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Video Game / Return to Castle Wolfenstein

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The SS is in Big Trouble!

"So, advanced weapons, chemical and biological research, and now, the occult..."
The OSA Director

Return to Castle Wolfenstein is a First-Person Shooter game using the Quake III engine, developed by Gray Matter Interactive Studios and published by Activision. It's the Non-Linear Sequel (hard to call it a "remake") to id Software's Wolfenstein 3-D and it was released in 2001, twenty years after the release of the very first game in the series, Castle Wolfenstein.

The game is set during World War II, following the story of B.J. Blazkowicz, a soldier sent to investigate a secret/occult Nazi plot. After being captured and escaping Castle Wolfenstein, he finds out the Nazis are resurrecting corpses as well as developing all manner of advanced technology (like a viral V2 missile, rocket planes, Super Soldier cyborgs), all of this fitting into a mysterious plot to revive an evil conqueror from past times.


There's also a free standalone game running in the same engine and with the same thematic, called Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. Originally, it was going to be a free addon for RTCW, but that changed during the development. Enemy Territory was the last game in the series to be released before the death of Wolfenstein creator Silas S. Warner in 2004, though he had no involvement in the game.

In the QuakeCon 2010, Id announced that the source code of both this game and the multiplayer standalone game Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory have been released under the General Public License version 3. (Or GPLv3 if you want)

Followed by Wolfenstein (2009).

Check the character sheet.


Return to Castle Wolfenstein provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Area:
    • The Defiled Church near Wulfburg hasn't been in use in centuries.
    • Castle Wolfenstein, or at least a part of it, becomes abandoned late in the game as it gets overrun by zombies.
  • Absolute Cleavage: Some of the female SS Paranormal Nazis have their uniforms unzipped to show some cleavage.
  • Admiring the Abomination: Strauss can't stop gushing about his Super Soldier during the Boss Battle, saying things like "Thus we see the superiority of the machine over flesh and blood."
  • A Father to His Men: It's easy to miss, but one Nazi officer in the village can be overheard lamenting how their own men were sealed in the catacombs.
  • All Germans Are Nazis: Zig-Zagged. On the one hand, there are numerous German civilians in the levels, German resistance fighters (the Kreisau Circle) are essential allies without which the game cannot be won, and some levels feature NPCs whose death gives a Non Standard Game Over, especially if the player causes it. On the other hand, this is balanced out by portraying Heinrich I as an evil conqueror, dark warlord, and Sealed Evil in a Can who presaged the dark machinations of the Third Reich. In reality, he was one of the more effective and benevolent Holy Roman Emperors who ended the Magyar invasions of Europe and helped create the modern German nation. Also, unlike most other World War II shooters, every German soldier encountered by B.J. is specifically noted to belong to the SS, instead of having regular Wehrmacht troops mixed in with them.
  • Aluminium Christmas Trees: The whole "sexy Nazi dominatrix" thing the Elite Guards have going may seem like the sort of silly, salacious fanservice dreamt up by the same sort of people that made games like Si N, Heavy Metal F.A.K.K.², or Deathtrap Dungeon, but is actually a classic trope that goes all the way back to the old pulpy World War 2 era men's adventure magazines that the Wolfenstein series draws a lot of inspiration from.
    • The "Snooper" rifle is based on actual early night-vision scopes mounted on M1 Carbines, which were powered by a heavy backpack-sized battery.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Elite Guard are an all-female group of bodyguards to a Nazi commander by the name of Helga von Bulow, who is as mean as her name suggests. They are also reportedly bound together as part of a witch's coven.
  • Angry Guard Dog: The X-Shepherds, which appear only in Tides of War, are fresh dog corpses fused with spare parts from Proto-Soldiers. Basically, they are Deathshead's "hunting dogs".
  • Arbitrary Gun Power: 9mm ammo does more damage when fired by the Sten than it does when fired by the MP40.
  • Artificial Brilliance: The enemy A.I. has some remarkably good pathfinding and can actually circle around the entire level to reach you provided they have a clear path and you give them enough time to do so. This is only really noticeable if you go out of your way to dick around with the A.I., though.
