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Wolfenstein (2009) - Vami vs. Bad Research

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So Wolfenstein (2009) is a meh game, right?

Well, yes. Let's here Ross's list: The voice acting is bad, various parts of the plot are stolen, I doubt the integrity of the composer, the mouse control is bad, and the gameplay is un-interesting. And, to boot, the story just isn't that interesting. Typically, it would make sense to stop there, right?

 

Well, most would. But even with a very minor understanding of the German language and history, I was able to tell there were some serious research crimes going on here. So let's look them over. Every single fuckup the game makes in regards to language and history.

 

-=:Vami vs. American-ized German:=-

(There's a difference to just "Anglicized German" because if it were "anglicized" then everyone would sound British)

Ross touched on this a bit, but I feel like I should expand. This game suffers badly from Hollywood stereotypes of what a German sounds like when speaking in the English tongue.

Zo zhe really shpeak like zhis? Quick answer: no.

 

Here's just some vids I stole from literally a quick google search:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Abb1v7AkA2M (Hamburger, had to learn English for employment)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6dqZ4FeCHs speaking in English while being interviewed by press

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5Wih-mL0Z0 who wants to improve his English

 

486?cb=20121118031234

This is Caroline Becker, without the pumpkin head unfortunately. Now, to echo Ross, the voice actress who plays this women in Wolfenstein (2009) is Anna Graves, an American and native speaker of English. So at 11:38 in the video just listen to that bullshit Hollywood accent drip off of her tongue and into this godawful game.

 

There. At 11:47. Isenstadt. To an average not-German (I am American), that pronunciation is unimportant. But she fucked it up (eye-zen-SH-dot; pronounce in one go). As Ross touches at, this is the problem with setting the damn game in a region and not hiring voice actors who have at least a basic grasp of the language.

 

And while on the topic of voice acting, I'm very sure the infamous "That man is a Spy!" line is stolen from Team Fortress 2. While I can't prove it (and I dug through the official TF2 wiki), one could easily splice a few of the Spy's lines together into "That Man is a Spy!"

 

-=:Vami vs. Setting:=-

Firstly, just where the hell is this game set? From what is immediately apparent in the game and some auxiliary information from the wiki, Wolfenstein (2009) is set in a city called Isenstadt, probably in southern Germany. But, of course, there are problems (more than the town's name referencing Isengard, from LoTR).

 

The Wiki (and game) tell us the Wolfenstein (2009) is set in Isenstadt, which is an anglicized version of the very real Austrian city of Eisenstadt, in eastern Austria, and not Bavaria or Baden-Württemberg. This already means we're in a bit of a jam with the setting. But trust me, it gets far worse than this.

 

So, Eisentadt. Eisenstat is a Austrian city in the eastern part of the country that does indeed have a castle overlooking it. However, the castle, Schloss Esterházy, is a baroque palace. The castle overlooking the geographically odd Isenstadt is, according to the Wolfenstein wiki, more resemblant of Salzburg Castle. Now that we have the place (which, remember, is flawed already), let's get the time.

 

Once again, I looked to the Wolfenstein wiki. While I wasn't expecting much, I did indeed find what I was looking for here. The wiki here says that the game's Befolgen Sie! (Obey!) posters, which started going up September 3, 1944, are worn and covered in newspapers, suggesting the date to be very late 1944, which I think is impossible due to the lack of snow, or 1945. I personally believe the game to be set in Spring, 1945. This is problematic. WW2 in Europe ended May 7th, and this game is said to be set in southern Germany very close to the end of the war. So the game is probably set in April. At this point in the war, every single person on the planet knew the Nazis were fucked. There is no way that the Nazis would have been able to put on the show of force they do in the game.

From this map, you can see that the southern parts of Germany remain unoccupied until May 1945 and that most of Austria remained in Nazi hands until the bitter end. Curiously enough, Real Eisenstadt was likely one of these last Nazi strongholds, but the game has already established that General Zetta and his warband are holed up in southern Germany, not Eastern Austria.

 

And finally the fucking cherry on top. The Kreisau Circle.

