Article written by Girls on Games collaborator, Catherine Dumont.
Nazis blastin’ is back! MachineGames first contribution to the Wolfenstein saga starts off with a bang and follows through all the way to when the end credits start rolling. Nixing a cinematic intro, you step right into the shoes of William “B.J.” Blazkowicz, our infallible hero. Clamoring around on an Allied Forces bomber, sealing gaz leaks and cutting cargo loose, the year is 1946. Yes, you read that right: it’s a year after Nazi Germany was supposed to have been defeated. And this is precisely what makes Wolfenstein: The New Order so damn interesting. The story begins in the midst of the Second World War that rages on past 1945, instantly demanding us to ponder the ultimate revisionist history’s query: a world where the Nazis’ won. After attempting a raid on uber evil antagonist Dr. Deathshead’s advanced weapons laboratory, Blazkowicz is knocked unconscious due to a blast, and spends the next 14 years in a Polish mental asylum; and that’s where the fun begins.
After waking from more than a decade-long vegetative state, Nazi forces enter the asylum and execute both staff and patients, excluding Blazkowicz’s nurse, Anya, and (of course) the man himself. Seeing mayhem and murder happen all around him must have woken his senses, for he was miraculously (??) able stand up, grab a knife and do what he does best: slaughter dem Nazis. After taking down literally Every.Single.Nazi, and rescuing Anya, they escape the asylum and head towards her grandparents house where Blazkowicz is hit with hard, cold reality: it’s 1960, and the Nazis have reigned worldwide since winning the war in 1948. After finding out that an ensuing Resistance was formed and subsequently captured and imprisoned in Berlin, Blazcowicz and Anya set off to rescue the Resistance and its members, and to destroy Nazi global domination.
Wolfenstein: The New Order’s story is quite fantastic and immersive, particularly for a first person shooter. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good FPS, but I tend to overlook a lackluster plot for fluid mechanics and the joy of shooting people/aliens/robots/whatever in the face. The New Order, however, manages to combine both. Aside from some plot holes, its realistic cutscenes, oppressive environment and a moral choice that you must make early on, adds further weight and emotion to a pretty horrific alternate reality. Your journey into Berlin is both impressive and terrifying; you see for the first time the massive empire the Nazi’s have built with its imposing architecture and mastery of robotics and futuristic technology. For a moment (seriously...JUST a moment) you forget the context in which the city is, until you’re hit with propaganda repeated over loud speakers throughout Berlin, and master race ideologies splattered on posters everywhere. The story is also campy at times, reminding me a lot of Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds through its dialogue and unique constellation of characters that team up to take down the Third Reich.
Which brings me to my next point of emphasis: The characters. The characterizations in the game are very well done. From Blazcowicz’s great one-liners: “It’s like I’m a fucking errand boy… get it your damn self” to his noir-style monologue, you get to know him for something other than his one-man killing machine combat style. Another great aspect was that the other characters didn’t bore me to death; they all had a story to tell, something to fight for and a reason to win. Even Dr. Deathshead was depicted as perfectly evil and insane.
The game feels and plays like many other FPS. There’s nothing new or revolutionary about the gameplay, but that’s okay: Wolfenstein stays loyal to its origins and the result is great. While the game is clearly linear, you can either choose to run into an area guns blazin’ (‘Murica style) or sneak in and use a silenced handgun or your knife to take down enemies one at a time. Better yet, you can use a combination of both stealth and full-blown assault to make it through the areas. The way you play also affects which skills you unlock through a progression system. If you’re sneaky sneaky, you’ll meet challenges which will then allow you to become further sneaky sneaky. This method is also a plus because it requires you to actually play around with different kill-styles and weapons rather than just grinding to unlock.
As for weapons, I got two words for you: upgraded Laserkraftwerk. This bad boy will become your best friend. Not only will you use it to cut holes through fences and metal boxes, but later on it will be powerful enough to take down cybernetic nazi super soldiers. If you want to watch Nazis explode into a thousand pieces, you have your man right here. Other than that, the game features run-of-the-mill weapons. You have your machine gun, marksmen rifle, shotguns, pistols, grenades etc. You do get to dual-wield all them, and they actually work really well (except for the marksmen rifle). Other than an unoriginal weapon’s arsenal, the mechanics are sensitive and precise, making nazis-shooting awesome fun.
Throughout the game, there’s tons of pickups. My motto in games is: if it glows, pick it up! You can find health, armor, weapons and ammo pretty much everywhere. I was never seriously under equipped. Rather than just passing over something for a pickup, you actually have to press a button to take it, which adds a nice element of urgency, particularly when you’re an inch away from death in a battle. There are also special items hidden throughout the game such as enigma codes, golden items and hidden letters. You either have to stumble upon them or have them revealed to you on your map. Fun fact: you can also pick up dog food that’s laying around and eat it to gain health. Yum.
The New Order brings nothing new to the FPS in its gameplay essence; the guns, the mechanics and the shoot/ kill rinse-wash-repeat style can feel repetitive at times, but as I mentioned before, its the story-focused angle that MachineGames draws upon that make you overlook it. Also, the graphics weren’t anything to call home about. I played it on the Xbox One and while the cut scenes were really nice, the in-game graphics were good, but nothing special and sometimes there’d be screen-tearing, particularly when you use a throwing knife. The stealth mechanics were inconsistent throughout the game. Sometimes, I’d walk in a room crouched and knife a nazi to death right next to his buddy and all he’d utter would be “Huh?” and then he’d walk away. Other times, I’d do the same, but a nazi from across the room would notice and I’d get attacked instantly. Finally, there is the whole issue of the nonexistent multiplayer. I’m on the fence on whether this is good, or bad. While I’d love to team up with some friends and kill endless hordes of robonazis and the like, but perhaps it’s better this way. In Wolfenstein: The New Order, the narrative takes center stage; and besides you’ll want to play the game again. The campaign is hella fun, and the higher difficulties are quite challenging. In the words of the senior gameplay director at MachineGames, playing it on “I am Death Incarnate” mode will make gamers “cry blood”.
My first experience with an FPS was when I was a kid and played Wolfenstein 3D on the SNES. For me, Wolfenstein: The New Order adds fresh twist to a nostalgia-ridden series, and does it fantastically. MachineGames also gave a nod to the series longtime fans, such as myself, with a wicked-sweet easter egg. It’s straight up shoot-em up style feels more satisfying than any similar shooter that’s been released lately due to its captivating story,and seamless mechanics. MachineGames answer to an alternate world where Nazis rule is impressive, terrifying and even more satisfying when you’re able to take revenge and kill Nazis. Also, playing as Blazcowicz makes you feel pretty badass, especially when the Nazis send in the big guns just to take you, and you alone, down. Side noted, did I mention there’s space nazis? Yup, you get to kill Nazis in space. The verdict: The game is definitely worth a pick up; you won’t be disappointed.