Review: Wolfenstein The New Order Is More Fun Than Hitler At An Art Gallery
The phrase “what if” can certainly be a powerful way to enhance an existing concept and make it feel fresh in a way that feels both familiar and unknown in regards what one might expect. What if the moon landing was a hoax? What if the meteorite that wiped the dinosaurs from the Earth was actually a UFO and we are aliens inhabiting this world? What if Nazi Germany won the war and took over the entire globe? That is the idea the latest Wolfenstein has going for it and it makes for an interesting hybrid both in the narrative and gameplay sense. With Wolfenstein The New Order we have the scenario that Nazi Germany won the second world war and do possess might over the entire Earth. We begin our journey while fighting on board an airplane during the aforementioned world war and it takes only a minute or two of playing to realise that something is not quite as we have known it to be. The Nazis fight with overwhelming war assets and we are tasked to briefly fend off unknown jet planes that don’t quite fit the era of the 1940′s. Once you’re on the battlefield pursuing a high ranking authoritative figure that goes by the name of Deathshead we are treated to a hybrid of the old school and modern shooter gameplay, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Without wishing to spoil any story for future players, our protagonist, William B.J. Blazkowicz and company pursue the aforesaid Deathshead figure and put an end to his overwhelming schemes. Matters do not go according to plan and time progresses fourteen years and B.J. leaps back into action in 1960. The way the story progresses in order for this to happen does have merit, but once you’ve experienced this, questions will arise in regards to B.J.’s ability to function and fight back against the now ruling Nazi regime. From there on out a large scale offensive is called upon despite the war being over. B.J. sees to it that he finds a resistance and not before long we are progressively finding ways to hit the Nazis where it hurts the most. This ranges from gaining information to use against the ruling party to an exploit with the uber-concrete the Nazis used to build their monoliths across the globe. I genuinely wish to discuss more of the story, but it is best to go in knowing as little as possible and experience it for yourself. Rest assured knowing that the game will take the player to some genuinely unexpected areas and place them in scenarios that are now uncommon within the shooter genre. The beginning of the game may sell it a little bit short in regards to the usual war zone shootout, but the player will quickly see and experience elements that does not fit within the conceptualised idea of what we know as World War II. This makes the return of Nazis to the shooter genre all the more welcome and genuinely gratifying. Wolfenstein has always taken the Nazi opposition and provided it with a slight twist as to how they’ve become so powerful. In the past we’ve dealt with occults, alternate dimensions and now they have a robotic/mechanical advantage. I could elaborate further but I feel that it is best if I do not explain any further and leave the player without any further explanation – just know that it is marvelously executed. Even as a long-time fan of Wolfenstein I knew very little when I started playing and I am tremendously glad I didn’t know what I was getting into. Despite the interesting, albeit out of place story, the one aspect the game threw in my face with no warning whatsoever was the gameplay and how the shooting feels. This game accomplished what I wish more shooters would do and this is the game I’ll point to when it comes to what I crave from any future shooter. It combined the elements of old school shooter with that of a modern military shooter in such a way that nothing felt phoned in or dislocated. Before long you are bombarded with Nazi soldiers and other enemies that provide the game with an unmissable feeling of truly trusting its players without leading you by the nose to where you need go in order to progress. No tutorials are forced upon the player besides the occasional message on one side of the screen indicating the controls of a new weapon or alternate fire mode. You are free to use your array of armaments any way you please. The alternate fire modes or abilities keep on coming till the very end of the game and you’ll no doubt feel the need to try it out once you’ve acquired a new weapon or attachment. You are not limited to two weapon slots and may carry around pistols, assault rifles, long-ranged rifles, knives, grenades and an oh, so satisfying laser-esque cutting tool which gradually attains upgrades and ends up being one of the most effective and powerful weapons in the game. You may cut through metal plates to shoot through and this creates an amazing element to an already great experience. Despite the story being serious most of the time, the actual shooting feels very simpleminded, but do not think of that as a negative element. It’s glorious. The overwhelming feeling of being the biggest badass while still being a little bit on your toes and not too courageous is a feeling that shooters need to start