(The poster used is fan artwork by disgorgeapocalypse!)
Developer: MachineGames (2014)
Console: Xbox One
Reviewed by V1
Wolfenstein: The New Order is set in an alternate history to our own, where the Nazis won WWII & now rule the world. It begins in 1946, as Captain William “BJ” Blazkowicz & his squad lead an assault on General Deathshead’s fortress. Captured during the mission, BJ is forced to pick one of his squad for Deathshead’s human experiments & is left to burn in the incinerator. Injured upon his escape, BJ spends the next 14 years in a catatonic state under the care of a Polish psychiatric Doctor & his daughter, Anya. BJ regains consciousness during a Nazi raid on Anya’s hospital. He takes out the squad (pretty sprightly for a fella coming out of a 14 year coma!), saves Anya & joins the resistance in order to end this reign or tyranny.
I really enjoyed the story told in Wolfenstein. I expected a generic, ‘Murica-themed Nazi killathon, but was pleasantly surprised to play through a smartly written, genuinely emotive story. BJ is a great character & about a million miles away from the dudebrah I expected him to be. He still loves killin’ them Nazis, but he’s likeable & has a lot more depth than most characters in shooters these days. I certainly found myself rooting for him during the events of the game.
Every other resistance member is a strong, well-realised character too. A few that stick out are Max, a former Nazi soldier left mentally handicapped after massive head trauma. Klaus, another former Nazi, who takes care of Max. Lastly there’s J. I won’t spoil anything, but when you realise who he is, it’s a pretty cool moment! The antagonists are not as strongly written as the resistance, but still are an interesting bunch. General Deathshead is as evil as you’d expect, but Frau Engel & Bubi (her boytoy) are far more interesting.
The events of the game are as diverse & interesting as its cast. You’ll travel throughout Europe, in sewers, across rooftops, Nazi death camps, the bottom of the ocean & all the way to the FUCKING MOON!!! Yup, this game has a pretty great story with very little to pick apart.
Wolfenstein is an excellent looking game. Environments are the star of the show, some of the cityscapes seen throughout are very impressive, London & Berlin in particular. You’ll never be bored asthere’s something new to see every chapter. Character models don’t fare quite as well as the game environments. They are less photo-realistic & slightly cartoonish in appearance. Some characters can be an eye-sore, but the trade-off is a far more emotive face. I feel this benefits the narrative, more so than a higher polygon count could ever do. Everything runs at a smooth frame rate with very little slowdown (only during the more hectic battles).
As good as the game looks, the audio is, IMO, far superior. Everything smacks of care & attention to detail. Every single voice actor should be commended on their job, as the voice work is utterly brilliant & does the writing justice. From BJ’s monologues, his intimate moments with Anya, all the way to some hilariously disgusting torture scenes, Brian Bloom does a brilliant job as BJ (He reminded me of Brad Pitt in Inglorious Bastards). The soundtrack is just as brilliant as the voicework! The original score features a great mix, including awesome acoustic guitar riffs, rock, metal, dub step & string sections, all of which perfectly underscore the action on screen. There are also a number of classic 50’s/60’s songs recorded in German. These are a brilliant touch & are absolutely hilarious (they’re mark out moments).
There are a few issues I have with the games presentation. Nothing too damning, only small niggling faults. Firstly, there is some slowdown during the more hectic setpieces, as well as some texture loading. There are some lip-syncing issues with less important characters. However, my biggest gripe is with the gun audio. For a game with sublime audio mixing & voicework, the guns just don’t sound all that good. They sound puny & a little bit tinny. With headphones or through the surround sound, they still sound pathetic.
Unfortunately, this is probably the weakest aspect of the game. That’s not to say that Wolfenstein is bad, it just can’t match the standard set in writing & performance. Wolfenstein is a fairly standard FPS, with some mind boggling gameplay decisions. It plays just as well as any shooter on the market. Everything controls perfectly, there are no aiming issues, BJ is agile & has plenty of moves (including a fantastic cover mechanic, only matched by the Killzone series). Aiming from the hip is very responsive, & the ability to use iron sights is a welcome addition to the old dog. There’s plenty of diversity in the campaign (turret sections, stealth, puzzles, platforming & vehicle sections), as well a fun levelling up system. Each mission also has plenty of extras to seek out, as well as info on each new character you come across.
Unfortunately, not everything is as good as its modern day counterparts. For some bizarre reason, Machine Games decided to bring back armour & health packs. That’s fucking right! Outdated FPS systems from 2 generations ago once again rear their ugly heads. In order to pick up any in-game items you have to press square (X on Xbox). I can’t wrap my head around this decision! Why can’t I simply walk over an item to collect it? Why do you make me walk around spamming fucking square so I can pick up a few bullets? Jesus Christ, did you not playtest the game & realise this is shite 5 minutes in? Sigh…….. this is my biggest gripe with Wolfenstein. It’s not game breaking, but it’s very annoying & definitely takes away from the overall experience. I also noticed some poor check-pointing during later levels. One of these left my in the middle of a huge battle with no ammo, armour & very little health. It was infuriating.
This is a single-player only game. There is absolutely no multiplayer whatsoever. This doesn’t really affect me (I generally only play single-player games), but I can see this being a huge issue for other players. If you mainly play multiplayer games, then I would avoid Wolfenstein like the plague. Otherwise this is an excellent single player experience that wants you to play through twice (depending on which squad member you choose in Mission 1, events during the campaign change). I’ve only played through once, but I will definitely replay it again at some point.
• Fantastic writing
• Great voice work
• Fun, arcadey shooting
• Great single player campaign
• Amazing soundtrack
• Pressing buttons to pick up items
• Bad checkpointing
• No multiplayer or co-op
Overall: Wolfenstein: The New Order is a great single player FPS, with a brilliantly written story & a very memorable soundtrack. It’s the best single player shooter on PS4 & Xbox One by a mile. However, a few bad design choices & a complete lack of multiplayer, keep Wolfenstein from being an elite FPS game. 8.5/10