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The Wolfenstein series has always had one foot in the occult - after all, Wolfenstein 3D had the player fighting Robo-Hitler. Still, the upcoming PS3/Xbox 360/PC shooter Wolfenstein has all the previous installments beat in terms of overall weirdness.

Wolfenstein is a sequel to 2001's Return to Castle Wolfenstein and once again stars American special agent B.J. Blazkowicz. The Nazis are pursuing an unlimited energy force known as the Black Sun which could tip World War II in their favor and it's up to Blazkowicz to stop them. Normally in Wolfenstein games, Blazkowicz is just a normal soldier using his wits and his guns to defeat whatever strange new weapons have been cooked up by the SS Paranormal Division. This time around, though, Blazkowicz has some dark magic of his own.

In the live demo I watched at Activision's pre-NY Comic Con event last night, we were introduced to the Veil amulet. Blazkowicz acquires an amulet which enables him to do things like slow down time or enter the Veil. The Veil was described to me as being a dimension that exists on top of ours. When you enter this dimension, the world takes on a greenish tinge. Blazkowicz can still be seen and hurt by enemies in the real world while he's in the Veil but his senses are heightened. He can see enemies from afar and even look through certain walls.

As you'd expect, Blazkowicz has a finite supply of Veil energy to draw from. He can recharge this energy quickly by finding small whirlwinds of energy within the Veil. Near these whirlwinds, you'll typically find "geists," giant bugs that basically function as the honey bees of this strange dimension. They seem to leave you alone but you can shoot them to blow up nearby enemies.

The demo included one sequence where entering the Veil was a necessity. Blazkowicz and members of the Resistance were ambushed by a Nazi trooper in heavy battle armor wielding a particle cannon. After the trooper vaporized Blazkowicz's companions with the particle cannon (yes, you get to use that gun after you kill this guy), Blazkowicz shifted into the Veil and saw two spots at the top of the trooper's energy backpack highlighted in red - weak points. While ducking the green particle beam, he fired rounds into the two weak points, which ultimately resulted in the suit short-circuiting and the Nazi going kaboom.

The purpose of the veil, according to the gent running the demo, was to add a variety of tactical options for the player to choose from. It's also an aspect of the game that allows for customization. Between missions, you can visit the black market in the game's hub city and purchase new gems for your Veil amulet, presumably to unlock new powers or upgrade old ones.

The mixture of World War II and the supernatural has, to me, always been the most fetching thing about the Wolfenstein series and I'm glad to see that Raven Software is embracing the occult elements with this installment. It's unfortunate that we couldn't get any details on the multiplayer of the game at the demo but the single-player campaign is looking like a strange and exciting trip.
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