inhabiting every now and again as they did in the past. A major contributor to the badass spectrum is the ability to dual wield if you have two of the same armaments. The crown absolutely must go to dual wielding automatic shotguns with twenty shells each and simply going to town with your foes. Absolutely ridiculous, but immensely satisfying. The level design also deserves a noteworthy mention as it certainly is a linear affair, but most of the time there are different routes to take and alternate ways in which to approach your given situation. There are collectibles scattered throughout the various levels and you’ll want to find them in order to unlock various different modes with which to put a new albeit more difficult spin on the campaign. The collectibles vary from Enigma Codes, which are documents to find and decipher in order to unlock the aforestated game modes, to gold objects simply serving the purpose as traditional collectibles. Staying true to the traditional Wolfenstein 3D from 1992, these gold objects may be in plain sight or located through means of finding a very obscure route. These various objects may be found by scouting through and exploring areas of the beaten path or they can also be displayed on your map by making use of a tactic that was also unexpected to witness. The game has a stealth system. It is impossible to stealth through the entire game, but certain sections will display the distance a certain commanding unit and if you manage to finish them off before you are noticed or an alarm is sounded via close-quarter takedowns or a headshot from a silenced pistol, your map will be updated to display the locations of secret items/collectibles in your immediate area. A very nice way to encourage a stealthy approach in some instances while not being a full on stealth-required encounter. Very useful if you intend to hunt down the collectibles. The stealth system works effectively if you prefer to play with a sneaky approach every now and again, but it is never required in order to progress. Another addition is the Perks system which may be seen as mini-objectives. You may ignore them or try to gain various perks to increase your ever-growing array of weaponry or provide you with an advantage in various different ways. A couple of examples will be to kill a certain amount of enemies with certain weapons in order to gain a faster reload speed or performing a certain number of stealth kills with your throwing knives to gain additional space for carrying extra throwing knives. These are not mandatory, but they do help you in the long run and they are not limited to certain areas or levels. You may replay the game with all previously acquired perks still intact and unlock even more perks. The enemies range from regular Nazi soldiers to ever-increasing mechanical soldiers each with its own signatory weapon. A great way to ramp the difficulty up without simply increasing the number of enemies thrown at you. Speaking of difficulty – the game has five difficulty settings and range from really easy to downright monstrous with the added unlockable modes to make it even more difficult. I found the middle/medium difficulty to be the best option as I died quite a number of times, but it never felt as though the game was being unfair, but rather due to my own mistakes. I played the previous-gen version on PlayStation 3 and while the latest generation of consoles and PC are the go-to options for those who want to be smothered in crispier visuals, I still found the game to be graphically capable. Sure, the textures take a brief while to load on PlayStation 3, which also was the case with Rage that ran on the same engine, but it never made me feel as though I wasn’t having a blast. Literally. The gun models are quite big and definitely more sizable than we’re used to. This amplifies the bad ass feeling even more and the weapons convey a capable and powerful feeling. The environments at the start of the game are your typical grey bombed areas and the game didn’t appeal graphically at this time, but as soon as you progress further and the areas become more unique, these issues do not have a big impact on the experience. This is not a major issue on the latest generation of consoles and PC and the game does look better on them. The sound design is top notch and the powerful, yet somewhat subtle soundtrack does a great job of elevating the overall experience. I found the soundtrack to be very fitting and not overwhelming at all despite there being many reasons to blast deafening music into our ears alongside the relatively frantic combat. Quite a number of areas accompanied by the soundtrack gave me goosebumps. A noteworthy mention to a certain area that I shall not name accompanied with a great piece of music. Play the game, you’ll know what I mean when you get there. Personally, it is a welcome sight to play a first person shooter without any form of multiplayer. The sole focus was the single player campaign and I truly admire that. The game boasts a long campaign that willl take you about 15-20 hours to complete mixed with added replay value. There isn’t a great deal of replay value but there is one choice that will alter the game’s story and warrant a second playthrough.