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Wolfenstein: The New Order review

AT A GLANCE
  • Satisfying over-the-top gunplay
  • Memorable set-piece moments
  • Surprisingly good character development
  • Fighting multiple super-powered enemies at once is a tedious grind
  • Some missions are mundane
  • Tone frequently shifts between serious and silly

The Nazi solider up ahead is oblivious. He has no idea that I, William J Blazkowicz--professional Nazi killer, at your service--am sneaking up behind him, throwing knife in hand and very bad thoughts in mind. I toss my blade at his head. Unfortunately, my aim sucks, so I stick him square in the calf. Doesn't matter; he instantly dies, and his chest explodes as though he swallowed a grenade. His buddies round the corner--I sprint at them full speed, an automatic shotgun in each hand, and slide across the floor, peppering their bodies with 12-gauge shells. They turn to mush. Wolfenstein: The New Order makes no pretense about what kind of game it is. This is an oldschool shooter with modern trappings, one that effectively combines B-movie cheesiness with some truly great set-piece moments. Most importantly, it's damn fun to play.

As William "B.J." Blazkowicz, you're humanity's last hope against the Nazi War Machine. In The New Order's timeline, the Nazis won World War 2 thanks to their uber-advanced technology (by which I mean robot dogs and mechs that shoot laser cannons), forcing the entire world to surrender to their might. Vast scores of people have been kidnapped to populate labor camps, where they're forced to create supplies and munitions for the Nazi cause. The few civilians that remain follow curfews and do as they're told, lest they face the wrath of Aryan brutality and experimentation. New Order succeeds in depicting a world consumed by fear, providing reason enough for Blazkowicz to join a group of resistance fighters, mount a counter-offensive, and do what he does best. Er, you know what that is, right?

New Order is a shooter that revels in the act of shooting and, for the most part, gunning down thousands of Nazis through the nine-hour campaign is great fun. Enemies explode in over-the-top gore. Heads disintegrate, limbs vaporize, and blood sprays in fountains from their bodies, making it quite clear that B.J.'s weapons aren't shooting blanks. I'm not a psychopath (I swear!), but I'd be lying if I didn't admit it all looks particularly spectacular on the PS4 and Xbox One.

B.J. has a diverse arsenal, and all of the guns are fun to shoot. Even though you have access to almost every weapon in the game by the halfway mark, gradual upgrades, like scopes and rocket launcher attachments, are teased out at a consistent pace to ensure you don't get bored of firing the same ones over and over. Of course, you can dual wield just about any weapon in the game, which comes with a tradeoff; yes, blasting a mech with two auto shotties at once means doling out more damage, but it also means you'll blow through precious ammo very quickly, and have to deal with significantly more recoil.

Perks galore

The gunplay is further enhanced by The New Order's perk system. These passive upgrades, such as increased reload speed or ammo capacity, are unlocked by meeting certain criteria. Want to carry an extra grenade? Kill two Nazi's with a single frag. Hoping to do more damage with your silenced pistols? Score a few stealth kills and you're good to go. The perk system does a great job of enticing you to try out each of the game's weapons and playstyles, as all of the unlockable upgrades are useful.

Once the bullets start flying, the well-implemented cover system gives some reprieve from the onslaught of enemy fire. There's no awkward snap-to mechanics at play here; simply stand behind a wall or crouch behind a barricade, press the dedicated cover button, and use the left thumbstick to peek up or down, or lean to the left or right. Though your cover will gradually be chipped away, this system is easy to use and prevents a lot of headache during the game's tougher encounters.

The great level design again adds to the enjoyment of each firefight. Whether you're carving through a Nazi labor camp, Nazi compound, or Nazi underground lair, most levels give you plenty of room to breathe. You'll rarely feel like you're running through a too-cramped corridor; instead, you usually fight in open arena-like zones packed with health packs, armor pick-ups, and usable turrets. What's more, levels typically have a few branching paths--ventilation systems or side corridors--that make it possible for you to go into a huge gunfight with some sort of plan.

That plan will go to shit, however, once you engage in The New Order's more tedious encounters. Powerful enemies that do a ton of damage make battle more intense when used sparingly, but when you face three or more minigun-wielding mech troopers at a time, the fun action gives way to cheap frustration. The bigger enemies take every ounce of ammo to destroy, and when you run out of bullets, you have to rely on your weapons that run on battery power. Once those run out of juice, you have to run around looking for a recharge station, and stand there for several seconds while you wait for your weapons to recharge, all while eating shots. As New Order progresses, more of your weapons rely on this recharging mechanic, which brings the action to a grinding halt.

More Info

Release date: May 20 2014 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Xbox One, PS4 (US)
May 20 2014 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Xbox One, PS4 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Xbox One, PS4
Genre: Shooter
Franchise: Wolfenstein
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs

As do some missions that are more mundane than enjoyable. Wading through tunnels in search of a lost welding torch is just plain boring, equalled only by the yawn-fest that is navigating sewers filled with obnoxious, flying drones. These feel out of place, especially when weighed against New Order's otherwise awesome set-piece moments. Plenty have action at their core, but some of the more tense, subtler scenarios are the ones that stand out. Stowing away on a train filled with Nazi officers while adopting an undercover identity is a harrowing event, especially when one of the game's more wicked characters sits across from you in a lunch car, testing the "purity" of your blood via a nerve-inducing mind game.

