by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
Guns & Nazis
The first game bearing the Wolfenstein name appeared all the way back in 1981. It has spawned (pun intended) seven related games since then and the eighth – Wolfenstein: The New Order – is currently in the works. I went hands on with Machine Games’ take on this long running franchise at Gamescom and was expecting a lot of guns, a lot of Nazis and a big castle. I wasn't let down in any regard.
Wolfenstein: The New Order has you take on the role of William “BJ” Blazkowicz, a soldier in an alternate history version of World War II. The game’s opening had me storming a Nazi stronghold to try and take out Deathshead, an important enemy leader. Within moments I was scaling the dauntingly huge walls of the castle along with two companions and bullets flying in all directions from both attackers and defenders. Moments later a plane crashed into the wall above and I was dodging debris as I continued my ascent. Reaching the top I was able to open the gates for the rest of my team, but I remained separated from my squad as events progressed. This game is certainly a lot more cinematic than the one that came out over twenty years ago.
Stealth is an option, with melee knife kills being silent, but most encounters devolve into shootouts before long. It wasn’t long at all before I was dual wielding machine guns and mowing down droves of Nazi soldiers. The shooting felt strong, with a good deal of accuracy and smoothness that we have become used to from the latest id Tech engine - despite Id Software itself not being involved in the project. Cover is important when action gets too hectic, and by simply holding down a button and pointing in a direction you can peek out above, to the sides, and even below certain objects.
I was playing on normal difficulty, and didn’t have too much trouble staying alive thanks to plentiful health pickups. Health also regenerates on its own up to a certain level, at which point you will need to increase the threshold with a pickup. Collecting health that takes you above your maximum will cause you to overcharge, giving you a brief period of extra health before it ticks down to its usual level.
There are plenty of collectibles to be found throughout the game. There are slots in the menu for Letters, Gold, Concept Art and Character Models. Beyond that you will also be collecting Enigma Code pieces, which are used to solve puzzles in the extras menu. These challenges will unlock new levels for you to play, so it is certainly worth attempting to find them all. You will also be able to find upgrades for your health, armour and an increase to the maximum ammo you can carry. I found the first one of these in a safe showing off Wolfenstein’s hacking minigame. You simply have to hold two pieces of exposed wire long enough for you to hotwire the contraption, but it can be trickier than it sounds.
After fighting your way through the first castle, finding horrific experimentation chambers and coming across a terrifying Nazi super soldier, you are captured by Deathshead himself, who gives you the first of many moral decisions that you will encounter during the game. From there, it becomes apparent that you have been placed in a Polish insane asylum, where you spend years having barely any control over your body. Deathshead takes patients from the asylum for experimentation. Eventually a shootout ensues at the asylum as it is being forcibly shut down by Nazi soldiers – payback time for Blazkowicz.
A return to form
It has been a while since the last Wolfenstein game, and I don’t think fans of the series will be disappointed by this new addition. The combat is solid, and the game features and intriguing storyline which takes the action away from the 1940s and into an alternate version of the 60s. I highly doubt peace and love will be that prevalent here. Wolfenstein: The New Order will be releasing in 2014, so there is not long to go before everyone can get back to the tried and true video game classic concept of killing Nazis.