Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4) Review
Kalvin Martinez / May 28th, 2014 No Comments
Reviving a beloved franchise is a difficult undertaking and it has been five years since the Wolfenstein series has graced consoles or PC. However, Wolfenstein: The New Order is a delightful surprise. The New Order’s gameplay gives players a range of options to tackle the Nazi war machine while telling a silly yet compelling story about an alternative World War II.
It is July 1946 and the Nazis now have advanced technologies allowing them to mechanize their forces. This technology is putting a real hurting on the Allied forces. It is up to William “B.J.” Blazkowicz and a small group of soldiers to stop General Deathshead before the Nazis overwhelm the Allies. The attempt to storm Deathshead’s compound does not go well, leaving Blazkowicz with a piece of shrapnel to the back of the head. Considered brain dead, B.J. ends up in a Polish insane asylum for 14 years.
Eventually, Blazkowicz regains his mind and has to fight his way out of the asylum. He gains his freedom with the help of a kind nurse named Anya. The two escape and Blazkowicz learns the Nazis won the war. He is immediately determined to find the remaining resistance fighters and end the long, torturous rule of the Nazis once and for all.
While most first-person shooters have ephemeral stories that merely aim to provide minor context to the game’s mechanics, Wolfenstein: The New Order is suprisingly interesting. The game actively sets out to tell a competent, character driven story based around Blazkowicz and the characters around him.
At face value, the story is a fun take on alternative history in which the Nazis win the war, use mechanized armed forces and advanced technologies to create a dystopian society. The arc of Blazkowicz meeting up with the resistance and hitting the Nazis where it hurts is often bombastic and ridiculous. Yet there is the character side of things where Blazkowicz ruminates lyrically and wistfully about the war, his future and what is happening to the world. It is that take on Blazkowicz mixed with the strong supporting cast that makes the story more poignant.
Born to Kill Nazis
As Blazkowicz, your main goal is the eradication of any Nazi you see. To that end, you are more than equipped to put a major hurting on Nazi forces. Players must use an expansive, sometimes colorful arsenal of weapons to take shoot all the Nazis they see dead. Most fights take place in either small corridors or rooms occupied by a healthy number of Nazi soldiers. While that may seem too constricting and linear, various soldier types require certain strategy to take them down. The variety of options to take them out actually opens up the combat.
The coolest part of The New Order’s gameplay is the Perk system. It allows players to gain significant improvements to further assist their style of play. If players favor stealth kills, performing stealth weapon-specific actions will unlock perks that boost their effectiveness (for example: the ability to throw knives and see Commanders on the map). Players more focused on using cover and precision shooting, can use tactical perks to improve those categories. Once perks for a specific style are unlocked, they remained in effect regardless of what play style you use, so trying out multiple styles can lead to effective new perk combinations.
While multiple play styles are available and encouraged, gameplay often ends up being an all out gun fight. While stealth gameplay mechanics are fun, they are not best suited for most situations and are often imprecise to execute. There are some weird inconsistencies where you can be right in front of an enemy without them even noticing. However, shooting feels good overall, especially when exploding an enemy using a fully upgraded Laserkraftwerk.
Not as Handsome as Me, but, Not Bad, Not Bad
Cross-gen titles need to look and perform well on older machines while wowing on newer, more powerful machines. When aiming for good optimization across all platforms, something is generally sacrificed on either version. The PlayStation 4 version of Wolfenstein doesn’t look bad–close up textures and faces look great–but there is fuzziness and lack of sharpness when up cloase due to issues with scaling and anti-aliasing. For the most part, the game looks great in motion and creates a bizarre 1960.
The game’s soundtrack, composed by Mick Gordon, is wonderful. The story is essentially a Quentin Tarantino film in execution mixed with Terrence Malick-esque voice overs to create an odd duality. The music mirrors this sense of opposing tones, especially when the gameplay is mixed into the equation. The majority of the music is aggressive, rollicking stuff to match the gory, adrenaline-fueled gameplay, but threaded between those moments are haunting acoustic guitar tracks aimed to add poignancy to Blazkowicz’s character and the more serious moments in the story.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is a game that likely will fall under the radar despite its namesake, but it is a mistake to let this one pass you by. It will win you over in a quick fashion. Gameplay has a great feel and there is a good mix of gameplay styles. An acoustic mix of guitars highlight poignancy in the story with moody and rollicking tunes. Plus, the story is an enjoyable mix of ridiculous over-the-top moments with smart, low-key character work.
tags: Bethesda Softworks , review , Wolfenstein , wolfenstein the new order , wolfenstein the new order review