    • Zombies who can't reach you will hide behind cover until you move in reach. This is again only really noticeable at the start of the first catacomb level.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Nazi soldiers have a baffling tendency to jump off of ledges and die from the fall damage. They can even jump in water in some levels, and inevitably drown in such cases.
  • Artistic Licence – History: In addition to all the other liberties taken with his character, the real Henry I ("Henry the Fowler") was a benign king who died in 936, seven years before the scene showing his entombment.
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • Several German bases have foreign Waffen SS recruitment posters on the walls, somehow.
    • Soldiers (or any other combat troops) wearing red armbands with swastikas in combat. Those were mostly worn by party members when on administrative duties or by soldiers and paramilitary during parades. Sporting that thing in combat would mean painting a target on one's arm.
    • A Waffen SS battalion is stationed in a village, yet their banners on the walls have a Luftwaffe eagle as symbol.
    • In the game, the average Wehrmacht or Nazi grunt packs an MP40 submachine gun, with roughly one in ten soldiers using a Kar98k Mauser rifle instead. In real life this was the opposite, with the MP40 being the rarer one. Of course, it makes for more fun gameplay to fight mooks equipped with less-damaging submachine guns than with bolt-action rifles.
    • The Sten is a British weapon, and one made to extremely loose specifications just to make sure they could make enough to rearm themselves after the disastrous early stages of the European war, so there's really no way nor reason by which the Elite Guards should be using them so extensively; although Germany did produce their own copies of the weapon, this was two years after the game's setting, during the final days of the European theater, to arm everyone who could conceivably use a gun but who wasn't part of the regular army in a desperate attempt to hold back the Soviets. It also works rather oddly, including an overheating mechanic that makes it stop firing rather than continuing to fire until the magazine is emptied, and also overheats (but in turn cools back down) ludicrously fast, after only about seven bullets in one burst.
    • The Panzerfaust is incorrectly depicted as a reusable rocket launcher, when it was actually a disposable single-use anti-tank grenade (the Panzerschreck was a reusable launcher, akin to the American Bazooka). It's made especially apparent during your foray into the X-Labs, where you come across ammo pickups for the Panzerfaust that visibly contain a full Panzerfaust, yet if you didn't trigger an alarm in the previous level to get a guard to drop one, you don't actually get to use the weapon in question until you relieve an Übersoldat prototype of his. However, this depiction is inconsistent, as after you fire a rocket, BJ discards a launch tube and pulls out a fresh launcher from hyperspace as long as you have spare ammo.
    • The Kar98k, in addition to holding twice as much ammo at a time as it did in reality, is animated as if it uses an en bloc clip rather than stripper clips, with the bullets and clip both inserted into the weapon's magazine during reloads, even when a scope is attached and visibly in the way of the process. BJ is also not animated to actually cycle the bolt between shots, though the long delay between shots and the actual sounds do imply he's doing so offscreen.
  • Awesome, yet Impractical:
    • The American weapons, like the Tommy gun or the night-vision Snooper, do more damage than their Brit or German counterparts, but ammo is much more rare. You are, of course, deep behind enemy lines in Nazi Germany, so...
    • The flamethrower torches regular enemies and lets your hear their screams of agony, but requires you get close and waste a few seconds of setting them on fire, which gets you easily shot in return, meaning it is best saved for use against the undead.
  • Bad Boss:
    • Seems to be the MO of the SS Paranormal Division in general but Helga von Bulow takes the cake.
    • When a group of SS soldiers find that they Dug Too Deep and are now trapped in a tomb with the walking dead, they run back to the entrance only to find they've been sealed in by their own commanders.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Some of Helga von Bulow's all-female elite guard wear midriff-baring outfits in the later missions.
  • The Baroness: Helga von Bulow, the commander of Elite Guards is an egoistic and obnoxious overweight dominatrix who has no qualms about treating her subordinates like trash and sacrificing them to get whatever she wants. Even if it means waking an undead Eldritch Abomination from its slumber.
