Return to Castle Wolfenstein was a significant title in my gaming history. It was my first introduction to class based multiplayer shooters and my first Wolfenstein title. I enjoyed the campaign but it was never the star of the show; it was the multiplayer. 2009’s Wolfenstein was a direct sequel to Return to Castle Wolfenstein but I ignored it because the multiplayer didn’t resemble RTCW or Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory’s. It was mid-2014 before I gave a Wolfenstein title serious consideration.
The New Order was a re-imagining of Wolfenstein with a de-emphasis on the supernatural and a refocus on alternate timeline “what-if” scenarios. This trailer gave us a glimpse of what life would be like under Nazi rule. It showed a cold concrete cityscape with stormtroopers patrolling the streets. With an interesting premise and plenty of praise throughout 2014’s Game of the Year season, it would have been silly to not pick this up on the cheap — especially when The Order 1886 didn’t pan out and I was itching for a quality single player shooter.
I was immediately impressed by the quality of voice acting, art direction and fluidity of the framerate. It’s invigorating to see first person shooters (that aren’t Call of Duty) favor 60FPS on consoles. I noticed aliasing and poor textures on a regular basis but I’m more than happy to live with those issues if it meant I could have the rock solid 60FPS framerate. This was one of the many correct decisions MachineGames made throughout the game.
Why aren’t there more first person shooters made in this manner? It’s not a foreign style — in fact, I’d say it’s very similar to the likes of hugely popular BioShock. The spaces aren’t as wide open as the ones found in those titles but they offered player choices in approach. Stealth was often a viable option with close range takedowns, throwing knives and silenced pistols at my disposal. On the flipside, the inclusion of the weapon wheel enabled a multitude of choices of firearms for which I can wreak dual wielding havoc with as well. Gluing it all together was a capable cover system that allowed me to be sneaky and keep the firefight going.
I expected to see MP40s, Lugers and Tommy guns make their way back into my virtual hands. I was disappointed by the facsimiles but they were soon replaced by a plethora of re-imagined post-WWII weaponry. The classic german potato masher grenades evolved to include EMP properties that stunned mechanical foes. The MP44 look-a-like evolved to include under barrel rocket launcher attachments. Without constraints, the Nazi war machine’s R&D produced powerful energy weapons. The early prototypes required frequent recharges which limited their usefulness on the field early on. However, the deeper I delve, the more upgrades I found to offset the shortcomings.
The perks system was nothing more than challenges that I’d find in other shooters. They were fun side activities for Trophies but I felt the perk challenges were disruptive to the flow of the game. If I wanted to unlock a particular perk, I had to spend time farming kills in specific circumstances. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you’re Trophy farming), I was able to reload checkpoints to make farming easier.
B.J Blazkowicz is a known video game character name but who was he besides being loyal and dedicated soldier? I wouldn’t say MachineGames did a lot to redefine who Blazkowicz was, but they did refined his militaristic characteristics and added a layer of murderous intent. He whispers to himself and utters venomous words towards the Nazis. Most of what Blazkowicz was muttering was warranted but the manner which he does it shows a man who isn’t quite right. I mean, who would be with shrapnel embedded in his head?
The Wolfenstein franchise has been all over the place for me. I recognize it as the genesis of first person shooters. It was my gateway game towards a life of loving team oriented multiplayer shooters. And after playing The New Order, I will also associate the Wolfenstein franchise with a fantastic single player campaign. It’s the only franchise where each instalment is a crapshoot. MachineGames will be bringing an affordably priced prequel and I’m considering picking it up sooner rather than later. They only made one game so far but after such a tremendous start, they’ve made a fan of me.
For more information on Wolfenstein: The New Order, visit the official website.