Like most people, I’m no stranger to your average first person shooter. With annual instalments of Call of Duty, alongside numerous other titles aiming for success, it’s fair to say that the genre is fairly saturated, with varying results. For some reason it’s incredibly hard to find a competent shooter that will catch your attention. However, before jumping into the realistic worlds that are represented today, we mustn’t forget the origins of the FPS; the birth of which started over two decades ago in 1992 with a game called, Wolfenstein 3D.
It’s fair to say that the Wolfenstein series is pretty much the grandfather of any FPS seen today, and as such, if it were to embark on any modern portrayal, you’d expect at least something fresh, but also in-keeping with its traditions. Whereas many modern shooters find it hard to keep the player invested, often due to their linear world and bland setting, I’m happy to say that ‘The New Order’ is a breath of fresh air, in a market that seems to be becoming stale and overly-populated.
Developed by Swedish-based studio Machine Games, The New Order marks their first title as a team. Bringing back series protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz, it’s no secret that you’re carrying on your fight against the Nazis and their schemes. Focusing on an alternate timeline where the second world war was won by the Germans, it’s up to you to rise up against the powerful Nazi forces that currently govern the world with their hi-tech weaponry, and stop them once and for all.
From the beginning of my journey through the campaign, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic. For a genre that I’ve recently found un-engaging and tiresome, it was ironic to realise that the latest Wolfenstein has taken the core elements of its origins and modernised them in a fresh, yet familiar way. It’s funny, because there have only been a handful of times I’ve felt this way about an FPS, but if I had to pick, it would have to be my first experience of aiming down the barrel of a gun with Goldeneye N64. I can’t pinpoint the exact reason why, but each step in its world helped me realise that the rock bed of its genius lay in its old-school sensibilities.
Amidst all the shooting, however, is a cast of characters that join you in the resistance. With the inclusion of a love interest for B.J. and a handful of faithful comrades, there’s plenty of story to fill in the bullet holes. With F-bombs and the word ‘Nazi’ being used left, right and centre, it’s clear that the developers weren’t afraid to hold back. It feels big and ballsy compared to other shooters on the market, but it’s built this way with good reason.
At the top of the German army lies one of the most sadistic, dangerous and powerful men; with a penchant for brains and anything surgical, Deathshead provides spine tingling narrative with his imposing presence. Early on in the game you’ll be faced with making a choice, choosing which of your two comrades will get to survive. Depending on whom you pick, you’ll gain the ability to navigate different routes and encounter different characters. It’s a decision that you have to make, and when you’re later detailed as to what happened as a consequence, let’s just say it’s a little worrying someone had to develop the scene.
I think it’s fair to say that even with its strong narrative, this game is entirely dependant on riddling anything in sight with bullet holes, but what makes it so much fun is the fact that each time you pull the trigger, you know you’re doing something right. It’s clear that the mechanics and pacing of the game are spot-on, as each bullet you fire feels powerful, ripping through scenery or systematically stripping a mech of all its armour. You’ll also have plenty of resources available too, being able to pillage the very same armour you’ve just shot off, and use it as your own.
How you decide to play is, for a majority, up to you. With the addition of the perk system, the game will adapt to your chosen play method, depending on what you like to partake in more. Whether it’s stealth, tactical, assault or demolition, each class will have their own benefits. Just complete the goal listed and you’ll gain the perk. For instance, subduing ten enemies silently might grant you access to throwing knives. Unless the occasion calls for ultimate mayhem – which at times it often does – you’ll have the chance to take a more stealth-centric path. There are many sections that cater exclusively for this approach, however, you should also expect to switch between each style on the go. It might be more pertinent to go quiet in the first room, but if there’s a group of enemies all huddled together in the next, it’ll be hard to make your kills go unnoticed. It might please you to know that your inventory isn’t restricted to two weapons, and allows for a whole weapon-wheel, full of automatic machine guns that are catered for in both singular or dual wielding form.
For any die-hard fan or trophy collector, you’ll be glad to hear that there are plenty of items hidden around each of the sixteen chapters. Alongside valuable items or letters to build on the story, there are also Enigma codes to discover. Once cracked, these codes will allow multiple game modes, allowing you to test your skills to breaking point, should you have the patience or strength. If I were to nit pick and request additional features, I’d appreciate being able to load multiple saves. The fact that all my chapters get reset once I start a new game seems a bit unfair, and if I were able to have free will to replay each chapter on any difficulty, it’d sure make things easier.
Wolfenstein: The New Order was provided to Start Replay by Bethesda.
- + Addictive gameplay with old-school sensibilities
- + Lots of replayability
- + Great characters, coupled with a script to match
- - Failure to pickup ammo could leave you in a pickle