Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Review No. 136 Wolfenstein: The New Order - PC (18+)

Strong Points:
Involving story
Great voice acting
Subtitles for the Scottish voices
Good graphics and art style
Lots of guns
Satisfying gameplay
Perk system - upgrades what you use not what you think you'll use
Varied levels
Good length of game
Slower paced levels in headquarters allow you to breath
Some great characters...

Weak Points:
Start each level with either no weapons or random assortment
The final boss is cheap and overpowered (in Uber)
Blazkowic's face just looks confused all the time
Maybe a tad too much gore
...Some annoying characters
Wire cutter puzzles can be too sensitive
Journal entries

Some spoilers ahead:

In-depth Review:

Release Dates:
World Wide: May 20th, 2014

Controls: can all be changed in game
WASD: move
LMB: shoot
RMB: aim
MMB: weapon change
Control: crouch
Shift: sprint
M: map
Q: last weapon
Space: jump
R: reload
G: grenade
X: toggle dual-wielding
C: change right-mode mode
Z: change left-weapon mode
J: journal
Alt: lean from cover
E: action

Wolfenstein: The New Order is a reboot of the classic Wolfenstein series. Yes, that means it's about shooting Nazi's while dual wielding assault rifles and wearing many helmets. But with added nuance to the story. You start in World War 2 with a great plane sequence, tense throughout and begin to learn the characters you'll be spending... About an hour with. But it's fine, as soon you'll be able to use Tesla grenades.

The pacing's actually pretty good from then on, with about 11-14 hours of content depending on what difficulty you play. I played in Uber - the most difficult, as I was told it wasn't too bad and nets you another achievement. They were right, it's not too bad, providing a decent challenge, while still being approachable enough to be able to contend with if you play it smart. I got stuck around 3 or four times total, which is pretty great in all honesty - nothing breaks a linear game's enjoyment more than finally breaking through a level only to get stuck on the next one. That's until you get to the end boss anyway, but I'll get to that later.

Instead, I'm going to talk about the main attraction - the guns. The unlock rate is about 1 per chapter, and then the cycle begins again with a secondary fire being unlocked for all weapons. While not being particularly original in terms of the type of gun, they all feel good - allowing you to aim but still having a 1960's clunk. My favourite guns were the silenced pistol and throwing knife for stealth (throwing knives need to be in all stealth games from now on) and then when all hell is loose, it's got to be dual wielding assault rifles and the LazerKraftWerk. What is the LazerKraftWerk I hear you ask? Well...

The LazerKraftWerk, and before that the humble wire cutter, was the most surprising aspect of the game for me. In a game all about shooting Nazi's with as many bullets as you can muster, I didn't think I'd have to do some precise wire cutting to get to places. Not that I'm against it, quite the opposite really, I found it broke the game up a bit (like the levels in the headquarters). However, sometimes, especially with the wire cutter, you'd find yourself not being able to quite fit in the hole in the fence you made and had just run out of power leaving you having to wait to make the smallest of adjustments. I started to get annoyed then, but thankfully you get the LKW before long which makes things a lot easier. It's also constantly being upgraded, leaving you by the end with a decent, auto-aiming sniper rifle.

The characters in the game are more character outlines than full blown people, usually with a stereotype expanded upon out of proportion. While this might not make the most believable characters, they are entertaining. From Scottish soldier Fergus (who gets given subtitles due to his 'foreign' Scottish accent, which was quite funny to see) to Nazi defector Klaus and the strong but stupid Max. Most of these characters are likeable, although their specific stereotype does normally wear towards the end, although the voice actors do their best to portray the characters as more well-rounded than they are. A quick side note here, but it is to do with a character - the gory scene with Irene was slightly too much I think. I believe gore can be utilised well in a game, look at TLOU or Doom for two examples on different ends of the spectrum. However, this wasn't gory enough to class it cartoony or subtle enough to give it impact. I just recoiled and hoped no-one would walk in to see a face split into pieces.

So, the ending. I won't mention what's in it, or who it's against for the sake of spoilers, but I do have to speak about it. It's a classic end-game boss for a linear shooter. By this I mean, if you knew it was there before and saved more of your ammo for the end, you might have an easier time with it. Namely, in Uber you'll want a lot of rockets. I tried the ending for probably two hours until I gave up and switched to easy just to beat the game and see the end. I'll probably replay the chapter later in Uber, hopefully with more ammo. The level itself is both completely free and intensely scripted with things that will always happen and slight mistakes you can make to speed up these actions. Maybe allowing us a bit more freedom (or a turret) would have worked better.

Technical aspects to finish with and I was impressed. With a graphic style similar to Dishonored, another Bethesda property, the game looks good. Even in a genre which is normally defined by the colour grey there was some variations including a great level on the moon (don't ask). The music and sound also combine to help inject more pace into the levels as well as show an alternative history with finesse. I've always found it interesting that alternative histories normally portray the world as worse off (it definitely is in this one), except with one aspect, usually a technology such as laser weapons. It's a design choice, I realise, as it's always fun to group a laser weapon with old fashioned radios etc. but it's also an interesting thing to think about - the different ways our civilisation could have gone if we focused on a different aspect of technology.

Conclusion: overall, I enjoyed Wolfenstein: The New Order. It harkened back to the old, linear shooters while still keeping things fresh. Sadly, it also carried with it some of the weaknesses of the older generation as well.

Rating: 82%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

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