  • BFG: The Venom Minigun comes the closest to this level of power, boasting 12.7 mm ammo in conjunction with an incredible rate of fire. It'll make quick work of any Prototype Ubersoldaten and vaporize regular mooks.
  • Boring, but Practical: Most of the time, you will rely on normal German weapons, such as the MP40. The Sten is mostly an upgrade over the MP40 and is obtained in the first episode, yet will be one of your workhorses for most of the game with its good damage and the suppressor on the barrel.
  • Bookcase Passage: One is in Kessler's house in Wulfburg, it leads to a trapdoor connecting to a wine cellar underneath a tavern occupied by Nazi officers.
    • Not quite a bookcase passage, but in the same village there is a house with a book that can be activated, which opens a passage on the floor and lead to some treasure.
  • Boss-Only Level: Downplayed. The 3 boss levels have a small amount of Mooks, but they're much shorter and built around an "arena" where you fight the boss, who is the largest threat of the level.
  • Boss Tease: The game has Heinrich appearing in the opening cutscene. The campaign consists of B.J. preventing this resurrection which happens as the last battle in the game.
  • Brawn Hilda: Helga von Bulow, the obnoxious, overweight commander of the Elite Guard.
  • Combat Stilettos: Part of the Elite Guard's stripperific costumes (see below). The clicking of their heels on the floor is actually very useful for tracking them, since they're pretty decent at flanking and deal heavy damage if they successfully blitz you.
  • Creepy Cathedral: The Defiled Church.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Implied by one Elite Guard who warns two SS soldiers not to look at the ruins during the imbuement ceremonynote , otherwise their blood will begin to boil, and even more gruesome things will ensue, though she doesn't elaborate. It's not entirely clear if it's real or if she's messing with them.
  • Cyborg: The Lopers, X-Shepherds, Proto-Soldiers and Super-Soldiers. The Lopers and X-Shepherds are particularly dangerous, because they can move fast and deal massive damage.
  • Deadly Doctor: Plenty of them: Deathshead, Doctor Zee and several other pistol-wielding eggheads.
  • Defector from Decadence: A mission involves you rescuing a defecting scientist before the Nazi can kill him. He offers intel on the superscience the Nazis are working on.
  • Die, Chair, Die!: Certain objects such as chairs can be picked up, thrown, and destroyed.
  • Diesel Punk: In spades. Mixed with a healthy dose of Ghostapo.
  • Distant Prologue: The opening cutscene shows the sealing of Heinrich I in 943 AD. The actual game is set exactly a millennium later, in 1943, with the player attempting to prevent the SS Paranormal Division from reviving Heinrich.
  • Dug Too Deep: The SS Paranormal end up inadvertently unleashing a Sealed Evil in a Can at least twice.
  • Dungeon Bypass: In the beginning of V2 rocket level if you manage to succesfully sneak into the open cage undetected, it will save you some fighting. Just lie back and enjoy the ride.
  • Dynamic Entry: You can kick doors down. It only seems to open the door faster, though. And it's an effective way to blow your cover, alerting any nearby mooks to your presence.
  • Eaten Alive: This is what happens to Nazis who run out of ammo and get cornered by the undead. You don't get to see it, but you hear the screams.
  • Electric Torture: Doctor Zee in Castle Wolfenstein has an elaborate setup just for this, with a table to strap his prisoners to and two tesla coils on the ceiling to do the actual electrical torture.
  • Elite Mooks: Come in 3 varieties: the female SS Elite Guards who are equipped with silenced submachine guns and dodge and roll around alot, SS Black Guards who carry high-powered rifles, have higher than normal health, and wear headshot-deflecting helmets, and the Flamethrower Troopers/Venom Troopers who carry heavy weapons and have significantly higher than normal health.
  • Embedded Precursor: The Xbox port and PC "Game of the Year Edition" include a remake of the original Wolfenstein 3D.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: The Germans' meddling around with the occult has awakened hordes of undead beings. There are zombies, mummies, ghouls, undead warriors, and even occult priests.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: The SS Paranormal Division has many opportunities to learn this lesson. It never quite sinks in and they keep dying gruesomely because of it.
