests, and guard uniforms. The uniforms can be worn for disguise; however, higher-ranked SS guards will be able to recognize the intruder. Chests might also contain food and beverage; imbibing alcohol will result in a temporary loss of aim and balance for the player character.
The game's sound effects include some of the earliest examples of digital voice samples. The guards would sometimes shout out short phrases in German in an attempt to stop the protagonist.
Castle Wolfenstein immediately had a revolutionary impact on the gaming industry as a whole. Originally released on the Apple II in 1981, it changed the outlook on what was technologically possible in video gaming. And, of course, it was the inspiration for the granddaddy of first person shooters, the ground-breaking Wolfenstein 3D.
The story is as follows: You are a prisoner of war being held in a Nazi prison during the height of World War II. You will have to use stealth and wits to escape alive; if you are shot or captured, you will have to start over. During gameplay, you will encounter Nazi guards as well as the superior SS. You will be able to search bodies, pick locks, and open chests, discovering such valuables as grenades and Nazi disguises as well as extra ammunition and other useful items. Picking certain locks takes a certain amount of time. Shooting at the locked chest speeds up the process but wastes your precious ammo. If you shoot open a chest containing grenades or ammo, it will explode and kill you.
This is a true classic and well worth the experience, no matter what genre of gaming you fancy. It's actually quite addictive and enjoyable.
The controls may seem difficult to master at first, but don't be deceived; it actually takes very little to get used to them. The eight keys surrounding the L key will move you, and L stops you. The eight keys around the S key will aim your handgun, and S will fire it. H puts your gun away. Opening chests and doors requires you to aim your handgun in the direction of the target and to hit Space. Space also searches bodies. U uses items. It's actually a very simple system, and after a little playtime you should have gotten the hang of it.
Castle Wolfenstein was an earth-shattering release in the early '80s, and amazingly, if given the time, the gameplay still holds up today. The graphics were good for their time, and the sound... well, it was 1983. But still, this game is a legend and deserves the highest rating I can give: a perfect 5.
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Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, Wolfenstein 3D, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, Doom, Castlevania, Final DOOM, Doom 2
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