Wolfenstein: The New Order is a videogame that has guns in it, and you use these guns to kill people. That's about as remarkable a statement as I could rack my brain for after spending three hours with game.
As much as some Wolfenstein fans may want to greet The New Order with fanfare and anticipation, I have to say folks, there just doesn't seem anything noteworthy to this newest title. With the exception of a few moments, Wolfenstein: The New Order feels like a phoned-in, by the numbers first-person shooter.
Wolfenstein: The New Order (PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release: May 20, 2013
Yes, B.J. Blazkowicz is back, and your mission is to cut down the Nazi war machine and their twisted creations. As fate would have it, the Nazis have won the war, leaving B.J. to head on a revenge mission 20 years later.
There's obviously a fair amount of story details I'm leaving out of that abbreviated synopsis, but just know that outside of the alternate history setup, there's not much to the story but every military story trope imaginable. For a game that's part of a series whose name is built on occult Robo-Hitlers, it's not a great offense.
It's what I played that's left me cold on The New Order. As a shooter, The New Order is just fine. It's a mechanically sound shooter that plays just no better, and at plenty times worse, than any other shooter around.
On its default setting, Wolfenstein couldn't be described as difficult, but it is rather uneven. For the most part, I found myself running through corridors and trenches, blasting through enemies with relative ease. In these moments, the enemies feel more like fodder than anything to worry about.
Out of nowhere though, I would hit points where every enemy was imbued with the aim of Hawkeye, and waves upon waves of them appeared until I advanced to some invisible trigger that made them stop spawning. It also didn't help that enemies would throw an endless amount of grenades at my feet with the precision of an NFL quarterback.
It was really the oddest feeling, as on one hand the game suddenly gave me a reason to sit up straight and actually have to make an effort, even though it went about it in the cheapest way possible. It also didn't help that the damage indicator was so off that figuring out which direction I was getting attacked from was too often unclear until my health and armor were critically low.
At the very least, Wolfenstein: The New Order packs a solid visual presentation. We're of course very early in the console generation, but Wolfenstein still looks really damn good.
The version I played ran on PS4, and although it didn't turn heads like Killzone: Shadow Fall, it's still a pretty game. While most of the environments are grimy brown military bases and bunkers, there is a good amount of steampunk weirdness and tech that makes good use of showing what this current gen offers.
Here's the long and short of it. My time with Wolfenstein: The New Order left me with nothing to write home, or you readers, about. It looked and played like a thoroughly competent first-person shooter with more than a fair amount of blemishes and the A.I. can be dumb as rocks until it decides to put Stephen Hawking's IQ to shame.
Outside of its namesake, I'm not seeing anything that makes Wolfenstein: The New Order stand apart from its genre peers. Wait, but don't anticipate, unless you fancy yourself a diehard Wolfenstein fan.