Wolfenstein: The New Order Review

Wolfenstein: The New Order Review - Bethesda have published the latest iteration of the classic Wolfenstein franchise. Developed by Machine Games, does the newest addition to the franchise live up to some of its infamous predecessors?

Platform(s): Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PC.
Amount Played: Full campaign, one play-through.

Wolfenstein: The New Order is the latest iteration in the infamous Wolfenstein franchise, best known for the 1992 classic, Wolfenstein 3D. The game takes place in an alternate historical timeline in which the Nazi s were victorious in World War 2, having invaded the European Allied nations, forcing the United States of America to surrender to the Nazi war machine. You play as B.J. Blazkowicz, an American soldier that misses the end of the war for story based reasons and returns 14 years later to discover a world ran by the Nazi regime. The story follows Blazkowicz as he attempts to reunite with the rebel movement and take down General Deathshead , the main reason the Nazi s won the war. Although the campaign s plot is largely pretty enjoyable, Blazkowicz s whispered personal commentary can become tiresome and I found it hard to develop a sentimental attachment to a lot of the characters that you spend little time with throughout the game. It almost seems as though Machine Games were planning a much larger and more in depth story, and were cut short by Bethesda due to development costs.

Wolfenstein is particularly reminiscent of the way in which Bioshock Infinite works in terms of its fundamental gameplay mechanics, with the Stealth mechanics that fans of Dishonored will be familiar with. One of the more interesting mechanics of the game includes the ability to dual-wield almost any weapon in the game, including the Sniper Rifles. However, this mechanic would have been more impressive had the developers had taken advantage of the alternative history meets Steampunk styled genre to great a wider arsenal of weaponry available in the game, as there are really only a handful of weapons that you have access to as you progress through the game and you often find yourself only cycling back and forth between a couple of weapons to finish the entirety of the campaign. There is also a fence and metal plate cutting mechanic that is required to progress yourself through certain levels as well as giving additional routes to progress through the levels.

Though the story is built up of a progression of linear levels, the game s level design is actually some of the more impressive that I have experienced in a while. The level design of the game is somewhat reminiscent of the way Dishonored was produced in a more enclosed environment. There are numerous ways to progress that add an additional tactical component to each level as you are have to decide what the best approach would be to tackle each room, either using stealth or approaching the enemies with a full frontal assault. Those of you who enjoy playing games for their stealth based mechanics will likely be more pleased with the gameplay of Wolfenstein than those who are expecting a fast paced and adrenaline filled experience. The game can certainly be exciting in sections, but it was typically more enjoyable and fulfilling to try and stealth as many sections of each level as possible.

The AI programming of the enemies in the game is by far the weakest point of the game, as Wolfenstein manages to create some of most moronic and broken enemies I have ever experienced in almost any AAA game. For the most part, playing the game on a Normal or Hard difficulty is simple, but occasionally the enemy will seem to defy the laws of physics to kill you in a situation you would have thought impossible the game is certainly best experienced on a Normal difficult as whilst this can be too easy at times, increasing the difficulty beyond this level gave me the impression of the game s programming being more flawed and broken than the game actually being more challenging. Stealth movements around AI on any difficulty level is usually pretty simple, and the enemies tend to ignore you even if you re directly in their line of sight at a range that any normal human would easily acknowledge. But the most broken part of the AI programming is without a doubt the movements of the Melee Soldiers that you encounter early on in the game. These enemies can get blocked by door arches, and will follow you back and forth if you strafe between a window or doorway. These soldiers are absolutely moronic, but I suppose it explains why the Nazi regime never allowed them to carry a gun.

Wolfenstein

Regardless of any of the potential flaws in the AI that may be in the game, it sure is a great experience and the level design more than makes up it. As you progress through the story, you find yourself taking on a Nazi fortress, infiltrating a work camp, battling space Nazi s and taking out a particularly giant robot as if it were a child plaything. Although the boss fight against the giant robot (a.k.a. the London Monitor ) turned out to be a lot simpler than I first anticipated, there was a great destruction mechanic used throughout the fight in which most of your cover can be blown away by the obnoxious amounts of rockets that are fired at you throughout. Actually having a real boss-fight in most of the first person games I play lately is a rarity; so the few that do appear in this game are both very welcome and enjoyable.

The game isn t optimised half bad either, running at a native 1080p and 60 frames per second on both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, something that is very apparent in the fluidity of the gameplay. 1080p and 60 frames per second on an Xbox One title? Am I sure? Absolutely, Machine Games went about programming the textures through a different texture allocation technique that better utilising the Xbox One s ESRAM known as Mega Texturing. Whilst some users have complained that there is more texture popping as the system streams through the textures, this is something I didn t notice as I was playing the game and the overall performance and optimisation of the game was sublime.

Wolfenstein: The New Order is a game that feels like a homage to the ideals and level design of the types of games that were developed back in the 1990s and the early 2000s before AAA development has refined gameplay of mature first person shooters to accommodate the inevitable barrage of underage children that will play the game. But Wolfenstein doesn t feel like it s accommodating for anyone other than it s target audience, and it is unforgiving in its use of gore and gameplay, and damn it is a fun experience. As a whole, Wolfenstein is one of the best single player experiences I ve had since Bioshock Infinite and is something that I have been personally crying out for since. The game isn t perfect, but it s fun, and that s what really counts.