When I dive into an FPS, I can expect a few things. There will be gruesome melee kills. There will probably be some incredibly bro-tastic over-the-top weapons (hello, Lancer). What I don’t usually expect in an FPS campaign is the level of story telling and emotional attachment I found in Wolfenstein: The New Order. It could have used a bit more polishing in development, but what a blast of a game to play.
- TL;DR: A refreshing run-and-gun shooter with a surprisingly decent story, held back by a few bugs and inconsistencies
- Platform: PS4
- Score: 8.4
- Hours Played: 15
- What I Played: Main story on normal
- Recommended?: To the single-player FPS fan
Setting a shooter in WW2 is about as played out as it comes. Stop the most evil organization to ever be evil, the Nazis, from taking over the world. Yadda yadda yadda, you’ve seen it all before, right? Well, have you seen it end where the Nazis actually win? That’s the setting of Wolfenstein: The New Order — it’s 1960 and the Nazis came out of WW2 victorious. William “B.J.” Blazkowicz and his band of rag-tag resistance fighters are taking it right to General Deathshead to end the Nazi threat, once and for all.
But how the hell did we get all the way to 1960? Well, it turns out that Blazkowicz was fighting for the old red, white, and blue in WW2 but failed in ending the Third Reich, winding up unconscious during an escape. After 14 years in a mental institution, Blazko is thought to be in a vegetative state. He ends up falling in love with the nurse who cared for him, Anya. Simply killing Nazis because they exist is no longer the main cause for Blazko. No, that honor goes to protecting his love.
I could go on about the cast and story of Wolfenstein, which is surprisingly well-written (albeit predictable) for an FPS, but let’s get down to what all Wolfenstein games have always been about — killing Nazis.
Most shooters nowadays have you as part of a military squad with teams, reinforcements, air strikes, the whole nine. Blazkowicz is a one-man wrecking crew and Wolfenstein is a run-and-gun shooter through and through. Sure, you can duck behind cover and peek over for a few shots before cowering in fear, but screw that. Your magic-bag inventory can hold two of every gun you can pick up, so going in guns a’blazing is the only way.
My, oh my, the way the Nazis will die. Want to go in with two shotguns, screaming from the rooftops? Go for it. Single assault rifle with quick turns and snap aiming? Sure. How about a laser cannon that can obliterate the biggest of mechs? Yup, that’ll work.
While the preferred method of Nazi destruction is anything but subtle, stealth is handled very well in Wolfenstein. You’re often tasked with sneaking up on enemy commanders to eliminate them before they call for help. Enemies follow scripted walking paths, so stealth sections end up being pretty easy after being spotted a few times, but I never got tired of sneaking up on an enemy to jab my knife into him. Even if you get spotted, melee fights in Wolfenstein are literally the two combatants screaming and stabbing each other over and over until one of the mdies. One of my more memorable kills was getting behind an enemy who was using the bathroom, knocking his head against the wall, and drowning him in his own piss. How many games let you do something that ridiculous?
All of this chaos is presented in one hell of a pretty picture. Wolfenstein is beautiful from head to toe. Kills are gruesome with blood splattering all over the place. Shell casings fly as the environment is torn to shreds. One really nice touch, I found, was that the camera bobs ever so slightly as Blazko stands perfectly still. The camera is always jostling around juuuust a little bit, adding some realism to a game about killing robotic death machines with dual rocket launchers.
Unforunately, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Some annoying glitches nip at you from time to time, like spent shells hanging around in mid air or thrown knives bouncing indefinitely. Textures tend to “warp” into place if you spin around too quickly, just long enough for you to say, “wait, what th- oh, there we go.” The single most annoying thing in the entire game, for me, was a bit of dialogue between Blazko and a friendly unit. Blazko asked if that person remembered much of their torture, to which that person replied, “I don’t remember much” before talking for about two straight minutes, going into excruciating detail. Inconsistencies like this could have been squashed with some fine-tooth combing prior to release, but oh well.
As far as perks/skills go, well, there isn’t a whole lot to strive for. Racking up X kills with the Y gun will net you increased reload speed, but the perks don’t get much more involved than that. They can be a fun way to change up your play style for a bit, but far from necessary. I also found a lot of difficulty spikes in Wolfenstein. They could have been due to my pattern of playing late into the night, but I found far too many instances of breezing through for an hour or two before being stuck on a single section for 30 minutes.
I want to point out two other random tidbits about Wolfenstein. For one, there is no multiplayer mode and I applaud id/Bethesda for that. Most developers try to shoehorn some kind of throwaway/garbage multiplayer mode into their shooters, but everything was focused on single player here. Kudos. Secondly, the loading screen quotes between respawns are in German. The world is ruled by Nazis, so why not? I found that to be just a great little addition.
Wolfenstein: The New Order takes a lot of tried-and-true gameplay methods and overlays the most frequently asked alternate-history question — what if the Nazis had won WW2? A surprisingly good story and an over-the-top, Inglorious Basterds level of violence help bring robo-Nazi killing into 2014. It’s not perfect, holy hell is it fun. It’s 100% worth a play.