 

Firstly, the Kreisau circle is not at all what is in Wolfenstein (2009). The Kreisau Circle was a group of political dissidents - upstanding citizens vehemently opposed to Nazism who wanted to restore the German Monarchy and get Hitler out of town as soon as possible. But fuck that, let's throw that in the trash. They're edgy rebels in Baden-Württemberg dabbling with the occult. This is bullshit

 

The KC were Christians (Jesuit/Catholics and Lutherans), so no occult bullshit, but more importantly, and perhaps the death knell, they were both exterminated by the Nazis before the events of this Goddamned game and they're in the wrong town. Shocker. The Kreisau Circle centered on the estate of Helmut James Graf von Moltke (great grandnephew of Helmut von Moltke). Let's explore these final nails in the coffin.

 

1). The Kreisau Circle did not exist / was severely weakened by the time of April 1945. Several members of the KC (excluding our friend von Moltke) were connected to an assassination attempt on Hitler's life, so Der Führer had them all (including von Moltke) arrested and hung. This occurred on January 19th, 1944, and full year and a month before Wolfenstein: Fuck History.

 

2). The center for all KC activity (von Moltke's estate) was not in Germany, but in Silesia. In modern Poland. GG.

 

3). This one is more of a gripe on my part. The KC were upstanding members of society: Landowners, priests, political theorists, even conservatives and liberals were both in the KC, and they were also Catholics and Lutherans. They would never stoop to occult bullshit.

 

So there's my bitchfest about Wolfenstein (2009) done. Not only is the gameplay bad, but the research completely undermines the game. You could go and say "oh but what if the KC decided to fight," but then why would they fight in southern Germany? They'd be fleeing the Soviets. Uncle Joe, by the way, was notoriously hateful towards Germans and went out of his way to persecute them. And they're fucking community leaders, anyway. Or maybe, "what if the game was set earlier," which I find very implausible because of the posters.

 

And one last thing. The ship in the intro cutscene? That's the SMS Tirpitz. Yeah, THAT Tirpitz. An American operative did not destroy the Tirpitz. The RAF and Royal Navy killed the Tirpitz.

 

References

Wolfenstein (2009) at Wolfenstein Wiki at Wikia.com

Isenstadt at Wolfenstein Wiki at Wikia.com

Eisenstadt at Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia

Kreisau Circle at Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia

Edited by Guest (see edit history)

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Wow, sounds like historical accuracy is quite important to you! I always saw the Wolfenstein series as a kind of alternate history-version of WWII, but you're right, with so much stuff based on real people, groups and places, it really jumps the shark when none of them are depicted correctly.

As for the acccents, I find them hilarious. Especially the guy at 13:23: "Vat in ze vorld cud ze nazis be bilting at ze church?". I live in Germany and I can't say I haven't heard some Germans speak with stereotypical accent before, but they definitely didn't sound like that. I'm a native German speaker too, but last time I met some native English speakers from America they were surprised that I have a British accent. To be fair, I'm a linguist, so my English might be a bit better then the average Hans', but it still shows that we don't all talk like zat.

I also don't remember the posters in the game, but if they really say "Befolgen Sie!" then that's proof that not a single person on the entire team had any knowledge of German and they just Google-translated it. They apparently did the same thing in Call Of Duty: World At War ("Geisteskrankes Asyl von Deutschland" - "insane asylum of Germany". Not an asylum for the insane, but an asylum that is insane). Shows again that it is a much better idea to hire someone who knows what they're doing instead of just embarassing yourself.

 

One last thing though: Could you change the colour of the text? It is a bit hard to read!

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I think it's a fine line to tread between respecting the archival context of historical fiction, and imbuing your story with enough fantasy in order to not lose the core of the stories supernatural themes. The whole connection between the Nazism and the occult is one steeped in anecdotal "truth" but also a subject fundamentally prone to exaggeration. Many people blissfully mistake historical fiction as sincere and factual history, some of the confusion caused by the content of Inglourious Basterds is an example of this phenomena.

 

Now I got that out of the way, excellent post! You've clearly done some substantial fact-checking in examining Wolfenstein. I personally think that fictional towns are a helpful means of avoiding the problems of historical inaccuracy, but maybe they should tried harder than simply take an actual towns names and just switch the first letter around with another one. I could of done that. Bamworth, Tirmingham, who wouldn't want to live in places with names like that! But to be honest with you I'm much less disappointed by the game's historical inaccuracy than I am with it's overwhelming generic content. Everything feels phoned-in and half-hearted, which is all the more impressive given how inherently awesome and potentially rich the theme of occult nazism is.

