Wolfenstein: The New Order Review
publisher: Bethesda Softworks
developer: Bethesda Softworks
|ESRB rating: M
release date: May 20, 14
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The Wolfenstein series has a special place in gamers’ hearts, especially those who are old enough to remember playing Wolfenstein 3D back in the early 90s on DOS PC systems. Since Wolfenstein’s success, the game has become a bit of a nostalgic hilarity, something that id Software themselves were more than happy to remind their fans in Easter Eggs in their later Doom games. In fact, Wolfenstein: The New Order holds a similar Easter Egg where William “BJ” Blaskowicz can relive those early days roaming blue halls in an 8-bit nightmare. However, despite how much The New Order takes little jabs at itself, with every little poke at the funny bone, something incredibly dark lurks around the corner to remind everyone that this is most definitely not the Wolfenstein of your memories. This Wolfenstein is dark, depressing, and never lets you forget just how horrible the Nazis were. As such, you never forget how much fun it is to kill Nazis in nasty, nasty ways.
I think this resembles hell.
On a Nazi killing spree. I feel like I've been here before.
The setting is 1960, 14 years after the Nazis won World War II. Blaskowicz has been in an insane asylum during this time after escaping from Deathshead’s castle left him a departing gift of shrapnel in the back of the head. Once he has regained full consciousness and mobility, he sets off to find any resistance and resume his original mission to kill Deathshead. The overall summary is quite cheesy and seems very Captain America-esque, but it’s the individual chapters that really make the game’s story--seeing how awful the world really is, what the Nazis subject everyone to who is not part of their pure bloodline ideal, and worse, what they do to prisoners and those in concentration camps. The player can’t help but want Blaskowicz to succeed at all costs and save the world from the Nazis’ boot.
In addition to the world being a rather bleak place, the Nazis have uncovered some incredibly advanced technology that makes shooting them even more delightful. Every projectile weapon has a secondary fire mode that can be unlocked, such as a rocket launcher mode on an assault rifle, all of which come in handy versus the numerous soldiers the Nazis throw at Blaskowicz. Remember the mechanized Hitler from Wolfenstein 3D? Many soldiers and even dogs are mechanized in this world, so where a rocket launcher may be considered overkill against a lone soldier (nah!) is vital against these mecha-foes.
The most fun of all of these toys is the Laserkraftwerk (LKW). The LKW starts off as a simple laser cutter, but by finding upgrades, players can shoot with it, making it the ideal weapon to fend off giant Nazi robots. As long as I had a charging station nearby, I made many Nazis go splatty-splat.
The New Order actually has two ways to upgrade BJ’s arsenal. One is by finding upgrade parts throughout the levels, and another is through the perk system. By performing various feats, BJ can gain certain upgrades to his weapons, such as adding a silencer to his pistol, or gain other abilities. For example, after earning the second Scout perk, stealthily taking down a Commander will highlight all collectibles on your map.
The perk system is also ideal for tailoring BJ to your optimal and preferred way to play. If you like stealth, there are a variety of stealth options for takedowns and stealth upgrades. If you are like me and just want to kill them all, there are perks to help you create the most mayhem possible. Only one level really requires any level of stealth, but if you get spotted, it’s not an instant game over like most stealth-based games. Instead, you’ll have to figure out how to defend BJ with just his knife (and fortunately, there are no robots in these portions).
And if you think the whole idea of Nazi robots is a bit ridiculous, don’t worry, the game realizes how ridiculous it is most of the time. BJ is tasked with finding a dropped welder down in the sewers, and naturally, it’s no simple task to retrieve the welder. After diving down to get it, he suddenly can’t return the way he came and must take the long way around, forcing him to tangle with a few Nazi robots on patrol. As he returned to the hidden resistance base, I started to think on how padded and ludicrous that whole sequence was. Right after I completed my thought, BJ said out loud that was too much trouble just for a welder. When I idiotically ran BJ out of helicopter, as he plummeted to his death, he said, “What a stupid way to die.” Yeah BJ, I couldn’t agree with you more. I also laughed out loud when I stumbled across a computer on the lunar base running Wolfenstein 3D.
Maybe we should discuss this.
People obviously don't like the food made in this kitchen.
Did you catch I mentioned a lunar base? Yeah, you fly to the moon and kick Nazi ass there too. BJ found it as implausible as I did. He had to repeatedly remind himself that he was actually on the moon and how silly it all felt.
As silly as a lot of the game was in terms of plot devices and Easter Eggs, it was balanced out incredibly well with the horrors of Nazi atrocities, something the developers did not spare the players from witnessing. You may laugh at one minute, but the next may find you with your hand covering your mouth in shock. In this balance, the next iteration of Wolfenstein was executed extremely well, giving it a fun combination of a serious first-person shooter without forgetting its roots or how absurd typical set pieces for first-person shooters are.
Fans of Wolfenstein of old will appreciate how it has grown and matured, and newcomers will enjoy playing in this horrific alternate history. Not to mention, every day is a great day to shoot Nazis.
8.5 Very Good
A serious spin on the Wolfenstein franchise with far more mature themes, yet it never forgets how hilarious it can be, making it one of the most fun Nazi-killing games to date;
Sometimes it takes itself too seriously, contains more than one questionable plot points and a few tiresome combat zones that include too many waves of enemies.
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