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Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War


From the time I opened the box, I knew that "Return to Castle Wolfenstein" had the makings of an Instant Classic.

That's because despite a by-the-numbers single-player experience, complete with so-so graphics, sometimes-atrocious enemy A.I. and a score that is hardly worth a $50 asking price, the Xbox Live component of "RTCW" is simply amazing.  Seriously, my buddy Ross and I were playing this game online with other people for hours on end, for weeks at a time, and I was surprised that I was still loving the game three months after I bought it.

Play mechanics are simple.  If you have ever played any version of "Doom", "Quake", or the original "Wolfenstein 3-D", then first-person shooter controls for this game are a piece of cake.  Shoot bad guys, pick up weapons, kill more bad guys, find occasional health pack.  In the online version of the game, things get interesting, mostly thanks to an ingenious communication system that combines your Xbox Live headset and your D-pad, which allows you to call out for ammunition or health packs from your teammates.

And, unlike other games I have played where it doesn't seem to matter what character classes you play with, "RTCW" makes the most of its four character classes to make your up-to-eight-person squad important in its planning.  There's the lieutenant, who carries ammo (in online mode, there is no ammo just lying around on the ground) and can call in air strikes for maximum area damage; the medic, who carries around meds; the engineer, who is needed for when missions call for someone to arm dynamite; and the soldier, the only person that can carry around a rocket launcher, heavy machine guns, sniper rifles and the like.

You almost have to play with lieutenants and medics, but on certain missions, you can't complete objectives without an engineer.  This leads to people always in touch with each other, and on the game's best levels, like Beach Invasion or Village, you are going to have to always coordinate with your teammates, especially on defense.  One side always plays as the Axis team, and one plays as the Allied side...I never thought that being a Nazi might be so much fun.

If you have an Xbox Live connection, you probably already have this game.  If not, what the fuck are you waiting for?

Rating:  Opening Weekend


Feedback?  Comments?  Salma Hayek's digits?


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09