I’ve been waiting since EuroGamer last year to sink my teeth further into this release from Bethesda, and now the time has finally come. The Wolfenstein series has always held a special place in the gaming world, due to its long history starting as a 2d platformer in 1981, before converting to 3D back in 1992.Well, the time is here, our return to one of the most important FPS series to ever be released. The New Order is the first game developed from MachineGames, a new subsidiary of the ZeniMax Media corporation which includes the publisher Bethesda.
I’m only half way into Wolfenstein, but I’m already hooked and more than enjoying my time in this alternate history that saw the Nazis win World War Two, thanks to them dropping an atom bomb on Manhattan in 1948. The game starts out with an attempted invasion of Deathhead’s compound that goes wrong, with many planes being lost and many lives along with it. Straight away, playing as ‘BJ’, or Blazkowicz, feels right and there is no time to lose, as you’re sucked into the thick of the action. The early action of the game is attractive with this beach level being fun and giving you huge hints of how parts of this game are going to go, with the metal Panzerhunds attacking you as well as featuring prominently other guard robots in the game. Just as a warning, here comes a tiny *spoiler*. By the end of this first level, after you’ve already destroyed two big cannons, a big robotic sentry that’s destroying your friendlies in the sky and grappled your way up Deathhead’s tower, you face a frankly revolting choice. Rescue your mentor and father figure Fergus, or save the young lad who has saved your life from a Panzerhund by playing fetch with a hand-grenade … disgusting but also showing that there is some morality at play in this game, which does come back once you’ve woken up in the 1960s with flashbacks.
I won’t ruin too much of the story, but levels include freeing prisoners from the highest security prison in Berlin to breaking into a top research centre in London. The levels are of a satisfying length thus far, whilst playing on the middle difficulty of the 5 settings, I’m finding the game fun to play with a bit of a challenge at the moment, although I’m sure when I crank it to the ‘Uber’ setting, I’ll be having my fair share of deaths! The designs of the levels are cool, with the cinematic scenes in between levels and objectives really well thought through and of a really high quality. There are lots of secrets to find through the game, spanning several enigma codes in each level, some upgrades such as a health upgrade in several levels and gold objects throughout the game. With no multiplayer function, Wolfenstein needed to add some parts to increase the length of the game, with these things to find adding another level to the playthrough. In fact, this is one of the best thought-out parts to the game in my opinion. There’s a map that will show your location and the point to go to, with it blacked out until you walk through that part, but there’s also an actual map somewhere in each level, which not only reveals that part, but reveals the secrets available on the specific level.
The weapons in Wolfenstein are fairly limited with pistols, machine-guns, shotguns and rifles, all of which can be dual-wielded, as well as a laser cutter that is upgradeable in certain levels that becomes more powerful and more useful as an actual weapon – it pretty much evaporates people instantly, which is hugely entertaining to do to Nazis. I do think that the choice of weapons is one of the low points in the game, however. I don’t want too many options like Battlefield and CoD, because I pretty much end up using the same one as I’m overwhelmed with choice, but there is a distinct lack of choice … perhaps down to the Nazis ruling the globe, a lack of innovation and choice isn’t needed. The dual wield is certainly fun at first, but I often found myself low on ammunition, as well as firing all over the place, so I regularly chose to use one at a time in an attempt to preserve ammunition and reduce being shot, a practice I’m sure will help me during Uber mode. Combat is at times a bit challenging and requires a bit of thought – the scene that sticks out to me was in the hangar where I was running out of ammunition without a decent place to hide so was often pinned down and outgunned. At times though, I found myself standing at the top of stairs with an MG I’d picked up blasting my enemies into tiny pieces. Whilst the aiming was a bit off due to recoil, it was fun but obviously the MG quickly ran out of ammo. Challenging enemies do require some thoughts as they will tear into you if you stand still, but this was also down to the difficulty I’ve set it to.
The New Order is littered with Easter Eggs in homage to previous titles in the series, my favourite being the ‘Nightmare!’ where you can find a bed to sleep in, whilst in the headquarters after the breakout from the prison. This teleports you into the first level of Wolfenstein 3D, keeping the same quality graphics from the 1992 title. The rest, I’ll leave you to find on your own!When asked if I recommend Wolfenstein, I can honestly say that there’s little doubt in my mind that I’m enjoying it currently and will continue to enjoy it for the time being, I’ve got lots left to do in terms of enigma codes and pieces of gold to find, as well as conquering this game on Uber. It’s a great change of pace to games featuring multiplayer and fits my style of gaming in terms of speed and the enjoyment of playing games solo.