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Wolfenstein: The New Order

By zethalee07-06-2014
StuntmanLT (editor)
MrJenssen (editor)
Wolfenstein: The New Order

The Defence

Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core i7
AMD FX 6300
Nvidia GeForce 460
AMD Radeon HD 6850
4 GB
50 GB

The Case

With sleeper hits The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay and The Darkness under their belt, MachineGames - created by former members of Starbreeze Studios - have set out to expand on the 2009 reboot of the Wolfenstein series. Stepping away from the dimension-hopping madness and singular town focus of the previous game, Wolfenstein: The New Order has expanded the scope and scale of the game considerably. However, does the game do the classic entries in the series justice, or will it too just become another note in the history books?

The Trial

For a moment, however, let us slip into the annals of history, to judge where we have come from, and how the series has developed an appetite for madness. Going back to the early 90s, even from the beginning, the Wolfenstein series has always had a knack for being irreverent. Caricatures of a certain Adolf Hitler, the ghosts from Pac-Man, Nazi death-robots and demons, and more recently, interdimensional monsters aligned with the Third Reich have all had their fair share in the limelight. Though the original Castle Wolfenstein game may have been a proto-”stealth genre” game, id Software’s Wolfenstein 3D arguably set the tone for the series, and since then, the games have gotten no less strange.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to get past the big bad robot.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to get past the big bad robot.

Case in point: the plot of The New Order. The game opens with a futile attack on the evil Dr Deathshead's fortress, where, in a last-ditch effort to turn the tides of the war, the Allies are attempting to assassinate the head of the Nazi war machine. Failing that, you, William “B.J.” Blazkowicz, are blasted out of a window, shrapnel following close behind, resulting in a 14 year stay in a Polish asylum. Following an escape during which your innate killing reflexes appear to not have deteriorated over the 14 years you spent in a wheelchair, you're off to Berlin, to join up with the Resistance.

In effect, the game's plot doesn't necessarily get more complex than that, and I'm not entirely sure that it has to. No one is really going to argue that the Nazis were evil, so there's little to no justification as to why you need to shoot them, just that it might be more in your favor if you did so. The plot, while absurd, does follow a logical progression, even well past the point where it involves magical Jewish space wizardry. Characters are all motivated to fight against the regime simply because of the atrocities and horrors that are whispered about, and then propagandized in the newspapers. The plot sets the tone for the game, while the world around it makes it believable.

It is, to this point, that the plot wouldn't be “realistic” without the world-building and characterization that MachineGames have done so masterfully. While some elements are hand waved away with the aforementioned Jewish magic, the construction and visual elements that go into characterizing the environment are worth mentioning. Newspaper clippings tacked up around your hideout both hint at what you missed while you were locked up in a bed, and also detail the propaganda techniques employed by the Nazi order. A pillar in the living quarters has dozens of pictures of people you won't ever know, people that likely died fighting the axis. The base itself is claustrophobic, though to be in the center of Berlin, it has to be.

Dual-wielding ensures clouds of blood.

Dual-wielding ensures clouds of blood.

London has been reconstructed with gigantic concrete megaliths, and zeppelins floating overhead. Though you don't get time to explore the streets, news articles hint that there is always unrest in the city. In the Polish countryside, even here, the feats of German engineering are obvious, with a massive highway stretching over an outpost you work through in the early parts of the game. The catacombs and underbelly of the city are dilapidated with relics of the old world, and also provide a way for you to maneuver without detection.

That's not to mention the people you meet along the way. Many of your friends and allies trapped within the hideout are stuck fighting a decades-long war, tired, exhausted from all the fighting. While it may be meaningful, the mental strain on the resistance has piled up over the years, and even with the “return of the hero,” their attitude and outlook doesn't seem to improve greatly. Certainly, they've got the series' protagonist back, but to the rest of the world, you've been dead for 14 years, and it acts the same way.

In musing on the characters and relationships you forge over the 10+ hour adventure, I'm reminded of Joe Haldeman's The Forever War, a post-Vietnam science-fiction novel about a world that has long left the main character behind, by way of time dilation. Much like in the book, while the characters feel and know that their guerilla tactics certainly won't topple a worldwide empire overnight, struggling to survive is preferable than to wait out the days when you're discovered and executed in the heart of Berlin. Certainly, you do heroic things along the way, but you, as William, won't feel like a hero. You just want the fighting to be over.

Tribute to the fallen.

Tribute to the fallen.

This pervading sense of doom shows up in the shooting mechanics too. You're always stuck struggling against a numerically and technologically superior foe, and you're going to have to get creative. And more often than not, sneaking around and assassinating soldiers of the Wehrmacht is a smart tactic. Foes become more and more powerful as you progress through the game, with your weaponry becoming more and more deadly to match. For example, an assault rifle gains a rocket launcher attachment, an automatic shotgun can shoot ricocheting shrapnel, and a marksman rifle is augmented with a rapid-fire laser battery.

