I've just replayed the original Return to Castle Wolfenstein (RTCW) single player, and enjoyed it. The game has been overtaken by its contemporary, Medal of Honour, and utterly superseded by the brilliant Call of Duty, but it’s still a good game thoroughly worth a play.
Having played some of the irritating Medal of Honour expansion packs, which are so openly linear they’re boring, I’ve become more aware of the linear flaw in games. RTCW is linear in places, but this is concealed by the game design, so it’s not such a problem. The game is full of the usual id software tricks, giving people who replay slowly some extra depth to explore, and, what I particularly like, giving players who think the opportunity to use their brain to gain an advantage.
RTCW is absolutely not an accurate simulation of World War II. There were many great evils from that time, but that didn’t include reincarnated dark age German kings. However, the Nazis did experiment with the occult, so the games’s irritating theme does have an excuse.
The intended big challenges in the game are unfortunately unoriginal. At particular points, you have to defeat some silly monster with extra special powers. The more powerful the monster, the more lumbering it becomes. It takes lots and lots of hits, but moves rather slowly, and you can dodge its weapons, most of the time. Too many games have these silly challenges. At least, with id’s examples, you can defeat these predictable fantasies with all skill and little luck, unlike, for example, a couple of the challenges in No One Lives Forever 2.
If you enjoy creeping around the place, picking off enemies before they know you’re there, and getting in a very nasty firefight when you screw up, this is a game for you. If you enjoy the opportunity to use different tactics, if you enjoy replaying levels in a different style, this is a game for you. If you enjoy defeating silly lumbering monsters, this is the game for you. This is a game of it’s period, the period that ended a couple of weeks later with the release of Medal of Honour, but it’s worth many a revisit.