It’s that time again folks, where I take a look at a beloved video game franchise and pass judgment on it like a judgy judge of judgeness. This week we shall be taking a stroll through the insane alternative reality of William “B.J.” Blazkowicz and figuring out which Wolfenstein game is the most Nazi punching, Mecha Hitler destroying, one of the group.
As you can imagine, for a series that’s 28 years old it hasn’t always been plain sailing and in amongst the goodness there have been moments that could make even the most ardent freedom fighter throw down their arms and surrender but it’s a testament to everyone involved with the Wolfenstein franchise that they’ve not only managed to stave off the firing squad but have also been able to rise like a Phoenix from the ashes, so it can take its rightful place as one of the best first-person shooters of all time. With all that in mind let’s get to it and answer the question, which is the best Wolfenstein game of them all.
Best Wolfenstein Games
Okay, the first entry on this list really shouldn’t come as a surprise as it’s been nearly 30 years since it first appeared on the old Apple II, Commodore 64, and Atari 8-Bit so as you can imagine, it hasn’t aged well. To borrow a quote from Nelson Muntz, my stroked out grand-pa has more memory than those machines, so you aren’t going to get cutting edge graphics and orchestral sound. What you are going to get is a stealth game that sees you sneak your way through Castle Wolfenstein to steal secret war plans and when you have them in hand, you have to escape without getting dead. It’s alright if you’re into retro games, but it can’t hold a candle to later additions to the Wolfenstein family.
Beyond Castle Wolfenstein
Following hot on the heels of the original comes Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, and as the game before it, it was so graphically awful that you wished you could pull out your own eyes and wash them in bleach. It was also a simple cut and paste job of the first game, and even though Muse Software claimed it came with a whole host of new bells and whistles, it didn’t. There was very little replay value either as once you’d figured out the moves you needed to make to get past the guards then the whole thing was a breeze.
Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory was initially supposed to start life as an expansion pack for Return To Castle Wolfenstein before it finally saw the light of day as a freeware a multi-player, due to problems with the single-player campaign and here we are, some 16 years later, and it’s still going strong. There is such an active community that it has its pro scene with tournaments and the like and that alone may have you questioning why it ranks so low on the list. Quite simply, personal choice. If you’re into the game then more power to you but for me, it’s uglier than a mule’s butt and plays just about as well.
The idea to take a game like Wolfenstein and turn it into an RPG is one that, on paper, sounds pretty damn clever. If for no other reason than people love FPS’s and RPG’s, so combining the two is a sure-fire way to print money, right? Well, not if you release it as a mobile game, no. It may have scored well in reviews on its initial release, but there’s no way in hell that Wolfenstein RPG is anything other than a shameless cash-grab, as all mobile games are, and the cartoony graphics and boring gameplay make this one a game you can live without.
This one hurt on a personal level as I wanted to love this game. It had been eight long years since the last full release, in the meantime, all we’d had was a multi-player and a mobile game so when Wolfenstein 2009 came out on the 3rd generation of consoles, hopes were high. Sadly, instead of an era-defining game, all we got was an average bang shooter that failed to deliver on the promises that had been made. It was a shame as if they’d put more time and effort into it Wolfenstein 2009 could’ve been a game of the year contender; instead, it was so poorly received that it would put the franchise back on the ice for another five years.
Wolfenstein: Spear Of Destiny
Wolfenstein: Spear Of Destiny is, at least in my eyes, a bit of an anomaly. For example, if it was released today, then it would probably fall under the DLC banner, but as there was no way for you to get that sort of content back in 1992, then it’s considered a standalone release. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the game, it’s Wolfenstein 3D all over again, just under another name, and there can’t be enough of those in my opinion. It has 21 levels, as long as you open the two secret ones, and it’s all about getting that Spear of Destiny and killing Nazi’s, so what’s not to love?
Is this a tad controversial? After all, the game is pretty brand new, so to put it this low down on the list is sure to tick a few of you off. This game is flawed and flawed enough that it takes quite a bit of fun out of it if you choose to play solo. Don’t believe me? Then read this excellent review on our site by Aidan O’Brien. Don’t agree with me? Then take it up with him, he wrote it.
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
It’s hard to believe that after the smash success that was Return to Castle Wolfenstein that it would take 13 years before we got another entry in the series that was worth playing. For a very long time, it seemed that the Wolfenstein franchise would remain dead and buried but if it had, then Return to Castle Wolfenstein was a pretty good way to go out. It may have had multi-player which, as we’ve established by now, is something that I’m not a fan of but it didn’t matter as the solo campaign was a blast from beginning to end. It still even plays well to this day, and if you ever fancy a trip down memory lane, then the best thing you can do is dust down your old PS2 or Xbox and give this another run.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
If Wolfenstein: Young Blood hasn’t quite hit the heights expected of it, then the same can’t be said for the one that came before it with blood in the title, and I’ll admit that that is quite a tenuous link. Still, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is an excellent game that falls short of greatness. The main reason for this is that it’s still pretty damn similar in concept and structure as Wolfenstein: The New Order and even though more of the same isn’t always a bad thing, it would’ve been nice to have had a few new tricks stashed up its army fatigue sleeves.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
It was the game that saved the franchise from the scrap heap and brought good old William “B.J.” Blazkowicz back to the world in all his Nazi-killing glory but, believe it or not, Wolfenstein: The New Order wasn’t as universally loved on release as it is now. A lot of critics on other sites just saw it as an average FPS and lamented the fact that it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. These critics were wrong, as time, all five years of it, has proven that Wolfenstein: The New Order is a rip-snorter of a game that everyone should play at least once in their lives.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best iteration of the Wolfenstein series on next-generation consoles. It has been praised from pillar to post for everything from its characters to its plot, from its shooting mechanics to its overall look and it’s deserving of the number of people that have shouted their love for it from the rooftops. It plays like a blockbuster movie, and you’re the star and with a game as outrageous and full of so much spectacle as Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, that’s what you want. So why does it only sit at Number Two, I hear you ask. Well.
Because of Wolfenstein 3D. The game that started it all is still, easily, the best one of the lot. Sure, it might not have the flashy gameplay and graphics of the later entries into the franchise, but it’s still a fantastic blast even now. Besides, the first time that you go head to metallic head with Mecha-Hitler is something that you’ll never forget. Not bad for a game that was just a Doom clone with Nazi’s.