When close friends speak ill of close friends

they pass their abuse from ear to ear

in dying whispers -

even now, when prayers are no longer prayed.

What sounds like violent coughing

turns out to be laughter.

Shuntarō Tanikawa

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Wow, sounds like historical accuracy is quite important to you! I always saw the Wolfenstein series as a kind of alternate history-version of WWII, but you're right, with so much stuff based on real people, groups and places, it really jumps the shark when none of them are depicted correctly.

I just found the glaring and wholly inaccurate-ness of this steaming pile of americanized crap annoying. However, even though the other Wolfenstein games are totally wrong too (walking tanks in 1944 my ass), they're over the top about it and they're solid games anyways.

 

As for the accents, I find them hilarious. Especially the guy at 13:23: "Vat in ze vorld cud ze nazis be bilting at ze church?". I live in Germany and I can't say I haven't heard some Germans speak with stereotypical accent before, but they definitely didn't sound like that. I'm a native German speaker too, but last time I met some native English speakers from America they were surprised that I have a British accent. To be fair, I'm a linguist, so my English might be a bit better than the average Hans', but it still shows that we don't all talk like zat.

I found the voice acting in Wolfenstein Fuck History annoying because that accent is in pretty much every fucking piece of fiction depicting a German (bonus points if the character's voice is a higher pitch, like in Lost Battalion) created in the United States. Poland takes the cake for shitty portrayal of Germans with their hate-boners for the Teutonics.

 

I also don't remember the posters in the game, but if they really say "Befolgen Sie!" then that's proof that not a single person on the entire team had any knowledge of German and they just Google-translated it. They apparently did the same thing in Call Of Duty: World At War ("Geisteskrankes Asyl von Deutschland" - "insane asylum of Germany". Not an asylum for the insane, but an asylum that is insane). Shows again that it is a much better idea to hire someone who knows what they're doing instead of just embarrassing yourself.

I should probably say now that I am not fluent in any language other than English and that I have not played Wolfenstein Fuck History.

 

One last thing though: Could you change the colour of the text? It is a bit hard to read!

Done.

 

I think it's a fine line to tread between respecting the archival context of historical fiction, and imbuing your story with enough fantasy in order to not lose the core of the stories supernatural themes. The whole connection between the Nazism and the occult is one steeped in anecdotal "truth" but also a subject fundamentally prone to exaggeration. Many people blissfully mistake historical fiction as sincere and factual history, some of the confusion caused by the content of Inglourious Basterds is an example of this phenomena.

I'm not pissed about trying to connect the Nazis to the occult, because the Nazis DID dabble in the Occult. Well, probably not Occult but definitely Paganism (Himmler). Himmler believed Christianity had brought nothing to Germany in the almost 2000 years it has been there (proving probably once and for all that Himmler lived metaphorically under a rock) and that the true religion of Nazi Grosse Deutschland was pre-Roman paganism (Animism). Himmler also LOVED to blow millions on fruitless quests for priceless artifacts, most notably and most hypocritically the Holy Grail and believed he was the reincarnation of Henry the Fowler, a Defender of the Faith, father of the Ottonian Dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire, and defeater of the Magyar hordes in the West. He was an interesting character.

 

Point is, they tried to connect a group of Christian political dissidents in the wrong fucking region of Europe to occult bullshit and sacrificed accuracy for a terrible plot.

 

Now I got that out of the way, excellent post! You've clearly done some substantial fact-checking in examining Wolfenstein. I personally think that fictional towns are a helpful means of avoiding the problems of historical inaccuracy, but maybe they should tried harder than simply take an actual towns names and just switch the first letter around with another one. I could of done that. Bamworth, Tirmingham, who wouldn't want to live in places with names like that! But to be honest with you I'm much less disappointed by the game's historical inaccuracy than I am with it's overwhelming generic content. Everything feels phoned-in and half-hearted, which is all the more impressive given how inherently awesome and potentially rich the theme of occult nazism is.

Thanks! This post really is just symptomatic of that terrible content. Without enjoyable gameplay, you can't ignore the unreality of the setting. This is why Immersion is probably the most important thing in a game and why other Wolfenstein games like The New Order get spared the rod of Historical Justice (also I have not played any of the Wolfenstein games).

