http://i.imgur.com/o7Fwh2c.jpg
Wolfenstein: The New Order puts you back in the shoes of B.J. Blaskowicz, Nazi-killer extraordinaire, for another adventure. The game was developed by a new team at Bethesda, MachineGames, and uses the id Tech 5 engine that debuted in RAGE. The Wolfenstein franchise needed something big, and id Software has been struggling a bit and needed a win. The New Order really had a lot to prove.

And it certainly has.

For those who are unfamiliar with the franchise, Wolfenstein takes place during an alternate World War II, where The Third Reich's research into the supernatural and advanced technology pays off. Where other WWII games strive for realism, Wolfenstein has always basked in its absurdity-- Wolfenstein 3D had you fighting Mecha-Hitler, for example.

The New Order is no exception. From the very beginning, the game is over-the-top in its action, lovingly paying homage to the roots of the series. But it's not without heart-- the storyline is good enough, nothing spectacular, but used as a mechanism to tie the different areas together and set you up with reasons to cause mayhem, but the characters in the story feel very real, with real motivations, and real emotions.

The game opens in 1946, but due to some events that I won't spoil, you'll soon be in the 1960s in an even *more* alternate reality where the Nazis won the war, and now rule the world. You'll go to many different amazing places, including a secret underwater compound, and one that's so awesome I don't even want to mention it here.

Graphically, The New Order has all the benefits and downfalls of the id Tech 5 engine we saw in RAGE. Facial detail is fantastic, and characters' eyes are almost hit the uncanny valley in a few situations. For the most part, the world looks very nice as well, but when you get up close to a wall, for example, you can see where id Tech 5's megatextures start to be a drawback, lacking in detail. Making very fast movements close up to a wall will also cause some major pop-in issues where the wall is blurry for a half a second or so before the texture finishes rendering. These are minor problems, though, that you'll rarely ever see. Overall, the game is quite pretty.

The soundtrack is a standout feature for me. Many famous songs were re-recorded in German. Have you ever wondered what would happen if Germany won WWII and The Beatles had to start recording their songs in German? You can now find out.

But lets get to the meat of the game-- how does it play? Almost perfectly. The gunplay is some of the best I can remember, and for a game like this, it really needs to be. It strikes a balance between making you feel like an absolute badass and giving you a sense of danger. Yes, you can dual-wield assault rifles with rocket-launcher attachments and take out tons of enemies, but you aren't invincible. You'll need to run and grab some health or hide occasionally, and you need to be smart.

One new addition to The New Order is stealth. You can go through and kill everything as loudly and explosively as you like, or you can sneak around the levels, knifing enemies from behind or using silenced weapons to take them down without being seen. This is generally smart to do, at least at first, because you can take out commanders before they sound the alarm and call for reinforcements. You can't use stealth in every situation, but you can theoretically get through most of the game without ever being seen.

The one downside to the gameplay that I've found is the health, armor, and ammo pickups. You can't just walk over them, you have to hit E to grab them. This makes for a lot of major battles after which you end up spending a minute cleaning up loot. It's a minor inconvenience, but it definitely takes you out of the game.

The difficulty curve is pretty steady for the most part, but I found that sometimes there are outliers where things seem unreasonably tricky for a battle or two before returning to the curve you're used to. I guess this is normal. It's both frustrating and exciting, but it's "Nintendo-hard," not bullshit-hard. You can see what you're doing wrong and correct for it, which just makes you feel more awesome.

Something you would expect to find in a modern shooter that is absent here is multiplayer. Unless they release a multiplayer add-on, you're on your own. I don't count this as a strike against the game by any means. Single-player has been lacking in many first-person shooters over the past few years, and I'm glad to see it get the full attention it deserves.

You can tell MachineGames has great respect for the source material. The difficulty options are the same as they've always been, ranging from "Can I Play Daddy?" to "I Am Death Incarnate." There are TONS of collectibles and secrets, just as you'd expect from a Wolfenstein game, and some of them let you unlock new play modes, including a new Über difficulty. The game still taunts you for your cowardice when you exit the game. It really feels like a Wolfenstein game.

Really, The New Order feels like the "classic" style shooter with 2014 sensibilities. With realistic and cover-based shooters becoming the norm these days, it's refreshing to see a run-and-gun, badass shooter that can compete.

