XXL’s Game Corner: Wolfenstein: The New Order Review
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Machine Games
Platforms: WIN, PS3, 360, PS4, Xbox One
Release date: Available Now
Its 1960, Germany has won World War II and the Nazis have taken over the world. Beautiful cities like Berlin and London have been transformed into oppressive urban landscapes in the alternate world of Wolfenstein: The New Order. In this world advanced Nazi technology is real and you’ll have to take on giant robot dogs, huge tripod robots that shoot lightning bolts, and jet fighters that protect the Nazi base. But the series' longtime hero -- BJ Blazcowicz – is determined to restore order no matter the odds.
The game begins with a prologue where you get a glimpse of Blazcowicz 14 years before the events of the main campaign. The opening is where The New Order establishes its sci-fi credentials, breaking from the tradition of the last few Wolfenstein games, which were more concerned with the undead and occult magic. It’s here where you’ll witness an assault on the Baltic Sea stronghold of General Deathshead, the villain from 2009’s Wolfenstein. The Allies are getting their asses handed to them and before you know it our hero Blazcowicz. is falling out a castle window after a huge explosion with some shrapnel embedded in his dome and doesn’t wake up until 14 years later.
When Blazkowicz wakes up he’s in an alternate reality of 1960. Stumbling out of a 14-year stint and stupor in a mental hospital, he learns that the German army has taken over the entire world, its many technological victories documented in scraps of propaganda and newspapers that proclaim the Earth a calmer place under oppressive rule. He then joins a scrappy resistance and exacts run-and-gun revenge complete with independent health and armor percentages. Your health will only regenerate to the first multiple of 20, and you can collect health packs in excess of 100 points, although the bonus is temporary. You can even eat dog food if you're desperate to recover. You also scavenge for protection amongst the corpses lying around, finding use for bullet-resistant vests, the armor plates from vicious robot dogs or just helmets. It’s cheesy, but The New Order’s outrageous plot is a hint that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and neither should the gamer. The game seems completely aware of how absurd Blazkowicz is as a character throughout the entire game.
Things start to open up when you encounter some of the larger gunfights and I felt here is where The New Order was at its best. You’ll see dozens of Nazis dashing around hangar bays, giant underground atria or an expansive submarine bridge with bullets whizzing around, and grenades bouncing off nearby walls. Rifles thunder as canny Nazis try to flank you, armored and augmented soldiers striding forward as you fire round after round into their massive torsos. Your cover is blasted away so you scrabble for protection, you stun robots with deftly hurled Tesla grenades, and you sidestep a charging soldier and use your melee attack to bring him down. There are some truly spectacular deaths to behold as well that complement the intense combat. Enemy soldiers will virtually disintegrate, coming apart like ripe melons when they’re hit with rockets or laser weapons, making a wet, squishy sound as they splatter all over the wall. Between the gore and the narrative content, the Mature ESRB rating was well deserved. If there was one thing holding the game back it was the clunky rhythm of the combat. Taking down Nazi grunts and super-soldiers leads to more goodies, but you have to pick up each and every clip, health pack and bit of armor individually by running over it and pressing a button when the prompt appears. When you compare that in relation to the fast paced combat, the system would’ve been much better if you could’ve picked up ammo by just walking over it. Snatching up consumables can also be confusing, your crosshairs indicating the presence of health packs or armor shards without highlighting them, stealing precious extra seconds as you’re forced to sort through blinking item dumps. There are some game quirks that unfortunately showed the lack of mechanical polish in some areas. Sometimes you’ll notice enemies get caught on the scenery, which at least can work in your favor but realistically should not be happening. There was one instance where a giant metal hound was chasing me down but got stuck on a corner, endlessly running in one spot. There were other instances where enemy soldiers were unwilling to walk through open doorways, and instead stared at me, guns lowered, in some sort of confused state. Fortunately these glitches don’t happen so much that it kills the overall gameplay, but I would be remiss not to mention them. Overall though The New Order really shines, with its characters, and presentation.
The XXL Endgame
Wolfenstein: The New Order is a nice blend of your typical, everyday shooter with quality writing that takes some narrative risks and raises mature themes of Nazi atrocities. Besides some instances of interludes that slow the pacing down and the terrible manual item pickup system, The New Order overall is a solid effort complete with engaging stories that get across its message: “war is not nice.” —written by DJRhude (@DJRhude)
XXL Rating: L (good)