  • Fake Balance: The Sten submachine gun is supposedly balanced by the overheat mechanic to prevent it from being spammed, but in practice, this isn't a huge drawback since firing in controlled bursts is a core skill to increase your accuracy anyway. Despite using the same 9mm rounds as the MP40 it deal 10 damage per round instead of 6, rendering the later mostly obsolete.
  • Fanservice: The female SS paranormal division soldiers, some of them have their uniforms unzipped at the top to show some cleavage, while others have outfits that show their bellies off.
  • Fat Bitch: Again, Helga von Bulow.
  • Foreshadowing: Wilhelm Strasse, aka "Deathshead", is introduced as a secondary antagonist in this game. As the head of the ambiguously-named SS "Special Projects" unit, his role in the occult operations being investigated by the B.J. is initially unclear, but from the start he is deemed as "probably the single most dangerous figure in the entire Third Reich". Twelve Real Life years and two games later we find out precisely how dangerous the man is.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The Venom Troopers and Flamethrower Troopers.
  • Gatling Good: The Venom Gun. It has a high rate of fire, but overheats at some point.
  • Ghostapo: Half of the game runs on Nazi occultism and Nazis searching for deadly black magic artifacts, both taken Up to Eleven (Rule of Cool applies, naturally). There are also some references to genuine historical Nazi occultism along the way.
    • The SS Paranormal Division's "Operation Resurrection" aims at raising a powerful warlord and necromancer named Heinrich I from the dead. They Dug Too Deep, and woke up hordes of uncontrollable undead doing so.
    • As for the historical references:
      • Nazi archeology. In Real Life, it was handled by the Ahnenerbe, and did not aim at unearthing magical secrets. It dabbled in occultism however, due to Heinrich Himmler's influence and obsessions.
      • Speaking of Himmler, Heinrich I is based on King Henry the Fowler. Himmler believed he was the reincarnation of this king, hence the presence of both in the game.
      • Paderborn is not a village but rather a city, and it did have a center of Nazi occultism in a château in its vicinity (in the Landkreis of Paderborn, more precisely). That château's name was not "Schufstaffel" (which is obviously a name derived from the SS' full name, Schutzstaffel) but Wewelsburg.
      • Several symbols of the Thule Society show up in the game, the broken sun cross ("round swastika") in particular. In short, the Thule Society (Thule-Gesellschaft) was a German occultist and racist group founded in Munich right after World War I, named after a mythical Northern country and its equally mythical race. The society sponsored and influenced a little workers party that would grow and become the NSDAP (Nazi Party). Several members of the Thule Society became members of the party, although it should be noted Adolf Hitler himself was not a Thule Society member as it is often believed. In fact, Hitler moved to sever the party's links to the society, which disbanded in the 1920s, well before he came to power. It is likely that the society still exists in 1943 in the game, according to the Wolfenstein wiki.
      • Mariana Blavatsky's name is a reference to Helena Blavatsky, a 19th century Russian occultist and the founder of the Theosophical Society. Blavatsky's published theosophical ideas, particularly those regarding "Root Races", have been cited as an influence on Ariosophy, the esoteric movement established in late 19th and early 20th century Germany and Austria by Guido von List and Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels. The Thule Society derived some of its ideas from Ariosophy and had a major influence on the nascent Nazi party. Nevertheless, Blavatsky should not be held accountable for any of the antisemitic and racist ideas that the Ariosophists promoted, were she alive to witness the development of Ariosophy she probably would have denounced its ideas regarding race. Besides, the Theosophical Society was actually outlawed by the Nazis in Germany.
  • Giant Mook: The Protosoldats are a cross between this and straight-out mini-bosses.
  • Good Guns, Bad Guns: Being a game set in World War II, this should be obvious. There are several weapons that are used by both the Allies and the Axis in multiplayer, such as the Knife, Mauser, Flamethrower, Venom Gun, and Panzerfaust.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: There are several in the undead-infested tombs where zombies corner the SS soldiers and massacre them offscreen.
