I am death incarnate.
Wolfenstein is one of the oldest names in gaming. The series spawned the first-person shooter craze on PC back in the day, and has seen a host of new ideas (and developers) since its inception. The latest in the series does something I never thought a Wolfenstein game could do; it made me care about a character named BJ Blazkowicz. As ridiculous as his name is, the story in The New Order is far from that. It tells the tale of a world where the Nazis won World War II, and life as everyone knows it has changed. It is compelling, full of interesting characters and one heck of a journey for BJ and company.
The first thing that jumped out at me in The New Order is just how compelling the story really is. The intro sequence feels like just another WWII shooter, but once the title screen rolls, it dragged me into its world, forcing me to care about this quirky cast of characters, and enjoying it more than I had any right to. The campaign clocks in at a hefty 10-12 hours, and feels perfectly-paced. There was never a dull moment, as I was tasked with mowing down Nazi hordes one minute, and collecting tools the next.
Platforms: PS4, PC, XB1, 360, PS3
Price I’d pay: $59.99
Length: 10-15 hours
The shooting feels good, with a visceral punch that the developers of Riddick and The Darkness do so well. Guns shred through enemies like hot cheese, leaving plenty of nasty bits strewn about. It is satisfying, though I wish the weapons had more of a solid kick. Weapons will also receive upgrades throughout the game including a rocket launcher for the machine gun, and my personal favorite, the spread shot for the shotgun. Did I also mention it ricochets off of walls? Well it does, and it is glorious.
The new weapon for The New Order is a laser gun that at first felt like a gimmick. It can cut through fences and eventually grates, but once I upgraded it with a scope and rapid fire, I was laying waste to Nazis with a vengeance. There is little more satisfying in an FPS than watching enemies disappear into a mess of red mist. The gun also gets a workout in some of the boss encounters in unique ways.
The perk system is also well-designed. Instead of gaining XP and earning points, the system is based around challenges. So for example mowing down ten enemies while dual-wielding would earn me a quicker reload while handling two guns. It rewarded the way I played the game, and surprisingly I had unlocked a bunch of the stealth perks by the credit roll. For some reason I loved sneaking up on enemies and taking them down one by one, which isn’t my usual style. The stealth mechanic is extremely satisfying, and rewarding considering taking down specific enemies stops them from calling in reinforcements.
There are also a ton of items to collect in The New Order. Trinkets made of gold are scattered around the world, as are Enigma codes, that once collected can be deciphered to unlock new game modes. There are also records containing music that has been changed due to the outcome of the war. Machinegames has done an excellent job of crafting a believable world. The game does a nice job of keeping track of what I had collected per level, letting me go back and mop up loose ends. There is also an entire second timeline through the story that boasts new side characters and even a separate ability to access areas not available in the other. The replay value of this single player affair is immense.
Sadly, there are some drawbacks to an otherwise fantastic experience. For starters the boss encounters are immensely frustrating due to their trial-and-error nature. This is where most of my deaths occurred, as large hulking enemies would appear and take me down quick. Only after dying a few times was I able to figure out what was needed to take them down.
The ending to the game is also a bit anticlimactic. I was expecting some drawn out narrative considering how much time was spent developing the characters, but it just kind of ends. There is a massive boss fight, but then the credits started to roll and I wondered if I had gotten the “bad” ending or something. It was that abrupt.
Saying that I miss multiplayer would be a lie. I enjoyed that Machinegames focused on what they wanted to create, and omitting a shoehorned versus mode that simply wouldn’t have sufficed. Though I would also be lying if I didn’t say I would love to dual-wield those upgraded shotguns in a fast-paced deathmatch. That just sounds like a blast.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is fantastic and one of the best narrative-driven FPS games I have played since Bioshock. Taking these characters and settings and crafting a compelling single-player experience was an amazing feat; crafting a Wolfenstein game that I cared about without multiplayer was a miracle. I cannot recommend The New Order enough. The story is intriguing, the shooting is visceral, and the journey is one well worth taking.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on PlayStation 4.