Many years ago a small company called id software created a 3D game called Wolfenstein 3D, which we now know took the world by storm. Stemming from this success they went on to create 2 of the best well-known series in the gaming industry, namely Doom and Quake.

Now, in conjunction with Grey Matter Studios, they offer us an update to the game that started it all. With vastly improved graphics, sounds, animation and a whole lot more. Basically everything has been updated and thanks to a heavily modified Quake III engine and some single/multi player action id software has surely created another great game. Or have they?

Return to castle Wolfenstein, as it suggests, takes you back to where the original was set. Well it does for a few missions anyway. The bulk of the game revolves around you trying to stop the Nazis, in all of their wisdom, from resurrecting one Heinrich I in the hope that with his help they will win the war.

You take on the role of U.S. Army Ranger B.J. Blazkowicz, a member of the Office of Secret Actions, a group which is made up of British and American Special Forces. You are given details and hints about the plot throughout the game by some very poor cut scenes, which are put together using the game engine. I can't help but think that they could have added a little life into the characters while they were not doing anything rather than just make them sit there in one place staring at the walls.

The rest of the game however seems to be put together pretty well. The AI isn't the best in the world but it does take some extra side-stepping and evasive action to avoid some of the enemies in the game. One of the most annoying in the early parts of the game are the Flame-thrower Soldiers who can clear vast areas using the flame-thrower, causing a load of damage before you even get a chance to shoot at them.

They really are one of the toughest enemies given the weapons you have at that stage in the game. Other hard enemies are the X creatures, an attempt by some mad German scientist to create the ultimate soldier by combining flesh and metal together in the hope, that again, it will help them win the war.

Not all of the enemies in the game seem necessary. The same could be said for the locations. You take a reasonably short trip through the catacombs under a church where you meet some zombies and other undead creatures, but that's about it. Yes, they do make a token appearance in the last level but creating the excuse to include some undead creatures really does not seem right. They don't last long enough in the game to warrant it in my opinion.

The levels in the game are very well built. There are secrets everywhere to be found. Usually this involves picking up some ammo, health or even a lovely gold bar or two. The levels do however suffer from being too short in some cases. I now understand the way the game is split up, where each mission is reasonably long and split into different levels. However, at the beginning it seems that each level is a different mission, which can be seen in the way I have labelled my saves. Currently they go up to mission 21 instead of level 21. How was I supposed to know?

The levels also suffer from you having to sit through those awful cut scenes. Yes I know I said they were poor, but I have now decided they are awful. I am sorry but it needs to be said. Whoever thought of putting the cut scenes together using the game engine may have had a good idea, but it just does not work. If it was not for this review I may have skipped most of them.

The rest of the games graphics are well above par. I may even say that they are very, very good. The textures go well together, the animations and models are very detailed and everything in this area looks and feels very good. Dynamic lighting adds to the already great mood of the game and the Tesla gun is too cool to let it go to waste.

The in game sound is actually very well done. I have ranted and raved about the poor gameplay for quite a while but the sound is very good. You can hear everything the nazi soldiers say clearly. And there are some nice background sounds as you go through the castle and the various towns dotted around Germany so I really cant fault it. The weapons sound quite meaty and realistic. Well, as realistic as I have heard, which is actually based on the movies. So everything in the sound department went well.

Multiplayer RTCW is slightly different when compared to the single player portion of the game. In this you play as part of a team, the Yanks vs. the Germans. I know the manual says Axis vs. Allies but if you take time to notice you won't see any other nationality represented. It is, however, quite a bit of fun. For a while anyway, Choosing a side and kicking the other team's butt is all fine and dandy but it's all been done before. One of my mates simply put it like this, "it feels like Quake 3 with wank weapons".

I, however, could not be so harsh. It's not the best Multiplayer game I have played, and the weapons are not wank. People I know actually like the Multiplayer game more than the single player. However, since you only get 8 levels to start off with they do get a bit boring. One hopes that some new levels will emerge to add some variety and new challenges.

The actual Multiplayer gameplay is pretty hectic, and you can miss things at times, like the odd stray grenade which has just landed at your feet to the enemy shooting at you from above while you spin it circles trying to figure out where he is. The levels are well built, like the single player versions, and there are many areas where you can hide and catch people unaware. Another great bit is the fact that when you die you don't really die, you can call a medic to come over and heal you allowing you to continue playing using the same life. However, if the medic does not come back in time then its game over. Time to start again.

One last point is the Multiplayer reinforcement system. When you completely die you have to wait around until you are released as a group of reinforcements. This waiting time depends on the map and on the side you are playing. It does add a nice touch to the general respawn system, but if you're a shit player then you will spend most of the time as a spectator.

Overall, RTCW is a reasonably good game. It will of course get a good reception as it is an id software game, but it does not deserve one. The presentation isn't the best in the world. And while the graphics, sounds and Multiplayer bits are great, everything else kinda sucks.

Edits thanks to Joel Bowler.