elcome back to another exciting segment where we take a glimpse into some of the most thrilling and iconic games that have made a mark in history, and some of the hidden gems of the retro era.
In the 25 years since Wolfenstein 3D pioneered the first-person shooter; the series has had some big ups and downs. The latest reboot Wolfenstein the New Order is easily the most story driven and slickly produced alliteration to date. Even if some misplaced loyalty to the old design keeps it one step behind in many modern shooters.
Wolfenstein the New Order gets its titles from its alternate timeline. In this game, the Nazis won World War II and subsequently seize much control over the world. So we aren’t storming the beaches of Normandy for the 10th time, but instead doing interesting things that we don’t see in typical World War II games, like assaulting heavily fortified Nazi castles in the heart of Germany, sabotaging their fictional bridge between Gibraltar and Africa, and even tangling with the Nazis advanced space program. Long-time Wolfenstein protagonists B. J. Blazkowicz returns in the New Order, but he isn’t just a gun touting meathead he’s particularly portrayed as; there’s an almost shocking amount of depth to him. The New Order explores his patriotism and bravery, but it also explores his ability to love and care for others, needless to say, that Blazkowicz has never been this deep and dynamic and this, along with some fantastic writing and voice acting, inheritably makes the New Order more engaging.
I also commend developer MachineGames for dealing with the Nazis in a more realistic fashion than previous Wolfenstein games. Note that the Third Reich didn’t create building sites with mechanical dogs with Armor fused to them or inject their soldiers with tonnes of chemicals, but that’s much more granted in the reality of the paranormal cult focus of some previous Wolfenstein games reboots, and that makes the alternate Nazis atrocities seem slightly more real. I also appreciated MachineGames' willingness to explore actual Nazi war crimes during the campaign, from forced labour camps to the mistreatment of the mentally ill, the studio even alludes to how these alternate history Nazis are treating occupied Americans no Arian population.
Wolfenstein The New Order doesn’t shine quite as bright as a shooter while it does certain notable things that I did like and while it was fun to play I wish this gameplay more evenly met its presentation. The New Order gets off to a bad start with a frustrating opening sequence that takes seemingly forever to put an actual gun in your hand, but once you do get into the action you’ll find a responsive shooter that runs smoothly and plays well. I was a bit confounded by Wolfenstein's dual wielding options which are universally difficult to aim and not all that useful, but apart from that, the New Orders gameplay is strong.
Its complimented by a thoughtful and unique skill tree that doesn’t require you to earn experience points or spend skill points, but insists that you do certain things in game often times in a specific order; kill with this weapon, score this number of headshots, accessibly toss a couple of grenades, and the skills will start popping up in earnest, sharpening your abilities in the process.
I also enjoyed the semi explorative qualities of the New Order, something that’s in the DNA of the Wolfenstein series, there are hidden compartments and rooms to find, plenty of gold, letters and enigma codes to find, discover, and collect, and a really cool emphasis on stealth gameplay that makes many parts of the campaign more manageable. Taking down commanders before they can call for reinforcements also unlocks more secrets which is a great incentive to not go in guns blazing, It was incredibly satisfying to slink through open world maps silently slaying unsuspected Nazis, though this stealth-driven gameplay also expose some of the AI’s biggest weaknesses, like your occasional blindness to dead bodies and uneven view detection.
Unfortunately, the New Order feels decidedly old in one specific way, and how it has you collecting weapons ammunition, armour, and health. This stuff is literally everywhere and yet you have to tediously collect it manually with a button press instead of just running into it, or over it. Worse yet you’ll often see the on-screen prompt to collect before you even see what you are collecting. Eventually, I just started persistently tapping the collection button everywhere I went, which takes away from some of the exploration and atmosphere.
Playing Wolfenstein the New Order was more than a trip down shooter memory lane. As a fan of the franchise, it was an especially refreshing entry that felt more grounded and realistic, even if its subject matter fare out and unlikely. The New Order isn’t changing the name of the game when it comes to shooters, story and settings, however, production values are commendable, and I like some of the little tweaks and changes, and B. J. Blazkowicz is a human being after all, go figure.