ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Hands-on with the latest next-gen chapter in the old school series that started it all

“The Nazis have discovered this energy source called the Black Sun, but it’s outside of our reality – and in-between it, there’s this bridge that connects our world to that energy source, called the Veil,” explains Beissman when asked about the freaky occurrence we just witnessed. Traditionally, it’s always been the bad guys in Wolfenstein games who tapped into occult powers to achieve their goals. But in this sequel, you’ll be the one imbued with creepy powers thanks to the mysterious medallion you uncovered earlier.

As the game progresses, Blazkowicz learns more about his medallion and its relationship to the Veil. Press a button and the world is enveloped by an eerie glow. Enemies are easier to target and secret passages are revealed. You’ll also be able to see the geist, spirits who live within the world of the Veil. Think of them as flying red barrels, that you can target and blow up to damage nearby enemies with splash damage.

Above: Jumping in and out of the Veil and using its powers to progress will quickly become second nature

It’s simple stuff at first, but the game quickly adds more layers to your Veil powers. The Nazis want to use the Veil to plug into the Black Sun’s spiritual powers, and your medallion is an artifact that allows you to manipulate that power. Soon, the Veil will become an indispensable tool that lets you slow down time and pass through walls. In one area, we found ourselves pinned down by a large group of enemies behind thick cover. They had the high ground and we were sitting ducks. While it was possible for us to bully our way through by sniping targets and carefully advancing while avoiding return fire, the Veil offered a quicker – and more enjoyable solution.

Above: Use the Veil to flank enemies behind heavy cover

We moved out of the enemy’s line of sight and used the Veil to pass through a wall protecting a group of soldiers who were previously taking potshots at us from behind cover. The soldiers let out exclamations of surprise as we rifle butted them to death in slow motion from behind – and we smacked them about a dozen more times as their dead bodies slowly fell to the floor (just to be sure). Now that we had flanked our enemy, mopping up the rest of the squad was easy. Blazcowicz will learn more ways to manipulate the Veil’s power with his medallion as the game’s story unfolds, but for now, Raven’s keeping those secret powers closer to their chest.

But that’s not to say that the Veil is the only noteworthy addition to the latest Wolfenstein game. This time, the Kreisau Circle, a German group of resistance fighters will often aid you in between – and during – missions. The of their headquarters as a sort of hub, where you can learn more about what’s going on, pick up new weapons and upgrade your gear. After each successful mission you’ll earn points, which can be used to purchase new parts for your weapons at the Kreisau Circle’s Black Market. Buy a larger clip for your machine gun to reduce the need to reload if you prefer mid-range combat, or upgrade your rifle’s sight to increase accuracy if you like taking a more stealthy approach. Tweaking your weapons and taking on missions at the Kreisau Circle’s base adds a bit of RPG-ness to Wolfenstein without losing track of the run-and-gun gameplay the series has always been known for.

Above: You are not alone. The Kreisau Circle will help you in your investigation

From what we’ve seen so far, Wolfenstein looks like it’s shaping up to be a solid shooter that should please fans. Unfortunately, Raven wasn’t able to tell us any details about multiplayer, which is too bad because we’re curious to see what role the Veil will play when challenging other players. Expect more details as the game’s June, 2009 release date for the PC, PS3, and 360 draws nearer.

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