Wolfenstein is back, and means business
History is filled with events that could have turned out in radically different ways. What if the Nazi Germany had won WWII? In what kind of a world would we live in? Wolfenstein: The New Order offers an intriguing vision of such a world.
In The New Order (henceforth TNO), the player takes control of William “B.J.” Blazkowicz, a soldier to whom killing Nazis is second nature. The game begins with a desperate assault on the headquarters of B.J’s nemesis, general Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse in 1946. The Nazis, wielding unusually advanced technology, are on the brink of winning the war. Consequently, the raid is a failure, resulting in a defeat of the Allied forces. B.J. suffers a head injury in the assault, which puts him in a coma for 14 years. B.J. wakes up in 1960 to a radically different world dominated by Nazis. He then joins a resistance group called the Kreisau Circle, which seeks to topple the Nazi regime.
Though TNO does feature characters from previous entries, it delivers a story arc that stands very well on its own and as such welcomes new players. The game’s narrative is also its greatest strength. TNO offers a terrifying, although slightly exaggerated, vision of a world under Nazi dominion. The result is a dark, detailed and dystopian setting with humorous undertones created by the rampant Nazi propaganda, with the game even containing fictive pop music that one would encounter in such a world (sung in German, of course). In addition, the cast of characters in TNO are very well written, each having their own motivations and rich backstories which make them relatable.
The gameplay of TNO offers a possibility for both stealthy gameplay and to go in guns blazing. The ability to dual-wield assault rifles, shotguns and the like highlights the game’s over-the-top nature. The few gripes I have with TNO have to do with its old-school tendencies. The game world features pick-up items, such as health, armor and ammunition. It isn’t enough to run over these items to pick them up, you must also press the action key to do so. Make sure that whichever key you assign for the job can withstand abuse in the thick of battle! Also, like in any good old-school shooter, the player is able to carry all weapons they come across in their inventory. Selecting a desired weapon in the midst of a firefight can be a frustrating task, whether by looking for the right key to equip the weapon in question, or by scrolling the weapon wheel on the mouse. Only now do I appreciate the 2016 Doom, where the gameplay actually significantly slows down while scrolling for the right weapon – something that TNO doesn’t do.
The title of Wolfenstein bears an immense legacy, as the 1992 Wolfenstein 3D has repeatedly been dubbed the grandfather of the FPS genre. TNO does have big boots to fill. While perhaps not revolutionising the genre in the same way, it does still offer a very enjoyable narrative experience topped with decent gameplay.
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: 20 May 2014
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 , Xbox One
Age Limit: 18
Category: First-person shooter, action-adventure