Crazy Nazi Robo-Dogs!?
Wolfenstein: a nostalgic title for gamers the world over, just not for me. I seem to be one of the few people in existence that has never played a Wolfenstein game. In fact, I had never even heard of Wolfenstein until this one was announced last year. But I was excited when I found out that it is an alternate history first person shooter. I know what you’re thinking: I don’t deserve the right to review a game with such a rich history since this will only be my first in the line; well I did anyways. So did Wolfenstein: The New Order quench my thirst for a good alternate history game?
The New Order starts off in 1946 with Captain William Blazkowicz (the protagonist) and his pilot Fergus Reid as they are flying through a World War II aircraft dogfight. One event leads to another, and they end up right smack dab in the middle of the war. After fighting their way through the warzone, Blazkowicz ends up injured and in a vegetative state for 14 years. During that time, Germany has won the war and is now in control of the entire world, more or less.
Finally, after slowly regaining his consciousness and motor skills, he gets up just in time to save the young nurse who had been taking care of him for the last decade. This is where the real game begins. The rest of the story is about Blazkowicz finding a resistance group and fighting back against the Nazi tyrannical rule and their sci-fi weaponry.
Yes, Wolfenstein: The New Order has an over-the-top story. But that is what it is trying to achieve. It’s not just trying to act like the Nazis won the war, it wants to make it fun by imagining what it would be like if they had giant robot guard dogs, AT-AT (Star Wars) like robots, and exoskeleton suits during the 1940s-60s. And boy does it accomplish what it set out to do. For some reason I thought that Wolfenstein was going to be funny, and instead found out that it is a very serious game, to the point that it was actually really touching during some scenes.
I found myself caring far more for characters than I thought I would as well. I believe that Machine Games achieved this by the way they told the story. It is not your typical first person shooter where the story is told in a two minute cutscene between missions. Wolfenstein: The New Order had cutscenes before, during, and after each mission and there was almost always a familiar voice on the other end of a radio during each mission as well. The story may have been a little crazy at times, but it was so fun that it was worth it.
Wolfenstein: The New Order looked absolutely fantastic on PlayStation 4. Well okay, most of the time it did. Character models, views from a distance, and important objects (robots) were beautiful on screen. That being said, Machine Games really took the easy way out with just about everything insignificant. Textures for the less important objects in the game were either 2D or just not up to date with what you would expect on a current generation console. The example I have in mind is when you are in the resistance’s homebase exploring, all of the kitchenware, boxes, books, folders, etc laying around look horrible compared to everything else. This happens all over the place in the game. It is easy to look past because, like I said, it is all very insignificant stuff; but in the end it silly that we still have things like this. One more texture issue I had happen quite a bit is that new levels, areas, etc. would often have texture popping. It’s as if the PlayStation 4 couldn’t load the textures fast enough or something. This is just another thing that seems silly to me. If this was a problem on PlayStation 4, I can’t imagine how bad it was on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. If you are considering Wolfenstein as a last gen purchase, you might want to research it a little first.
As good as the story is, the gameplay is even better. It starts off as a typical first person shooter to get your feet wet, but slowly introduces you to the different ways to play the game, such as dual wielding heavy machine guns or using stealth abilities. If all you care about is a tightly controlled first person shooter, then you found your game.
However, it can be so much more than that if you give it a chance. Do you want to run-and-gun from one end of the map to the other with two assault rifles? Go for it. Do you want to crouch in the shadows, sneak up behind enemies and assassinate them by throwing a knife at them, using a silenced weapon, or just slitting their throat? Go for it. Just about every level in the game gives you the ability to choose how you want to approach it.
And what makes this even more fun is that you have four sets of challenges to unlock, depending on your play style. Each set will unlock new perks that will apply to your character, such as the your gun holding more ammo or the ability to throw knives. Honestly, I found this the most fun because it gave me something else other than the story to work for in each level. I loved leveling up each challenge tree to try and unlock the next perk.
One more thing that makes the gameplay in Wolfenstein: The New Order better than most average first person shooters is the collectibles. Each level is filled with several different kinds of collectibles; from gold items, to letters, to soundtracks, to enigma codes. The enigma codes are cool because if you get enough of them to make the full set, you will be able to decode them at the main menu to unlock new modes for game. For a little hint at what kind of modes they unlock, the first code unlocks 999 mode; you have 999 health, unlimited ammo, but are on the hardest difficulty.
But even with all of the great things Wolfenstein does, there are still a few hiccups. Glitches are a part of every game, but I haven’t had a problem with them in years it feels like. I ran into several glitches in Wolfenstein during my 15-hour playthrough. One time I got stuck on a loading screen that just never ended. Another time I got stuck on a piece of wood sticking out in the middle of a map and could no longer move. Those are just a few of the annoying glitches I found, so I hope it doesn’t get too much worse than them.
The other issue I had is that the checkpoint system is by far the worst I have seen in a game in the half decade or so. We live in a time when games autosave just about every 30 seconds or so. Machine Games must have missed that memo because when you die in Wolfenstein, more often than not you will have to restart 5-10 minutes before that, and sometimes ever farther depending on how you approached that level. This is not really a problem with the game, because it doesn’t break it, but damn it sure is annoying to lose all of the progress you made in a level each time you die. This may have also been done to appeal to the older generation of gamers who grew up with this design technique.
The Verdict: 8.5 out of 10
If you like first person shooters and can handle a little over-the-top storytelling, this is the game for you. When I compare the amount of fun I have had with first person shooters on PlayStation 4, Wolfenstein: The New Order stands far above the rest. Sure, it doesn’t have multiplayer, but that shouldn’t hinder your experience. The textures can be an issue if you are a stickler for that kind of thing, and the glitches/checkpoints can be extremely annoying from time to time, but overall The New Order has a fun and engaging storyline with even better gameplay. Even if the lack of multiplayer is the problem for you, this is a game I encourage you not to skip. Wolfenstein: The New Order is a solid first person shooter. Find a way to play it.