Jake Groves

Review: Wolfenstein New Order – Sensory Overload To The Finest Degree

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Even though the Second World War ended almost 70 years ago, the Western world still likes to poke fun at the could-be situations of Nazi Germany. Start a Google search with “what if Nazi…” and the auto-complete will do the rest for you, with tonnes of sources throwing up ideas about what might have been.

In Wolfenstein: The New Order’s case, the World War continued right up until the 1960s, the regime’s technological advancements far outpaces convention, and they are now terrorising most of the world, let alone Europe. You play as a chisel-jawed, brown-haired, muscle-bound Yank set the nigh-on impossible task of bringing Nazi Germany’s downfall single-handed. If you are a fan of RPGs or shooters, a show reel of other games that have this kind of character will surely sprout: Mass Effect (if you play as a bloke), FarCry, Uncharted, every single Call of Duty… I could go on.

Visually, Wolfenstein is something to behold. At a full 60fps on 1080p, there is a real depth of clarity to the graphics engine. Every scrap of torn clothing, every scar on your colleagues faces and every setting you blast through is exquisitely designed, right down to microscopic levels. The added silliness of robot mech dogs, mutant super soldiers and guns the size of telegraph poles serves yet another platter of hors d’oeuvres to your already saturated retinas.

Without wading into spoiler territory, the storyline throws you in at the deep end too. Wolfenstein encapsulates the tangible feelings of tyranny and horror as you traverse the maps. Whether or not that is a good thing is entirely up to you, but considering many (myself included) have little knowledge of just how much people suffered during this rather malignant tumour of the human timeline speaks volumes for the writers and designers over at MachineGames.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlvfqfGTar4]

The divergent plot from what really turned out is a sensational take on the hypothetical question posed by many already. The publishers, Bethesda Softworks, were also the face behind Fallout 3; another game with a heavily diverged historical timeline and one that too has “daft” scattered all over it like croutons in a Caesar salad. This potent mix of madness and grit, then, makes Wolfenstein a rare breed, and one that seems to pull it off rather well.

Moving around the maps is a breeze and the button layout is pretty user-friendly if you play shooters often enough. Despite all the explosions, over-the-top weapons and in-your-face gameplay, there’s also the hidden gem of a stealth engine neatly slotted in too. You may scoff, but it does bring an entirely new element to Wolfenstein, as the grand hallways of fortresses and even trenches can become a haven for tactical, silent sweeps.

Iron sights on each weapon are almost completely useless, though, as shooting from your hip Rambo-style seems to offer little forfeit for weapon accuracy. There’s also the fact that you have to press a button to pick up anything dropped from your recently deceased foes. I appreciate the fact that it makes the game feel a little more “real” by having to actually make the effort to collect health and ammo, but having to continuously press something (square, in my case) while you’re trying to shoot five heavily clad soldiers and remain alive long enough to continue can get a little tedious. It feels at times as if you need forty fingers on each hand just to stay topside.

So, all in all, Wolfenstein: The New Order is sensory overload to the finest degree. Very rarely do I shout “woah” when playing a single-player game in my own living room, but Wolfenstein really does its best to provide shock-and-awe in the most unique of surroundings.

(5 / 5)

Wolfenstein: The New Order is out now for PC, Xbox 360/One and PlayStation 3/4.