Wolfenstein: The New Order released last year to critical and commercial success, proving that shooting Nazis is, in fact, timeless. For years Wolfenstein has been a fixture in the industry, even if in recent years its name has fallen into disrepute.
It was one of the earliest shooters around, and is pretty highly regarded as one of the pillars of FPS history. Yet for years the franchise has somewhat fallen from relevance, and for the past couple of years it hasn't produced all that much of note until this game. With The Old Blood 20 dollar campaign coming soon, I think it's appropriate to write my thoughts on the game-as I finished it somewhat recently-to inform those who may not have tried it yet on what it is and why I think they should consider grabbing it, or indeed the DLC to get their toes wet.
Graphics and Mechanics
The first thing I noticed about WNO was the size of the game, 40 GB to be more precise. That's pretty insanely large for a game, as the next largest game in my library was Assassins creed Black flag, at 36 GB and that was a huge open world game. The size attribution is somewhat clearer, however, when you discover that not only is this running on the Idtech engine, but that it also uses mainly unique textures for lots of different stuff. It's a very good looking game, not the best perhaps, but still a good looker in its own right.
The aesthetic is also really neat, oozing a style that fits perfectly with the enemies and giving them a similar but distinct look to their compatriots. The tech looks somewhat old, and somewhat futuristic, which helps make the games aesthetic all the more interesting. There are certain set pieces as well that help illustrate how utterly the world has changed and moments like the drive to the London Nautica help build this oppressive world's atmosphere. Enemies have enough variation to keep you on your toes, but have a unified grim aesthetic that helps cement them as a homogenous force and fits with the overall themes.
The gameplay is rock solid as well, and that ties into the fact it allows you to pick up health packs and dual wield. Look, some people like the Call of duty linearity, 2 gun system, but I personally don't like it and find that it forces you to play one way depending on the guns they give you at the start or how much ammo they're going to drip-feed you determining which guns you have to choose.
Running into a room, dual-wielding shotguns and blasting away before taking off and sweeping any health in adjacent rooms is much more satisfying to me than sitting behind cover all the time. You can dual wield 4 different gun types, and it's almost always satisfying to do so. You need to use some smarts, as at times the game is pretty unforgiving but the rapid pace and booming action is so engaging, bringing to mind good memories of the new Shadow warrior reboot. You can carry all your weapons at once, and the game forces you to switch by limiting ammo in certain areas for certain weapons. It's quite a well put together combat system, and it feels great. It's a good call back and it's ultimately a very satisfying game that only occasionally becomes way too difficult for its own good. The game is at its best when you have to keep mobile and blast away at your enemies without overwhelming you. However, it can be a bit too stingy with ammo and health for its own good at certain junctures, but overall it's a solid combat system.
One of the big things I respect about this particular game is that it only has a linear single player campaign. The specter of having to have multiplayer hangs over our industry still and I can respect the decision to say no and then find success. Bethesda in particular is proof positive that you don't need multiplayer to sell, and I'm glad they continue to support more games from that school of thought.
Anyway, the story is actually one of the more interesting things to note in this game, simply because of how well executed it is. When you say story, Wolfenstein doesn't always come to mind, and with as bombastic as the combat is you might expect that to even less so, yet this games story is actually quite a large focus. It details an alternate future in which the Nazis gain access to super futuristic tech and manage to take over the world using it. Our hero fails to stop this, mainly owing to the fact that during this conquest BJ Blacsowitz, the player character, is incapacitated and in a comatose state due to brain shrapnel relations. During this time BJ manages to somehow not suffer muscle atrophy, and even manages to pick up a love interest...somehow.
There's some weird quirks to the story here and there, but overall it's actually pretty solid. The Nazis are really vile, the character building back at your home base is interesting and I like BJs inner monologue, even if I wish he would talk to others outside of cutscences. The games villains are twisted and interesting, giving you real reasons to hate them beyond just being Nazis, even if that is normally enough.
The occult magic of previous games also factors in a bit, though it's an interesting new take on the previous games handling of the magic and what not that I enjoyed even if it did remove some of the Nazis fearsome mastery of technology due to what it eventually turns out being. It's a fun game, and even if there are moments you can see coming a mile away it's still enjoyable.
Another thing that makes this game great is extra moments and text that build the world if you are interested enough to check them out. You can fulfill random tasks for the various inhabitants of your hide out, or just take the time to read news clippings and booklets scattered throughout the world to let you know what's happening in the Nazi controlled areas. There's lots of information on different things to be found, and it helps flesh out the world without shoving it down your throat, in a method similar to Metro: Last Light. There's also music releases based on famous songs but performed in German, which makes sense for the world and is just an impressive extra that didn't need to be included but shows how much the team at hand cared about what they were doing.
Overall this game is not perfect, as my gripes throughout this review may attest to. However, despite is imperfection, it's a great game that's fun and reinvigorates an old franchise in the best possible way via Machine games. If anything I have said piques your interest, I highly encourage you to give the game a shot and decide for yourself, but I think it's worth your time and money to experience this game. And hopefully we can say the same for The Old Blood, so keep your eyes peeled and we'll see how that goes.