Wolfenstein: The New Order is a game of balance. The carnage, mayhem, and B-movie sensibilities balanced with believable, well-written characters that you care about; The classic shooter playstyle and fanservice for the old Wolfenstein fans balanced with enough modern shooter tendencies to pull in a new fanbase; Feeling like a total Übermensch while mowing down everything in your path balanced with a sense of danger and urgency. The balance never feels off.

Without spoiling the ending, it is written with an opening for more games, or as a good bookend to the series. I suppose whether we get more games will depend on its popularity. I, for one, hope for more. I already want to jump back in.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/25/2014 at 08:18pm

Awesome review, thanks Travis.

A few questions:

* I am at the part where I got out of the sub. About how far am I though the game percentage wise?

* How long did the game take you to beat? So far, I think I am at 10 hours.

* What difficulty do you play on? I am playing it on the... middle one? The one that is harder than normal.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/25/2014 at 08:19pm

Oh and did you beat the Wolf 3D homage level? I tried it 3 different times and died each time getting just a little further each time.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/25/2014 at 08:22pm

ALSO, Polygon did a nice video on the history of Wolfenstein that is quite good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SKK74gDUDw&app=desktop

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/25/2014 at 08:26pm

* I guess I would ask-- which sub? Are you referring to the thing you pilot yourself as a sub or are you talking about the sub you stow away on? If the first, you're about halfway through chapter 10, if the second, you've just started chapter 11. There are 16 chapters.

* It took me about 10 hours to complete. For my first playthrough I didn't focus on exploration. I plan on playing through a second time and scouring the place.

* The same, I think. I changed it a few times while playing so I'm not sure where I ended up.

* I did not beat it. It's surprisingly hard!

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/25/2014 at 08:28pm

Yeah the Wolf 3D tribute is really hard. I'll get it one of these days.

OK so I am still at chapter 10 then. 10 hours into the game myself. I am exploring everything and taking my time. I am also stealthing wherever I can, which means levels take longer to complete than otherwise. Well, that and dying. I am at a higher difficulty so I die more than I have in other games. I dig it though, it's a fun challenge.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 05/26/2014 at 01:00am

Awesome! Can't wait to play :)

You'll go to many different amazing places, including a secret underwater compound, and one that's so awesome I don't even want to mention it here.

Is it the Fuhrermuseum?! That would be kinda sick if it was.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/26/2014 at 06:52am

It isn't, but now I want one.

Actually, do you remember the secret area in the final boss stage of Quake 2 that had a "credits" room, where pictures of the dev team plastered the walls? I'd love something like that with a retrospective of Wolfenstein enemies. You start off with the Wolf 3D sprites and work your way up to The New Order enemies.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/26/2014 at 03:50pm

I'd like a level made out of Burritos.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/26/2014 at 04:19pm

Uhhhh...

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/26/2014 at 04:35pm

But I bet iD tech 5 couldn't handle it so I'll just dream.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 05/26/2014 at 04:52pm

iD tech 5 = too week for burritos

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/26/2014 at 06:46pm

Travis, I just wanted to say this is a stellar piece of writing. Someday I might be able to crank something out like this smile

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/26/2014 at 07:02pm

I had a bunch of links I wanted to put into a post BEFORE the game dropped, but I didn't have time so here you all go.

Interesting comparison art of the new game VS the old:

http://imgur.com/a/lAIRj#0

The Onion did a for pay video about the new Wolf game, it's very funny, as the Onion is.

http://www.theonion.com/video/sponsored-new-wolfenstein-game-lets-players-choose,36009/

New(old) launch trailer. (it would have been new if I posted it a week ago smile)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENTC-mAQ0tI

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 05/26/2014 at 07:30pm

That Onion video is hilarious. Oh, Canada...

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/26/2014 at 08:24pm

I went to see XMen: Days of Future Past last night and there was a Wolfenstein trailer. They spoiled the location Travis didn't want to spoil in the trailer. I was like "FUCKING SPOILER ALERT I'M NOT AT THAT PART YET!"

Fucking movie trailers with spoilers. Is nothing sacred anymore?

