Critics Corner: Wolfenstein: The New Order

wolfenstein-the-new-order-headerThere is little that gamers like more than old franchises. Reboots, remakes, sequels. These are the life blood of modern gaming. While people like new IPs, it seems like people go crazy over old IPs. And I wonder why I lament the death of creativity when the big money makers are sequels. I don’t count GTA in that because each GTA has little to do with the ones preceding it apart from mechanics.

I’ve actually played a little bit of Wolfenstein back at Fan Expo last August. I came away with a few impressions from that demo. First and foremost, I just can’t FPS to save my life and I really can’t without my mouse and keyboard in hand. The visuals weren’t spectacular on the early Xbox 360 build. The gameplay felt decidedly old school with limited regenerating health (from 1% to 25% health), picking up stuff off the ground rather than collecting it by walking over it and crouch jumping. I’d imagine that it changed a bit in the 10 months between when I played it and when you will.

But enough of what I think of Wolfenstein. Let’s see what the professionals think.

Gameplay

“Wolfenstein: TNO is all about the shooting and the destruction of the Nazi opposition. Enemies virtually disintegrate in over-the-top carnage. Heads explode, limbs vanish, bodies aren’t much more than charred remains, and the blood flows by the gallon. It’s no joke that B.J.’s goal is to wipe the Nazi presence from wherever he goes.” – Game Revolution (9.0/10)

“The two-weapon, health-recharging dynamic that’s dominated shooters for more than a decade is absent. Instead, Machine Games takes Wolfenstein back to its roots, slowly giving you an arsenal, with nearly every weapon available for dual wielding and with alternate fire modes. Figuring out which weapon to use at any given moment in the various combat situations The New Order presents is a big part of the puzzle. Health is restored via health kits; armor pickups are vital — absent the fact that health will recharge to the nearest multiple of 20, it can feel like 1992 all over again.” – Polygon (9.0/10)

“When it comes to mechanics, The New Order doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from the glut of shooters that come out every year. Blazcowicz has a typical array of weapons at his disposal — a knife, a pistol, a machinegun, a sniper rifle, and so on — as well as some Nazi future tech, like laser rifles, that give the game the alternate history feel that Wolfenstein has thrived on for 22 years. Gunplay is fun and fluid, though I have to question the inclusion of dual-wielding, which, while cool in theory, is exceptionally cumbersome and entirely inadequate in heated firefights.” – IGN (7.8/10)

“In combat mode, enemy AI is pretty sharp, meaning enemies will actually work together to try and flush you out if you’re hiding behind cover. Sometimes, it’s better to take a stealthy route. I know, I know, what is stealth even doing in a game like Wolfenstein? You’ll be forgiven for assuming stealth mechanics in a game like this would be terrible, but they actually aren’t. Whether you’re using a silenced pistol or just a trusty knife, there’s ample opportunity to sneak around and kill enemies without ever being spotted, and the game is surprisingly well designed for this kind of tactic.” – Giant Bomb (8.0/10)

“There are moments when the AI simply fails. On the odd occasion enemies will get stuck on walls or run out of cover for no reason. One level set inside a prison features melee-only enemies who will amicably attack you one at a time, very slowly, while you stick them with your combat knife. They are fairly tolerant of dead friends, too, wandering blithely past stealth-murdered comrades with barely a murmured curse. Strangely, though, it’s not game-breaking.” – God is a Geek (8.0/10)

“Blazkowicz isn’t a thinker — he’s a doer — and you’ll get off to killin’ Nazis in no time. To do this, he’ll utilize a number of different playstyles (stealth, tactical, assault, and demolition) all with upgradeable perks in tow. The cool thing about this system is that players can opt to go for all or none of the skill trees, and they don’t have to switch between them because every upgrade is permanently unlocked once you earn them.” – Destructoid (7.5/10)

“The New Order also requires Blazkowicz to make regular use of a laser cutter. It is both a weapon and a utility that can manipulate the environment. However, its use is mostly relegated to cutting Blazkowicz-sized holes in the only pieces of metal grating that are blocking forward progress in the first place. There are a few panels which hide secret areas containing health and ammo pickups, but although you can cut any shape you like, unless it’s a square you won’t fit through it.” – GameSpot (8.0/10)

“This is mostly a game on rails, taking you from point to point with the minimum of distractions, secrets or alternate routes. Though a few examples of these do exist, they won’t keep you off the path laid before you for very long. If you were to go back and play the original Wolfenstein 3D, you’d discover that the contrast between the two is remarkable. Its ancestor serves as a reminder of just how sprawling first-person shooters used to be, along with how much of their expanse was entirely superfluous, existing only to be explored. In comparison, Wolfenstein: The New Order, like many of its peers, is rigid and claustrophobic.” – Eurogamer (6.0/10)

“While it brings a few enhancements from modern gaming into the mix, MachineGames’ crack of the Wolfenstein whip is unapologetic in its embrace of the clichéd and the simplistic. Since this is Wolfenstein, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Guns, explosions, Nazis, and robots. Pretty much all you need, right?” – The Escapist (7.0/10)

