One could say that Wolfenstein: The New Order is yet another first person shooter that is set to bog down the market, but with the series having paved the way for first person shooters long before Halo and Call of Duty, I have to give them the opportunity to reignite this franchise (though I said the same thing about Duke Nukem, and look what happened there). Also, has there ever been anything more enjoyable to shoot in games than Nazis? I submit that there has not!
The hands off demo started with a narrative heavy segment featuring the main character, B.J. Blazkowicz, fresh out of a coma and realizing that the Nazis had won World War II. He was on a train with one of the main antagonists, a powerful female Nazi leader named Frau Engel. After a very tense, manipulative conversation that set the tone, Blazkowicz was allowed to leave to the next train car to meet with Anya, a woman who is assisting him in his mission to overthrow the Nazi regime. I was happy that the Nazis all spoke German, with the game relying on subtitles so that you can understand what they are saying. While certainly not a new thing for games to do, it’s a small thing that helps add to the ability to believe a story.
The next portion of the demo gave us a look at the combat of Wolfenstein: The New Order. Blazkowicz was traversing the wreckage of a train that he had just derailed looking for Nazi survivors to eliminate. This alternate history allows the developers to take some liberties, such as giving the Nazis mechs to assist with enforcing their regime, and very powerful, fun to use weapons. Perhaps the most disappointing thing about this preview was that there was nothing special shown to make Wolfenstein rise above the rest of the industry’s first person shooters.
Finally I was able to get my hands on the game myself. In the level that I went through, Wolfenstein played a bit with exploration rather than just straightforward levels and shooting, requiring some climbing to various areas while trying to fend of Nazis. Health does not regenerate automatically so I had to explore rooms to find health, shields and ammo. Unlike games like Call of Duty, the gunplay is heavy feeling, though not as heavy as a game like Killzone.
At the end of the day, Wolfenstein: The New Order looks like it will be yet another shooter on the pile of FPSes that we have gotten in gaming lately. The nostalgia factor may garner a large audience for this title, but I failed to see anything about it during both my hands off and hands on previews that would set it above the rest. That’s not to say that Wolfenstein will be a bad game. It’s just treading on the ground of ‘first person generic’ and adding Nazis back in the mix. Then again, it was the Nazi killing that started it all and who can say no to the chance to put a bullet or two in Adolf Hitler?