Wednesday, 23 July 2014

[PC Game Review] Wolfenstein - The New Order

Platform: PC (Steam)
Released: 2014
Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: Machine Games
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Buy on Steam

Wolfenstein is one of the biggest grandfathers in gaming history as it spawned an entire genre, the first person shooter. While it wasn't the first game to put you in the eyes of your character, it was the first to do so in such a raw and intense way. It paved the way for future successes from id Software such as Doom and Quake, and it would be difficult to imagine gaming as it is today without it.

The Wolfenstein franchise itself is a bit of a strange one as there has never been any direct sequel to the original Wolfenstein 3D game and even that was a sort of remake of the Castle Wolfenstein game from the 80's by MUSE Software, itself the grandfather of the stealth genre, so in a way the franchise stretches far back and was actually influential both as a first person shooter AND as a stealth game. And while the original Wolfenstein 3D was not a stealth game, stealth was a minor gameplay element in the game. A remake came out around 2001-2002, cleverly titled "Return To Castle Wolfenstein", featuring an entirely new storyline. It was followed by the multiplayer game "Enemy Territory" later on.

While these two games were pretty successful, Activision released another reboot of the franchise in 2009, the also cleverly titled "Wolfenstein", which was not a remake of the first game nor a remake of Return, it was simply a new Wolfenstein game not in any way tied to the earlier games. It focused more on using dark powers to aid your fight against the Nazis and introduced a big city hub to go around in. While it wasn't any big hit, it sold decently though most critics called the game mediocre. Needless to say, Wolfenstein: The New Order has a bit of a weird history to follow but decides to mostly do its own thing and in some ways be a bit of a sequel to the 2009 Wolfenstein game. Let's take a look and see how well it fares in comparison to earlier games and also, whether it truly is worth the title of a Wolfenstein game.



This is a game where I really don't want to talk much about the story out of fear of spoiling it for everyone. Let it just be said that the game has one of the best stories I've ever played not only this year but in a long time. At times the game has an almost Tarantino-esque feel to it which I don't mind at all as the writing is really good and tight and the characters are all extremely memorable and easy to connect with. I especially love Deathshead who returns as the villain and, if anything, is creepier than ever and is one evil S.O.B. you WANT to kill by the end of the game. The game has two different storylines with slight differences. I strongly suggest playing both of them as each storyline has some minor differences, giving the game some amount of replay value. And one spoiler I will give is that... yes. You go to the moon...


Gameplay-wise the game might be one of the best single player FPS's ever made. All the guns are exceptionally well designed and look really cool on the screen (something more games should take into account if you ask me, considering you run around most of the game staring at it). I especially love the enormous shotguns and the assault rifles. Some of the weapons also have an alternative fire method or ammo type, and all of them save for the heavy weapons can be dualwielded, which naturally gets a big point from me as it is one of my biggest gaming fetishes. I also love that all the weapons are instantly available at any time and you are never limited to just two guns. Granted your arsenal is a bit limited and you cannot carry turret guns in your inventory but this is fair. If you are a fan of oldschool shooters, the game will definitely cater to your taste. Some guns even fulfill multiple functions such as opening crates or doors.

Instead of using health regen which most shooters nowadays do, the game opts for a more oldschool system of having to gather health packs and armor. The health will slowly regen to the nearest 10% though so if you're at 55 health it will slowly regen but stop at 60. I find this system very balanced and one thing I love is that you can overcharge your health using extra medpacks so if you find some laying around and don't wanna waste them, you can still take them. A lot of tactical play is involved with maintaining and managing your health and armor, adding some strategy to combat other than simply aiming and shooting while hiding behind cover and leaving some health and armor behind and backtracking to it later is of course a completely valid strategy.