Story

“Much like lead character B.J.Blazkowicz, Wolfenstein: The New Order is a game that’s big, brash and proud of its Nazi-killing exploits. It features a B-movie plot, a cast of cartoonish stereotypes, enough blood to make even a vampire squeamish and more explosions than an ’80s action movie.” – Digital Spy (6.0/10)

“The game begins as a very showy series of set-pieces, a prologue set toward the end of the war that has you pressing X to close a valve, X to pull a lever, or even X to climb into a plane’s nose turret and shoot at Nazi jets. It’s all very prescriptive, and although you soon have a gun in your hand and the freedom to run around shooting people, Wolfenstein: The New Order does like its set-pieces and cut-scenes. While the latter are often cheesy, the former throw up a few neat moments, including roping up the wall of a fortress and piloting an awesome giant robot.” – Eurogamer (6.0/10)

“Wolfenstein: TNO throws you right into the heat of battle as soon as you hit the start button. You’re on a plane over the Baltic Sea that’s taking heavy fire. You’ll need to hang onto your wits and perform a few tasks to keep your plane in the air. After B.J. and a few of his crewmates survive a crash onto a beach, we begin to see just what they’re up against as the Nazis have a variety of mechanical monstrosities amongst their ranks. After a long gun battle which sees you and your forces battling to the top of a castle by the sea, an explosion causes a head injury and sees him fall into the water. B.J. wakes up some 14 years into the future when not only has he been in a coma, but the Nazis have won the war.” – Game Revolution (9.0/10)

“All the copious blood splatter and limb-exploding tech is joined by greater focuses on characterization, on pulpy sci-fi stylization, and, most importantly, on memorable storytelling. Which isn’t to suggest that The New Order is successful in all of these areas. The New Order never quite settles on a consistent tone, nor does it often seem willing to afford its much-better-than-average characters enough time to really establish themselves to the player. It’s a game that often feels like it’s in a gigantic hurry to get the player to the next bout of Nazi killing, often at the expense of the character and world building the developers were clearly striving for. Yet The New Order mostly succeeds by virtue of how good the moments of character and world building you do get are.” – Giant Bomb (8.0/10)

“While the story isn’t exactly Oscar-worthy material, the genuine surprise that Blazkowicz’s voice actor exhibits when he finds out that the US actually surrendered to Germany sounds authentic, and it sets the tone for the eerie landscape to come. The developers really went all the way with this concept, and it does wonders for essentially rebooting the franchise without rendering all the previous stories moot.” – Destructoid (7.5/10)

Graphics & Audio

“Wolfenstein looks pretty good on the PS4, though it’s not going to make any eyes explode, and the cutscene compression is noticeable. There are also a few apparent – though minor – visual glitches that crop up now and then. There’s a lot of attention to detail when it comes to faces, though this might not be such a good thing during one of the game’s standout moments – a moment that uses such facial detail to create one of the more disturbing moments I’ve seen in a videogame. Her eyes, man … her eyes.” – The Escapist (7.0/10)

“The New Order plays and runs well, though you’ll encounter occasional texture pop-in and some poor audio mixing that frustratingly drowns out some well-acted voices. It’s pretty, too, both in-game and during cutscenes, especially when you get a chance to marvel at some of its open vistas and cityscapes. Neo-Berlin is frighteningly beautiful in its order and grandeur, yet quainter, picturesque moments can also be found out in the wilderness, for instance when Blazcowicz escapes from a hospital in Poland early in the campaign and gets his first look at the blue sky in 14 years.” – IGN (7.8/10)

Overall

“The New Order’s got all the workings of a classic shooter. But in their trip back to the well, Machine Games has brought all of its talents to bear. The New Order is held together, even rocketed beyond the basic sum of its smart levels and effective mechanics, by its characters. That humanity takes what would be a good shooter and makes it something truly memorable.” – Polygon (9.0/10)

“While shooting fascists in video games will likely always be fun, The New Order falters when it’s trying to decide how you should feel about it. Its options and ridiculously sized weapons provide a lot of enjoyment, but the story tries so hard to be serious that it forgets that this is a game that includes Moon Nazis.” – Games Beat (7.8/10)

“In short bursts, it’s everything you’d assume it would be, and if your expectations don’t go any further than that you won’t be disappointed. Ignore the (awful) narrative, shoot some fools and enjoy. As a total package, though, Wolfenstein continually feels disjointed and doesn’t know exactly what it wants to be – the overall experience is jarring. And the boss fights suck…” – VideoGamer (6.0/10)

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About Steve Murray

Steve is the founder and editor of The Lowdown Blog and et geekera. On The Lowdown Blog, he often writes about motorsports, hockey, politics and pop culture. Over on et geekera, Steve writes about geek interests and lifestyle. Steve is on Twitter at @TheSteveMurray.

Posted on May 23, 2014, in Games and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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