REVIEW: WOLFENSTEIN – THE NEW ORDER / DEVELOPER: MACHINEGAMES / PUBLISHER: BETHESDA SOFTWORKS / PLATFORM: PC, PLAYSTATION 3, PLAYSTATION 4, XBOX 360, XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Serving as a soft reboot for the series following the commercial failure of Raven Software’s 2009 release, Wolfenstein: The New Order puts a new spin on things. Sergeant William Joseph Blazkowicz finds himself in a nightmare 1960s where the Axis forces have total control over the world. Eventually making contact with the resistance, he sets out on an impossible do-or-die mission to find a way to break the regime’s hold on Europe, and perhaps even turn their own weapons against them.
A schlocky setting to be sure, the basic story reflects the mechanics involved. Breaking away from the usual modern military shooter format, The New Order opts instead to integrate run-and-gun ideas from the classic era of first-person shooters. Along with being able to dual-wield just about everything but turret weapons, Blazkowicz can soak up enough ammo to equip a small regiment. This is in part thanks to a semi-regenerating health system akin to Resistance: Fall of Man, but also the welcome return of an overcharge system to the modern era of video games. You can briefly go over the maximum health limit only for it to drop a point every second until it is back to normal. Were this not enough, the game encourages exploration of its wide levels with hidden secrets and branching gameplay paths which offer fantastic replay values.
The enemies themselves also offer an exciting variety of foes to fill with bullets, from stomping mechs to the more common goose-stepping stormtroopers. While many can be fought in the open, MachineGames thankfully opted to give some variety with a perks system and rewards for the occasional stealth takedown. While it might be a throwback to classic shooters, at the same time it is not entirely ignoring the developments of modern gaming.
The only real misstep with the game comes with its tone. With an utterly insane plot, and a villain worthy of Tarantino, The New Order does unfortunately take itself a little too seriously more than once. While it is all well executed, it is hard to go from mowing down small armies of foes to seeing the horror of the ongoing genocide of indigenous peoples and “subhuman” patients being forcefully taken from doctors. It instead feels like a game of two halves, neither of which fully match up with one another, leaving it with something of an identity crisis.
Despite this problem, whether or not Wolfenstein: The New Order is a game for you can be decided by one simple question: do you like fighting undead cyborg Nazis armed with Tesla coils with more firepower than God Himself? If the answer is yes, then you needn't hesitate.