Come to daddy
However it wouldn't be a Wolfenstein game without going back to the stealth roots a bit. While you can technically go full mayhem through most of the game, at times opting for a more stealthy approach can be preferable and you are given plenty of opportunities where you can choose to use stealth and sneak around if you want to, and your knives will prove useful stealth weapons as you can not only sneak up on someone and perform a takedown but also throw your knife at your enemies. I personally love how the game mixes stealth and action so seamlessly and leaves so much freedom to the player to approach the game however they see fit. It is a lot of fun playing the game this way and I strongly recommend people try different gameplay styles and see what fits the mission.

You can gain additional abilities and weapon mods by performing certain challenges which unlocks additional perks. The perks are divided into several categories, each one catering to a certain playstyle and you are almost guaranteed to be rewarded with more perks by simply sticking to that style as most of the challenges are simply just playing the game a certain way. You will definitely want to replay the game a few times to get all the perks if you're a completionist.


The graphics are simply amazing, not surprising given the game uses the idTech 5 engine which also powered the equally breath-taking RAGE which I reviewed in 2011. The same tech is used here to give an insane amount of detail and atmosphere to the game's levels. The game even has a slightly stylized look about it which gives it a very memorable and attractive style. There are also tons of little easter eggs and nods to the original Wolfenstein 3D, such as taunts when you want to exit the game, the difficulty names and there's even a completely playable level of Wolfenstein 3D recreated in the game if you can find it. While it felt a bit distracting at times, it is fun to see the game acknowledging its roots.

The PC port does feel a little unoptimized at times as the game would often run very slow if I alt-tabbed out of it and some of the audio didn't sync up with the mouth movements in-game. None of this really broke the experience for me though and I still enjoyed the game immensely. Just bear in mind the game is an idTech 5 engine game so some texture popin is to be expected. I found it was very easy to minimalize the popin by lowering the Max PPF setting to the minimum. Another tip I have is to keep in mind the memory requirements for the Ultra setting are rather high so if you have a mid to high range graphics card, I wouldn't set the cache size above High. I never had any major problems with the game and after tailoring the options a bit it ran smooth as butter for me.


Sound-wise everything is top notch. The voice acting is superb with really emotional performances from the voice actors that perfectly matches the game's cinematic feeling. The guns all sound really good and gives them that extra "oomph". The music is also exceptional with a lot of it being a mix between a slightly electronic score and some rock. None of it felt too intrusive and still felt memorable to me. The ending theme simply had me in tears and felt perfectly fitting to the game.

Dual laser rifles. Why? Cause why not!
STORY: 10/10Terrifically written dialogue coupled with memorable characters and setpieces that keep the game from ever feeling boring until the end makes this one of the best stories in any game I've ever experienced. The story had me at tears in parts which I didn't expect from a Wolfenstein game.
A seamless blend of gratuitous first person violence and stealth coupled with a few breather segments kept the game from getting too stale and overall the game feels very varied and fun to play. Even if I pretty much went through the game sticking to the "shoot everything in sight into chunky salsa" style, it never got old for me. If you're a fan of oldschool shooters, this is a perfect pick for you. The perks of course encourage trying different gameplay styles.
GRAPHICS: 10/10Varied level design, really cool weapons and enemy designs, a great style and overall a highly detailed game. The 40 gigs the game takes up on your hard drive will definitely show on the screen.
SOUND: 10/10
Awesome music, awesome sound design and a simply amazing voice cast gives this game all the cinematic flair it needs.


Wolfenstein: The New Order is my personal game of the year and so far the only if not one of the few games I would honestly give a 10/10 score. It's not often I do so but I honestly cannot find anything wrong about this game. It does everything a good game should do in my opinion. It offers an amazing story, satisfying gameplay and simply an experience you will not soon forget. This is a game I recommend to everyone, not just fans of first person shooters but anyone who wants a great gaming experience. It has a few technical shortcomings on PC but so far nothing that ruins or even dents an already flawless experience. The balancing of the difficulty is just perfect as you will die but it will always feel like your own fault.

In my opinion this is the definitive Wolfenstein game and possibly the best in the franchise.