Wolfenstein: The New Order review: Blazkowicz forever

After taking a few years off the beaten path, Wolfenstein: The New Order has returned to its Nazi-stomping roots, bringing bad-ass B.J. Blazkowicz to the front lines as he takes on a powerful Nazi regime in 1946. Doing away with the silly supernatural elements from the previous release, the game mostly sticks with what made the series so fun in the first place – blasting Nazis to kingdom come with a wide arsenal of crazy weaponry. Check out the review follow-up to see if Wolfenstein still shines days later.

Back Into Action

It doesn't take long for Blazkowicz to get thrust back into the fray. Following an invasion on an island stronghold that left him catatonic for 14 years, Blazkowicz restarts his Nazi-killing past-time when they're sent to shut down the asylum where he's being treated. Soon enough, the blood starts spilling, and the weary soldier finds himself leading a group of rag-tag soldiers against the tyrannical Deathshead, flanked by an army of loyal troops and cybernetic terrors. Where The New Order excels is with its good old-fashioned run and gun gameplay. Throughout the game's 16 levels, Blazkowicz will find a number of weapons that get the job done, from automatic shotguns that spew bullets like popcorn to a very effective laser welder that can evaporate any given soldier into a bloody mess. Machine Games did remarkable work with the controls, as they're responsive and pinpoint, right down to leaning around corners. It feels strange having the grenade and weapon select button mapped on the same trigger, but easy enough to overcome.

Just your average chaingun robo-Nazi

Despite its bombastic action, the game does provide opportunities to play it quiet. If you get the attention of guards, they'll sound the alarm and bring even more enemy forces to contend with. Machine Games manages to balance this tactic just about right. Whether burying of a knife in a Nazi throat or propelling a silenced bullet into a Nazi's head, the stealth feels right at home. The more stealthily you handle a mission, the more perks you have the potential to earn, such as increased reload times and accelerated speed with two shotguns. (Hey, running with those isn't as easy as it looks.) If Machine Games unexpectedly excelled at stealth, it wasn't so lucky trying its hand at exploration. For instance, before you can torture a Nazi with a chainsaw, you're forced to first seek out a protective vest and goggles. Um, excuse me, but this is Blazkowicz we're talking about, yes? He practically gets bloody throughout the game anyway. Why would we need this stuff? Seeking out little items in the home hub is also a chore that distracts from the action. Thankfully, when the action happens, it's gratifying. Even on the highest difficulty, it rarely feels frustrating thanks to an array of health packs and ammunition, and a generous respawn system.

An Old but New Wolfenstein

Considering that this is the series' debut for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (as well as previous consoles), Wolfenstein: The New Order is a fine achievement. The game runs at a fluid 60 frames per second without missing a beat, and I would very rarely notice any hitches. For good measure, Machine Games has also managed to craft a wonderful, if somewhat terrifying, alternate world in Germany. From blasting your way through a planetarium with a giant moon statue in the center (which, yes, you can destroy) to a run in a bloodied prison hall, where soldiers await around every corner. This game is a sight to behold, especially on the newer systems. The cinemas were lacking in that level of polish and presentation. Rather than playing out in real-time, the story is told through cinematic cut-scenes that crudely cut into the action sequences. Story is an important to give us context for the bloody spectacle in Wolfenstein, but telling it in-game would've let Machine refrain from braking its stride.

We need a mop

The Alternate Routes

Wolfenstein's missions will take quite a while to get through, but the game offers an interesting wrinkle with two alternate storylines. Early on, you're asked to sacrifice one of two soldiers to Deathshead, and the choice you make actually affects certain decisions through the game. You'll want to see where both lead, just to see what gets thrown your way. It's an interesting addition that adds some replay value to the game. On top of that, seeking out hidden Nazis treasures can unlock bonus Trophies/Achievements in the game, and considering the open-world presentation of each level, it pays to explore.

A One-man Show

The New Order is a single-player game only, and you'll probably uncover everything it has to offer in about 15 hours or so. Multiplayer is usually a given, especially for first-person shooters, but its absence here didn't bother me. The addition of a Nazi vs. freedom soldiers mode would just feel like a cheap throw-in. The alternate timelines, hidden goods, and sheer fun of reducing Nazis to bloody chunks made the package feel complete even without multiplayer.

Conclusion

Despite the lack of multiplayer and fetch-quests that interrupt the blood-spilling action, Wolfenstein: The New Order is a welcome return to form for the series. Its gameplay is good fun, whether you prefer blasting enemies to bits or being sneaky-like. The beautiful presentation makes the most out of the new hardware, and it squeezes some impressive life out of older systems. Blazkowicz's return has been a long time coming, but Machine Games has assured that it was worth it. Final Score: 8 out of 10.
This review is based on a PlayStation 4 review copy provided by the publisher: Wolfenstein: The New Order is available now for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and PC for $59.99. The game is rated M for mature.