Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
Developer: Splash Damage
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium III 600 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 32 MB 3D video card
Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory began life as a retail product, but when the single-player component (from another developer) failed to meet expectations, Activision decided to release Splash Damage's work on the multiplayer game as a free download. Enemy Territory is a stand alone game of goal-oriented, team-based multiplayer combat.
Enemy Territory is another game, like America's Army, that seeks to elude FI's rating system. Our recommendations are intended to convey a sense of value, but as a quality, free, stand-alone game, there's no question as to whether it's purchase-worthy. The only question is whether you should bother to download the game, and the answer is an unqualified "yes."
Enemy Territory is an extension of the multiplayer component of Return to Castle Wolfenstein (RtCW), and improves on that game's multiplayer in every way. The WWII theme remains, with Nazis on one side and American soldiers on the other. There are a variety of modes, but the most commonly played is "Campaign Mode," in which you can play through a North African or European series of missions. In either case, you play through three missions, with the campaign going to the side that wins two out of three. The maps are sophisticated and carefully designed, with more objectives and alternative routes than any of RtCW's maps.
Most maps are set up so that the defending side has a series of fallback positions – the longer you can hold out in one position, the less time you'll have to hold the next. Missions are complex – one has the Americans repairing and stealing a tank, driving the tank through a city (past barriers) to blast open a bank vault, after which they must steal the vault's gold and escape the city in a hijacked truck. Another mission requires the Nazis to control a rail network, moving cars back and forth to transport ammunition for an enormous railroad gun that must be fired. The campaigns require extensive teamwork, all the character classes, and are a lot of fun.
The Engineer, Soldier, Medic and Field Ops classes remain from RtCW (if you don't recognize the Field Ops, that's because they were called Lieutenants). Each of these classes has the same abilities as before: Medics can heal and revive fallen troops; Field Ops can call in artillery and air strikes; the Engineer can set demolition charges; and the Soldier can carry heavy weapons. The Engineer has the added ability to set land mines (although each side can only have ten in place at any given time), and the soldiers have a few new heavy weapons, including a mobile machine gun and a mortar. These changes add a lot of variety to play, but the addition of a Covert Ops class entirely transforms gameplay.
Covert Ops can spot mines, drop smoke grenades and have a satchel charge that can be detonated remotely, destroying many (but not all) objects that engineers can demolish. Most importantly, Covert Ops can steal uniforms to disguise themselves as the enemy. While in disguise, a Covert Op looks just like the enemy, and the opposing side is likely to mistake that operative for one of their own. That lets this class infiltrate vulnerable positions, open doors that would otherwise be inaccessible, and creates a sense of paranoia that enhances the drama of combat.
An experience system makes the campaigns even more interesting than the more basic RtCW play. Killing enemies or performing class-based objectives will improve your character, and give you a slight edge over your opponents. The fact that the edge is slight is vital. Too much of an advantage would create positive feedback in which the best players get the best advantage, preventing lesser gamers from participating. While the gains in experience help, they don't stop anyone from serving as a vital part of the team. Each character has a Light Weapons and Battle Sense skill, and then each class has a unique skill such as Heavy Weapons or Engineering. There are four levels of improvement for each skill, and most players will have difficulty surpassing the third level by the end of the campaign. As examples of the skill improvements, if you reach Battle Sense Level 3, you get 15% more health, and Light Weapons Level 4 will let you dual wield pistols akimbo.
The well thought-out classes, combined with the experience system over the course of a campaign, give the six maps in Enemy Territory replayability. Without more maps, the game probably won't stand the test of time, but it's a free, stand-alone download. As such, this is an extraordinary value, and a welcome gesture from the publisher. While Battlefield 1942 supplanted RtCW for WWII team-based combat for many, Enemy Territory is free, good for hours of fun, and (with its lower system requirements) a great alternative for gamers who lack the horsepower to run the more recent multiplayer title.