You may not be aware of this, but 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the Weekly Alibi newspaper. You know what else is 20 years old this year? Castle Wolfenstein 3D! Over the years, Alibi employees have wasted a lot of man-hours playing video games at work: Rogue Squadron, Quake, Unreal Tournament. But Castle Wolfenstein was the game that first sucked us in. To celebrate the release of this groundbreaking first-person shooter, Bethesda Softworks has placed the entire original game of Castle Wolfenstein online for free! What are you waiting for? Go kill Hitler!
I'm still hanging in there with Wolfenstein, so a little more of that is on the menu. I'm not convinced that it's as good as the reviews would have you believe, but just the same I tend to really dig in when I play. Last time there was a double arm-blade wielding enemy that popped in and out of visibility similar to Nightcrawler the X-Man. He kept brutally stabbing civilians just out range for most of the level, but he went down surprisingly easily once I went toe-to-toe with him. I think I got stabbed maybe once. Such a tease. I'm close to the 50% mark, and the game still hasn't managed to produce an actual challenge more than once or twice. Ho hum. I promise this will be the last I ever whinge over Wolfenstein. If I don't manage to polish it off this weekend, it's out of the running for my attention.
I'll also be getting deeper in to Toy Soldiers (hint: I'm playing it right now), which is a tower defense game where all of the units are WWI style soldiers and weaponry. The main gimmick is that it all takes place in a dioramist's toy box. You can see bits and pieces of furniture off in the distance, which works to sell the tempest in this particular teapot. The battles are packed to the gills with WAR, and you can jump into and control any of the several types of weapon emplacements. So far, it's been a real treat.
I finally managed to get a copy of Raven Software's Wolfenstein at a price it seemed to be worth, about $18. I've played a bit so far, and I think my sense of its value proposition has dropped a little. First, the story is pretty throw away. Boiled down to its essentials, it goes something like this: The War Bosses: "The Krauts have gotten ahold of some wicked bad supernatural technology, so go kill 'em, B.J. Blazkowicz!" B.J. Blazkowicz: "Not a problem." So, you mainly kill everyone/everything in your path, and collect the goodie at the end of the battle, becoming ever more badass; repeat (presumably) until the game is over. Second, in what seems like a nod to "modern" gaming, Raven structured the missions around the fictional town of Isenstadt (read: hub world). You return to its cramped alleyways between each mission, and slog pointlessly through mobs of Nazis until you reach the next area of interest. I have to say, for as much as I like shooting glowin' occult Nazis, the slog is starting to wear on me a bit. The flip side of this is that once you're out of the town, the actual missions are generally enjoyable, so I'm going to play again this weekend and see if I can wring a little more fun out of it before selling it on craigslist.
I bought Chime this a.m., and I'll certainly be getting some of that in over the weekend. It's a music/puzzle game available on Xbox Live Arcade where the music gets better as you puzzle better. So far it's quite lovely, and a large chunk of the very reasonable $5 cost goes to the Starlight Children's Foundation, and Save the Children. For all you non-Xbox folks, it's going to be released on Steam for PC on September 6th. No word yet on the price, but the charitable donations will continue, so do your part to save some kids and you'll get a very cool game in the bargain.