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 05/26/2014 at 09:15pm

Agh, that's horrible! And lame that they showed that spoiler! ;)

Kidding! Was X-men any good?

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/26/2014 at 09:45pm

We just got back from it. It's awesome. Better than all of them except maybe X2. But maybe better than that.

Also, damn they spoiled the burrito factory?

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/26/2014 at 11:21pm

HAHAHAHA No, they spoiled the thing I don't want to spoil. Duh.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/27/2014 at 02:04am

I know, I was being funny. Trying to be anyway :)

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/27/2014 at 02:11am

godmode

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/27/2014 at 03:30am

One major complaint I have on my second playthrough-- for a game that has so many hidden items, it really punishes people who are trying to find everything. If you miss something and go to a different section of the map, it's often impossible to backtrack without restarting the whole level. Oh I slid under that obstacle and there was an enigma code 5 feet before? Well, I guess I'm screwed. That's getting a little annoying.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 05/28/2014 at 12:04am

USPS forgot to put my package on their truck today. Fuckers. I'll get it tomorrow. Hopefully.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/28/2014 at 01:17am

Damn. What system are you getting it for?

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/28/2014 at 03:19am

You know, scrypt, I keep reading today about how over-promised Watch Dogs was. I think you may have made a good call. I still want to play it-- from what I hear it's still fun-- but there's a lot that just seems unfinished about it.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 05/28/2014 at 04:11am

@jdodson - PS4
@Travis - Confession: I got both. I saw some picture of an Asian child shrugging her shoulders, and it moved me. Trying out Watch Dogs as I'm typing this, and I'm really liking it. It's less like Assassin's Creed and more like Red Dead Redemption, but in Chicago, with hackers. I haven't read the reviews, but the gameplay feels like it's on par with what has been shown in pre-release videos. Granted, I'm only an hour or so into it, but I've covered a lot of the city (underground, and water systems). It's quite the playground.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/28/2014 at 04:14am

Interesting. Honestly Watch Dogs doesn't intrigue me at all. Since I don't understand the draw of it... What's the draw of it?

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 05/28/2014 at 02:35pm

I tend to favor sci-fi/tech over fantasy, even though the margin is thin. The significant things about Watch Dogs are the nuances that separate it from the other sandbox titles. The size of the world isn't that big of a deal, though it is absolutely beautiful. The way you can observe and affect the environment, and people in it, however, is creepily fun. You can hack cameras in the city to map out your plan of attack, or use the cameras themselves as extensions of you. Everything is connected, as they say, so you can jump from camera to camera, then hack a remote detonator on a guard, the explosion will draw the attention of another guard who has a camera on his phone, hack into that, then he carries you over to his post, where on the wall you can see the security panel for building access, hack that, and keep going. Or you can just take the guards out John McClane style.

There are problems with it, evident even in what little I've played. Everyone in the city has an identity. Everyone. Ubisoft did a pretty good job at making them diverse, but you can see repeating patterns here and there. Dialog could have been a little more diverse, too. In one motorcycle ride across town, I can't tell you how many times I heard the exact phrase "We have roads for a reason!" A "Hey, asshole, keep it on the asphalt!" or "Unless your mowing it, stay off the lawn!" would have been nice. I did swing around a corner once, taking out several newspaper racks and a light pole, and some lady shouted a very timely "What...the...fuck!" That was entertaining :).

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/28/2014 at 04:47pm

That makes sense, thanks scrypt.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/28/2014 at 07:08pm

Scpyt, she's totally Hispanic, not Asian :) That picture is taken from an Old El Paso commercial.

And yeah, I didn't have as much hype for Watch Dogs as many people did. I still definitely want to play it. I'm thinking $30 is the right price so I'll wait it out.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 05/28/2014 at 09:25pm

My bad! I was going from memory. All I remembered was dark hair and not white. Shoulda looked...

Finally got to play a bit of Wolfenstien. Just a bit passed the sex scene. Really, really liking it. This is the new standard for shooters this generation (at least for consoles). Everything feels and looks and sounds so good.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/28/2014 at 10:59pm

Yeah I know why you like it.

"the sex scene. Really, really liking it"

Yep.

;)

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/29/2014 at 12:25am

Hahaha.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 05/29/2014 at 01:52am

smoking

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