(PlayStation 4)

Wolfenstein: The New Order (PlayStation 4)

Game Review

Wolfenstein: The New Order Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Alex Stinton

Back to the Führer

"Shooting, stabbing, strangling Nazis," is the response that long time Wolfenstein protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz gives when asked what he's been up to recently. Starting all the way back in the early nineties with Wolfenstein 3D, he’s definitely shown an enthusiasm for his craft, making it seem more of a pastime than a career. In Wolfenstein: The New Order on the PlayStation 4, he once again gets his chance to derail the Nazi's plans, this time in an alternate history 1960, where his old enemy now dominates the world.

The game opens in 1946, well past the point where World War II should have ended. By using advanced technology, produced by mad scientist General Deathshead, the Nazis have pushed the Allies into a desperate position. On the brink of defeat, they launch a last ditch attack on the leader's stronghold, with the hope of cutting off the source of the technology that has turned the tide of the war. During this assault, our extravagantly named protagonist gets caught in an explosion that throws him into the ocean, peppering his noggin with shrapnel in the process. Waking from a vegetative state fourteen years later, B.J. finds himself in a Polish hospital with the Nazis ruling the globe – and his appetite for killing fascists stronger than ever.

This game is a relative rarity in the first-person shooter genre of late. By focusing purely on a story campaign, it forgoes any effort to add in multiplayer, hoping instead that its gunplay, setting, and story will be enough to get players to pick it up. By concentrating in this way, developer MachineGames has crafted a decent tale that slots nicely into its alternate history setting. While it may not be hugely original, it does send you to a wide variety of locales, keeping you interested throughout its ten or so hour campaign.

While the core of the story is the usual clichéd tale, it does actually manage to elevate itself above your initial expectations, with a wonderful roster of characters, and a fascinating world for them to inhabit. At first glance, a lot of the personalities appear to be paper thin stereotypes. Whether it’s B.J.’s mouthy Scottish friend Fergus, or Anya, his love interest, it would have been very easy for these characters to become throw away parts of the story, acting only as disembodied voices at the end of your radio.

Instead, however, you’re given a chance to build a deeper appreciation of their history and motivations, which is rare to see in a shooter of this type. This comes to the fore during a series of sections that let you explore the resistance headquarters. Spending time during these interludes, talking to your allies and carrying out tasks for them, provides an opportunity for some interesting character beats, helping you to develop an attachment to this rag tag crew, while also giving you a breather from the frantic action.

While the efforts to develop and ground B.J.’s relationships with his comrades are quite successful, the rest of the proceedings are enjoyably over the top. Blazkowicz is a one-man wrecking machine, who’ll go on any mission as long as he gets to kill Nazis. Taking on not only soldiers, but also a variety of twisted inventions – including robot dogs and drones – he has a knack for facing huge odds and coming out with barely a scratch. The story missions reflect this well, putting the hero in increasingly crazy scenarios, even going as far as having him infiltrate a concentration camp, in order to track down a particular inmate. As you’d expect, the game is also rather bloody, pushing beyond the usual exploding heads and bodies, and into some rather disturbing situations. It doesn’t shy away from exposing the player to some quite dark imagery, which really drives home the brutality of the Nazi regime, showing not only the effect of your adversaries' violence, but also that of the hero.

The one-man army approach that B.J. Blazkowicz adopts comes to the fore during the gameplay, allowing you to take quite a bit of punishment should you decide to stand toe-to-toe with your enemies. Using a hybrid system that mixes a small amount of recharging health with protective armour, you’re able to ‘overcharge’ your vitality above its maximum level for a short period using medical pickups. This lets you make some downright satisfying suicidal charges that would only lead to a swift death in other games.

In addition to absorbing quite a lot of damage, you can also deal a fair amount as well. Most of the weapons at your disposal will be familiar to anyone who's played a shooter in the last couple of decades, with the usual ladder of firearms ranging from a knife to a sniper rifle, all of which have alternate fire modes. Only the ‘LaserKraftWerk’, a powerful laser gun – which can also cut through fences – stands out from the crowd.

While the gunplay works much as you’d expect from a competent first-person shooter, what really makes it fun is your ability to mow down wave after wave of Nazis. This is amplified by the ability to dual wield most of the weapons in the game, effectively doubling the amount of lead that you're throwing at your enemies. Should you decide to push the difficulty above the normal level, this fun does diminish, though, as you have to play much more conservatively, spending longer sat behind cover, since fighting out in the open becomes more and more risky.

There are also a number of perks to unlock that provide various buffs. These range from gaining the ability to throw knives to increasing your sprint speed while dual wielding, and how they are earned is quite inspired. To activate each perk, you'll need to satisfy certain criteria by performing in-game actions. The genius of this is that after a while, you’ll start to switch up how you play in certain situations as you spot opportunities to make progress towards unlocking yet another perk.

For a game that revels in the mayhem of its gun battles, it’s surprising to find that not only is stealth an option, but that it’s also enjoyable as well. Sneaking up behind enemies lets you brutally stab your target to death, and there are sections where you’ll be able to clear out entire areas without ever alerting the patrolling guards. In addition, there are Commanders that crop up from time to time that you'll need to take out quietly, as triggering an alert will cause these officers to continuously radio for reinforcements. This makes them priority targets, whether you’re in open combat or sneaking around, as once they start calling in more soldiers, battles can become increasingly challenging.

