Review: Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4)

Making Old Feel New

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Developer: MachineGames
Publishers: Bethesda Softworks
Platform: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: First Person Shooter
ESRB: M
Price: $59.99, Available Here

 

Content Warning
Given the legacy of the series, the very nature of Wolfenstein seems to demand a certain bar of coarse, brutal content be served up. The series’ newest entry, Wolfenstein: The New Order, is no exception.

 

First and foremost, the game features intense, graphic violence. You’ll see enemies ragdoll or explode when taking them out from a distance. The stealth tactics may be even more graphic, as blood spatters and enemies eyes roll back into their heads when the killing blow is struck. The game also features intense scenes of murder, torture, and more. The Nazis were exceedingly brutal, and so is Wolfenstein: The New Order.

 

For me, personally, one of the most jarring aspects of the game resides in the explicit carnal nature of a couple of its cutscenes. The video segments are there to serve as characterization building blocks, but I missed a bit of them – I had to skip the cutscenes because their content was so provocative. For this alone I have to strongly encourage consumers to be cautious when purchasing and playing the game.

As can probably be expected of a game that so strongly glorifies gore and has intimate scenes, the language in the game is also quite freely explicit. You’ll hear everything under the sun (especially the f-bomb) quite a bit over the course of the 12+ hour campaign.
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Story
Set in an alternate past, the vast bulk of the game takes places around Europe in the 1960s. The Nazis have won World War II and now control the entirety of Europe with an iron fist. With no one to oppose them, their technology has advanced far beyond anyone could have imagined.

You are B.J. Blazkowicz. After a failed attack on the stronghold of a man known as “Deathshead,” you suffered a head injury that left you in a vegetative state and hospitalized for 14 years. When you finally come to, Nazis are attacking the asylum you’ve been in, killing the entire staff and taking head nurse Anya Oliwa, your primary caregiver and love interest.


Fighting your way out of the asylum, you’re driven only by the desire to slaughter Nazis and save Anya. This eventually leads you to hook up with an underground group of allies, who set out to take down the Nazi regime.


The story is surprisingly well told. Proper care is given to each of the main characters is B.J.’s life. This generates a genuine sense of investment with each of them. You’ll find yourself celebrating their victories and mourning their losses. Few games, much less first-person shooters, take the time to invest in such a wide cast the way The New Order does.

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Gameplay
Wolfenstein: The New Order takes things back to a refreshingly old-school design. Health, armor, ammunition, and more aren’t something you automatically pick up by walking over it. You’ll have to manually hit a button to grab each and every item. This really didn’t feel as tedious as I feared it would, playing right into the retro feel other game elements give it.

On top of manual item pick up, some more retro FPS tropes make a glorious return. You can pick up armor a piece at a time to give you some extra survivability. Health packs and food can also be snagged when you’re unharmed to give you a short “overcharge” of health that drains as time passes. The game also features a vast array of collectibles in every level. All of this combines to provide a nostalgic sense of gameplay that benefits the game fantastically. There’s even a fun easter egg that will have you playing a level from Wolfenstein 3D.


As far as the combat itself is concerned, The New Order has developed an interesting dichotomy of play styles that allow you the choice of stealth or guns blazing. You can quietly work your way around levels, taking out guards, dogs, and commanders with knives and silenced pistols, or you can dual wield automatic shotguns and assault rifles to wreak havoc. Both styles offer satisfying experiences, but the game will force you to go loud, especially later in the game. This can be frustrating, especially when you have half a dozen giant, mechanical Nazis super soldiers occupying a room.


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Speaking of enemies, The New Order does a great job providing players with a great variety of enemies to fight against. Regular soldiers, dogs with augmented metal mouths, officers that call in reinforcements, mechanical super soldiers, and more are all part of the Nazi forces you’ll face off against. This helps keep the game from feeling stale, even 10 hours in.

The game also features a perk system the keeps things fresh. As you play, you’ll earn perks for completing tasks. It gives you several trees to gain new bonuses in, encouraging you to tackle encounters differently throughout the game.

The missions will have you blasting away Nazis in a wide arrange of locales. You’ll explore various European locations, concentration camps, and everything from the bottom of the ocean to the moon. The variety is welcome and a lot of fun. That said, each mission is still a linear affair, with portions of each level being cut off at checkpoints.

In today’s culture, some will throw a fit about The New Order being a single-player only game. Note, though, that the lack of multiplayer does not harm the game in any way. I would suggest that it’s better for it’s single-player focus.


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Presentation

The New Order looks fantastic. Everything has a distinct aesthetic that plays to the story. The theme is consistent, never distracting from your immersion in the game world. Characters, weapons, and environments look great and animation is smooth. It’s easy to see that a lot of care was taken to offer a top-notch visual experience.

The sound design in Wolfenstein is excellent. Voice acting never feels campy or out of place and the soundtrack is something I’ll go back and listen to again and again while I’m working. Sound effects also deliver in spades, with each gunshot giving you a real sense of impact. You’ll want to play this game with the volume up.

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Conclusion/Overall
Wolfenstein: The New Order is one of the best shooter experiences I’ve had in quite some time. The shooter mechanics are great, the storytelling is fantastic, and the characters are well developed. It both looks and sounds fantastic. Some of the content is too coarse for younger audiences, but shooter fans who invest the time in this long (12-15 hour) single-player game will surely enjoy the experience.

*Note* – Content conscious gamers should seriously consider the prolific use of profanity, explicit sexual content, and verbose gore in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

The Bottom Line

 

 

9

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Joe Morgan

Gamer, software developer, dog lover. When he's not writing for GeeksUnderGrace or CrossConsoleGamers, you can find him streaming at Twitch.tv/JoeKnowethGames

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