Wolfenstein erinnert, wie viel SpaB die Spieler nur ein hirnloser Shooter kann!
For those who don't want to take the time to translate, that line reads: "Wolfenstein reminded me how much fun mindless shooters can be." There isn't any better way to describe MachineGames reboot of the first-person shooter that really kicked off the genre back in the 1990s. Let me be clear, using the term "mindless" is not meant to be a negative thing; when I use the term in regards to this game, I mean that it is the sort of experience where you can turn your brain off and just enjoy yourself. There aren't any convoluted plot points to dissect or figure out, nor are their complicated puzzles and controls to sort through. You pick up your guns and shoot pretty much everything that moves.
The New Order is a rebirth of sorts for the classic series, primarily taking place close to 20 years after the events of the original PC game. Once again you take control of William "B.J." Blazkowicz, but this time you are taking the story far beyond the walls of Castle Wolfenstein. The opening segments play out as a modern portrayal of the original game--a flashback of sorts--with you running and gunning through the halls of a Nazi castle. This time, however, you won't victoriously escape from the confines of the castle, but instead end up in a coma after suffering severe head trauma. B.J. will spend the next 14 years in a vegetative state, confined to a psychiatric asylum in Poland.
During an extermination raid by the Nazis, who you learn went on to win the war and have risen to dominance in the world, you will miraculously wake up as if nothing ever happened. Yes, it is an outlandish and unrealistic story, but it is meant to be. You are the world-famous Nazi-killing B.J. Blazkowicz after all. Do you really expect a game centered around such a character to be focused on realism and historical accuracy? As soon as you regain consciousness you will get down to doing what you do best: killing Nazis.
The developers describe the game as an action-adventure shooter, and I think that says a lot about the experience. The focus here is on the adventure, a combination of the story and the experience. Things are very linear, but that is obviously by design. You aren't here to witness a technical marvel that shows off the power of the PlayStation 4 (or whatever system you may be playing on), but to have a good time. There are no moral lessons to learn; no complicated puzzles or mysteries to solve. You are here to shoot pretty much everything that moves and enjoy yourself.
A lot of gamers, especially those who aren't familiar with Wolfenstein's roots, might be turned off by many of the gameplay mechanics in the New Order. Don't expect to take cover and watch your health regenerate to 100 percent, or for ammunition to magically replenish itself as you run over fallen enemies. Wolfenstein plays just like the shooters of old, and comes off as a tribute to them. You need to hunt down med packs to increase your life and if you want to pick something up, be it ammo or a collectible, plan on hitting a button and initiating the action.
I have talked to other gamers who really felt that this was a major detriment to the game, but I couldn't disagree more. It is this feeling and the harkening back to the classic mechanics that really drew me in. It created the perfect mesh of old-school gameplay with new-school visuals and technology. This is what drew me in and this is also what kept me coming back. To me, it is a part of the Wolfenstein charm and shows me that the development team was truly interested in both paying homage to the series' roots and to continuing the legacy id Software laid many, many years ago.
One mechanic that I think everyone will appreciate, however, is the return to being able to simultaneously hold each and every gun that you find. Forget all about this modern trend of only holding two weapons at once; this is a video game, and if you find it, you can carry it. You will have a full arsenal at your disposal before long and the ability to switch between them all on the fly by simply pulling up the weapon-selection wheel. Again, the goal here isn't realism, it's fun factor!
Just because the game is built on these older, established mechanics (whether you like them or not) it doesn't mean that attempts aren't made to bring things into the modern gaming world. MachineGames included an interesting perk system that livens things up as you progress. The perks system helps your character evolve as you play, depending on your gameplay style. You will gain new-and-improved abilities as you accomplish different tasks during the normal course of the game. Hitting a certain amount of headshots, or perhaps taking down a certain number of enemies silently, will strengthen your traits in those areas. It is nice because it doesn't force you to play one way or another, but rather allows your character to develop in a manner that is tied into your natural way of playing.
While it never forced me to play a certain way, I ended up taking on the various perks as challenges, which really extended the experience for me. I would have never naturally gone through in a stealthy manner, silently making my way through any level. I felt challenged to do so, however, and took it upon myself to work on obtaining each and every perk. It gave more life to the game than it would've had without. There are other factors included, such as hidden collectibles throughout the levels, that are meant to add more to the experience, but the perk system did that more than anything else for me.
Wolfenstein: The New Order hits me as the sort of game that people are either going to really love or really hate. I have a hard time believing that there is going to be any middle of the road here. It is a straightforward, no frills, entertaining adventure. It is linear and to the point, but it is designed to be that way. If you expect it to be anything different--then you will be sadly disappointed. But, if you can come into this with your expectations in check and an appreciation for the generation of games that the series originated from, you will likely enjoy it every bit as much as I did.
If you have been here before, you know the basics: lifelong gamer, father, and of course, certified news monkey. I have been blogging on the industry for close to a decade now, in some form or another. It wasn't until I landed here at Gaming Nexus that I really dove in head first. Now, writing about games has become what I do for fun (and sometimes work) and something I intend on doing until the day I die.
I'm a huge fan of just about everything you can interact with using a controller, no matter how old or new, good or bad. If you put it in front of me, I will play it... end of story.