Every once in a while, a game based on a long-dead series hits the shelves. I believe the floodgates were opened in 1998 by the revival of Metal Gear, despite adding the word “solid.” Since then, Doom, Tomb Raider, Street Fighter, Ninja Gaiden, Donkey Kong Country, and Mega Man have come back from the dead at one time or another. Why? The idea is that enough time has passed that the rejuvenated brand will be a new thing to the newer gamers. As for the vets, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the versions serve as a bridge between generations.
Wolfenstein, though, is something different. As a series it can be traced to the days of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong (notice a lack of the word “country”), for Castle Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein are games in the old maze genre. Adding a stealth twist to it, their influence is not to be underestimated. Regardless, Wolfenstein 3D’s 1992 release was simultaneously the series beginning to many and the first reawakening. Partly responsible for creating the industry-redefining first person genre, it is by far the most remembered Wolf. Since 2001, the franchise has made more sporadic returns. The New Order just happens to be the most recent. Does it live up to the lofty legacy? Let’s see…
Plot: 9 out of 10
We’re starting out promisingly enough. We begin with Captain B.J. Blazkowicz, pilot Fergus Reid, and Private Probst Wyatt, all part of an attack on Nazi Germany during World War II. They are captured and put in a mad scientist’s twisted experiment. Part of the experiment calls on Blazkowicz to choose either Reid or Wyatt to be killed. I told you the scientist was mad! Circumstances leave Blazkowicz in a vegetative state. He is revived in 1960. Unfortunately, we discover that the Nazis won WWII and now rule the world. The primary game is about Blazkowicz and the rest of a new resistance against the Nazis trying to cause a coup.
All this is done very well. The above premise is made to be every bit as scary as you’d think. There’s a bit, for instance, where an undercover Blazkowicz is being studied from across the table by a Nazi leader as we wonder: will she know? Not unlike the chill we got in the part of The Lord of the Rings in which a nazgul is literally on top of the hobbits he is searching for. Also, character development is excellent. Whether it’s shown through the all-American soldier Blazkowicz or an African-American guy who finds it difficult to be excited about beating the Nazis since the America he remembers was the segregated version.
There is only one big problem with the plot. The choice between Fergus and Wyatt that Blazkowicz must make doesn’t have much effect on the plot.
Graphics: 7 out of 10
The characters and structures clearly make use of high technology, but the detail could use some work. Faces, for instance, aren’t bad, but they’re not particularly realistic or all the PS4 and Xbox One could handle.
Sound: 8 out of 10
I must say, this game sounds good. Voice acting is quite convincing and as needed, dramatic. I also think that the music, environmental sound, and of course, gunshot sounds are very impressive.
Gameplay: 5 out of 10
So far, I’ve had almost nothing but compliments for this game, right? Well, here is where things get more negative. We have generic first person controls. The only particularly unique parts are dual wielding and a cutting laser. The former is cool, but the latter is a boring delay that hurts the experience.
The other issue is that the missions have unimaginative design. It’s little more than ducking behind objects and coming out to shoot again. A rather weak stealth system isn’t helping.
Challenge: 3 out of 10
This game kind of drifts between easy and hard quite a bit. There’s a lot of inconsistency. On top of that the missions tend to be short and with fewer firefights than most shooters, despite some wandering around. Some missions, believe it or not, actually have little or no action. They’re missions that revolve around fetching things for others. Granted, those things are well-hidden, but this reeks of filler. Except, of course, for the dream sequences that allow you to briefly revisit Wolf 3D.
Overall: 5 out of 10
Wolfenstein: The New Order is alright, but it is by no means a worthy successor to the classics. There’s some good and some bad. I don’t think I’m so pumped for the next attempt at this series.