  • Guns Akimbo: On a few occasions the player is allowed to do this with the Colt .45 pistols.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Lopers' legs have been replaced by some kind of electricity-launching machine and now walk around on their oversized arms.
  • Heal Thyself: Medical backpacks are present in levels every now and then. The player can also heal himself by eating food.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In both Stupid Jetpack Hitler and Ghostapo varieties.
    • The Lopers, failed products of Deathshead's Ubersoldaten project, have a thing for getting loose and killing everything nearby. The accidents involved in the SS Paranormal Division's digs at Holstein and Paderborn end up similarly.
    • Some Panzerfaust-equipped soldiers or Proto-Soldiers can manage to detonate said weapon on nearby corners or objects right in front of them, i.e. blowing them up in their face and the face of the soldiers that are close to them, although this occurs pretty rarely.
  • 100% Completion: At the end of every level, the game shows you your level stats: how many secrets and treasures you found, and the time it took you to complete the level. Not really useful, except for Bragging Rights Reward.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Health can be restored by eating food, cold meals restore less health than hot meals though.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: "Can I play, Daddy?", "Don't hurt me!", "Bring 'em on!" and "I am Death incarnate!", although the first of these is present only in the console ports.
  • Ignored Expert: Professor Zemph, the scientist responsible for the Dark Knight extraction process, had also laid out a process for their safe retrieval. Too bad Helga was too impatient and arrogant to care. Reading his journal is telling:
    "Very upset with how things are progressing. The work is getting sloppy. Everyone is too much of a rush. Ignoring precautions. Certain corners just cannot be cut. Those old mystics were far too clever for that. Helga is the worst offender of all. And she is supposed to be overseeing us!"
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The standard Nazi soldiers suffer from this because of their weapon, the MP40, which is also inaccurate for B.J.; the American Thompson, in contrast, does not suffer from similar inaccuracy during full-auto fire, but ammo for it is so uncommon you'll almost never use it.
  • Infernal Retaliation: The Undead levels sometimes feature fire undead who can spit fire streams to his attackers.
  • Interface Screw:
    • The crosshairs (Basically a circle and a dot) are normal while over an enemy. Aiming at someone friendly changes the crosshairs into a forbidden circle. Guess what color the circle with a line through it is?
    • Anytime BJ is set on fire, either by fire statues, fire undead or flamethrower soldiers, flames cover most of the screen.
    • The "ghost missile" attacks used by Olaric and Heinrich temporarily make you blind.
  • Interservice Rivalry: There's distinct friction between the Paranormal Division and Deathshead, most pronounced in a long note you find in the X-labs where he's added notes over an outline of their plan, constantly belittling them and outright telling them, when they ask for six Übersoldat prototypes to take part in the ceremony, he's keeping one to continue his own research and they'll just have to deal with it.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: The Paratrooper Rifle. Doesn't fire as fast as a submachine gun, but hits a lot harder. Doesn't hit as hard as a regular rifle, but fires a lot faster. The scope only has a small magnification, but it doesn't sway at all.
  • Just Train Wrong: The entirety of the trainyard level. Too many things to point out but the most blatant are botched couplers, absent fenders, and ridiculously small bogies and wheels. Also, the tracks are arranged in a way that would make any shunting outright impossible.
  • Karma Houdini: Deathshead manages to get away unscathed.
  • King Mook: The fire zombies have miniboss-level health and a really annoying fire-breathing attack. Fortunately, there are only 2 of them in the entire game.
  • La Résistance: The Kreisau Circle, Germans opposed to Nazism who help the Allies.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: It's a good idea to let the Nazis and undead/Lopers fight each other in order to save you ammo. Usually the undead/Lopers win, and then you can mop up whatever is left.
  • Lightning Gun: The late game Tesla Gun, used primarily by Super Soldiers. You can scavenge it and use it against Nazis.
