With Wolfenstein: The New Order, MachineGames set out to re-write history, in terms of both the story behind their single-player title and the way gamers will remember the Wolfenstein franchise. While series protagonist William "B.J." Blazkowicz is back, along with other familiar faces, new players will have no trouble diving into the action. Tackling the idea of Europe circa 1960 if Germany had won World War 2, a mix of stealth and in-your-face action promises to keep players on their toes.
The story of my life
The story of Wolfenstein: The New Order is a continuation of Wolfenstein from 2009, but isn't so tied to the past that new players need to worry about catching up. That's one of many areas where the game is perfectly balanced. Veterans will enjoy seeing familiar faces and picking up where Blazkowicz left off. At the same time, new players can enjoy the story without feeling like they missed out on more than 30 years of the franchise. If there is one small criticism, it would be that new players might have enjoyed a Wolfenstein history lesson in one form or another. While not necessary to fully enjoy the game, it would have certainly enhanced it, much like Mass Effect 2 when released on the PlayStation 3.
Speaking of history, we were originally concerned this would be another cookie cutter World War 2 game. That's definitely not the case. While MachineGames spices things up with fictional robots and funky technology, the feeling of what a Nazi controlled world would have looked like is terrifying just the same. Mix in some romance, the opportunity for players to make game changing decisions and music that makes you feel like picking a fight, and you have an idea what this experience is like.
Bringing a knife to a gunfight
A good story is a rare thing in games these days. A good story and good gameplay is almost unheard of on the level that Wolfenstein: The New Order executes it. Continuing our thought about balance, gameplay is right on pace with the story. Chapters can be hour long missions that feature a mix of stealth and gruesome gun play, or shorter story driven experiences that give the characters depth. Some missions, such as Camp Belica at the midpoint of the game, are all stealth, yet still allow players to move at a pace that action junkies won't get bored of. More often than not, though, players will be able to pick how they want to approach each situation.
The only part of the story that drags on is the prologue. In fact, it clocked in roughly one hour of play, leaving us to wonder if we might actually be a quarter of the way through the game. While it does serve as a nice introduction to the control scheme and play mechanics, both of which feel great, it could have been cut in half.
Who needs multiplayer?
If you thought that the lack of a multiplayer mode would take away from Wolfenstein: The New Order, you thought wrong. Early on, the game gives players a choice that will not only affect the characters that populate the remainder of the story, but also your abilities as Blazkowicz. While one option will give you the ability to pick locks, the other will allow you to hotwire various electronic devices. Both choices will open up alternate navigational routes, meaning that a campaign which was already passing the 10 hour mark just doubled in length. Not a bad way to get your money's worth.
Besides the replay factor for the main campaign, the game features its fair share of secret rooms, Easter eggs and collectibles. While some are rather simple and difficult to miss, others are complicated and put a player's attention to detail to the test. We certainly don't want to give anything away, but fans of the original Castle Wolfenstein from 1981 will be pleasantly surprised by an easy to find side mission.
If there's one criticism about the game's collectibles, it's a minor one. Strewn throughout the game are a series of newspaper clippings. At first, you'll find yourself reading them all, but even before the second or third chapter, the process becomes tedious. While interesting to read, stopping to examine every one would only add more time to a few of the game's lengthy chapters.
Worth the price of admission
Wolfenstein: The New Order is a solid first-person shooter that manages to balance gameplay, pace and an intriguing story that is sure to captivate players. While there are a few features that MachineGames could have done better, there's little they did wrong. The studio paid homage to the past while providing a fresh approach that anyone can enjoy. No matter what experience you have with the franchise or what platform you own, run out and pick up Wolfenstein: The New order today.
GAME's Verdict: 9/10
- Great mix of stealth gameplay and fast-paced action
- A unique interpretation of a familiar story
- Strong character development
- New players would benefit from a franchise history lesson
- The prologue is one of the longest chapters in the game
- The novelty of some collectibles wears off due to volume