Wolfenstein: The New Order (Xbox One)

By Chip Tamplin

Published on Saturday, May 24, 2014

There have been a lot of “what ifs” throughout history, but one of the biggest ones was “what if the Nazis won World War II?” Wars are always fought over conflicting viewpoints, distorted sense of right and wrong and most certainly greed. The world has seen a lot of evil, but nothing quite as sickening as the Third Reich. Wolfenstein: The New Order isn’t the first to lay their own take on what the world would be like if the Nazi’s won, but they’ve certainly done the best job so far (I’m looking at you, Turning Point: Fall of Liberty).

In Wolfenstein: The New Order, the Nazi’s haven’t just taken over Europe, they’re reign of tyranny has infected the entire world. Think the Americans will come save the day? Well, the Nazi’s dropped an atom bomb in the US and we surrendered. As always, it’s up to long time series protagonist BJ Blazkowicz to save the day.

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As the game opens, you’re dropped into a war-riddled beach to help comrades in a downed plane. Over the course of this awkwardly paced tutorial level, you’ll meet the games main villain – General Deathshead. From the small glimpse we got of him in this level, Machinegames did a fantastic job of giving us a villain to hate early on. Deathshead also gives you a choice early on and this choice will directly affect how the story plays out going forward. Unfortunately, this was the only decision left to the player. I would have loved to be given more options to affect the story.

As you flee the fight at the end of the level, you’ll suffer some severe brain damage, which will end up putting you into a coma for fourteen years. As you begin the next level as a soldier trapped inside his own mind, unable to talk or perform even the most basic of functions, you’ll get your first taste of developer Machinegames’ superb story telling. As you wake up, the war has drastically changed. This isn’t the same war you were fighting before your injury, the Nazi’s have discovered (or, rather, stolen) sophisticated technology from a group you’ll meet in-game, that helped them win the war. You’ll notice some rather unsettling enemies over the course of your time with Wolfenstein.

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While the game looks and plays great, it’s the story telling that truly makes Wolfenstein: The New Order stand out. Blazkowicz has, in past installments, failed to truly materialize as a character. That changes in The New Order. During cut scenes and even during the levels themselves, Blazkowicz will often contemplate his actions and how they affect those around him, giving much more depth to his character.

As you progress through the story, your resistance group will continue to accumulate new members, each bringing their own unique personalities and flare to your task of taking the Nazi’s down. I don’t want to ruin some of the more memorable characters, but suffice it to say, their plights will certainly make you more sympathetic towards them and their motives (not that you should need the help to).

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As I said, gameplay is very solid in The New Order. Aside from a few minor texture pop ups here and there, gameplay was exceptionally crisp. Controls were pretty par for the course as far as shooters go, but the addition of cover control (i.e. the act of using LB to lean above, below and to the side of cover) certainly made fire fights more approachable give the first person perspective. They may not be the first shooter to implement this style of cover control, but it was more responsive than any others I’ve played.

While much of the gameplay is typical for the shooter genre, The New Order put a heavy emphasis on stealth gameplay as well. In any situation you can go in with guns blazing like an unbridled badass or you can sneak through and execute Nazis at will with a mixture of silent takedowns, mid-range knife kills or long range kills with a silenced pistol. Additionally, many situations add in the extra challenge of eliminating a commander who can call for endless reinforcements until you take him out. Being a big fan of stealth-infused games like Splinter Cell and Dishonored, I loved the leap Machinegames took by giving us the option to play through the game with a more stealth-centric approach. Unfortunately, this inadvertently put extra emphasis on the occasionally incompetent AI. While they can swarm you during intense firefights with utter precision, they tend to miss you in plain sight while sneaking through a building or ignore their fallen comrade with a knife sticking out of his chest.

The New Order also features a fun but challenging perk system for you to complete while playing through the games lengthy campaign. You’ll have four main sections consisting of: stealth, tactical, assault and demolition, with each of those sections comprised of eight subsections. These tiers ask you to complete certain challenges in order to unlock a perk. For example, stealth perk eight asks you to stealth kill fifty soldiers and five kampfhunds (dogs) throughout the campaign and once you complete it you’ll make less noise while spring and allows quicker movement speed while being crouched. Other challenges include killing X enemies with X gun and killing a certain amount of enemies by forcing enemies to drop grenades, killing their comrades. All progress stacks in game, so if you die, you won’t lose your progress.

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Aside from its superb story telling, The New Order also shines in its choices of levels. During the course of its campaign, I never felt like I was playing through the same mission twice. In one I might be storming a beach, another I might be commandeering an enemy U-Boat deep below the sea or freeing fellow resistance fighters from a Nazi-controlled prison. These were some of the most varied levels I’ve ever played in a shooter and it helped keep the pacing and the story fresh throughout.

A lot of people will undoubtedly notice that The New Order lacks multiplayer. For some of those people that might be a con of the game, but for me that’s a big plus. Knowing that Machinegames put all of their focus into creating a long and memorable campaign experience was the main reason I took the leap into buying the game after not really enjoying 2009’s installment. Without multiplayer, they were clearly able to tell a memorable story while also being able to polish the game well.

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While Wolfenstein: The New Order may not be the best game I’ve ever played, it is not only one of the best games of the year, but a true standout in a shooter genre that has become saturated to the brim with games attempting to merely copy what has been successful in the past rather than truly trying to innovate. It may not be perfect, but between its captivating story, varied levels and addicting gameplay, The New Order is most certainly a breath of fresh air in a stagnant shooter genre. If you’re thinking about picking up Wolfenstein: The New Order, I couldn’t recommend it enough.

The Good


The Bad

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