After the events of Wolfenstein, the Nazis have developed technology that could win them the war. The Allied forces, including the main character William “B.J.” Blazkowicz, mount a massive raid against a Nazi laboratory to stop General Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse and the Nazis dead in their tracks. Things don’t go well, B.J. and his allies are captured. B.J. and the few remaining men still alive escape but an explosion sends shrapnel into B.J.s head leaving him in a vegetative state. The remaining men are recaptured and B.J. is taken to an asylum in poland where he is cared for in a vegetative state for 14 years. Hilarity ensues – OK, it’s doesn’t. B.J. eventually wakes up as everyone is being executed by Nazi forces. It’s now 1960 and the Nazis have won the War and for all intents and purpose, rule the world.
Wolfenstein: The New Order’s most interesting assets are it’s story and exploration elements, not it’s shooting. Most of the area’s you run around in have hidden objects like Nazi treasures or codes scattered around the map for you to find. I found myself backtracking just to search for these items or even looking for paths that may lead to hidden treasure. Some of these things are just that, “things” but there is the occasional upgrade to your arsenal, which was reason enough for me to spend more time rummaging through nooks and crannies that make up the world of Wolfenstein. I do have one gripe – for a game that seems to put a lot of emphasis on exploration there were a whole lot of invisible barriers stopping me from truly enjoy the journey. I chalk this up to one of those old fashion design ideologies that won’t go away fast enough in my opinion. Another facet that interested me was the Perks tree Wolfenstein is built around. The Perks tree is by no means RPG worthy or even something you’ll spend much time looking at. Instead, Perks are unlocked by doing certain set of criteria like taking down 5 Nazi’s with a stealth attack. It’s not a very deep skill tree system but I welcome any element that resembles upgradable skills in games.
The First-Person Shooter (FPS) genre is so over saturated at this point. There have been some really great shooters over the years like Call of Duty: Black Ops or even Battlefield 4, which I had a hell of a lot of fun with. Wolfenstein: The New Order does OK as a shooter. Aiming down the sight of your gun feels like you’d expect and each gun, though not many variation is available, do feel distinct and believable. Where things fall apart is how you select your guns and dual wielding. The latter is an absolute mess – I found dual wielding quite cumbersome and all but useless while trying to take down even a small number of Nazi’s. This is mostly due to how much these guns walk in general let alone dually wielded. Selecting weapons is even worse and felt very old fashioned. A click and hold of a button brings up your weapon wheel. Your weapons are paired with their dual wield ability and half the time I accidentally selected weapons I didn’t want or a dual wielded weapon instead of it’s single feature. This usually happened while I was in a heated gun battle with super soldier Nazi’s who would inevetably kill me. I’m not sure why the developer, MachineGames, didn’t map quick gun switching to the D-Pad or even utilize the PS4 controllers touchpad, which acts like a glorified start button.
Wolfenstein is built on id’s Tech 5 engine, which is the same engine Rage ran on. This is a mixed blessing. On one hand, this engine is perfect for scaling games on multiple platforms with different capabilities, which we all saw with Rage running on the 360 and PS3. Because id Tech 5 is flexible and scalable, Wolfenstein: The New Order runs a consistent 60 frames per second (fps) even during heated fire-fights – I never once noticed so much as a stutter on the PS4 version. There are always compromises when it comes to frame rate vs graphic quality and Wolfenstein is no exception to this rule. Many of Wolfenstein: The New Order’s texture work is a mess up close, as seen in the included screen capture. Objects and the world as a whole do look good from a far but up close things turn into Wolfenstein from 1992. The id Tech 5 enjoy also has inherent issues with texture streaming and pop in of objects, which was also the case with Rage. The best example of this can be seen when you’re in the resistance’s hub like area in Berlin. Walking from room to room objects and wall textures will pop in occasionally, especially while running around this area. This was incredibly jarring for me and took me out of the world of Wolfenstein every single time.
I did have one or two major annoyances that lowered my hopes for Wolfenstein: The New Order and these annoyances stem from all the old design elements in the game. I’ve mentioned the invisible walls and weapon selecting already but those are two things that don’t impact gameplay terribly. My biggest issue with Wolfenstein: The New Order is how you pick up new weapons or even powerups like health and ammo. Instead of just walking over the item you have to physically hit a button to pick up these items. This becomes a huge chore especially while you’re under heavy fire. I can’t think of any logical reason why the developer chose to do this. The second major annoyance I had was with how your health status is setup. Like FPSs of yesterday, Wolfenstein: The New Order sets up your health status with a numerical number, which once it hits zero, you die. I guess that aspect alone I could live with but I again feel like this is an old design concept that doesn’t belong in todays games, not even FPSs. This annoyance is compiled with unbalanced enemy attacks in Wolfenstein: The New Order. There was one area of the game where you have to secure helicopters for the resistance. You go up against two Ed-209 looking robots and several foot soldiers. The foot soldier’s attacks actually ended up doing more damage than the robots. There were times when I’d have 100 points of health that shot down to the low 40s by a single foot soldier shooting at me from a distance. I understand a shotgunner taking me out up close but a random Nazi shooting at me with a machine gun from a distance shouldn’t be doing that amount of damage. I wouldn’t even be mentioning this aspect of the game if it was consistent throughout the game. It seems like when the developer wanted to put the boots to the players neck, they’d ramp up the AI’s cheapness factor. My last complaint is the checkpoint system can sometimes really screw you. There were times I’d shoot my way through copious amounts of Nazis only to be killed and sent back to the beginning. This didn’t happen too often but when it did it reminded me of older shooters like the original Return to Castle Wolfenstein and not in a good way.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is very true to it’s roots and for the most part it’s a very fun experience but old design elements from FPSs of yesterday stop this game from being great.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
An interesting and believable story Exploring the world of Wolfenstein is a blast, Gun play is solid as long as you stick with single wielding weapons, Rock solid frame rate from id’s Tech 5 engine
Manually having to pick up power ups gets old real fast, The weapon switching wheel can be annoying during heated firefights, Enemy AI is inconsistent and can be cheap at times, Numerical life status is something that should have been left behind in the original Wolfenstein, Checkpoints can be frustrating, Inherit id Tech 5 engine issues with texture pop in and overall poor texture quality
May 20, 2014