However, The New Order isn't just about the action. B.J. is a pretty interesting character, and delivers several internal monologues with just the right amount of drama. These provide some insight about his wants, needs, and fears, and though they're occasionally cheesy, the fantastic voicework makes them believable. Most members of the supporting cast also come into their own, making you feel more invested in their anti-Nazi cause, though a couple feel woefully underdeveloped. It's hard to care about some of the story's more dramatic moments when all you can think to yourself is, "Wait, who was that character again?"

That said, it often feels as though The New Order can't decide how serious or silly it wants to be. Deep, introspective monologues give way to cutscenes in which heavy rock music blasts up to full gear while B.J. engages in brief exchanges with his resistance comrades. These typically occur in some riveting variation of:

NPC: "Hey, B.J., go kill a bunch of Nazis for me, OK?"
B.J.: "Dude, I'm gonna kill every Nazi I can find lol" 
NPC: "Cool man, good luck killing literally hundreds of Nazis!" 
*High five*

At times, the serious drama and B-movie comedy fuse really well, simultaneously pumping you up and making you laugh. Sometimes they'll just leave you scratching your head.

Wolfenstein: The New Order is a great example of oldschool design revitalized by modern concepts. Yes, it's cheesy, dumb, and over-the-top, but it manages to reign in these aspects by following them up with great action, memorable set-pieces, and characters that mostly evolve beyond your typical meathead grunts. This is a shooter that puts shooting first--and the second you dual-wield two laser guns and use them to destroy a dog made out of metal, you'll play the rest of Wolfenstein with a knowing grin.

An over-the-top shooter with fun action, memorable set-piece moments, and decent characters, Wolfenstein: The New Order successfully transforms an old-school game into a modern experience.

This game was reviewed on PS4. 

51 comments

  • gamermike1984 - November 12, 2014 2:19 a.m.

    sweet! I was given this PSN code for free! It's totally free too! http://psn.cardcodes.net
  • scirishman76 - October 13, 2014 2:33 p.m.

    Anyone having the super low FPS issue on pc possible fix here. Worked for me Wolfenstein New Order Graphics Fix: http://youtu.be/uDP2a2in0oc
  • Marcelinda1999K - October 13, 2014 12:48 p.m.

    woow nice
  • KarimMhiri - July 10, 2014 12:11 a.m.

    Guys Get free ps4 games here: http://adf.ly/qClSs It really Works !!! I got AC4,COD GHOSTS, SNIPER ELITE 3, Wolfeinstein the new order, battlefield4, tomb raider the defenetive edition..... Enjoy !!! :)
  • GamerGirl1717 - June 12, 2014 9:22 a.m.

    Played it the other day. Friend brought it over. It look's great but everything else is so so gun play was cool more of a rental for me.
  • punishment - June 6, 2014 9:26 p.m.

    Just finished this. Found it very enjoyable, and BJ was a great character. Very well acted. One thing I didn't seem to notice is the shift between serious and silly. There were some moments that made me chuckle, but nothing near as over the top as your example in the review. I was actually excited because I thought there was a line that said "Nazi's on the moon? Fuck you moon!". Could've sworn that was mentioned in a previous Radio Radar podcast. Didn't hear it.
  • rob-harris - May 22, 2014 4:05 p.m.

    good.
  • alejandro-quintero - May 21, 2014 12:06 a.m.

    Look like a very good games, even in the moment that they had spoken, started to attract attention
  • Jackonomics2.0 - May 20, 2014 3:47 p.m.

    I didnt even need to read any reviews, bought it anyway, good to see they didnt fuck up
  • Fran_Halen - May 22, 2014 2:23 a.m.

    I did the same thing. I used up some store credit I had and paid for it about 3 weeks ago. I really like the game so far.
  • Brett35 - May 20, 2014 3:43 p.m.

    Anyone else mindlessly playing the escape from castle wolfenstein that's "hidden" in the game? :D
  • B1ZzaR - May 20, 2014 1:28 p.m.

    Once I get home, I'm gonna be doin' one thing and one thing only... killin' Nazis!!
  • Brett35 - May 20, 2014 1:21 p.m.

    A couple hours into it so far, I am really enjoying it. Best campaign on next-gen so far in my opinion of my games played. (With such a small selection that doesn't say much though.)
  • GoldenEagle1476 - May 20, 2014 6:43 a.m.

    This makes me happy. Will definitely be picking this up.
  • Satchurated - May 20, 2014 6:42 a.m.

    I just don't see a point in paying $60 for a game that has only one mode that lasts for just 10 hours. Maybe I'll check it out when it's free on games with gold.
  • jh4911 - May 20, 2014 10:27 a.m.

    It's like £35 on steam.
  • jh4911 - May 20, 2014 10:28 a.m.

    Which is apparently around $60. My bad. I don't think that's unreasonable but everything is more expensive over here.

Showing 1-20 of 51 comments

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