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I'm not pissed about trying to connect the Nazis to the occult, because the Nazis DID dabble in the Occult. Well, probably not Occult but definitely Paganism (Himmler). Himmler believed Christianity had brought nothing to Germany in the almost 2000 years it has been there (proving probably once and for all that Himmler lived metaphorically under a rock) and that the true religion of Nazi Grosse Deutschland was pre-Roman paganism (Animism). Himmler also LOVED to blow millions on fruitless quests for priceless artifacts, most notably and most hypocritically the Holy Grail and believed he was the reincarnation of Henry the Fowler, a Defender of the Faith, father of the Ottonian Dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire, and defeater of the Magyar hordes in the West. He was an interesting character.

 

Point is, they tried to connect a group of Christian political dissidents in the wrong fucking region of Europe to occult bullshit and sacrificed accuracy for a terrible plot.

You can describe most of the NSDAP leadership as interesting! icon_lol.gif The interest in Nazism by historians and generally by history enthusiasts like ourselves, is a peculiar thing. For me it's an awkward mixture of endless fascination with and abject horror at these individuals. I thought the choice of depicting the Kreisau Circle as a bunch of badass guerilla fighters was a odd move. From what I understand of the actual Kreisau Circle they were predominantly public and military figures that sought to intellectually and morally oppose Nazism in order to reconcile the void left by the fascists coming to power with their own German patriotism. They had short term goals but they tended to take a longer-term in view in regard to Germany's future. There certainly had their hand in many assassination attempts, most famously the near-miss at the Wolf's Lair when Claus von Stauffenberg planted a bomb in a conference room that Hitler was scheduled to arrive at - codenamed by the German resistance as Operation Valkyrie.

Thanks! This post really is just symptomatic of that terrible content. Without enjoyable gameplay, you can't ignore the unreality of the setting. This is why Immersion is probably the most important thing in a game and why other Wolfenstein games like The New Order get spared the rod of Historical Justice (also I have not played any of the Wolfenstein games).

You're welcome! I think you ought to try contacting Ross to see if he'll reiterate some of your points and give you credit for this extra bit of game criticism, if he ever gets around to making another one of those Game Dungeon "follow-up" episodes.

When close friends speak ill of close friends

they pass their abuse from ear to ear

in dying whispers -

even now, when prayers are no longer prayed.

What sounds like violent coughing

turns out to be laughter.

Shuntarō Tanikawa

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The only part that I found terribly jarring from a "this game is set after you've already killed Hitler, who had somehow become a dual-chaingun wielding asshat" was that Christians that were doing occult shit... Everything else was forgivable.

 

Fortunately, they fixed a LOT of the problems with much of the designs when they made Old Blood. (including a secret society of Jews/Christians that were about 5000 years more technologically advanced than everyone else, and saw their research as an investigation into God; naturally, I liked them from their introduction)

Don't insult me. I have trained professionals to do that.

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Thanks! This post really is just symptomatic of that terrible content. Without enjoyable gameplay, you can't ignore the unreality of the setting. This is why Immersion is probably the most important thing in a game and why other Wolfenstein games like The New Order get spared the rod of Historical Justice (also I have not played any of the Wolfenstein games).

You're welcome! I think you ought to try contacting Ross to see if he'll reiterate some of your points and give you credit for this extra bit of game criticism, if he ever gets around to making another one of those Game Dungeon "follow-up" episodes.

I'm not sure how I'd go about doing that; I posted this thinking/hoping Ross would stumble upon it.

 

I just realized (all too late ofc) that the player kills Hitler in Wolfenstein 3D (with the canon I'm building that would place that game either in late 1944 or early 1945. This still wouldn't mean a group of mayors, shopkeepers, generals, etc. would start blowing shit up however.

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I'm not sure how I'd go about doing that; I posted this thinking/hoping Ross would stumble upon it..

I've just sent him a PM regarding this thread, but I'm not sure if he reads them.

When close friends speak ill of close friends

they pass their abuse from ear to ear

in dying whispers -

even now, when prayers are no longer prayed.

What sounds like violent coughing

turns out to be laughter.

Shuntarō Tanikawa

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