Franchise revivals are a becoming more and more relevant, with recent successes Devil May Cry and Tomb Raider, and developer Machine Games took note. With Wolfenstein: The New Order, the developer, under publisher Bethesda, is hoping to revive the franchise in a way relevant to 2013.
In my hands-on time with The New Order, I duel-wielded shotguns, destroyed hulking Nazi mechanized tanks and fought my way through a solar observatory. Wolfenstein is still as offbeat as ever.
The demo takes place in a Nazi base, as I fight my way through underground caverns, hidden arsenals and exposed catwalks. Throughout the demo, I'm taught game mechanics through diary entries, such as how to lean from behind cover or how to hot-wire safe mechanisms, allowing me access to the upgrades or ammunition inside.
This hacking technique is done by pushing the analog sticks toward one another, then pulling the triggers simultaneously. The first safe I find nets me a permanent health upgrade; this upgrade shortly comes in handy.
As I exit a room with my newly acquired health increase and dual pistols, a mech fires on me, followed by a rush of Nazi officers and armored soldiers. Even on the normal difficulty, called "Bring 'Em On," The New Order is difficult. Cover is scarce in corridors and rooms, and the enemy soldiers are eager to flank me any chance they get.
As I progress through the level provided at E3, I notice a few differences between The New Order and other shooters. For one, you have to manually loot bodies for health, as well as weapons for ammo, rather than pick it all up automatically. This looting system is at odds with most modern shooters, so it takes a while to get accustomed to it.
With the revival of a new franchise comes challenges. What is sacrificed? What remains? Machine Games has been staring down the barrel of that question for some time now. Whether they mounted that hurdle remains to be seen when Wolfenstein releases later this year for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, Playstation 3 and Playstation 4.