You don’t have to be a retro gaming fan to know whey the iconoclastic “Wolfenstein” franchise has been such a big hit. In short, its distinctive brand of first-person shooter action basically defined the shooter genre, effectively laying the groundwork for what was to come.
Of course now everything’s changed – graphics are ultra-realistic, the gunplay even more frantic, the enemies much more intimidating, and of course, the gameplay is infinitely more complex. Having deviated from their original winning formula somewhat, the Wolfenstein series has managed to keep itself alive all these years, and with the release of “The New Order”, it would seem that developer MachineGames is bringing back some of that old-school charm.
Don’t get the wrong idea though, they’re not sacrificing visuals, effects or anything that modern gamers lust after, instead, they’re bringing us a title that’s more or less steeped in those great classic FPS elements which made the original so successful. Once again, players control the infamous Nazi-killing hero, William "B.J." Blazkowicz, but this time around we’re plunged into an alternate reality version of history where the Germans won WWII and subsequently dominated the planet with super weapons. Naturally, it’s up to Blazkowicz to launch an “impossible” counter-offensive to undo the damage that’s been done and yes…basically save the world (again).
From a visual and gameplay standpoint, this outwardly appears to be a complete re-envisioning of the core concepts explored in the original, only this time everything looks incredibly fantastic. Mixing together some Call of Duty-ish tropes with some more slightly loony arcade elements (like the nature of the enemy A.I. or environmental physics) we see a game emerging which really wants to immerse you in its story. For instance, instead of simply appearing in some Nazi prison (as per its predecessor) you actually storm the beaches and fall prey to shrapnel only to transition forward 14 or so years in the future as a patient in a Nazi asylum.
This is, of course, where things get interesting, as William B. decides to go on a devastating, revenge-filled killing spree filled with action, rescues, and searches for hidden Nazi treasures, etc. For all intents and purposes, it’s basically the ultimate version of the classic Wolfenstein experience, only this time they’ve included tons of stealth elements and alternate pathways to keep things interesting. Simply put, you never know when you might unexpectedly uncover some secret passage which nets you a satisfying knife-to-the-neck kill.
All of the “ultra-violence” is of course but a means to an end – a way of perhaps introducing new generations of FPS addicts to some of the very real historical horrors which occurred during the era of the Nazis. Regardless, it plunges you into a crazy, impossible situation and demands that you punish the evildoers with merciless abandon.
Look for Wolfenstein: The New Order to hit store shelves on:
May 20th in North America
May 22nd in Australia
May 23rd in Europe.