Reviewed on PC


Reviewed By: Dan Doherty

Computer Platform: PC
Produced by: id Software
Price Range: $40-50
Learning curve time: 1-2 hrs.
Age level: 18+
ESRB Rating: Mature

Genre: Action/adventure
Christian Rating: 1 of 5
   (very offensive)
Gameplay: 5 of 5
Violence: 2 of 5
Adult Content: 1 of 5

First the good news. “Return to Castle Wolfenstein” is a hugely playable game. The graphics and sound are both excellent. It has a good learning curve ensuring the player never feels out of their depth as well as a wide variety of (mostly) authentic weapons to dispatch the bad guys. The gore is never excessive despite a massive body count. Ravensoft the team behind the equally impressive “Elite Force” has used the “Quake 3” engine to great effect. Unlike their “Star Trek” game the enemies are given enough artificial intelligence not to run straight into a hail of your bullets.

Screenshot from 'Return to Castle Wolfenstein' Now the bad news: from a Christian perspective this game borders on outright offensive. The basic premise is that the Nazis are creating an army of un-dead zombie super soldiers and only you can stop them. There is a staggering amount of occult imagery within some of the levels. One is treated to the sight Nazi scientists bringing life to the dead. These creatures then possess Satanic powers far deadlier than any weapon you picked up from the soldiers you have killed. This is surprising given the huge variety of guns you can obtain. The flame thrower, whilst graphically amazing, leaves an uneasy feeling after its use.

This is not a game rooted in history despite its World War Two setting. Indeed it seems as though Nazis were only included because the producer needed a group of people to kill that would be “acceptable”. Some attempt is made to include civilians who can provide information and should not be killed. It?s not done very well and appears like a bit of an afterthought.

I?m in two minds about this game. On the one hand it is a great piece of entertainment. Well programmed and refreshingly bug free. On the other it is morally reprehensible. As a Christian I can not recommend this to anyone persons under 18 or easily offended. Why must software developers put so much time and effort into a game only to tarnish it with a grotesque and offensive skin.

Year of Release—2001

Neutral—I find that this game, while bearing a striking resemblance to the Medal of Honour series and even some Indiana Jones material is average. The graphics are good but you can forget running it on anything less than Pentium III. One more thing that I noticed. Even though there were occult references in some of the imagery--it was just an exaggeration of what Hitler was “into.” In the mid 40s the OSS added a new branch, the DSR (Department of Special Research) to investigate Hitler's fascination with the occult. But I doubt even in Wewelsberg that they tried to reanimate the dead. My Ratings: [4/5]
   —Winston Sutcliffe, age 19

Positive—Return to Castle Wolfenstien is composed of really two separate games. First, a story based F.P.S. Second, a Multiplayer format with a great interface. I have to agree that the story based portion of the game is full of occult references. These are completely gone in the multiplayer section. Although violent, it does promote team skills, strategy, and endless hour of gameplay. It has excellent game play, and online map building utilities that will ensure its continued presence on the market for a long time to come. My Ratings: [3/5]
   —James A. Cole, age 32

Positive—I'm a lan gamer (network games) and I've been Christian since I was about 13 but I disagree with your review of the game. I do agree that it has some bad parts in it but it is a fps (first person shooter) game after all such as other hugely successful games (half life and quake and unreal tourny to mention a few). You need to review the game also on a basis of comparison to other current games on the market (imho). I believe rtcw is one of the greatest games I have played in a long time… My Ratings: [4/5]
   —evan, age 18

Neutral—While this game may be offensive to the Christian psyche, I have always held the position that when you partake in secular entertainment, you ought to know what to expect. This game was a blast in the single player mode. The architecture was in depth, the textures were beautiful and the overlying gray tone really gave it that WWII feel. The game-play was smooth and precise. And most importantly, I have a relatively low-end system (AMD T-bird 750 w/ gforce2 mx) and thanks to ID software's fantastic quake3 engine, the whole game ran very smoothly even with everything bumped up to high. I found the story sub-par (Nazi zombies???), but it's a first person shooter and the story takes a back seat to 'shooting.' As for the multi-player experience, RTCW offers a depth and fun factor that so many games lack. The team play is second to none. You really need to have skilled medics, engineers, and lieutenants to back up your soldiers if you want to win the map… My Ratings: [1/4]
   —Ryan Dente, age 29

