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Wolfenstein: The New Order Review

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Graphics:

 

8.3

Gameplay:

 

8.6

Sound:

 

8.7

Control:

 

8.0

Replay Value:

 

7.0

Overall Rating:       8.2

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Publisher:

Bethesda

Developer:

MachineGames

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

FPS

Release Date:

May 21, 2014

Perhaps the best way to describe Wolfenstein: The New Order is “bombastic chaos.” It’s over-the-top in more ways than one and while it never once strives for innovation or originality, it does strive to remind us that in fact, a first-person shooter can be wonderfully entertaining even without in-depth character progression systems and multiplayer. This is a drastically updated shooter (technically) from yesteryear, a no-holds-barred firefest with a protagonist named B.J. Blazkowicz and endless swarms of technologically advanced Nazis.

If you can’t find at least some entertainment here, you don’t know what fun is.

Obviously, the graphics will be better if you opt to play the latest Wolfenstein entry on a next-gen console. I didn’t see the visual presentation in the PS3 and 360 iterations, so I can’t make any direct comparisons. I can say, however, that the PS4 version looks great; the special effects always take center-stage, the level and general world design is better than I anticipated, and the attention to detail is impressive. Whether you’re engaged in hectic close-quarters action or you’re taking aim from afar in an open landscape, the environment is always visceral and effective.

The sound is another highlight, as the combination of a fitting, high-impact soundtrack and some gut-wrenching effects solidify the experience. Any balls-to-the-wall shooter should employ audio that throws you back in your recliner, and that’s precisely what we get with The New Order. Sharp, cracking gunfire, distinct effects that accompany wildly diverse weapons, some solid voice performances across the board, and music that amps up the adrenaline; it’s all remarkably consistent. The aim of the developers is obvious from the get-go, and the refined, well-implemented technical elements never lose sight of that aim.

If you weren’t aware, MachineGames was created by ex-Starbreeze veterans, and they produced some great games in the past. We see that experience shine through here, because we get a surprisingly interesting, engaging atmosphere that is both intimidating and imaginative. It reminds one of the alternate realities in the Bioshock games, only without one of those Levine-esque complex, philosophical storylines. One could argue that “all you’re doing is shooting Nazis over and over” and in fact, that argument wouldn’t be without merit. That’s really what you do. And yet somehow, you never feel bored or uninvolved.

After the Allies lose a pitched battle against the Third Reich in 1946, our hero Blazkowicz takes a piece of shrapnel to the skull and spends the next 14 years in a coma. When he awakes in 1960, he finds that the Nazis have achieved their goal: Worldwide domination. As I said above, while the alternate fictional reality holds shades of Bioshock, the storyline and characterization are much more straightforward. Nazis are bad and oppressive and Blazkowicz lives to exterminate Nazis. That’s it. There really isn’t much more to tell from a plot standpoint and you know, that’s okay.

As you might expect, the game plays very much like an old-school shooter. You can carry as many weapons as you can find and instead of the modern rejuvenating health mechanic, you have to find health packs to stay alive. I tend to prefer the latter “old-fashioned” system because it forces you to think twice before rushing headlong into a tricky situation. When we “graduated” to the restoring health mechanic, we streamlined the action, but we also eliminated a tactful element. The gameplay requires more strategy than you might expect, too, as certain powerful foes require a very specific assault. Tesla grenades sure are handy…

While the game is indeed linear, this doesn’t mean we’re moving from corridor to corridor. Rather, we enjoy one of the most balanced shooters in recent memory: There are open-air sections and tight, difficult segments that test your reactions and skill, and the number and difficulty of the enemy horde is just about right. No matter where you go or what you’re facing, you never feel overwhelmed, nor do you feel overpowered. This is perhaps the most attractive and impressive aspect of the game. The bottom line is that its design and freewheeling – yet occasionally demanding – style keeps you coming back for more.

Now, admittedly, it’s not all roses. The stealth MachineGames opted to implement is hit or miss. On the one hand, the AI is profoundly stupid, often unable to spot you out in the open, while on the other hand, this is another example of solid balance. See, if you screw it up and one of those lame-brained guards does detect you, it’s not over. Nope, just ditch your knife and unload the heavy arsenal, which is sometimes even more satisfying. The problem is that the stealth feels a tad forced, even if it’s not totally botched. It’s quite rewarding to perform stealth kills and the mechanic is decent, but it’s obviously not the game’s strong suit.

