Available for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
Developed by MachineGames
Distributed by Bethesda
The blade jabs into the back of the knee effortlessly; the searing pain I can only begin to imagine seems of little consequence as the knife is soon yanked out and jammed into the throat. “Nazi scum!” jaws my new hero, B.J. Blazkowicz, through clenched teeth as the blood flies. I linger a minute to watch the lifeless corpse of my former captor, a steady stream of crimson still flowing from the neck long after his life force escapes him. In the world of Wolfenstein: The New Order, violence is golden.
40,894 Shots fired and 884 dead Nazis later, I stand broken and triumphant. The Herculean quest to stop Nazi surgeon Deathshead and his Nazi super machines has left myself and my hero, Blazkowicz, lying shattered. I came out of this game a winner, but I can’t help but feel that my life will be shorter because of the ordeal.
This is the world of Wolfenstein: The New Order. The single-player, first-person shooter makes you earn every step you take. But what is so magical about it is it rests perfectly on the fun side of the border between challenging and frustrating. While the game is going to challenge you, it is never impossible.
A singular example of this is the game’s final level. A great deal of games falter at this point by providing too large of a difficulty spike which seems out of line with difficulty progression of the rest of the game.
However, Wolfenstein transitions into its final stage very naturally. Its difficulty progressed seamlessly into the challenging final level. While the battles are difficult, it balances them by providing extra health and armour. The countless super soldiers you face, while difficult, are an abundant source of armour and more powerful weapons, but only after they are defeated.
While this game hits hard and hits often, it paces it out immaculately. The challenge and rapidity of the battle levels are offset with levels in your safe house. They provide an opportunity to catch your breath with short exploration missions.
Wolfenstein: The New Order counterbalances its gritty gameplay with a very moving cinematic experience. The reward of viewing another of the game’s many cut scenes kept me going through Wolfenstein’s many hellacious battles. The graphics featured in the cut scenes are detailed and beautiful, drawing me into the experience with a camera in constant motion.
With its Nazi super machine content and breathtaking style Wolfenstein: The New Order very much so plays like an exploitation movie directed by Martin Scorsese.
These scenes are accentuated with B.J Blazkowicz’s reflective, yet hard-nosed monologues that seem direct from the pen of Frank Miller. They add depth to Blazkowicz, a hardened war god showing the marks his past have left upon his living self.
The game draws you in with the beauty of its cut scenes, but at the other end of the emotional spectrum, it repulses by providing such a bloody and deliciously violent experience. Pipes jutting through necks and knives meeting Nazi heads are a common occurrence. But just when you think you’ve seen it all, someone’s face gets ripped off, gore dripping furiously in full close-up. This is the single most violent and bloody gaming experience since the Soldier of Fortune franchise.
But what prevents the violence from being gratuitous is the fact that it is centered on history’s biggest scum of the earth: the Nazis. Every thing you do to these soldiers seems justified as they are history’s greatest monster. By giving the player the most heinous enemy in history, the game harkens back to another time when the U.S. Army was a force for good. B.J. Blazkowicz may be a killer, but he’s a heroic killer as he laments his modus operandi: “shootin’, stabbin’, and stranglin’ Nazis.”
While this game does have a lot of nice little touches, in the end they are just that, nice little touches. This is a first-person shooter, and where it will live and die is its combat. Wolfenstein: The New Order places a heavy accent on a strategic approach to battle. To survive the world of this brutal shooter, you need to think before you act. Picking the right way to enter a room, using cover, and retreating are all required if you are going to last any considerable amount of time in this bloody hell on Earth. This is extended into its boss battles, every one of them has a strategy. There is definitely a right way and a wrong way to play this game.
What the game adds to the fun factor of combat is the dual wielding ability, allowing you to wield two bullet-spewing murder machines at once. Killing Nazis is fun so mathematically doing it with two assault rifles at once is twice the fun. Having this great, but very unrealistic ability adds to the super human factor behind Blazkowicz and fits in dutifully with the comic book level violence found throughout.
The only major low point is the game ends in three boss battles; it’s a little much. Due to the overall length of the game (15 chapters), I was in no mood to face a boss battle followed by a two stage boss battle. It’s guilty of misdirection, as just after you defeat Deathshead, you are asked to do it again under tougher conditions. Ending the game on a bait and switch was the only flat note on this sonata.
What is so fantastic about this taste of a bit of the old ultra violence is it is a true single-player experience. There is no data wasted on multiplayer and they put every inch of that extra space into providing a very lengthy and fulfilling single-player game. Finally, a shooter for us, for those who hate the constant run and gun style of multiplayer shooters and want to slow down and soak up every speck of the gleeful brutality. 2014, we have our first Game of the Year candidate.
4 1/2 out of 5