Wolfenstein The New Order is a refreshing first person shooter in the sea of modern military shooters so popular nowadays. The setting is always a war, but we are talking about the Second World War (a real throwback to the origins of the aforementioned shooters, if you think about it), and after a prologue set in 1946 the war takes a turn for the worst, with the Nazis ruling the world in the year 1960.
Wolfenstein The New Order sets its storyline in the fascinating world of alternative history. Everything is like we know it until a little detail changes the entire outcome of an historical event. In this case the Nazis have access to an advanced technology that allows them to dominate the battlefield and annihilate any resistance.
B.J. Blazcokwicz, the main protagonist of the Wolfenstein series, and official bad-ass (maybe just a little bit less than his cousin, the Doom guy), finds himself in the midst of a war that has slid by him for the last 14 years after a head trauma turned him into a vegetable.
In his quest to destroy the Nazi regime B.J. travels all Europe to find the last stronghold of the resistance and acquire every possible new technological weapon along the way. Left behind the supernatural element of the previous Wolfenstein game this time the supremacy of the enemy is based on the knowledge of a mysterious technology, centuries ahead of everything else. This way the enemies are not only simple foot-soldiers but also mechanical dogs, mechanical beasts, a bio-mechanical fusion of man and machine and straight up Nazi killer robots.
I was talking before about the refreshing elements of this first person shooter. Actually it is not as refreshing as it is a celebration of the “run-and-gun” formula that the original game basically brought to attention in the past and then exploded with Doom later on. A big, and needed, throwback to the very first formula of first person shooters. But it’s not just that.
The guys at MachineGames were able to inject new life in the mix. Every area, or level, or chapter can be cleared with two different styles, stealth or mayhem; with different routes to flank the enemies or to just run at them guns a-blazing. In each area commanders have the ability to call reinforcements, and they will as soon as they spot you.
What I love to do is to silently take them down with my knives and then lay waste on the remaining Nazi scum with all the power my arsenal can deliver. This aspect needs a particular mention. Every weapon has two different modes. From the simple silencer, for the pistol, to the shrapnel rounds for the shotgun, to the rocket launcher for the machine gun, to the lasers for the sniper rifle.
That’s right! You can shoot Nazis into nothingness with lasers! Did I mention you can dual-wield everything? No? Well, you can. And it’s awesome, it’s bad-ass and it’s devastating; even though it’s a little bit ammo consuming. Every enemy can be destroyed and obliterated, literally. You can shoot your enemies to a pulp with the right gun (dual-wielding shotguns) and your every shot affects the movement and the reaction of your target and their allies.
The gunplay is fun, fast-paced and satisfying. Every gun has a distinct kick to it. But one other fundamental aspect is the place where you’re running and gunning. The game is divided into chapters, in each one there’s an over-all mission and sometimes, by exploring, you can find some side-missions.
In the prologue you can choose two different paths to continue the game but the only thing that changes is the upgrades you can unlock. In one you will upgrade your health by picking up specific collectibles, in the other you will upgrade your armor using the same method. The only other thing that’s different is the presence of one character specific to the timeline you choose.
The chapters span from the base of the main villain, Deathshead; who’s responsible for the German superior technology, to a prisoner camp, to an occupied London and even a moon-base; which seems like a little experiment for the upcoming Doom.
There is no leveling system but you can unlock different perks by performing specific actions. The two timelines make little difference in your playthrough but the gameplay is fast paced and satisfying; and it’s fascinating to discover the alternate history scattered all over the game in the form of newspaper articles and different collectibles, including well-known old songs recorded in German.