Wolfenstein: Something Old, Something New

If you had asked me a year ago if I thought that ‘Wolfenstein: The New Order’ would be better than ‘Watch Dogs,’ I would have laughed out loud. ‘Watch Dogs’ the highly-anticipated open world game from publishing giant Ubisoft, was poised to take the next generation by storm. When I originally heard that there was a new Wolfenstein game in development, I really didn’t think on it. I had never really delved too deep into the Wolfenstein franchise. I briefly played Raven’s 2009 ‘Wolfenstein,’ but wound up stopping a few hours in. The game just didn’t grab me. Based on that impression, my expectations were rather low for The New Order. I am pleased to say that I was completely turned around and, once again, reminded not to judge a book by it’s cover.

I loved The New Order for reasons you may not expect. Yes, the game plays really well; the shooting is a blast, it looks really nice, and the story is unexpectedly enjoyable. What I really dug about The New Order was how old-school certain aspects of it felt. It took me about an hour to get used to several mechanics that are very old, but felt new. First off, not having constantly regenerating health completely threw me off. In the age of Halo and Call of Duty, the regenerating life bar has become so standard, it’s surprising when a game doesn’t have it. Getting used to playing a little smarter and actually using cover took me by surprise, but in a really good way. [Disclaimer: I played the game on the “I Am Death Incarnate!” difficulty, which is just below Über, the hardest difficulty]. Having to use the well-implemented cover system and the stealth mechanics was extremely satisfying, and brought far more depth than I would have thought possible for a Wolfenstein game. Another mechanic that surprised me, but really shouldn’t have, was having to manually pick up items. These included, health, armor and ammunition. I had gotten so used to everything automatically beaming into my inventory when I walked over them, I didn’t realize that I had to manually retrieve items until I ran out of ammo on the first level. It became something of a meta-game. After finishing a large firefight, I would retrace my steps through the whole arena, retrieving ammo and armor from slain Nazi’s. It sounds tedious, but I actually found myself enjoying the process.

Outside of the mechanics, I REALLY enjoyed the campaign of Wolfenstein: The New Order. There were a few moments of tonal whiplash, which went from BJ joking about killing Nazis, to people getting murdered en masse in a death camp. To be fair, these moments are few and far between. My favorite part of the story, though, was BJ’s internal monologue. His quips ranged from bad puns, slogans, all the way out to deep, philosophical soul-searching. I found this is to be very entertaining, and successfully fleshed out a character that had basically started his existence as a Duke Nukem clone.

All in all, I am so happy with the way ‘Wolfenstein: The New Order’ turned out. Machinegames did a stellar job of bringing Wolfenstein back from the brink that it was left on, and I hope they continue to do fine work, such as this.

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