Wolfenstein: The New Order Review
Wolfenstein returns with a new order.
Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 11th September 2014
Wolfenstein: The New Order
- Developer: MachineGames
- Publisher: Bethesda
- Release Date: 20th May 2014
I have fond memories of the Wolfenstein series from playing Wolfenstein 3D back in the 1990's. In fact it was probably the first, first-person shooter I ever played. But despite my childhood memories, I'm probably slightly guilty of pre-judging Wolfenstein: The New Order, as the last few games in the franchise have been less then enthralling. Especially 2009's offering from Activision! Wolfenstein: The New Order sees a new team at the helm though. With Bethesda and Machine Games looking to breathe new life back into this one time giant of the gaming world.
The New Order once again sees players assume the role of Captain B.J. Blazkowicz, after a last ditch operation to stop the Nazi war machine goes wrong, B.J ends up badly injured and stuck in a near comatose state and placed into the care of an Asylum. When the Nazi's come to “shut” it down following several visits to perform experiments on inmates. B.J is able to snap out of his condition but he soon discovers he has woken to a world he doesn't know. It is now 1960 and the Nazis have won World War II and conquered the world. From here Captain Blazkowicz sets out to find the resistance and put an end to Nazi world domination.
The first thing I noticed about Wolfenstein: The New Order was it's new emphasis on characters, most notably that of the games lead character B.J. Blazkowicz. He's much different to what we have seen in past games. The story is a lot more emotive and this is also reflected in how B.J is portrayed in the game. He is much more solemn, weary and worn down by the constant fighting and lack of peace in his life. Everything in the game portrays B. J’s exasperation with the way things have turned out. His brilliantly animated facial expressions cast a weary figure and the brilliant voice acting shudders with desperation. All of this combines to make B.J. Blazkowicz a much more believable character then ever before, and in turn really helps you as the player connect with the character and actually care about what happens to him.
With the exception of the terrifyingly evil General Deathshead and the truly sinister and vulgar Frau Engel this excellent character development unfortunately doesn't cover all the games characters and the majority of the The New Order's supporting characters are largely generic, unconvincing or just over the top.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is something of an odd first-person shooter. In that it focuses solely on a single-player campaign, with multiplayer support completely omitted from the game. Obviously it was very important that the campaign was done to the highest standards and for the most part, Wolfenstein: The New Order achieves this.
One of the most impressive aspects of the the gameplay is the enemy A.I and how they approach various different situations. When you're on the attack, they will often stand their ground – staying behind cover and waiting for you to bring the fight to them. When you're on the back foot, facing overwhelming odds they will push and try to flank you and bring the fight to you. Different units also behave in different ways. Heavily armed and armoured enemies will pressure you, forcing you back and bring the fight directly to you. Mechanical units tend to patrol set areas but once they detect your presence they will go all out on the offensive in order to bring you down. The game offers plenty of opportunities for some excellent set piece battles especially when you consider officers can have a drastic effect on how the gameplay unfolds by raising alarms and calling in reinforcements.
Despite the A.I being solid, it sadly isn't perfect and the game does trip up from time to time. The usual bugs we see in shooters do creep in as you progress and the action hots up. Panicked enemies will try to take cover out in the open or directly in your line of fire. When the games action gets real intense, they also tend to lose track of where you are. They often turned their backs on me so I was able to dispatch them with relative ease. Despite these flaws the gameplay is largely enjoyable and engaging and at times can be quite epic! Especially when you come to some of the colossal boss battles. Think of the Imperial Walkers in Star Wars on steroids and you'll be close to some of the epic battles that lay in wait.
The New Order also feature a good cover system, that allows you to engage enemies and pop up out of cover or from around corners with ease. It also encourages you to push forwards as when cover takes too much damage it begins to deteriorate leaving you vulnerable to gunfire. Wolfenstein offers five difficulty settings, all of which are well balanced and players of all skill levels should be able to find a setting that matches their gaming ability. Shooter mechanics also get top marks and its nice not to have to fight against weapons with too much recoil or find the game far to easy due to overly powerful weaponry. Everything is nicely balanced.
Weapons of course play an extremely important part in any first-person shooter, and this is one area in which Wolfenstein: The New Order excels. The game doesn't feature the biggest range of weapons. But each one is well worth finding as they all have unique strengths and weaknesses depending on the type of enemy you are fighting. As you progress through Wolfenstein: The New Order you can uncover weapon upgrades that add various different functions or ammo types to the standard weapons. These upgrades can have a dramatic affect on how you play, making you more of a force to be reckoned with. I especially like the shrapnel ammo type for the shotgun. It allows you to bounce your shots off walls and around corners in order to take down a hidden enemy and comes in very useful when pressing forward would otherwise be deadly.
As you play Wolfenstein: The New Order you will unlock various perks and new abilities depending on how you play. It's a good system that compliments your natural gaming style rather then requiring you to adjust how you play a game in order to unlock the best perks. The game also offers a large amounts of secrets and hidden content for you to discover throughout the levels.
If I'm honest, the last few Wolfenstein games left me feeling that this was one franchise that was past it's best and was probably due for retirement. This led me to unfairly pre-judge Wolfenstein: The New Order, Bethesda and Machine Games have achieved something of a revival for a classic and former giant of the gaming world. It's not perfect, but definitely on the path to better things.
Review Score: 8/10
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