Return to Castle Wolfenstein is a first person shooter video game published by Activision and originally released on November 19, 2001 for Windows. The single player game was developed by Gray Matter Interactive and Nerve Software developed its multiplayer mode. Id Software, the creators of the original game entitled Wolfenstein 3D, oversaw the development of the game and were credited as executive producers. The multiplayer side, developed by Nerve Software eventually became the most popular part of the game, and it was the grandfather of many features that online multiplayer FPSs have today. Splash Damage, an independently-owned game developer in London, England, and one of the leading Shooter developers in Europe, created some of the maps for the Game of the Year edition. In 2008 the CEO of ID Software announced that a sequel will be released in mid 2009.
Return to Castle Wolfenstein (RTCW) is a sequel to the early, seminal first-person shooter Wolfenstein 3D, incorporating many advances in graphics technology and gameplay design since the original game.
It features a story-based single player campaign (taking up certain themes from the original game), as well as a team-based networked multiplayer version which features different character classes that must work together in order to win. There are four classes — lieutenant, medic, engineer, and soldier — the soldier can be one of several subclasses depending upon the special/heavy weapon that he selects. Some unique weapons not found in other World War II-themed first-person shooters include the airstrike beacon, Venom, and Flame Thrower. The multiplayer demo included a beachhead assault map similar to Omaha Beach.
The game is partially based on the 1968 movie Where Eagles Dare, where a U.S. Army Brigadier General is captured and taken prisoner to the Schloß Adler, a fortress high in the Alps above the town of Werfen, only reachable by cable car, and the headquarters of the German Secret Service in southern Bavaria. The supernatural element is based on the story of Castle Wewelsburg, a 17th century castle occupied by the Germans under Heinrich Himmler's control, and used for occult rituals and practices.
Unlike in the original Wolfenstein 3D, only a handful of the single player missions in Return to Castle Wolfenstein take place in the infamous castle/prison. The single player game takes place in Nazi-occupied Europe during 1943 and revolves around U.S. Army Ranger William "B.J." Blazkowicz, who, along with another agent (Agent One — referred to in passing in the PC versions, and seen in the Xbox, PS2, and Mac OS X versions), is sent to investigate rumors surrounding one of Heinrich Himmler's personal projects, the SS Paranormal Division. The agents are, however, captured before completing their mission and are imprisoned in Castle Wolfenstein. Taking the role of Blazkowicz, the player must escape the castle and continue investigating the activities of the SS Paranormal Division, which include research on resurrecting corpses, biotechnology, and secret weapons. During the game the player will face numerous foes, including Waffen SS soldiers, elite Fallschirmjäger (paratroopers), legions of undead creatures, and horrific Übersoldaten (supersoldiers) formed from a hideous blend of surgery and chemical engineering conducted by Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse. The end boss is an undead Saxon warrior-prince named Heinrich I.