Over the last five or so years, the shooter genre has seen a slow progression in its evolution. In the past, they were about having multiplayer as the main feature, while having an abysmal single-player. These kinds of shooters are still going to be around, but they have gradually become more about bringing the gamer an overall fulfilling experience. Shooters like Metro: Last Light and the original BioShock showed gamers that you can have a well-crafted atmosphere that pulls you in and never lets you go. Naughty Dog has shown that their games, like Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception and The Last of Us, can have engaging stories with characters that you want to feel emotionally invested in. I love this trend that shooters can be more than what Call of Duty and Battlefield have been giving us for the past couple of years, this is why I was really looking forward to Wolfenstein: The New Order. Seeing it advertised as a single-player-only shooter that is story-focused intrigued me. How about we jump inside and see what this game offers?
You play as William “B.J.” Blazkowicz, voiced by Brian Bloom. Blazkowicz is an agent during World War II, and is attempting to raid an island owned by the evil General Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse, voiced by Dwight Schultz. The attempt goes horribly wrong, and the majority of Blazkowicz’s team is wiped out. Fortunately, Blazkowicz and another soldier escape the island, but a piece of shrapnel hits his head, causing Blazkowicz to be knocked out and in a coma-like stasis for 14 years. During those 14 years, he is taken to a Polish Psychiatric Asylum, and where he is taken care of by a nurse named Anya Oliwa, voiced by Alicja Bachleda-Curuś. As he spends his time there, the Nazis come to shut down the asylum, kidnap Anya, and shoot her parents, who run the asylum. One of the Nazi soldiers tries to kill you, but since you are the main character of the story, you end up recovering and slitting the soldier’s throat with a knife. Blazkowicz escapes the asylum with Anya, and with the help of a team of resistance fighters, goes off on a mission to stop the Nazis, who have taken over the world. The story was one of the most surprising elements about this game. I went into it thinking it was going to be like “Inglourious Basterds,” where it was going to be a mix of funny and serious tones, but the game had a story that was almost as good as the one in Spec Ops: The Line. I felt invested with the characters, and I thought most of them were fleshed out. I do have some issues with certain parts of the story, but 90% of it is well told, and I give Machine Games credit for actually putting effort in the storytelling department.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is a combination of old and new, combining first-person shooting with stealth elements and some old first-person shooting elements that you don’t really see anymore. For example, instead of having the two-gun limit that a lot of shooters have, you can carry a multitude of guns, ranging from two kinds of rifles, a shotgun, sniper rifle, pistols, to a laser cannon that will be upgraded throughout the single-player campaign. Throughout the levels, there will be enemies who have the ability to summon reinforcements, forcing you to go on the offensive. However, if you take your time, and use the silencer on your pistol to take out specific enemies, those sections of the levels become much easier to go through, since you don’t have 20 Nazi soldiers trying to fill you with lead. Luckily, unlike so many games that try to offer you both stealth and guns-blazing style of gameplay, and as usual, lean toward one over the other, Wolfenstein: The New Order is just as satisfying to go through, whether you prefer taking your time and stealth-killing everyone, or if you just want to go all-out with a machine gun in each hand, and see blood splatter on the wall. Heck, sometimes the levels will require you to do both. As you explore through the levels, you will find many collectables, including health upgrades, shield upgrades, and if you are lucky, weapon upgrades. Oh, and you don’t have fully regenerated health. You will need to find food or health packs to bring your health back to 100%. If you overeat, your health bar goes into overdrive, but your health will slowly decrease until it is back at the default health settings for your character. Just a heads up, depending on a certain choice you make at the beginning of the story, you will only gain shield upgrades with one choice, and health upgrades with the other. Throughout the game, you will be unlocking perks. Each one will be unlocked, depending on how you kill enemies. Some of the perks include getting better at stealth take-outs, being able to hold more ammo with certain guns, and you get the idea. The overall game will take you about eight hours to complete, and there is some incentive to replay the game, depending on that one major choice you make at the beginning of the game, along with how you tackle enemies in the level. There is no multiplayer, which is great, since not every game needs to have a multiplayer component to sell units.
So, since Wolfenstein: The New Order is on last and current gen consoles, how are the graphics? Well, I played this game on my PlayStation 4, and I thought they looked great, but fully knew that the game was probably slightly better-looking than the PlayStation 3 version. The character models look solid and the cutscenes are really well done. The musical soundtrack itself is okay, but the parts of the soundtrack I love are the licensed songs you hear throughout the game. It reminded of something Quentin Tarantino would do with his movies, by picking out specific songs from different bands to fit the mood of certain parts of the game. The game’s atmosphere is also well-executed in certain areas. You don’t get a consistently atmospheric vibe from this game, like in Metro: Last Light, but when those moments hit, they really stick with you. One of my favorite moments where I felt pulled into this game’s world was when I was in the Nazi prison. In that moment, you feel powerfulness as you, along with other slaves, are herded like cattle to the slaughter. It made me very uneasy as you see two of the villains from the game inspect you as you slowly shuffle along with the others in a crowded line. You can feel the germ-filled rooms where the prisoners sleep, and the low esteem everyone has as you walk through the courtyard of your prison sector. It’s moments like that where you feel the full force of how powerful the Nazis have become during your 14-year-long comatose state.
So, what is it about this game that I didn’t like? Well, as much as I would like to say that the one drastic choice you make at the beginning of the game makes a huge difference to the overall story, and you can get multiple endings depending on how you tackle the game, I would be lying. That one major choice makes no radical difference, with the exception of the kinds of upgrades you will find during the game. It would have been really interesting to see the story actually change things up a bit, depending on what you do during that certain moment. I also found some mechanics clunky, like the knife throwing and the forward-slide move. I never had to kill anyone with a knife throw, since taking them down from behind with said knife was much less of a chore. The slide move only became handy during particular moments of the game, and those were few and far between. I also found some areas where the AI ran into a wall, and kept running into the wall when gunfights were happening. It was disappointing to see this, since I thought the AI was pretty competent throughout the game on different difficulty settings. I also felt like the ending was slightly disappointing. Sure, it might have been touching, and I won’t spoil too much, but I think it could have been handled differently. I also have a slight issue with the sex scene in the first third of the game. I’m not being a prude, but I felt like it came too soon, and should have happened later in the game; it felt like the relationship between Blazkowicz and Anya wasn’t strong enough to have a scene like that happen so soon. Now, it isn’t extremely pointless, like the sex scene from Metro: Last Light, but this is just my opinion. Also, on a different note, why do I need to press a button to pick up ammo or items?
To be honest, I was expecting Wolfenstein: The New Order to be above-average in the 6 out of 10 range, but this game really surprised me. I was pleased that it had a good story, satisfying combat, great voice work, memorable characters, some fantastic atmospheric moments, and was overall, really fun. If you have been on the fence about picking this game up, I would recommend buying it. I know people are busy getting Watch Dogs and Mario Kart 8, but I wouldn’t let this shooter slip through the cracks. For a first game, Machine Games did a fantastic job giving new life to one of the most historically important franchises of all time. Plus, you do get one of the best Easter eggs in any game ever. Grab a shotgun in each hand and get ready for an explosive time!
This game gets an 8 out of 10.