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Wolfenstein: The New Order Review Rewind


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On 12/22/2017 at 12:00 PM by Julian Titus

Nazi killing at its finest!
RECOMMENDATION:

Fans of first person shooters that focus on story over game modes.

In December of 2017, a spokesperson for EA Games stated that gamers don’t like linear, story-based games as much as they used to. That was an odd comment to me, in a year full of well received single player games, including a sequel to 2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order. Since I had missed the game back then, I thought this was a good time to finally check it out. Ten hours later, I am deeply pleased that I did.

The New Order once again follows the exploits of the unassailable soldier William “BJ” Blazkowicz, in a desperate, last ditch effort to stop the Nazi war machine by taking out their lead weapons designer, Wilhelm Strauss, in 1946.

Spoiler alert: they fail.

Blazkowicz barely survives the battle, and remains in a vegetative state for fourteen years. It is only when the Nazis come to destroy the hospital that BJ is convalescing in that he snaps out of it and gets back to fighting the good fight in a very different 1960 than we saw in our history books.

This sets the stage for Wolfenstein: The New Order, a wonderful blend of sixties pulp spy fiction wrapped in a first person, character heavy action power fantasy. The New Order takes sick pleasure in coming up with fun and exciting ways to hunt down the Nazis, and even with their advanced machinery taking a page from the minds of the great science fiction writers, BJ cuts through their ranks like a hot knife through butter. It is immensely satisfying and deliriously fun.

I preferred to play Wolfenstein mostly stealthily, sneaking around and slipping a knife into enemy necks. While that’s a perfectly viable way to progress through the game, it is just as fun to go in guns blazing. BJ controls well, and the shooting in The New Order just feels oh so right. As someone who has trouble with first person shooters but has played a lot of them, I know what I like, and I like the way this game handles a lot.

One of the most unique aspects of The New Order’s gameplay comes in the way its perk system works. Skill trees are broken down into four areas: stealth, tactical, assault, and demolition. There are eight perks in each skill tree, and they are unlocked by satisfying various combat scenarios. Not only do these perks reward your particular play style, but I found myself playing with weapons and tactics that I normally wouldn’t use as I tried to fill out the entire skill tree. These upgrades carry over to subsequent play throughs, which is handy considering that the game has two different timelines to play if you want to see all the story content.

The story definitely takes center stage here. Sure, the shooting feels great, and the level designs are fantastic, but Wolfenstein sports an eclectic cast of heroes and villains that I’m sure to remember for a long time to come. Equal parts power fantasy and gritty military commentary, The New Order continues to ratchet up the tension while knowing when to calm down just a bit. In preparing for this review I started a new game just to clarify a couple items and found myself drawn in as if it was my first time playing.

I have few nits to pick with this game, and the biggest has to do with when it was released. As a game that straddled generations and was released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as well as current consoles, it simply doesn’t hold up as well in the graphics department. It is by no means an ugly game, but character models tend to suffer from a serious case of “dead eyes”, taking away from the excellent voice work on display. It’s also worth noting that this game sticks to the drab grey and brown aesthetic that was so ubiquitous last generation.

Wolfenstein: The New Order is a game that I slept on, and that is something I came to regret, because it has become one of my favorite first-person shooters of the past ten years. It has a story to tell and does so without compromise, eschewing a tacked on multiplayer mode in favor of a wonderfully constructed single player campaign that warrants more than a single go around. Do yourself a favor and play this game. If you already have, maybe play it again.

 

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

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