First-person shooters haven’t fared too well in their conversion to iOS. Forcing analogue controls onto the touchscreen have had mixed results. Identifying this, id Software thought of an approach that would work. The idea was this: the claustrophobic environments of Wolfenstein 3-D make it the perfect contender for a pedigree cross-breed with Eye of the Beholder. Woof woof.
You play as William “B.J.” Blazkowicz, who is controlled via on-screen cursor keys. Every step forward acts as an action turn, with the movement squared off, and the game cleverly hides this when out of combat. You’re free to move around and you can search and explore areas without delay. Upon stumbling across a guard, the game is not interrupted and the movement turns then take place. It creates a consistence escape from the prison, through village streets, onto the back of a jeep and deep into the castle.
Scenery can be interacted with. Book cases can be looted for information that when read can add a bonus, or even have negative effects if you’ve read a romance novel with a tear-jerking ending. Crates can be kicked open to steal loot and toilets broken and thrown into some right-wing craniums. As you enter the Nazi lair their diabolical schemes become clear. Science is being used in ways that B.J. just can’t accept, but the laboratories can be used to mix liquids and create syringes filled with green, blue and red chemicals.
These syringes play a vital part in the bigger fights. There are many different combinations that can be used to boost speed, health, damage or your dexterity to varying effects. The equivalent of spells, it adds an extra angle and some tactics when ambushed or taking down a high-up official in a fight.
Combat is for the most part the same cycle of actions. Shoot an enemy, they return fire and sidestep out of the way, you wait, they step back and fire, you shoot back and so on. The harder battles follow the same pattern, but require you to use a health pack or inject some homebrew concoctions into B.J’s veins to gain extra strength rather than wait. This repetition makes longer plays tiresome as the same process to success is followed.
The weaponry does offer some variation during battles, and firing a mounted machinegun from the back of a jeep during vehicle sections changes the pace. Starting with a trusty military boot and fist to the chops as your basic weaponry, you’ll soon locate machine guns, dynamite (that can be planted on soldiers too much amusement), flamethrowers and even a sniper rifle, that when equipped zooms in and has to be manually fired; aim for the head.
There’s a primitive levelling up system, which is shallow, but gives a sense of progression. Gain enough experience through searching for items, reading books, completing challenges and you’ll improve your stats.
Rather than use Nazis as a serious topic, they’re refreshingly used with comic effect here. Farm chickens can be kicked into a Sunday roast and Hitler’s toupee can be slapped off. B.J. himself is quite the smart-arse too, offering plenty of wise cracks in return to the Nazi officers’ taunts. This continues into the model design, cleverly using 2D models against more detailed, realistic 3D backgrounds.
The character models have a cartoon look to them, casting a balance against the grey walls and brown outdoor areas. The 2D appearance has slapstick charm it, bringing colourful foes that match the light-heartedness of the game. There is sporadic graphical tearing in some textures when you stand in a set position at times, but this doesn’t affect the actual game.
Wolfenstein RPG suffers severely from repetition. Fortunately, the light-hearted humour and weapon variation helps to keep this feeling fresh during shorter sessions. If you’re looking for an RPG with a twist to play during your travels you’d do well to download this title.