  • Ludicrous Gibs:
    • Can be triggered by explosives, high powered weapons, and having a body wedged IN A DOOR!
    • You have to gib some enemies to make them stay dead. Of course, they're fragile enough to be gibbed with bullets and kicks, but it's still annoying.
    • It's also possible to gib unsuspecting targets by knifing and throwing a chair at them at the same time.
  • Magic Versus Science: There's a hint of this sort of conflict amongst the Nazis involved in Operation Resurrection: Deathshead's journals indicate he feels the Paranormal Division is filled with crazy people obsessed with things that will not help the war effort, and he's really not happy that they're hijacking some of his own work for their own ends. His colleague Doctor Zemph has no problem dabbling in both the occult and in super-science.
  • Man on Fire: It's sadistically satisfying to use the Flamethrower on Nazis and hear them suffering. Especially the Elite Guard. Our special tonight will be Nazi flambado.
  • Mêlée à Trois: A few levels feature 3-way battles between the player, the Nazis, and the undead. For some reason, the Nazis never consider an Enemy Mine truce with fellow human B.J.
  • More Dakka: Starting with the MP40 and ending with the Venom Gun, though this time is matized with much non-conventional weaponry.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The above picture is a reference to the title screen of Wolf 3D.
    • The ending, which features B.J bursting out of a brick wall and mowing down Nazis, is a reference to the ending screen of Spear Of Destiny, which shows pretty much the same thing (except B.J. is using chainguns and isn't wearing a shirt).
    • The first mission is called "Castle Wolfenstein". The game plays with this in several missions involving infiltration in levels full of alarm switches.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: Uber Soldat's Tesla Gun's range far exceeds yours when you get the weapon proper. Furthermore, the Flamethrower used by Nazis easily burns you as soon as it touches you, but takes a second to burn an enemy. You also must fire it in a sweeping method to use it effectively.
  • Nazi Gold: Some gold ingots can be found as bonus treasures B.J. can find. They have eagle+swastika symbols on them.
  • Never Bring A Knife To A Gunfight: Who'd've thought a 10th-century knight and his sword wouldn't stand much of a chance against a gatling gun?
  • Never Bring A Gun To A Knifefight: ...Now if you didnt save up ammo for that gatling gun...
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The Dark Knight ritual in the final level turns three Ubersoldats, which could've been more than a challenge to the American intruder planning to disrupt said ritual, into significantly weaker undead warriors that have neither the weapons nor the armor they had before they were transformed. Makes you wonder why they didn't just use something like human prisoners of war.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Heinrich's army had these, and they are still active centuries later—much to the dismay of the SS Paranormal Division.
  • Nintendo Hard: This game is noticeably more difficult than most of its contemporaries. Health pickups are quite a bit rarer than in other games, and Armor pickups are especially uncommon (for most of the game you'll usually have less than 30% to 50% of your total Armor). This is combined with the fact that enemies, especially Elite Mooks, can mow you down very quickly too. This is especially noticeably in the last few levels.
  • No-Gear Level: The game starts with B.J. escaping from the titular castle, armed only with the knife and pistol (and all of 12 bullets) he took from a guard. Being B.J. Blazkowicz, however, this problem is rectified quickly.
    • Using the /spdevmap codes to get to levels that are not mission-starting levels results in B.J. having no weapons whatsoever, and no armor either, necessitating some more codes to get weapons, unless the player feels like doing it really hardcore.
  • Noodle Incident: Mentioned by one officer in the Chateau Schufstafel: "what Blawatsky did back in Holstein" and another saying she almost got all of them killed. None of it is elaborated on any further.
    • There are humorous notes scattered around mentioning various noodle incidents. In the Airfield mission there is a note warning not to brew coffee in the rocket fuel mixing system (next to a condemned door that's blackened from an explosion). The other in the X-Labs explaining that a cholera epidemic happened when someone disposed of the X-creatures' waste in the drinking water supply.
  • No Swastikas: The German version replaces them with two eagles resembling the Quake III: Arena logo, and also scrapped other Nazi references, such as the Horst Wessel Lied song, which was the Nazi Party's anthem (its use is forbidden in Germany nowadays).
