Playing through RTCW again has given me a few unpleasant memories of how FPS games were back at the turn of the century, and how we’ve sort of moved beyond them. Return to Castle Wolfenstein was, essentially, Quake with a World War 2 skin. This means that you pick up health bags to refill your energy bar, armor pickups defray the damage of bullets, and you’re reliant upon a quicksave system to keep track of your progress instead of checkpoints. It’s also got several tropes of the time, too, like forced stealth levels.
I hate forced stealth levels with a passion, mainly because many games are stupid about them. I love playing stealthily, mind you – but RTCW’s two stealth levels are designed to trip you up incessantly, negating your stealthy skill and instead requiring tried and true trial and error instead. But forced stealth was the hip thing to do back then. Every game had to have stealth levels. Ugh.
I can, in all fairness, say I do not miss health pack style systems. Regenerating health plus an armor pickup system is a real improvement to the genre simply because I can go at my own pace and I can actually start a level without a handicap. Yes, it does make the game easier, but you know what? It makes it more fun, and that’s what is important.
Also, the lack of checkpoints really is a bummer. Yes, quicksaves are your own checkpoints, but a well designed game doesn’t need quicksaves in my estimation. Just put checkpoints in the right place and give the player one less thing to worry about. Let’s not forget the antiquated pre-physics engine grenades have terrible trajectory calculations and never go where you want them to.
I wonder how this game would do if it got a “Source” style engine upgrade. No, Wolfenstein 2009 isn’t the same. I’d just like newer graphics and some gameplay fixes to an already awesome game.