Brutal Wolfenstein brings all the over-the-top fun and annoyances of Brutal Doom to Doom’s little brother. Much like Brutal Doom, it’s also not exactly a faithful replication of the original game that I could recommend to someone who wants to get the original Wolfenstein experience, but for someone who wants to experience the levels and atmosphere of Wolfenstein but can’t get into retro shooters, it’s a much easier sell. It’s actually not a mod of Wolfenstein but a recreation of Wolfenstein in the Doom engine that you’ll play on your chosen Doom source port. As the name implies, Brutal Wolfenstein adds a heaping helping of extra gore to feast your eyeballs on and popping Nazi skulls will never cease to be a satisfying activity in video games. Along with added gore, you can also kick enemies who haven’t quite perished yet in order to gain five extra health points as they fly across the room leaking everyone’s favorite sticky red stuff along the way.
My two least favorite additions made in Brutal Doom are also present and accounted for, those being aim down sights and the need to reload your weapons. Aim down sights is largely inoffensive as they haven’t added increased bullet spread for continuous fire or anything of that nature, so you can just continue on your merry way using your preferred ZDoom crosshair.
Reloading, however, is not. Most weapons’ magazines run dry very quickly, especially the automatics, so the constant need to reload between rooms and sometimes even in the middle of gun battles completely kills the speed and pacing of Wolfenstein, and it doesn’t make the game feel more modern in design, which seems to be the aim of the Brutal mods—it’s just annoying and I wish it weren’t here. I’m not going to say it ruins the entire experience, but I would completely understand if it did for some people.
As far as welcome additions go, grenades have been added in, which makes clearing small rooms and painting the walls in the process a breeze. The mod also adds in locational damage modeling allowing you to go for headshots and adding another layer of skill to the already difficult mod.
Brutal Wolfenstein also adds a bunch weapons to the arsenal. The standard-issue German bolt action rifle, the Kar98k, is one of the first weapons you will encounter and also the most contrasting weapon to the original Wolfenstein’s arsenal, which only contained semi and fully automatic weapons. The problem lies in that Wolfenstein’s level designs are unchanged in Brutal Wolfenstein, and they were created around the use of the rapid fire weapons in the original arsenal. so the slow but powerful Kar98k is the weapon I found to be the least useful in my time with the mod, but it can be nice if you only have to take on small groups of enemies and want to conserve ammo for some of your better weapons.
The Thompson submachine gun and Colt 1911 also show up to bring some good old-fashioned American .45 ACP slinging fun to the party, and they fit into the arsenal of Brutal Wolfenstein much more cohesively than the Kar98k. Speaking of American weapons, the M1 Garand has also been added with its incredibly satisfying “ping” fully intact when the en-bloc clip is ejected. It’s probably the best weapon in the game too, bringing all the power of the Kar98k to the table in a semi-automatic package. The ammo for all of the American weapons is exceptionally rare, though, as you are fighting through a German held castle.
It also adds in the first assault rifle invented, the German STG 44, which also puts up a good fight for best new weapon as it fills a “balanced” weapon role, much like assault rifles do in modern military shooters. You also get to play around with the big bad German machine gun the MG-42, which replaces the chaingun, but I found it to be much too unwieldy to get the job done more often than not.
There are some new enemy types as well, including flamethrower-wielding troops that appear in chapter three and are based on the Venom soldiers from Return to Castle Wolfenstein. The flamethrower certainly provides some cathartic fun via setting Nazis on fire and watching them run around screaming, but they can damage you in this state, so if you’re in a room with more than a few enemies, you’ll often cause more damage to yourself than them.
Overall, if you didn’t like Brutal Doom, you probably won’t be head over heels for Brutal Wolfenstein. But if you enjoyed Brutal Doom or want to play a more modern design of Wolfenstein, you can do much worse than Brutal Wolfenstein.