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There, Nazi SS leader Heinrich Himmler is rumored to be conducting supernatural rituals. The locals whisper that hes trying to harness the powers of Henry the Fowler, a long dead dark prince with otherworldly abilities.
But your team doesnt succeed, and youre trapped in the castle. You must escape and report to your superiors at the United States Office of Secret Actions. If the rumors are true, though, youll likely find yourself back at Castle Wolfenstein for another mission. For if Himmler is successful in his attempt to tap into Fowlers powers, the Allies will surely lose the war.
Never Before Seen in a Mac Game
With that ominous set-up, youre thrust into Return to Castle Wolfenstein, the latest 3D first-person shooter published by Aspyr Media. Built to take advantage of the unique technologies on the Mac and Mac OS X, Return to Castle Wolfenstein features 27 levels of action spread across 7 missions, as well as multiplayer modes that Aspyr president Michael Rogers says have never been seen before in Mac games: squad- and class-based team-oriented gameplay.
In the single-player mode, your goal is to disrupt Himmlers occult experiments. While the costumes and most of the weapons adhere to historical fact, much of the games storyline is simply fiction. (For example, the Office of Secret Actions never existed.) Explains Graeme Devine, game designer and programmer at developer id Software: I think our take on the Nazi regime is very similar to the Indiana Jones take, with regard to the fact that the occult has real power, and the Nazis are looking to harness it.
So real youll feel the action.
Something New and Compelling
The game also forces you to rethink what you know about first-person shooter games, says Rogers. It sports innovative artificial intelligence (AI) for the enemies, allowing them to react in certain ways to running out of ammo theyll run away or having a grenade thrown at them theyll throw it back or get out of the way. And theyll work together to trap you.
Adds Devine: If [an enemy] sees enough of you to shoot you, that will alert the other characters around him and all hell can break loose.
Not all the other characters in the game are your enemies, however. There are other undercover agents as well as members of the German resistance whom you can interact with as the story progresses. Short movies, known as cut scenes, play between levels to move the plot along.
Devine notes that Return to Castle Wolfenstein is the first id title to have an extensive storyline, and Rogers adds that the game offers something new and compelling: a rich story, various ways to solve problems, different types of gameplay stealth and all-out destruction and excellent scripting in the actions and dialogue of your adversaries.
Instead of the usual death match and capture the flag scenarios that are standard to most first-person shooters, the game also offers a unique take on multiplayer gaming, which is accessible either through the multiplayer menu or through the Mac-only free service GameRanger. You can play as one of four classes of characters medic, engineer, lieutenant, or soldier and join one of two teams, the Axis or the Allies.
Each of the eight multiplayer maps in the game pits the teams against each other, so the key to success is to have a few of each character class at your teams disposal and work together. (For more information on character classes as well as multiplayer modes, see Beyond Castle Wolfenstein.)
For example, in the Beach Invasion map, which id made available as a Mac OS X-only demo earlier this year, the Allied forces storm a beach held by the Axis team. The Allied team must penetrate the sea wall, infiltrate the base, and steal several top secret Axis documents. The Axis team must keep the Allies from achieving their goals.
While the game will run in either Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X, Rogers notes that it includes multiprocessor support, which means that youll see the best performance if you play on a dual-processor Power Mac. No matter what Mac you play the game with, he adds, youll still see better performance in Mac OS X with true multitasking try playing on any other OS with your email application open and fetching mail.
Horrible zombie experiments gone awry.
Devine says that the two [Beach Invasion] builds weve made and released on Mac OS X have run much faster than the builds on [other operating systems] because of both the underlying OS and an extremely good implementation of OpenGL by Apple engineers.
A Lot to Offer
He adds that, as a gaming platform, [Mac OS X] has a lot to offer. The ease of development under the OS with Cocoa brings products up and running much faster than you can do anywhere else, and that makes an excellent game development platform.
However, while Devine is forthcoming in his praise for Mac OS X, he wont say whether or not Return to Castle Wolfenstein will be the last B.J. Blazkowicz adventure. The Office of Secret Actions would have my security clearance revoked if I revealed the nature of B.J.s future missions, he says.
While you wait to see who B.J. will battle next, Return to Castle Wolfenstein offers enough action to keep you busy well into 2002. You can find the game on the online Apple Store, or check with your local Apple retail store, or an Apple authorized reseller.