Wolfenstein helped revolutionize the FPS genre when it was released in the 90s. Id Software has since passed the torch to MachineGames. While MachineGames isn’t poised to break new ground with Wolfenstein: The New Order, the company has created the perfect demo to elicit one emotional response from the players: the urge to kill some “Nazi scum!”
Wolfenstein: The New Order begins in the middle of a battle against the Nazis in an alternate history where the Allies weren’t successful B.J. Blazkowicz is back yet again to stop the nefarious Death Head, but not without calming down the new recruits and storming the castle. All of this is said in a special effect that sounds like it comes from old film footage, which is a nice touch when combined with the visual touches that make the game look like it comes from older times.I should also point out, which I’ll touch on in later paragraphs, that the game at first feels like it’s taking itself too seriously, especially with Blazkowicz’s deep-voiced, melancholic monologues; however, there are certain design choices that may prove otherwise.
I started the demo fighting and climbing my way to the top from the side of a tall building. It was broken off into three columns of windows; each member of my squadron including me occupied that space. The Nazis weren’t too keen on allowing me and my men up the building, and they tried to shoot at us through the windows. But we made do with whatever vantage point we could get—waiting for the Nazis to stick their heads out the windows, shooting through the windows while they were running, and swinging from side to side to avoid their turret fire. A plane crashed at the top of the building, so we had to dodge falling debris, but we eventually made it to the top, where I would learn the real mechanics behind the game.
Eventually I got to level ground and I got to test out what we learned in training. I learned that the controls are up to standard—aiming didn’t feel stiff, and my bullets connected to my enemies accurately. It did seem like the Nazis were able to absorb a lot of fire power, even with the heaviest of assault rifles provided, but they go down like the rest of the scum. That said, I was happy to know that I could use a blend of run n’ gun and cover-based shooting to tackle the enemies—my aim was as accurate as I could be regardless if I was aiming from the hip or down the sights. The best part about the gunplay was when I discovered I could duel-wield weapons– even the heavy assault rifles. Despite the grim setup from earlier, Wolfenstein: The New Order’s gunplay is fun.
Before I engaged in fire fights, the Nazis didn’t immediately notice us—as if the plane crash and gun fire moments before weren’t a loud enough warning. But I didn’t mind; I was itching’ to use stealth-takedowns. By tapping the right thumb stick, I was able to slice the throats of the Nazis. If I do it from afar than I might just get a slice; for truly effective knife kills, I had to get up close and personal. It was brutal and unnerving—but I’m kidding myself if I said it wasn’t satisfying!
Then the Nazis set their mechanical dogs at me. I was low on ammo so all I could do was back-pedal. I fell to the next floor because I failed to notice I was on a bridge that consisted of a plank. That was when I discovered that the castle has plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, which I was able to secure valuable Intel and other optional items. I even got to explore the intricate details of the castle, including the dining room and courtyard. Despite the castle gray colors, the light permeated the otherwise bleak halls, and I had to admit that Death Head had taste—For Nazi scum, that is!
It took a little bit of exploring before I was able to return to my men—this was the old days we’re talking about here; there were no “guided objectives” or arrows that the young whippersnappers use these days. They were pinned down by turret fire, and it was up to me to rip off the turret guns from the stands—physical limitations be damned—and turn them against their owners. But the Nazis had plenty of turret guns their own, and they were painful.
This was when I noticed the interesting health bar. Wolfenstein: The New Order’s health system is a hybrid between modern and old school FPS games. As long as I didn’t let my health bar go down to far, I could let it recharge to 100% by taking cover; however, once it goes past 10 health points, it can only return to a certain percentage—this means that if I get dangerously low on health, I’ll only be able to naturally restore only, say, 20% of my health. To fix this, I had to scour the castle for health kits while dodging enemy turret fire. I had mixed feeling about the health system, as I wish they had used nodes like in Resistance: Fall of Man to better indicate how much health I could recharge. Instead, Wolfensten: The New Order has a single number (maximum of 100), which could change digits each time I gained health or suffered damage. That said, there’s plenty of discarded food, which was probably covered in Nazi saliva, but consuming them gives players a temporary health boost beyond the 100%.
The rest of the demo showcased the cruelty of the Nazis in attempt to inspire me into seeking justice. Upon stumbling into a mechanical room, we engaged in battle against a giant mechanical hulk of a Nazi, which didn’t require much thought beyond strafing and shooting. In later areas of the game, I would encounter similarly ridiculous enemies such as the aforementioned mechanical dogs, regular hulk Nazis and even airborne shock troops. Even Death head seemed like he was a mad scientist cartoon character who was allowed to follow through on his psychopathic tendencies for once.
Death Head would later provide an uncomfortable ultimatum: choose which of my men die and be used for experimentation, or else we all die. Death Head even teased my patience, so I had no choice in the matter, but the jokes on him because by Blazkowicz had a revenge driven goal. Again, despite being the mad scientist character, the violence was gruesome, and I still couldn’t tell whether or not I was supposed to take this game seriously.
Wolfenstein: The New Order’s demo ended presumably where current events take place. It is now in the 1960s and Blazkowicz wakes up in an asylum being nursed to health by a kind nurse named Anya. Sunlight illuminates the room, but also sheds light on the Nazis nefarious crimes of murdering innocent employees and patients, kidnapping Anya and almost stabbing Blazkowicz with a scalpel—for evil reasons, I presume. That’s when Blazkowicz went into his final monologue about killing Nazi Scum, which was said in sync to a short, heavy guitar riff.
I’m not sure whether or not I should take the game seriously despite how Wolfenstein: The New Order contrasts the horrific actions of the villains with the ridiculous enemy designs and gunplay. What I do know is that MachineGames created a perfectly paced demo designed to peak the players sense of revenge. And while it doesn’t seem to break new ground, Wolfenstein: The New Order does plays well enough for players considering fighting more virtual Nazis.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is set to be released in 2014 for PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One consoles.