Thursday 5 June 2014

Wolfenstein: The New Order

Wolfenstein isn’t a series that I’ve ever spent much time with. Regardless, I approached Wolfenstein: The New Order with a touch of trepidation. To me, it seemed like an FPS that may have once been great in its originality, but was going to shoot its way into the 21st Century with a little average gameplay and a lot of loud explosions. While I was right about the latter, this series reboot, available on PC, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, is actually a pleasant surprise.

The New Order presents an alternative timeline to the one we know, in which the Nazis won WWII and then proceeded to dominate the world. As a result, you’re going to have a lot of work to do, if you plan to wipe Hitler’s influence from the face of the changed world. So, let’s get started.

Once you get past the slow opening scenes, in which you co-pilot a fighter jet in WWII – by which I mean get knocked out repeatedly whilst trying to fix up the plane as it is blown apart around you – Wolfenstein becomes frantic, fast-paced fun. That’s what I expected this game to have as its main strength, and it didn’t disappoint.

There’s a variety of weapons to take down enemies, who come in all sizes and aren’t afraid to take cover, flank and peek nervously round corners.  Such weapons would be expected in WWII, like assault rifles, grenades, and, my personal favourite, the Luger – there’s something so cool about downing a Nazi in a single, composed shot. Seriously, try it.

Fast forward to the 1960s, where William B.J. Blazkowicz finds himself after a long road of recovery in an insane asylum, all of which you see through his weakened, disorientated eyes, and these weapons have been modernised, both in terms of what they can do, and their Neo-Nazi aesthetics. Quite frankly, I’m still struggling to find a weapon I love more than the brutal double-barrel shotgun, which soon bloodies the walls of the countryside asylum you fight your way through.

But there’s something about Wolfenstein that most surprised me; it’s capable of emotion. Not all killing. Not all Nazis. Not all ‘Blam! Murdered you’. Actual, heartfelt emotion. 

Blazkowicz is older, wiser, and scarred by the events of the war. He doesn’t want to see any more people die, especially not the family that have cared for him over the last 15 years, but he knows there has to be just a little more death if the Nazi regime is to end. For this to happen, Wilhelm ‘Deathshead’ Strasse, the recurring villain of the series – like Resident Evil’s Wesker, only bald and German – needs to be stopped, and there’s a long, bloody path to reach him.

As I’d expected, though, Wolfenstein has a couple of problems.

First and foremost, collecting ammo can be somewhat frustrating. Tapping a button to pick up ammo is fine, in theory. Although, when taking on a mini-boss in a small room whilst also searching around on the floor for ammo to tap at; it just isn’t ideal. Ammo retrieval seems like something that could have been an automatic process as you walked over it – an easily avoided distraction.

Also, Wolfenstein has some issues with pacing at times. This happens when the gameplay switches from fast-paced run-and-gun action to slower sections, whereby you find yourself searching for objects or interacting with the environment around you in dull ways to progress. During these moments I found myself wishing a Nazi would show up so I could get back to what Wolfenstein does best; death.

All in all, Wolfenstein: The New Order seems like a welcome return to a series that I’d only ever known from a distance. Now that I’m right up in the nitty-gritty gore of it all, it turns out it’s even more fun than expected. It may have a few problems, but an interesting concept, fully-realised characters and all-out action are enough of a reason to warrant purchasing this game and losing yourself in a much more brutal universe than the one we know today. 

Wolfenstein: The New Order gets a Nazi-‘sploding 4/5.


Ryan Noble

Wolfenstein: The New Order at CeX

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