This leads to another minor issue, which involves the perks system. Blazkowicz can unlock new stealth and battle abilities but as time goes on, you don’t really care much the stealth. I mean, you could but I never did. Furthermore, the perks don’t drastically alter the gameplay, even though they can be very helpful when it comes to enhancing your weapons. I think more could’ve been done with the perks, which would’ve made the game felt like a fully realized experience. And really, I’m not sure stealth should play much of a role. That all being said, when you return to the core gameplay, it’s always rewarding, satisfying and undeniably entertaining.

It’s the intensity and remarkable pacing that sets this adventure apart. In the realm of shooter campaigns, I can’t remember one where I’ve had this much fun. Now, to be clear, there have been better campaigns (better writing, characters, etc.), but I’m having difficulty recalling a more wildly entertaining shooter. Well, actually, here it is: Return to Castle Wolfenstein way back in 2001. I think it’s amazing that a developer new to the franchise could make a new entry that feels…well, the way installments in this series should always feel. It’s a blast from start to finish and you’re never saying, “gee, I wish it felt ‘newer.’”

Wolfenstein: The New Order didn’t just surprise me. It shocked me. My expectations for this one were decidedly low but within the first hour, I was chastising myself for having doubted MachineGames. I said the story isn’t all that fantastic, but bear in mind that I was comparing it to Bioshock, which isn’t quite fair. When compared to other shooters, the narrative is great. The gameplay is great. It’s super duper fun. The stealth is questionable, the perks system feels underused, and I would’ve liked more opportunity to select my approach angle. Other than that, I have greatly enjoyed the crazy excess of this game. A guilty pleasure? …why should I feel guilty?

The Good: Excellent level construction and general design. Fantastic sound effects from front to back. Highly entertaining, surprisingly diverse gameplay. Very well balanced and well paced. An absolutely awesome arsenal. Lengthy, engaging, and never boring.

The Bad: Stealth implementation is questionable. Perks could’ve been more robust. Some braindead AI.

The Ugly: “This dude is looking right at me…maybe he’s daydreaming about some pretty Fräulein…”

5/23/2014 Ben Dutka

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Comments (11 posts)

Temjin001
Friday, May 23, 2014 @ 11:02:17 PM
Reply

Looks like something I'd like to play. And I loved Enclave and the first Riddick game on Xbox so knowing some of them Starbreeze guys are behind this game gives me even more confidence in it.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 5/23/2014 11:02:29 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, May 23, 2014 @ 11:35:20 PM
Reply

Wolfenstein is back! Can't wait to get into this one when the price goes down a bit. I had a feeling it would be good and I'm only wrong about 1/10 times. I haven't had a good blast fest since Bulletstorm.

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Gamer46
Saturday, May 24, 2014 @ 12:39:33 AM
Reply

This game is reviewing far better than I thought it would. Was unsure about it but now I'm convinced to give it a try.

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slow and smart
Saturday, May 24, 2014 @ 2:31:00 AM
Reply

i have this game afew days now and its a blast,i like it very much,its great!

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___________
Saturday, May 24, 2014 @ 7:16:18 AM
Reply

awesome game just feels like it needs refinement and restraint.
one thing really spoilling the game for me, the levels are FAR too open for their own good.
most games you will have maybe 1 or 2 side rooms, and where your suppose to go.
and you dont mind going down the side paths because they maybe lead to 1 or 2 rooms, than your back to the main path.
this game is f*cking huge, its like 10 rooms all returning you to the same point, so instead of wanting to search for hidden secrets and collectables, your trying to avoid that and find the main path because you dont want to spend 20 minutes just for a freaking collectible!
its FAR too big, FAR too easy to get lost and feel like your running around in circles.
your constantly questioning is this the right way or should i turn back.
so many times ive turned back thinking nah this cant be the right way its taking too long and it all looks the same, this must be a side route to nowhere, but then it turns out nope thats the way your suppose to go.
its like those stupid shopping centres in melbourne like chadstone, that place is a f*cking maze!
its like a hexagon and theres corridors within corridors within corridors, so its IMPOSSIBLE to figure out where you have and have not been.