While this is a linear shooter in every sense of the term, there are forking paths and offshoots throughout that give you the chance to do a bit of exploration. If you want to hunt down the numerous collectibles that litter each level, then you’ll need to scour every part of the stages, even hunting down entrances to numerous secret rooms that can prove quite tricky to locate. These branching pathways also feed into the stealth gameplay, as some routes will give you more options to eliminate guards stealthily, while others will lead you straight into a head-on confrontation.

Whichever option you adopt, the game looks really great on the PS4, and you’ll initially be impressed by the crisp graphics running at 1080p and 60 frames-per-second. The problem comes when you get too close to certain surfaces, and find that some textures seem to be quite low resolution and blurry. This would be less apparent if you were barrelling through the environments skimming over the detail, but since you’ll likely be spending time hunting for collectibles, the problem becomes more and more apparent, eventually tarnishing the otherwise shiny next-gen graphics on display.

Ultimately, though, the best thing about the experience is the world that’s been created for you to explore. Seeing how the Nazis have operated unchecked, employing a single minded determination to the advancement of the Third Reich, is fascinating. It also shows how the use of human experimentation has accelerated their scientific advancement, allowing them to put a Nazi on the Moon, while also bringing about the advent of desktop computers and robotics ahead of their time. It’s definitely thought provoking, and will make you wonder how different things could have been if the Allies had been defeated.

Conclusion

Wolfenstein: The New Order is a surprisingly strong shooter that aspires to be more than its premise should allow. While it can only do so much with its cliché magnet of a story, and its graphics don’t hold up to close inspection at times, it’s easy to overlook these shortcomings in the face of everything else that it does well. As a result, the inspired but disturbing world, excellent roster of characters, and exhilarating action make it very easy to recommend this over-the-top rampage.

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User Comments (44)

k_andersenStaff

#1

k_andersen said:

Cracking read, Alex! I've been playing through this the past few days, and really enjoying it - especially the story, which surprises me. I can't wait to see what this developer does next :D

AlexStintonStaff

#2

AlexStinton said:

@k_andersen Thanks! I enjoyed my time with the game immensely. While it's still the usual left trigger aim, right trigger shoot sort of game, I appreciated the fact it managed carve out its own identity, creating an experience that stands out from the crowd.

get2sammybAdmin

#3

get2sammyb said:

@k_andersen @AlexStinton I'm more sold on this than I was before. Haven't had a chance to pick this up yet as I 'chose' Watch Dogs, but I loved the gunplay when I played it last year. To hear that the story's actually quite good, too, has really excited me.

Brilliant review.

sub12

#4

sub12 said:

I've really enjoyed this so far, my only grip is that I wish they would tone down some of the storytelling and cinematics in favor of just straight up gameplay,...as the shooting mechanics are really solid throughout. It only makes me yearn more so for that mid 90s to early 00s style.

Still a worthy purchase for sure.

KALofKRYPTON

#5

KALofKRYPTON said:

I'm very much enjoying Wolfenstein!

A wonderful single player experience so far, on par with my favourite Resistance 3. Great gunplay, cracking story, good characterisations and bags of fun. Taking the time to read as many of the many newspaper cuttings strewn about really expands on the created world, and shows how much thought and detail has gone in to the game.
I'd implore everyone to give the music CD a turn too.
Massive well done to MachineGames. Very good purchase :-D

LDXD

#6

LDXD said:

Finally lol, great review I'm loving this game so far. Its nice to have a fps with a good single player campaign. Glad I bought it

LDXD

#7

LDXD said:

@sub12 agreed well that and the graphics could be better. Now I can't wait till doom 4 and I'm hoping that its more like the first two and less like 3

Reverend_Skeeve

#8

Reverend_Skeeve said:

I want this! It seems to have exactly this 90s-vibe I crave for (again) in a good FPS. Also, I love the alternate history setting and the crazy over the top action this seems to have.

@AlexStinton Excellent review, sir!

sub12

#9

sub12 said:

@LDXD I agree, I hope the new Doom (Doom 4) is just a crazy shoot em' up, not as over the top as Serious Sam, but something in the vein of Quake 2 or SiN would be awesome.....

LDXD

#10

LDXD said:

@sub12 yeah me too and I don't know how true it is but I've herd a few times its going to be more like the first doom

kupo

#11

kupo said:

Spot on review. My only warning for people is that, for your first playthrough, if you play on the hardest difficulty...turn the hints on, or you will be stuck in a small room at the beginning for 15 minutes because you didn't know how to use the leaning mechanic...

Zep_Fan_81

#12

Zep_Fan_81 said:

Real nice review..... Just cant choose between this and Watchdogs....maybe Watchdogs as got Killzone for fps but need a 3rd person game....tough choice though, have had every previous Wolfenstein.

odd69

#15

odd69 said:

Generic? HA! this series dates back to doom clones, generic isnt what this is, Like doom, its a very important fps.

