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Will you buy an Xbox One X on November 7?

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Game Profile
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
Xbox
PUBLISHER:
Activision
DEVELOPER:
Nerve Software
GENRE: First Person Shooter
PLAYERS:   1-16
RELEASE DATE:
May 06, 2003
ESRB RATING:
Mature
IN THE SERIES
Wolfenstein

Wolfenstein

Wolfenstein

Wolfenstein 3D

Wolfenstein 3D

More in this Series
 Written by Ryan Smotherman  on April 02, 2003

Hands-On Preview: You mean a good demo came with the new OXM!? Catch me, I thinking I'm falling? *kurplunk*


From the 18 or so demo disk-packed issues of the Official Xbox Magazine that have been released since it's inception, it's sad to say that only a small handful have presented us with actual game demos to get really excited about. Of course, no one can forget the great December 2002 issue that gave us the opportunity to check out two of the hottest Xbox game around, Panzer Dragoon Orta and Splinter Cell, before their respective release dates. Well, 5 months later the publishers of the mag finally gave us another reason to get excited ? an action-packed, two level representation of the highly anticipated Xbox version of Return to Castle Wolfenstein, dubbed Tides of War. And if this demo is any indication of the final product, us Xbox gamers are in for a real big treat come May 6th. Time to break it down?

The demo features two levels of Wolfenstein goodness ? the Crypt and Factory, both of which were found in the original PC release and have nothing to do with the newly added multiple mission prologue that Nerve Software has been so gracious to give us. Upon firing it up I immediately loaded the Factory level, cause from my memory with the PC release I wasn't quite up for the task of taking on the creepy, zombie filled Crypt till I had the control scheme down pat. Speaking of which, the controls in the game are what really impressed me more than anything ? it's truly the greatest keyboard/mouse to console controller port I've ever had the pleasure of using. No lie.

Naturally, the dual analog sticks control movement, with the left allowing you to walk and strafe, while the right allows you to aim and look around. The fire button is mapped out on the R-trigger, as you would expect, and the L-trigger grants you the ability to jump. Switching between the many weapons (which I'll touch on here in a bit) was also a breeze, the A button goes back through your weapons and the B button goes forward. X works as an all around activation button, used for opening doors and pulling switches, as well as a way of peeking around corners, and the Y button zooms in with your various sniper-type weaponry, which can then be zoomed in further with the B button and out with the A button on compatible weapons. Other mapped commands includes clicking down on the left analog stick to duck, reloading by pressing down the right analog stick, breaking certain objects is accomplished with the Black button, and finally, the White button let's you look over your notes and objectives. And as far as aiming accuracy is concerned, it's typical of a controller set-up, but there is a nice auto-aim feature that presents you with just the right amount of assistance. All in all, there's a surprising amount of functionality here, and while not customizable in the demo, do expect the option to be available once the final version is released.

In getting back to the Factory, it really presents what the RTCW single-player experience is all about. Taking place in a busted up, barely standing? you guessed it ? Factory, the level presents quite a challenge, with tons of Nazi scum who sport all types of German arms ? from your standard sub-machine guns, to deadly stationary guns (which you can hop on and use), to flamethrowers and the Paratrooper rifle, as well as those cheesers with the panzerfaust rocket launchers. No doubt about it, if you've never played the game before, prepare yourself for a good Nazi-style ass whoopin'. But of course, you're well armed as well, and to a certain extent, your surprisingly well-armed ? a combat knife, the American Colt pistol (with the option of two at a time), Nazi Luger (with silencer), three varieties of sub-machine guns in the MP40, Thompson, and silenced Sten, the Mauser sniper rifle and Snooper rifle (a beefed up sniper gun with nightvision), the automatic, zoomable Paratrooper rifle, the Flamethrower, and finally, two different type of grenades ? American and German. Asides from the Panzerfaust and the experimental mini-gun known as the Venom, you get to try out virtually every gun in the game. On top of all this, the Crypt, which doesn't give you as much fire power, does let you use the newly added shotgun that is now hands down my favorite weapon of the bunch.

The Crypt itself, however, does present you with a different experience ? taking place in an underground tomb, you given the task to not only take down various Nazi troops, but also the living dead, as axe wielding, spirit/fire shooting zombies bust from their graves and try to put you in yours. Just as in the PC release, this level, and many other like it, prove to be extremely creepy, with almost a horror theme to them.

Tides of War's aesthetics also greatly impressed me. Visually, there is an obvious increase over the PC counterpart (which admittedly is almost two years old). The framerate is very solid, the textures look great and represent the dark underbelly of Hitler's occult curiosities very effectively. One oddity that I can't quite overlook is the fact that the fire effects within the levels have an odd, slow motion looking effect to them, but this is something that could very well be fixed before the game's release. Other than that and the fact that a few more Xbox only enhancements would help a whole bunch, Tide of War is turning out to be a really solid-looking game.

Not to be overlooked, the game's audio also blew me away. Musically, the score is taken directly off the PC original, and while I've never been a huge fan of it, it's not in any way lacking in quality. Nerve has taken excellent use of 5.1-surround sound, and your sub-woofer will get a good workout with the bass-filled gunfire and explosions. Oddly enough, a few of the weapon sound effects have changed from the PC version, and now have much more omph! to them. Once again, some really good stuff.

While the two represented levels do allow you to go at it in split-screen co-op play (with one player being the star, Blazkowitz, and the other, Agent One), it didn't allow us to check out the most promising feature of them all ? full Xbox Live support, which will feature team-based battles with up to 16-players at once. Obviously, I really didn't expect this to be in the demo, but when you exit it you do get a nice little production number that parodies how war was presented on American television at the time, and it features scenes from the online only Beach level, with the Axis and Allies going at it. And I have to say, the images got me even more excited for the game's release. As I've always said, if Nerve does things right, which is looking to be the case here, then Tide of War will bar-none offer the most captivating Xbox Live experience around.

Final Thoughts
All I have to say is mark May 6th on your calendar, cause Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War is looking to easily be one of the best Xbox games around, online or off.


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