and because everythings so massive its made it really difficult to find where all the environmental secrets and easy kills are.
i remember last year at the EB expo the devs did a demo and were showing each level has environmental kills, so one room you could blast in guns blazing and kill everyone, or you could take a side vent, up to the roof and weaken the struts supporting a plane on the roof causing it to fall down and kill everyone.
you want to do that, you want to find all the little secrets, and side paths, but because the levels are so f*cking massive and maze like, its impossible!

i actually dont mind the stealth implements, they help break up the gameplay and again encourage you to explore and try find ways to use the environment to your advantage.
its a shame the AI is so dumb though, so many times ive hidden behind at a doorway to have the AI just walts right past me.
its funny they always turn their head to face you, but they never react to you.

biggrest problem with this though, is like every game, it just lacks attention to detail.
the graphics are pretty meh, theres CONSTANT slowdown with the frame rate especially in cut scenes, its pretty buggy, the AI is pretty craptacular, instead of feeling like a big budget AAA game, it feels like a small indie studio made it.
which is a shame, because wolfenstein IS the daddy of FPS, it ushered in what is the industries most popular genre, and this is how its treated!?
id love to see machine given the budget and time that games like watch dogs get, then see where wolfenstein can really be!

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berserk
Saturday, May 24, 2014 @ 8:24:05 AM
Reply

If i made an fps . AI , animation and the way enemies react to getting shot ( a mix between re4 and soldier of fortune 2 , about the reaction ) would be my number one priority .

Last edited by berserk on 5/24/2014 9:26:19 AM

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ulsterscot
Saturday, May 24, 2014 @ 2:38:26 PM
Reply

A far superior effort to the last Wolfenstein - i guess not having to worry about a multiplayer component has benifited the game big time.

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ColTater
Saturday, May 24, 2014 @ 3:43:39 PM
Reply

This is from my perspective playing on the UBER difficulty for the first playthrough.

Still doesn't feel next gen enough to me. Yes, it is fun and I give it a 7.5, but still feels sort of antiquated, which I guess is that old school feel. I HATE having to still press square to pick up all the weapons, ammo, or grenades. I mean, since you let so many bullets fly at the enemies and run out of ammo pretty quickly, it sort of disengages me when I then have to run around the area looking at the ground to pick up items. I wish it was just required for collectables.

Also, regarding not next gen enough. Example.
There is a section in the beginning of the game where a soldier has to pull you up after you are attacked by a metal dog. He just lays on the ground with his arm out and doesn't even react to your movements. He looks like a total mannequin no matter what you do.

When can we get to the point in games where if there is a moment like this, the NPC will track you by moving his head and uttering differnt comments. Like, C'mon man my arm is getting tired, or Hey, you think I like laying in dirt like this for no reason, or Hey move your ass and get over here we have to go. Then if you still take too long piddling around he actually would stand up, brush himself off and maybe smoke a ciggarette or some other action. Then when you finally come back over to him when you are ready, he would make another quip about, "Oh now you're ready to go huh?" "About time."

I know I don't make games, but is that asking far too much for such a minor event in the game? Is it related to the memory contraints still present in current hardware?

When can we get to that point in games? When the PS10 is here and I'll be 70 years old?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, May 24, 2014 @ 10:00:04 PM

I don't think you should get hung up on such trivialities. If you do, I think you'll always be at least partially disappointed.

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ColTater
Sunday, May 25, 2014 @ 4:59:06 PM

I get what you're saying. I am always a little partially disappointed in all games now-a-days.

What about the clipping when going through vegetation? When will that stop? Or the gound looking like it is just pasted on without any depth or dust effects. More textures, pebbles moving when you step in a certain area? When will we get "THAT" engine?

PS10?

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Underdog15
Monday, May 26, 2014 @ 3:27:10 PM

That's an insane amount of physics rendering you're looking for, man. I bet that would take a lot of processing power. Probably more than you could afford to put in a console for everyone.

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