  • One-Man Army: B.J.
  • Overheating:
    • The Sten, in addition to the reload needs, has this as another cap towards almost deadly shots.
    • The Venom minigun also overheats when continuously fired.
  • Oh, Crap!: When you first meet the super soldier
    "Well Agent Blazkowicz, is it? You are a most impressive specimen. It would be my pleasure to dissect you piece by piece. Let me introduce you to someone. Do not confuse him with the mere prototypes you've encountered. This is the pinnacle of all my research. Das Über-Soldat. The Super Soldier. It will be my pleasure to watch it destroy you." -Dr. Wilhelm Strauss
    • The Nazis in the Catacombs who discover the ladder has been destroyed and they're trapped in the catacombs.
    • In several zombie levels there are Nazis who flee from the Undead and end up running out of ammo and react like this.
  • Prequel: Operation: Resurrection has a small campaign taking place before the first level of the PC game.
  • Press X to Die:
    • There is a set of buttons in the third level of the second mission of Operation: Resurrection which reveal a secret if pushed the right way. They're boarded up, complete with a red sign with skulls on it. One bad press, and it's the end.
    • The PC version has a Cyanide Pill you can kill yourself with. It's totally pointless, so it's possible it was put in by the developers as a joke.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Kessler, your contact in the Kreisau circle, impersonates a German officer on the radio to "confirm" Blazkowicz is dead. This means the village isn't alerted to your presence after your spectacular escape from the castle.
  • Shock and Awe: The Tesla gun. Lopers use the same technology as well.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: This is what kickstarts the plot, Simon the Wanderer, the wizard in the intro, realizes he can't kill Heinrich, so he seals him under the ground.
    • Olaric is released when Helga von Bulow retrieves the Dagger of Warding, which gets her dismembered alive.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: The rocket loaded with a chemical warhead and bound for London is conveniently equipped with one of these in the control room, you'll need to use it or else you will fail the mission.
  • Shoot the Medic First: A valuable strategy in both the Multiplayer portion of RTCW and Enemy Territory.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The cable car level is an obvious one to Where Eagles Dare. Also, one promo image (the page's picture) has Blazkowicz's face modelled after Clint Eastwood.
    • An occultist named Dr. Merkwürdigliebe appears as a hidden enemy in the village assassination level near the end of the game.
    • The Doomguy's pain sounds can be briefly heard in the intro cutscene.
    • In the opening cinematic, Simon the Wanderer uses a magic staff with a large yellow jewel on the tip, just like Corvus.
    • The saw trap in the Crypt level behaves like a similar trap in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
    • One of the officers in the Paderborn mission is named Major Hochstetter.
  • Shown Their Work: With some exceptions, most of the weapons you can wield were real WWII weapons that behaved more-or-less as shown in the game. Even the Venom, which you might take as part of the sci-fi aspect of the game, is actually based on the real-life Leimberger gatling gun; the M3 "Snooper" Rifle's scope gives black-and-white imagery and not the (inaccurate) red or greenish tint usually seen in media.
  • Spiritual Successor: Obviously it's got certain ties to Id's own Wolfenstein 3-D, but the stealth-based aspects of the gameplay harken all the way back to the original Apple ][ game Castle Wolfenstein.
  • Spoiler Opening: It shows Heinrich I. The player only gets a hint of his apparition in the last levels.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: Two of them: One of infiltration, and one of assassination. These can be rather difficult to start with, as one of the objectives in both missions is to ensure that no alarms are sounded.
  • Stripperific: Don't get distracted fighting off the Elite Guards. There is also a lingerie-clad prostitute who is getting ready to service Major Hochstedder in Paderborn before you rudely interrupt them and put two in the Major's head. Marianna Blavatsky's outfit covers so little of her body it may as well be her underwear.
  • Strong Flesh, Weak Steel: Downplayed. You can bust a hole in a stone/concrete wall by kicking it enough, but gibbing a corpse requires explosives... or the Venom Gun.