This is not to mention the laser cutter you get early on in the game, which turns into a truly BIG FREAKIN' GUN. While it feels as though MachineGames wanted you to be creative in using the Laserkraftwerk (as denoted in-game), there are far too few environmental uses for it, and you typically only revert to using it out of necessity to progress at specific points. That being said, as you acquire more and more upgrades for it, it becomes a powerful source of damage, even as it may not murder everything immediately.

In addition to scavenging armor from fallen mechanical foes, you will find yourself dual-wielding weapons on occasion, if the number of enemy soldiers warrants it. Personally, I used this ability rarely, instead choosing to make use of the cover and lean mechanics to make precise headshots, whittling down the foes before stepping out into the open and finishing the last two or three off. As I was playing on the second-hardest difficulty, this usually worked out best for me, as I was going to get chewed up in no time, particularly without backup. At worst, the shooting mechanics are merely functional, and at best they feel polished and rewarding.

Up close and personal.

Up close and personal.

The game also rewards exploration and variety in play styles, too. While the perk system is advertised as a means to get the most out of your particular play style, I found myself setting up situations where I could get as many perks as possible, to even the playing field. That's not to mention the health upgrades, diary entries, concept art, and Enigma puzzles, the last of which I haven't quite delved into yet, that are all discoverable by exploring the environments. By killing enemy commanders, you can make this easier by filling in your map with collectibles, but for maps that don't offer it, it's up to the player to explore and have fun with the world that's been created for them.

The only time this fun is interrupted is with the boss fights, and in other times, you can feel as though you're smashing your head against a wall in a hopeless attempt to progress from room to room. I died seemingly instantly on a few occasions, and it can also be hard to tell where exactly you're getting shot from. I didn't miss the lack of local radar, but some deaths felt unfair.

The Verdict

In a sense, “fun” - while simple - is an excellent way to describe the entire game. Though the occasional boss fights are frustrating, everything in the game is designed to help the player experience more and more of the game, not hinder them. Enemies come at you from different angles, and different routes allow you to sneak past foes and creatively take them out. And if need be, dual-wielding automatic futuristic shotguns is absolutely a legitimate tactic. Some of the character development is more haphazard than others, but it all builds together in a nicely assembled, believable, fun game.

Case Review

  • A Mile Deep: There's depth in the characters and environments.
  • Eye Candy: Scenery and level design is excellent.
  • Godot Has Arrived: The absurdity of the game and what goes on helps build the sense of enjoyment.
  • (Sur)Realism: The actions undertaken make sense in an illogical world.
  • Out of Reach: Finding collectibles is easy, sometimes acquiring them is not.
  • Rough Terrain: Difficulty spikes can grind the game to a halt, particularly with boss fights.
Score: 4.5/5
A remarkable, fun shooter.


In a genre that recently has been flooded with Call of Duty’s, Battlefield’s, and their respective clones, it's nice to see something a little different come along. Something like Wolfenstein. Sure you're still "shooting, stabbing, and strangling" as protagonist William "B.J." Blazkowicz puts it, just like in every other FPS game these days but the scale is on a completely different level than most other shooters. Every level is filled with Nazi meat sacs for you to silently take out or fill with lead, providing one of the most enjoyable power trips in recent video game history. These power trips do eventually lead into the worst part of the game however, as Wofenstein: The New Order suffers from some sharp difficulty spikes, and can have the player feeling frustrated after dying over and over while that unstoppable death-machine feeling dissipates with each defeat.

Wolfenstein: The New Order isn't just pure action and killing this time around though, it has new mechanics and a story. The main change to both is that there is nothing occult about this entry. While Castle Wolfenstein and the 2009 Wolfenstein had resurrection, mystic energies, and the like, The New Order is mostly about steel, industry, and robots instead. This changes the plot too of course, this time you're not trying to stop a ritual from happening, but something entirely different. The story paints B.J as a simple soldier who just wants to settle down, have a family, and relax, but can't because of Nazis. It's a weird angle, trying to portray B.J as a sympathetic character in the middle of a game about revenge and killing, and it takes you out of the mood of the game. Sure it's a touching story, but these exposition sequences just made me feel bad for B.J, and took me out of the Nazi killing mood that is the game's strong point.

For the most part however, The New Order captures the gorefest action and sense of humor that Wolfenstein should be about, while adding in a surprising amount of depth through stealth mechanics and plot elements for those who want more in their first person shooters. If you're not tired of shooting Nazis in the face, give Wolfenstein: The New Order a go. It's different enough to provide the player a feeling of power, a good story, and stealth elements all while maintaining the action that makes first person shooters what they are.

Score: 4/5
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