BoobooMama

#16

BoobooMama said:

I'm not really into first person shooters, but then again - shooting nazis. In the face.

Jcp83

#17

Jcp83 said:

Good review.

Shooting futuristic Nazis in the past is interesting and immensely enjoyable.

All in all it's a good FPS and worth a blast if you like shooters or shooting Nazi's

Carl-G

#19

Carl-G said:

The last 3 pics remind me of the brilliant & mad TimeSplitters games :D Not sure i would want to spend over £40 on this game tho(well i haven't bought any PS4 games(got 2 on day of launch because i had some vouchers, thank god) because of their high prices. Yep i am sticking to my rules :D i.e i will not spend over £30 on a game) :-/

Gamer83

#21

Gamer83 said:

With Watch Dogs and Mario Kart 8 out next week, I'm going to have to hold off on this one for a bit but it has been added to my backlog list, I'll probably buy it during the slow time in the middle of summer. Glad to see this one didn't turned out to be a really good game. Wasn't expecting that at all.

THEundying27

#22

THEundying27 said:

I traded in some ps4 games for this, I'm cconfused on how I feel about this game.

Graphics remind me of rage, probably because it uses the same engine I believe which isn't a bad thing but for ps4 hardware I sort of expected a little more in the graphics department. It's a pretty generic shooter, nothing that I haven't seen before.

The sound/music is awesome, the voice acting is good.

stealth is very satisfying. I don't know it just doesn't scream a perfect 10 at me even though there's really nothing wrong about this game.

shrugs

SimonAdebisi

#23

SimonAdebisi said:

This sounds like whole lot of fun, after a couple of playthroughs though I'll probably be done, I guess I'll be spending my money on watchdogs first.

Ginkgo

#25

Ginkgo said:

I just can't bring myself to get interested in this game. Watch-Dogs for me.

JaxonH

#26

JaxonH said:

I'm really enjoying this game!

It's SO much better than I thought it would be. The health/armor system is a breath of fresh air, the maps are wide and always offer multiple pathways, the story is EXCELLENT, the characters are likeable... I really don't have anything bad to say about this game.

Fantastic!

suburban_sensei

#27

suburban_sensei said:

This one wasn't on my radar, as I remember the last reboot being lackluster. However, I decided to pick this game up and wow, it's amazing. The level design is stellar and you feel like you really do have freedom to choose stealth or run 'n gun. I feel like most games say you have a choice, but at some point you can't really use stealth wisely. I like that they didn't waste time tacking on a crappy multiplayer mode that people would stop playing in 2 months anyways. They spent all their time and resources on single player and it shows!

JaxonH

#28

JaxonH said:

Oh, and I went to the mattress in the resistance HQ and it allowed me to "relive a nightmare", which turned out to be a level from the original Wolfenstein lol! Your gun and hand is still PS4 graphics, and you keep the same movesets, so it makes playing the retro classic that much more interesting. Was saddened to complete it and find out there's no trophy or anything for doing so. Oh well.

MindlESsSelf

#29

MindlESsSelf said:

I kinda got bored with shooters lately- but this game somehow managed to suck me right into it. Its the first time in years that a main character (a.k.a. William "B.J." Blazkowicz) is really believable and you`re not embarrassed of the phony cast of characters. Especially the nightmare easter egg is a blast- more so if you played wolfenstein back in the days =).....

Gamer83

#30

Gamer83 said:

@JaxonH

It's very rare that an FPS gets credit for its story. As somebody who mostly enjoys playing single player games, when I can get one with a really good story, that adds to the enjoyment. It's nice that nearly everybody who has played this points to story as a strong part of it.

JaxonH

#31

JaxonH said:

@Gamer83

It's just a really intriguing premise and it's told very well. Which is about all you can ask for in a post-apocalyptic scenario where Nazi's rule the world and you're a one-man army laying to waste entire battalions of robotic canines and bipedal mechs with just a dagger and assault rifle.

Remixora

#36

Remixora said:

Im loving this game so far. The story is awesome and the gameplay is not bad at all. This will definitely keep me occupied until watch dogs comes out.

Jcp83

#38

Jcp83 said:

I think it's good that a dev wants to concentrate all resources on the single player campaign. But, I do feel that this would be even better with an online co-op mode included.

antdickensAdmin

#39

antdickens said:

I was waiting for this review, Push Square, and now I'm going to have to buy it, damn :P

CanisWolfred

#43

CanisWolfred said:

I'll probably pick this up when it goes down in price. I liked the last Wolfenstien, but it helped that I basically got it free. This one to me sounds like a major step down to me. The graphics aren't as colorful, and the story sounds more melodramatic than a crazy fast-paced shooter deserves. While I like my shooters fast-paced, I quite liked the progression and customization in the previous game, and the new progression system doesn't sound particularly appealing to me. I do want to try it, because fast-paced shooters are a rarity these days, but nothing about this game screams day one in my eyes...

DevilMayDante

#44

DevilMayDante said:

I haven't played this one yet, but want too! When it was first announced I did not think it would be very good, but after reading all the reviews... Now I want to play this and it seems/looks like a great game for some summer gaming.

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