Wolfenstein: The New Order Review: Nazis on the moon
Killing Nazis is fun. It’s even more fun when you’re doing it on the moon. In Wolfenstein: The New Order, you get to experience both thanks to its setting in an alternate version of history in which the Nazi regime have won World War II through the use of some mysterious advanced technology. 14 years later, you -- B.J. Blazkowicz -- awake from a comatose state and set out to bring down the regime. It’s a fun twist to what is otherwise a pretty generic plot -- the whole one man versus an entire army thing.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is a next-gen game with an old-school approach both in terms of presentation and gameplay. It’s certainly a fun game, but there’s only so much Nazi slaying you can do before things begin to get repetitive, and that’s where things begins to slip up.
Let’s first be clear: Wolfenstein: The New Order is a very polished game. I can’t comment on other versions since I played on PS4, but the game runs incredibly smooth on Sony’s new console. At 1080p and 60 frames per second, Wolfenstein’s mechanics, from movement to gunplay, feel nice and responsive. It’s about as solid of a performance as you’d hope to see in a next-gen first-person shooter.
Unfortunately, the game does little to set itself apart from first-person shooters. You’re introduced to a level through a cutscene (a very pretty one at that), and then proceed to blast (or sneak) your way through said level. It’s a formula we’ve seen all too much in past games and The New Order does little to break from the mold.
Once in the level, you’re basically faced with two options: stealthily sneak your way through the lines, taking out as many soldiers as possible before causing alarm, or simply blast your way through. In most cases, the end result is a firefight, but for those initial moments Wolfenstein allows for some creativity in your approach. In most cases, your decision will depend on the difficulty setting. If you’re playing on a casual or easy setting, then the run-and-gun approach will work fine. However, the medium-to-harder difficulties require much more planning in your approach.
In most levels throughout the game, Commanders are present. Once alerted of your presence, they will signal an alarm and call in reinforcements. For this reason, in the harder difficulties I found it much easier to sneak my way through the level to the Commander, take them out silently, and then proceed to blast my way through the Nazis.
Like I said, killing Nazis is fun. Wolfenstein: The New Order spares no expense when it comes to the slayings. Whether you approach the situation stealthily or with brute force, executions are equally satisfying both ways. I’m more of a run-and-gun player, but even I found myself sneaking around more just so I could see what brutal execution would Blazkowicz would pull off.
Unfortunately, about halfway through the game Wolfenstein falls into the same pit that plagues most linear first-person shooters. Fatigue begins to settle in and levels become rinse-and-repeat. The game does attempt to keep things fresh by sending you to some far off locations, like a Nazi moon base, but ultimately it’s the same formulaic approach to gameplay design.
Some design choices, like health and armor pick-ups as opposed to completely regenerative health, may seem a bit archaic for the younger generation. But for fans of old-school shooters, this is a welcomed design choice that, in some instances, makes the game even tougher. I found myself having to lower the difficulty at times just because certain parts seemed damn near impossible. So if you like a challenge, it can definitely be found on the harder difficulties.
In between the shooting, Wolfenstein: The New Order attempts to mix in some other gameplay elements. There’s a perk system that encourages various playstyles -- stealth, tactical, assault, and demolition -- I found many of these perks to be really difficult to unlock due to the criteria. When it was all said and done I probably unlocked about half of them.
There’s also a series of other gameplay elements to encourage replay value since there is no multiplayer. Scattered throughout levels are various collectibles, secrets and enigma codes, the latter of which can be solved to unlock bonus modes. There’s also an important choice to make towards the beginning of the game which doesn’t necessarily change the overall story, but does impact certain aspects.
Wolfenstein: The New Order isn’t groundbreaking by any means, but it’s a solid installment to the franchise that Wolfenstein fans will certainly appreciate.