Firing up Wolfenstein: The New Order for the first time, I wasn’t expecting it to be any good. To be honest, what single campaign first-person shooters are these days? Far Cry 3 was probably the last one for me. In fact, I was expecting this game to be a disappointing reboot of such a classic and genre-defining franchise. With a palette bone-dry from a decade of annual Call of Duty releases, I wasn’t expecting much. However, I can safely say that Wolfenstein: The New Order has turned out to be everything I wanted from a sequel to the franchise, a series that gave birth to Doom; and in this new outing, it still manages to give a nod towards the single-player games of old.
Three years after the events of Wolfenstein, you play Captain William Blazkowicz, who takes part in an assault on a Nazi fortress run by his arch nemesis, General Wilhelm Strasse. In what is quite a lengthy prologue section to the game, Blazkowicz finds himself in a Polish psychiatric asylum, stuck in a vegetable state caused by a piece of metal shrapnel lodged in his head. Fourteen years pass and the war continues to rage on, concluding with a victorious win for the Nazis whom, in your absence, has taken control of the rest of the world. It’s now 1960, and Blazkowicz soon comes to, fleeing the mental asylum that he has been contained in and is driven to put things right. Finding the resistance it is time to send the Nazi regime into their very own comatose state.
Like any first person shooter, weapons play a key part in Wolfenstein: The New Order, however there is a surprising, and very refreshing amount of cover and stealth-based gameplay in this game too. You can choose to ignore this Splinter Cell-like action and go in all guns blazing, which is indeed good fun, but being able to pick-off unexpected Nazis with a silent knife attack helps to break-up the more traditional gameplay we’ve come to expect. At first, the stealth approach doesn’t seem right in a game such as Wolfenstein, but since it’s last release, back in 2009, gaming has evolved, and it now just feels right to have these alternative methods of combat in the game.
Getting back to the weapons then: A vast amount of them are at your disposal, each with their own varying powers, upgrades and uses. Non-threatening weapons like the laser cutting tool has you slicing through panels and wire fences, however in true shooter style, this weapon soon gets upgraded into a powerful laser rail-gun. Throwing knifes allow you to make long-range silent stealth kills, but with a short range of throw you still need to get up fairly close and personal with your foe to make any deadly impact, to a point where you might as well stealth kill them with your main knife. The game wouldn’t be it’s stereotypical self if it didn’t have the oversized, screen-occupying heavy weaponry. Fixed mini-gun turrets can be removed from their mounts and the more larger enemy weapons can be picked up and used against them.
The story itself ushers you along at a fairly decent pace, changing the scenery around you to keep things visually fresh and exciting, whilst the in-game cut-scenes and sequences tell the story well, and the vocal talent from each of the game’s characters maintain a good quality throughout.
As single-player campaigns go, Wolfenstein: The New Order manages to hold on to its roots and deliver an experience that feels very old school. That’s not to sound like a negative either. In a generation full of multiplayers with soulless single-player campaigns attached to them, Wolfenstein’s arrival is somewhat refreshing. Feeling like an old-age game with fancy next-gen visuals, what is not to like about that?
The old-age gameplay mechanics carry though with the game’s use of health-packs (remember them?) to top up your health. There is none of this ‘hide away and regenerate your max health’ malarkey, oh no. Instead, you have to keep a beady-eye out for health-kits and dog bowls, yes dog bowls, to keep yourself fit and perky. It’s a shame there isn’t a next-gen version of your face in the lower region of the screen to illustrate yourself, just like the classic game had, however if you do feel like being cast back a few decades, you can visit an Easter egg in the game that features a hybrid version of the classic 1992 Wolfenstein 3D.
It is good to see this game sideline industry pressure to implement multiplayer in the game and instead focus on its characters and telling a good story. Thankfully its developer, MachineGames, have delivered in all these areas. Wolfenstein: The New Order is a solid game throughout and I’ve enjoyed it immensely. If you’re into your first-person shooters and you have the urge to cap some Nazi behinds, then this is the game for you. You might not find much longevity on completion of the game, but the journey there is wunderbar!