  • Stupid Evil: The Nazis in the undead levels won't consider making a truce with B.J Blazcowicz even when they're outnumbered by the walking dead trying to eat them alive. Arguably Justified in the latter levels where the Nazis in question are the more fanatical Elite Guards and Paratroopers who are under order to both stop you and contain the undead outbreak, less so in the earlier Catacombs levels where the Nazis in the catacombs got sealed there by their panicking officers desperate to stop the uncontrollable undead.
    • Doctor Zee electric torture/interrogation kill Agent One, who is implied to have died before revealing any information. He plans to do the same to Blazkowicz, which would kill his two source of information and leave him with none.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: Experimental germ warhead, mutants, Übersoldat, big fancy jet planes, electrically-powered miniguns, rocket planes, Tesla guns... you name it. This trope is the very basis of the franchise after all, even before Ghostapo.
  • Suddenly Voiced: The console ports add more cutscenes that give B.J. Blazkowicz actual spoken dialogue for the first time in the series.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Not B.J. himself, but the Nazis mooks who fall in water. They don't know how to swim and drown. Particularly funny to attempt in the "Baseout" level, which has a water pond in which the player can trick some nearby mooks to jump in to follow him.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: The franchise runs on this trope, after all.
    • Cultured variant: The generals of the Resurrection project in the second infiltration mission.
    • Torture master variant: The Mad Scientist torturing Agent One at the beginning.
    • Officer with a conscience: The defecting doctor in the Secret Weapons Facility missions.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: One lever that is necessary to active to proceed further in the Crypt level also triggers this type of trap in the room it's found in.
  • Timed Mission: Once you reach a certain point in the Rocket mission, a 2-minute countdown for the launch of the titular chemical-laden rocket towards London will begin, though it's trivial to reach it in time and abort the launch.
  • Title Drop: The next-to-last mission is called "Return To Castle Wolfenstein". It's also spoken aloud twice, once in the intro cinematic by a Nazi excavator ordering a subordinate to contact Himmler, and again towards the end when B.J. is ordered back to the Castle for the final confrontation.
  • Too Awesome to Use: The .30 caliber rounds for the Snooper rifle are the rarest ammo in the game. Make those shots count. The .45 caliber for the Thompson and the Colt are slightly less rare.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The SS Paranormal Division are so wildly incompetent and arrogant that they cause no less than three incidents where they either accidentally cause an undead outbreak or manage to resurrect an ancient being that very predictably betrays them.
  • Torture Technician: Doctor Zee in the first level has just finished torturing Agent One to death and sends a guard to fetch you from your cell and do this to you. Naturally, he's the first enemy you kill in gameplay (the guard is killed in a cutscene).
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: Helpful advice: don't manually save on either of the two stealth levels. If you happen to save in a moment right before being spotted (and thus, ending the mission), you will respawn right before the mission ends again instead of at the last checkpoint. The only way to advance is to restart the mission from scratch.
  • Useless Useful Stealth: Played with. While behaving stealthy will save you some trouble, enable you to eavesdrop on Enemy Chatter and is outright required on certain levels, it often also denies you some stronger weapons. For instance if you don't trigger an alarm in the Norway level, the panzergrenadiers won't even spawn, which means you won't get the panzerfaust before encountering the first Proto Soldier in the following level, the X-labs.
  • Variable Mix: The in-game music consists of looped tracks that change in accordance to the situation.
  • Videogame Cruelty Punishment: Shooting/stabbing/kicking German civilians (such as the unarmed women or members of the Kreisau Circle) results in an immediate Game Over. Even a single-foot kick is enough kill them, whereas several kicks are needed to kill basic Nazi mooks.
  • Wire Dilemma: Let's just say that those silly Nazis really should have read the manual.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: A localized exemple in the catacombs, which is contained by the Nazis sealing the catacombs to contain the out of control undead - with some of their own Nazis still trapped inside. In the latter levels the undead have somehow spread to the abandoned sections of Castle Wolfenstein, where the local Elite Mooks are desperately trying to contain them.