Wolfenstein: The New Order Game Review
Interesting alternate history storyline
High presentation values
Great writing and characters
Archaic ammo/item pick-up
About The Game
Warfares often clashed over conflicting perspectives, opposite goals, and a muddy sense of what is right and wrong, but when it came to the Third Reich, the world saw the face of actual evil through its Master Race propaganda, expansionist military movements, and ordered the extermination of millions upon millions of people. Wolfenstein: The New Order is an entertaining game not because it takes place in a well-worn, imagined Nazi-controlled fortune, but because it does something fresh with the subject matter. It is a barrage of Swastikas, Iron Crosses, and Sig Runes and is the stuff of many like-minded first-person shooters; its content is something entirely different, even if its core gameplay isn’t.
In The New Order game, Nazi Germany did not only prevail in World War II; it completely dominated the globe. The Nazis are everywhere in the late 1960s, laying waste to their remaining opponents while cleansing the impure from society. The game cutscenes are riddled with little touches that make them more believable. The Wolfenstein series’ longtime hero — BJ Blazcowicz — is back, though he is deeper, nicely written, and more fleshed-out than before. Fast-forward to 1960, Blazkowicz is older and smarter, tempered by his experience in a Nazi-controlled post-war world. You see an interesting side to him that makes him easily invested in his journey, and he’s not the only character worth observing. From the evil General Death’s Head to the brave Caroline Becker, almost everything around you also needs your attention. Wolfenstein’s gory brutality makes it easier to sympathize, especially regarding the people Blazkowicz loves.
New Order plays well and performs well, but annoyingly drowns out some well-played voices with random pop-up textures and poor audio mixing. It is also beautiful both in the game and in the cutscenes. Especially when you have the chance to admire the panoramic vistas and cityscapes. Neo-Berlin is eerily stunning in its order and grandeur, but there are also wild, strange, and picturesque points, such as when Blazkowicz escapes from a hospital in Poland at the start of the campaign and glances up at the blue sky for the first time.
The New Order’s game mechanics do not do much to differentiate itself from the glut of shooters that come out every year. Blazkowicz has a usual collection of weapons at his disposal – a knife, a pistol, a machine gun, a sniper rifle, and so on – as well as some Nazi future tech, like laser rifles, that give the game the alternate history feel that Wolfenstein has thrived on for 22 years.
Combat is made more dynamic by a heavy focus on stealth, which is both a blessing and a curse in The New Order. Wandering around wide-open maps and linear corridors. By secretly finding and killing them, you can highlight the area of secret items (such as gold, enigma codes, and letters) on the map while mitigating issues with distinct areas. Unfortunately, this stealth mechanic reveals a questionable and inconsistent AI that seems designed to make your life easier if you choose to play quietly under the bend. Sometimes he seems blinded by the corpses of you and his compatriots freshly butchered at your feet.
However, the developers at MachineGames have provided a new experience, especially when it comes to The New Order’s skill progression system. It is not based on leveling up or using skill points. Rather, dozens of skills are hidden under four separate headings and are unlocked by completing in-game challenges, such as headshots, killing enemies from cover, or taking out enemies with potato-pushing grenades. Besides, many of these skills need to be unlocked sequentially, giving the overall scheme some depth.
The New Order has a wide array of surroundings to explore that highlight some what-ifs of a victorious Nazi Germany. In the game Wolfenstein, the Nazis have a successful space program, devastating ordnance, and an all-new, gilded version of their capital city, Berlin. Some of the areas seem a little empty when it comes to foot and car traffic, but it’s cool to see Machinegames’ vision of this terrible new fascist-dominated world. Unfortunately, scouring these environments can sometimes be a bit of a grind, especially when you’re constantly collecting endless amounts of health, armor, and ammunition, each of which requires the press of a button.
The Nazis created some stunning crazy machines. It’s a voyage into a remarkable alternate-history story that makes Wolfenstein strangely believable. While the Nazis didn’t build large, building-sized machines, affix plate armor to their dogs, or implant human brains into mechs, it’s not that far-fetched to think they might have tried if the Allies didn’t extinguish them in 1945.
These are the people that executed heinous experimentations on living humans, tormented over racial purity with their Ahnenerbe-affiliated pseudo-scholars, and even contemplated building something called the Sun Gun, not to mention endless arrays of special missiles, nuclear bombs, jet aircraft, helicopters, and more under the moniker of Wunderwaffe. That’s all genuine, so it is not too far-fetched to think that if Nazi scientists in the real world were experimenting with, say, bone and nerve transplants, they might have eventually tried to do it with the human brain, too. Wolfenstein’s game seems to comprehend this, even if it’s taken to a still unrealistic degree. Machinegames developers should also be complimented for artfully working unsanitized references to real-life Nazi atrocities into its alternate history story without fear of offending anybody. You get glimpses of the Nazis’ systematic abuse of the mentally ill and disabled, a first-hand look at forced labor camps, and many allusions to the Nazis’ treatment of non-Aryans around the world, including in occupied America. All of this, added to the game and pre-rendered cutscenes, makes The New Order incredibly human and makes the situation downright futile.
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