It’s twenty three years since the world first caught glimpse of the now famous Wolfenstein series, enemy soldiers with emblazoned SS insignias on their uniforms, a broken soldier struggling to escape the confines of a Nazi castle with enemy plans. Since it’s humble origins and release on DOS, Atari and Commodore 64, the series has become synonymous with brutality, carnage, heavy firearms and eating dog food to survive, the franchise has changed hands a number of times, Muse Software, id Software, Raven Software, Gray Matter Interactive, Nerve Software, Splash Damage and now MachineGames have all turned their hands at bringing the fight to the Nazis!
[blockquote]The New Order walks a very delicate line, it’s plot/subject matter is even to this day pretty controversial/sensitive…[/blockquote]
The New Order is the latest instalment in the series, Captain William “B.J.” Blazkowicz returns after the events at Isenstadt, three years later and Germany and the Nazis have managed to turn the tide of war and are beating back the Allied Forces. Blazkowicz and company are tasked with infiltrating a Nazi fortress and weapons lab with the aim of taking down General Strasse aka Deathshead. The mission fails and our hero barely escapes with his life but his team aren’t as fortunate, rescued, Blazkowicz is sent to an asylum where he lays in a vegetative state for the next fourteen years, taken care of by a young woman and her family. The years march on and the Nazi regime doesn’t just win the war, they devastate their enemies, conquering the globe.
Queue our hero’s dramatic and well timed recovery to prevent the death of the lovely nurse and we’re back in the game and it’s time to take back the world!
The game does not break from the traditional first-person shooter mould at all – you have guns, you have a knife and you have explosives. You can go all out and assault your enemies with a barrage of bullets and righteous fury, you can attempt to sneak through, stealthily taking down your enemies with silenced weapons, a quick stab to the throat or sneaking by them altogether. You will at times have to blend stealth with assault, you face off against an army of drones who have for the most part pretty good awareness but when you come across a commander who can call in a never ending battalion when he becomes aware of your presence, you’re going to want to crouch and throw a knife from a distance and take him out!
What Wolfenstein does differently is it’s skill system – you do not earn experience points for kills or being smart! Instead your kills and methods of taking down enemies will unlock new traits, increase ammo and knife cache, reduce kickback from dual weapons and increase your stealth competency.
On the point of dual wielding, while it might sound fun running down a narrow hallway firing round after round from your shotguns or automatic machine guns, it’s actually not that useful, movement is sluggish, your aim is out the window and unless that Nazi soldier is standing on top of you you’re not going to do anything to them other than throw your ammo away.
Exploring the new world is interesting though, the environments feel expansive and should you choose to explore (you may want to do this crouched and gripping your trusty knife for dear life) you’ll be rewarded and not just with upgrades for your weapons or armor/health but you’ll be able to take in some amazing (if not somewhat terrifying) visuals/sights.
That brings me to my next point – The New Order walks a very delicate line, it’s plot/subject matter is even to this day pretty controversial/sensitive and initially I thought the whole story was a little camp, like a long lost episode ‘Allo Allo!‘, one where René snaps and goes ballistic on Colonel Von Strohm, Geering and Gruber and their troops! It wasn’t until after I’d made my way through the entire game, I was able to take it all in – this world will somewhat fantastical, is chock full of history, information, some fictional and otherwise straight from the pages of our own history. Wolfenstein, is brutal whether it’s witnessing soldiers handpicking test subjects from the vulnerable residents of an asylum, the work camps, the denegration and extermination of entire peoples, it doesn’t dress up the atrocities and on further research of certain plot points in the game, Nazi research into long lost land (Thule/Atlantis) with a superior race and advanced technology makes the world put forward that little bit more believable.
The game also takes character creation to a whole new level from Blaskowicz, Caroline, Anya and Set are commanding, determined in their objectives to tear down the Nazi regime and punish those who committed atrocities, you quickly become attached to these people, cutscenes providing powerful and emotive moments, wringing hands, strained voices and hopeful faces; all of this is terrifyingly juxtaposed by characters like Deathshead and Frau Engel, they are twisted, hateful and barbaric in their goals and beliefs. You hate them! You want to stop them! You have to stop them!
The New Order doesn’t pretend to answer the question ‘What if Germany won WWII?’, it creates an entirely new world, a society crippled under the brutal thumb of the ‘Master’ race, it injects so much life into this world, it’s not pretty, it doesn’t have to be! It may not break the gameplay mould but Wolfenstein is leaps and bounds ahead of other first person shooters when it comes to characters and story, you are drawn in, determined to survive and resolved to bring down the evil that has strangled all hope and light out of the world.
[blockquote]Story and characters alone make this game worth getting! 7.5[/blockquote]
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!