Positive—I have always been able to make a distinction between fantasy/fable, and media geared towards the genuine promotion of evil messages. RTCW is a great example of a game that takes a deadly serious subject matter, in so much as it revolves around a dreadful period in our history, and does an 'Indiana Jones' on it. The setting is pure Gothic nonsense mixed with realistic references. This makes for great diversity. If one can just unplug the part of the brain that obsesses on the threat of 'demonic imagery' and see it for what it is (zombies, resurrected fictitious Germanic 'gods' with a small 'G', and high spirited slightly bloody anti-nazi romps) then you'll have a blast. What's the other choice? Build a rip-rorting FPS adventure built around avoiding references to the undead (about as morally threatening as the troll under the bridge in the 3 Billy Goats Gruff, imho) and any other slightly supernatural motif? What would we be left with then? A preaching and actually quite bland exercise in moral uprightness, totally minus the fun factor. Remember, you are the good guy, stamping out the occultists, and said occultists are nothing more than crack-pot pantomime caricatures of the Nazi ego-maniacs found in most old war movies. The blood content is admittedly high, but you don't expect people to explode in a shower of glitter when you pump them full of lead. The violence is quite realistic, but still obviously part of a gung-ho game experience. The game's rating is there for a reason though, and should be observed, for Christian and young secular folk alike. Technically this game is a masterpiece. Multiplayer encourages teamplay, although violence must be used to achieve one's goals…But hey, WW2 wasn't about tickling the enemy with feathers. Judging a game based around a parallel take on a World War on its violence content is kind of like penalizing Indian food for being too spicy. There are guns and grenades, and they are there for a reason. But you die, and respawn after a few seconds, and the whole thing takes place in obviously competitive arenas, despite the WW2 decor. It's a game, and one with sublime netcode. If you are of the right age then play it. If you are a kid who likes war movies but is a bit scared of supernatural subject matter then you may want to wait a while. Personally I love it. Pure Indiana Jones escapism with an edge, and you get to whup the Nazis and occultists in singular gung-ho style. Excellent stuff! My Ratings: [4/5]
   —Tony, age 33

Comments from Young People…

Positive—I think the review was to harsh on this game. I have only played some of the level but I think there is little wrong with this game in comparison with games like Duke Nukem and Quake 3. Hitler was an evil person. He ordered millions of people to be killed for their religion. Hitler was part of the occult and the graphics and scripts in this game DO depict evil. I do agree with the reviewer that this game is not rooted in history, but disagree that they just needed an “acceptable” group to kill. NO group of people are OK to be killed. This game is based upon Wolfenstein 3D by id which I still play to this very day and even in that game, the Nazis were the bad group. My Ratings: [3/5]
   —Jennifer, age 13

Positive—A Beautiful Game. I ran this game on an 867 G4 with a GeForce 3 vid card. Absolutely amazing. Gameplay was perfect. Sound, excellent, and I already commented on the graphics. It's a FPS so no comments on the camera, and the controls are your standard FPS controls, no complaints there. It runs beautifully in OS X, it never crashed or quit. I don't really see the problem with the occultic subject matter, you're fighting against it, not using it. Isn't that what we're supposed to do as Christians? The outfit of the High Priestess (she only wore her bra, underwear, and a cloak) was questionable, but it was only in one cutscene, so… It's also not a historically inaccurate game, as one commenter said, it's a fact that the Nazis were involved with the occult, they were looking for their perfect super soldier. It's just that in the game, they actually succeed, for a little while. Castle Wolfenstein actually exists and it was used for the same purpose in the game as in real life! The most morally offensive item in the game is the outfit of the High Priestess. I don't count the killing, seeing as how in war, you do kill people, and that is what you are doing in the game, fighting a war. My Ratings: [3/5]
   —Jennifer, age 16

Positive—The game is probably one of the best games I have played. Well firstly in gameplay terms. It's outstandingly realistic except for some sounds that have been ripped off from some other games *wink wink*. You can really feel like you're inside but I expected a little better. Naturally, FPS games are full of killing sprees where the player doesn't even have to think. When he doesn't think, he doesn't care about the storyline (unless you are really into it). On the Christian point of view I find it disgustingly offensive. 1, the only enemies you will face are German and you have to kill them to win. Bit racist and 2, well the occult is involved. I would recommend it to everyone but it's probably worth staying away from. You get no fun killing everything in sight even in the stealth missions. My Ratings: [1/4]
   —Yun Khang, age 17

This is a great game. The graphics are amazing, and the gameplay is fantastic. Sure, it's violent, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it is an extremely enjoyable experience. As for the occult references, keep in mind that you are FIGHTING these "forces of evil", and if you are trying to say that as a Christian you are morally against the existence of this, then you are going against your own supposed beliefs… It is also a historical fact that the Nazis experimented in the occult. This game is a sequel to Wolfenstien 3d, so NO ACTIVISION was not looking for some group that would be acceptable to kill. If you knew what you were talking about, you would know that ID SOFTWARE made the game and thus chose to kill nazis. Think before you speak.
   —Andrew, age 14, non-Christian

Neutral—The single player is good, but there is so much Nazi imagery, that it could be considered "Neo-nazi". The multiplayer is awesome. It has no nazi stuff (the nazis are called Axis) and is loads of fun and encourages teamwork. Just for the multiplayer, I recommend this over Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. My Ratings: [2/4]
   —Ryan Deroche, age 15

Positive—I found this game very entertaining. great single player mode, with some excellent multiplayer. The game is quite violent, and should be avoided by little kids. And as far as the Satanic part. I wasn't offended at all. then again I'm agnostic, but I can see where a Christian would be offended. If you can deal with violence and are looking for a good game, this game is for you. My Ratings: [3/5]
   —Cory Dunavant, age 16, non-Christian

Neutral—I think what the reviewer said is absolutely true. This is definitely not a Christians game. It is filled with occult overtones, imagery, and one part they even summon some evil knight back from hell as I perceived it. The violence while not over the top is still not suitable for young children. I have to admit shooting nazis never will get old. Another problem with it I had was how some of the female characters were dress. There are female S.S. troops that have on tight leather outfit. It seems to me that this was just a way to try and entice a few more people to purchase it. This is truly a masterpiece of the gaming industry, but with its subject matter I can't suggest it. I returned it a week later. My Ratings: [2/5]
   —Matt, age 15

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

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