The daddy of shooters is back.
I enjoyed a short break from videogames (5 days) and then returned to find Wolfenstein: The New Order on PS4 to play. What better way is there to slip back into gaming than the wholesale slaughter of Nazis?
This latest Wolfenstein game, from developers MachineGames, is a first-person shooter that seems to be bucking the recent trends of the genre. There is no multiplayer, instead prefering to concentrate all of its energy on a healthy length story mode that will see our hero, B.J. Blazkowicz, taking down the Nazi war machine in an alternate version of 1960. While the story may seem to be cliched and the characters stereotypical and flat, there is a surprising amount of depth to be found for those that need it. However, the main draw for many will be the over-the-top shooter action, which is brilliantly done.
The game begins in 1946 with B.J. and his companions making a last ditch attempt at ending the Nazi advances, which have only been as successful as they have due to their advanced war machines and technologies. The mission is to take out the man behind all of this amazing technology, General Deathshead. Unfortunately, this will involve assaulting General Deathshead’s highly protected stronghold, and it is a mission that seems doomed from the start. Still, the mission serves as a nice practice ground for players to get a feel for controlling B.J. and using the array of weapons that become available to him.
Predictably, the mission goes wrong and ends with B.J. taking shrapnel to his head and lapsing into a coma. Mind you, it will take more than just shrapnel to the head to stop B.J., and thus it is that he wakes from his coma some 14 years later in a Polish hospital. While he was sleeping, the Nazis have won the war and taken over the world. It would seem that B.J. has some work to do…
And so the game begins proper, with B.J. traveling to some surprising set pieces to deal swift death to both the Nazis themselves and an interesting selection of crazy war machines. There is a relative linearity to the story, but the player is given the chance to explore on more than one occasion, and will need to do so to find all of the games collectibles and secrets. A decision made early in the game will provide the player with a slight deviation in the story, which is certainly enough to warrant a second playthrough once the game is done. That and the collectibles will extend the enjoyment of Wolfenstein: The New Order far beyond the ten or so hours it takes to finish the story once.
Gameplay-wise, The New Order is a solid shooter. Many of the weapons that the player will come to use should be familiar to anyone who has played a shooter in recent years, from a simple knife through machine guns, assault rifles and sniper rifles. The only one that really stands out is the impressive laser gun that the player will come across. B.J. is a one man army, and as such can dual wield most weapons for added killing power, at the cost of precision, which will be fine for most people.
Playing on the normal difficulty level, ammunition, armour and health are plentiful as long as you scavenge whilst making your journey through the game. However, further difficulty levels can be unlocked which will leave the players having to be a little more cautious. Most enemies will drop some ammo or armour fragments, so topping these up is no real problem, and if you run out of bullets during your Nazi killing spree, switching weapons is fairly easy, especially as B.J. seems to be carrying with him an invisible arsenal of many different guns.
Health on the other hand, must be topped up from finding health packs around the game. The health bar gives B.J. 100 health points and should he take damage, health will recover to the nearest multiple of 20, proving the importance of picking up any health that can be found. Picking up health with a full health bar will allow players to go over the 100 maximum and give B.J. a nice boost for some heavy firefights.
Surprisingly, Wolfenstein: The New Order actually has quite a strong stealth element as well, although run and gun gameplay is all that is needed should the player prefer. Finding alternate routes to take out enemies with a sneaky stab attack is possible in many situations, and the presence of commanders makes stealth a distinct advantage. These commanders will continue to call in reinforcements as long as they are left alive, so taking them out before a battle begins with a bit of stealth is obviously advantageous.
Another advantage comes in the form of perks that the player can earn while playing. These perks are varied and consist of anything from your gun being able to hold more bullets, to being able to run faster with two weapons, and are earned by gaining in-game achievements. This is nice as many players will simply unlock some of these through their regular playing. But the clever player will find themselves adjusting their gameplay style or being extra careful with how they dispatch enemies to ensure they unlock the most useful perks.
Visually, Wolfenstein: The New Order looks great on the PS4, and runs really smoothly. However, if you take a break from the action for a minute to look around, there are some textures that are perhaps not as high resolution as you are led to believe, but it really is not something that most players will notice or even care about. The game is incredibly violent, as you would expect. In places though, The New Oder pushes the boundaries uncomfortably close to bad taste, which my turn off some players.
Wolfenstein: The New Order offers a perfect antidote to all of the multiplayer, tactical, thoughtful shooters that are around at the moment. Although the game is relatively shallow in its gameplay, this works in its favour and provides the gamer with an all-out, over-the-top action shooter where thinking really isn’t needed. Wolfenstein: The New Order is a breath of fresh air, the best Wolfenstein game so far and highly recommended to shooter fans.