When the original Castle Wolfenstein arrived onto the gaming scene way back in 1981, fans everywhere were treated to a unique action-adventure shooter set during World War II. As the years went by, several different development studios took on the arduous task of keeping the series fresh and engaging for both new and old audiences alike.
With the release of Wolfenstein: The New Order, MachineGames have succeeded in creating not only a great shooter but also a deeply entertaining, thoughtful, and emotionally charged entry in the series. Here are a few more reasons why this game may be worth your time and money.
Last month, I wrote up a detailed hands-on preview based on my early playthrough of the first three levels of the game during PAX East 2014. Needless to say, I walked away impressed and can now confirm that this game has far exceeded all of my expectations in virtually every way imaginable.
The premise of Wolfenstein: The New Order revolves around an alternate historical timeline in which the Nazis have won World War II and are now in full control of the world we all know and love. Players take on the role of series protagonist William “B.J.” Blazkowicz and are tasked with leading a group of resistance fighters against the Nazis while also dealing with a drastically changed environment. The development team’s decision to take this “What If” approach to the story is incredibly clever and also allows them to show the brutal acts of violence committed by the Nazis against innocent people to invoke a sense of hostility and revenge.
In addition to the story being great, the world itself is highly immersive thanks in part to the strong cast of characters that all play an integral role in the overall experience. From Blazkowicz love interest in Anya Oliwa to two key villains in Deathshead and Frau Engel, no performance ever seems to disappoint and some encounters prove to be even more memorable than others. Furthermore, this modified world is also made believable by how music and current events are shaped based on the new shift in power. All of these dynamics only strengthen the concept further and help to make this one of the best campaigns this series has ever had.
Visually, The New Order looks great on pretty much every platform. Both the Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game are presented in full 1080p and run at 60fps. By achieving this success on both consoles, MachineGames have instantly put the resolution debate to rest and shifted all of the focus towards the game itself.
This game was created and is heavily inspired by shooters that were made during the 90’s. To give a more recent example of this practice within the industry, Irrational Games used some of these tactics when integrating gunplay and item collection mechanics into Bioshock Infinite. I personally enjoyed the use of these aesthetics in The New Order because it made this truly feel like an old school shooter right out of the box.
Diving further into gameplay, The New Order has an intuitive perk system that encourages you to use four different play styles including stealth, tactical, assault, and demolition to unlock new abilities and improve stats. Players also have the ability to explore almost every aspect of their surroundings to find survivor journal diaries, news clippings, music albums, and collectible items. When it comes to using weapons, dual wielding isn’t quite as good as it could be. With that said, every weapon still remains balanced and extremely satisfying to use.
Wolfenstein: The New Order consists of 16 chapters and can take roughly up to 10 hours to complete depending on your preferred difficulty setting. MachineGames encourages everyone to playthrough the game twice because of an important choice that the player has to make at the very end of the first level. It was interesting to see how this choice played out because it’s acknowledged throughout bits and pieces of the campaign. This again demonstrates their thoughtfulness in how to approach the story and is a very good reason why a second playthorugh is highly recommended.
One complaint that a lot of people might have about this game is the fact that it doesn’t have a dedicated multiplayer mode. Typically, I would say that multiplayer isn’t needed for some games and could easily make a case for this one. However, I will admit that the weapons in the game are awesome and it would have at least been interesting to see what ideas the team could have explored with a group of players as opposed to one.
I would also add that the after effects of the war on the world could have been pushed even further. The musical soundtracks, promotional posters, and news clippings are all nice touches, but you can’t help but wonder how much further they could have taken this concept. We also never really get a deeper sense of how everything is outside the battlefield and showing that would have really played up the severity of the situation.
Despite these two shortcomings, Wolfenstein: The New Order is truly a remarkable story driven shooter and a standout entry in the series. If you’re looking for an FPS that isn’t afraid to go beyond the normal requirements of a shooter, than you absolutely should play this game as soon as humanly possible.
This review was based on a review copy of Wolfenstein: The New Order for the PlayStation 4 provided by Bethesda.