Not so long ago it seemed as though every first person shooter had you mowing down armies of Nazi soldiers in the second world war, and I think we all had gotten to a point where it had become stale and boring seeing the same battles and set pieces played out, after all we all knew who would win in the end. Well one of the grandfathers of not only Nazi based shooters but all FPS games makes a return on the new wave of games consoles. Is The New Order a welcome return to the genre it helped define or is it a game that should have been left in the past?
This Wolfenstein game takes place, after an initial prologue mission, in 1960 over a decade after the end of the war, only this time the Nazi’s won mainly thanks to advanced technology including mechanised super soldiers and armour plated attack dogs. In this grim alternative reality the world is dominated and controlled by the Third Reich, once again you play the part of B.J. Blazkowicz, the serial protagonist of the Wolfenstein series who after waking from a 14 year spell in a Polish mental asylum the World you knew has gone and you will do everything you can to help destroy the Nazi menace.
Firstly it has to be said that this game looks great, the world created by MachineGames looks superb and while its palette is largely dominated by greys, browns and obviously the red and black of the Nazi swastika, every level or chapter that you play through feels fresh and this genuinely surprised me. It took me around ten hours to get through the story and in that time I never felt as though I was retreading the same game or just going through areas to pad out the length and I have to give great credit to the creators for this. Other FPS games have less than half the length in campaigns and often feel as though they have been padded out.
The New Order has over the top gun play, but there isn’t a huge variety of guns for you to use. There are the usual assortment of shotguns, pistols, assault rifles and mounted turrets but there is a twist, nearly every gun you pick up you can dual wield, that means you can go running through corridors armed with two shotguns and as such you feel hugely powerful mowing through Nazi soldiers as though they aren’t there, and it has to be said shooting an army of Nazi soldiers while dual wielding assault rifles just never gets tired.
The enemies you encounter in the game vary from the standard front line soldier to commandos and even to hulking mechanised and armoured Super Soldiers that can soak up a lot of fire power before you can put them down. The designs for the varying classes are good, they are menacing but special praise has to be given for the panzerhunds, large mechanised dogs covered in thick armour, these are rare in the game and its a good thing too as they are relentless and near indestructible. As I said earlier this is over the top, but more importantly it is fun – the enemies explode in a shower of gore that looks superb on the PS4, and on my play thorough I noticed no drops in screen rate. There were a few glitches I encountered though, spent bullet casings would float in mid air and at times enemy soldiers would also float in hilarious positions after being gunned down, but by the whole there was little to detract from the game.
Wolfenstein brings back a few mechanics that have been replaced in recent years: you will be searching the floors for ammo and instead of just automatically collecting it when you run over it you have to press a button, this normally wasn’t a problem but in the middle of a gun fight it was frustrating having to run round staring at the floor and seemingly hitting buttons until something was collected. The health pack also makes a return; I can’t remember the last time a main stream FPS had these, regenerating health isn’t completely ditched but it will only restore a small amount unless you can collect first aid kits, luckily the checkpoints are quite often as in latter parts of the game there are a few sections where the sheer number of bullet soaking enemies means you will die over and over, I have to admit this was frustrating and was the worst aspect of the game, thankfully it was only a few sections that had this.
There are a few areas that encourage you to use stealth and try to sneak through areas and take out commanding officers before they can call in for reinforcements, but in reality I found that the patrolling soldiers wouldn’t notice me unless I was just a few feet in front of them. Even then they would just run at me, and once you’ve levelled up your silenced pistol shooting them in the foot once would result in a kill. The perk system on a whole is a great added element that has been built in to the game, it isn’t based solely on the number of kills you get but more on how you do it, encouraging you to try out different methods so that you can boost your reloading speed, increase the amount of explosives you can carry or just help you run that little bit quicker whilst carrying two massive shotguns.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this game is that there is no multiplayer, I was astonished when this was announced, virtually every game incorporates some kind of online multiplayer, especially an FPS, but it appears that all of the work has gone into creating a superb story and single player experience and for me it has paid off, there is replay value, a decision early on means the the story line does alter, not significantly but just enough for another play through to be worth the time.
Wolfenstein The New Order is a welcome return for this series, it is an over the top B-Movie style game that emphasises fun and action Despite on the surface looking as though it would feel dated and behind the times it genuinely feels modern and whilst this gameplay is unlikely to catch on in other shooters I am hoping that MachineGames are already working on a sequel… after all shooting Nazis will never truly get boring, it just needed a little break.
Reviewed on PS4