Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: May 20th, 2014
Available on: PC, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Reviewer’s note: I played the Playstation 4 version of this game. There may be differences between versions.
The king is back! …Well, okay, not quite THE king as Elvis is still dead and Duke Nukem is probably going to stay gone after Duke Nukem Forever, but the original king of FPSes. Wolfenstein hasn’t seen an entry since Raven Software’s sort of uninspired 2009 entry.Now we have Wolfenstein: The New Order to pick up the slack. Oh and does it pick up the slack alright.
Once again putting you in the role of B.J. Blazkowicz, Wolfenstein: The New Order features a surprisingly strong plot. After an assault on Deathshead’s fortress goes wrong B.J. is knocked out and left in an insane asylum for 14 years. He awakens in the 1960s to find that the Nazis have won the war and have now taken over a good chunk of the world. B.J meets up with the resistance group, the Kreisau Circle returning from the 2009 Wolfenstein, and begin to plot the downfall of the Nazis and Deathshead. A simple enough premise, but the game does a lot with it thanks to surprisingly strong characterization. Private Wyatt is unsure about his ability to lead, but puts on a strong face to step up and do the best he can. Caroline is adamant about leading the resistance and stopping the Nazis despite her disabilities. J has no interest in fighting but instead wants to bring down the Nazis using art. Even the villains get this, Frau Engel’s interrogation scene is surprisingly intense, and her persistence in trying to kill Blazkowicz is almost terrifying at times. I wasn’t expecting much from Wolfenstein: The New Order, but maybe that’s what made it so good
Then we get to the gameplay, which is a nice mix of older and newer shooters. The first thing I noticed was that you don’t have regenerating health. Instead you have hit points that will always round up to the nearest 20. You’ll have to scrounge around the environment to find health packs, bread, or even dog food if you want to stay healthy. You also have armor that can be found by doing things like looting helmets off of dead Nazis. Despite the heavy amount of looting, The New Order is not an RPG but a straight up shooter. You won’t have to worry about stats or weapon abilities. There’s only actually about 6 weapons in the game and you’ll be able to hold them all at once. Each weapon has a primary and secondary firing mode that changes how you’ll use it in any situation. For example the pistol uses a three round burst normally, but you can also throw on a silencer for when you’re feeling stealthy.
Speaking of stealthy, stealth is a surprisingly viable option in The New Order. Most of the areas you’ll enter are very large and have many different ways you can go about completing objectives. You could try picking a lock and sneaking around back, or going in guns blazing, or maybe find a vantage point to snipe enemies from. It’s pretty neat how open The New Order’s levels are designed and it helped carry the game even further. I also found the lack of Call of Duty-styled turret sequences to be a nice thing. Oh sure, there’s a few here and there, but you’re not going to find yourself constantly hopping into a turret and letting another character drive you around as you gun things down.
The closest the game gets to an RPG comes from the perk system. You can get various perks by doing specific actions. For example, kill enough enemies with a grenade and you’ll unlock a perk that lets you hold more grenades. Get a bunch of duel wield kills and you can duel wield more effectively. It’s not a bad idea, but I honestly found most of the perks to be useless. The most useful perk gave me throwing knives so I could assassinate people at range without anyone becoming aware. Other than that I rarely noticed any differences in my play style from when I didn’t have a perk unlocked to when I got it later.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is also a pretty long game. It took me about 15 – 20 hours to finish the single player campaign. There’s also some replayability as early in the game you’ll find yourself making an important decision that changes the outcome of many of the game’s actions, so it’s worth playing through a second time to see the other result of the decision. The downside is that there’s no multiplayer at all in The New Order. It feels a little weird to see an FPS in this day and age lacking multiplayer, but I guess all the effort went into the single player and it does show. While I’m talking negatives, I want to bring up the laser you get in the game. It has a sorta psuedo upgrade system where you can find new parts for it that change what it does, but I almost wish they just let me upgrade the gun in a way similar to the perks system since just finding upgrades made me feel like I was missing some. Also, any time I had to use it to cut a hole in a fence I was rolling my eyes. It’s a long process that doesn’t add anything to the game at all.
Despite these small problems, I still found myself loving Wolfenstein: The New Order. The classic shooter manages to be extremely entertaining while telling a story that I found to be worth paying attention to. The lack of multiplayer sucks, but Wolfenstein: The New Order is a very well crafted single player shooter that should not be ignored.