Because shooting Nazis never goes out of style.
This game took us by surprise. We grew up spoon fed on ID’s early but revelatory works, namely Wolfenstein and Doom, and both series have certainly faltered in recent memories (yes, we are already dubious of the next Doom title before even seeing a trailer). But rejoice, apparently there is a compelling Wolfenstein story to tell provided it’s in the hands of a capable developer such as Machinegames – comprised of developers behind the Chronicles of Riddick games as well as The Darkness. We haven’t had this much fun killing Nazis in a long, long time.
Wolfenstein: The New Order takes place in an alternate reality timeline where the allies lost World War II and our protagonist, returning champion B.J. Blazkowics, has spent close to 15 years locked away in a asylum after a botched mission. Fortunately some bloodthirsty Nazis arrive to kill everyone in the building which is the therapeutic catharsis you need to kick your catatonic state and jumpstart the game. From there you become a one man army inspiring uprising of the resistance a la Gordon Freeman of Half-Life 2. The story does seem a bit schizophrenic highlighting the real-life horrors of concentration camps against the campy experiences of doing things like traveling to the moon or fighting giant robots, but any exploitative undertones are quickly washed away sheer amount of brutal Nazi carnage your pull off before you get to the end credits – much like Inglourious Basterds.
Gameplay is a good combination of run and gun action mixes with highly-mobile stealth based executions. Usually your purpose is to silently remove the handful of enemies in each area capable of calling in for backup before letting slip the dogs of war. Your character is capable of powerups based on in-game achievements that make for worthwhile goals. The game is at its best during the frenetic shootouts as you tear down wave after wave of enemies grabbing guns on the fly and finding ad hoc cover to let your health regenerate and catch your breath as needed.
It’s remarkable how much Machinegames has evolved Id’s original formula yet still make it feel very much like a Wolfenstein experience. Our favorite detail was the inclusion of a final boss that feels very much ripped from the original Wolfenstein games but packs a huge punch pulling in an innocuous decision you’re forced to make in the first level of the game. Well done, Machinegames, our mouths hit the floor when we fully understood what we were up against in the finale.
Overall it’s a great but somewhat forgettable ride. You’ll want to rush to the end to see how the story wraps up (spoiler – MachineGames leaves a lot of loose ends purposefully for a sequel) but as the credits roll you’ll be hard pressed to want to return. There is an alternative storyline you can follow which wouldn’t be the worst way to lose another 10 hours of your life for those completionists. We do commend MachineGames for focusing its efforts into a single player only experience though which, again, made the Wolfenstein franchise relevant again which is a surprising accomplishment. We’ll see if the remarkably effective story-telling and tight action-oriented gameplay is enough to fully revive the 30 year old franchise, but it certainly is enough to merit making MachineGames’ next project one to keep a close eye on.
Depending on your platform, Wolfenstein is a stunning game to look at especially with its silky framerate. We experienced some pop-in of artwork but nothing too detrimental to overall experience. Even on last gen consoles, this game shines.
Graphics - 90
The game is one of the better FPS games to play right now especially as it stands on the shoulders of other games with great ideas. You have regenerating health up to a point which means you’ll never be stuck in an unwinnable battle and yet you’re still eager to find healthpacks. You have Far Cry 3’s ability to silently and quickly eliminate enemies with melee but still are able to improvise quickly during massive firefights with guns and ammo that will litter the floor around you. Even if you start to get overwhelmed in any sequence, Machinegames will help you out with more health or guns after so many retries. There is a lot of polish to the gameplay, we just wish there were more outstanding sequences.
Gameplay - 90
It’s not easy for a single player FPS shooter to be replayable yet the alternate storyline and unlockable perks may be enough to bring you back around one more time. Those reasons alone are better than time trials or any other arbitrary measure we usually see in games that try to encourage you to play more.
Replayability - 70
Overall - 88
Seriously, this game is worth your time if you’re even a casual fan of FPS games and/or the Wolfenstein series. It’s much better than anyone thought it could be. Don’t miss out of this great experience.