Wolfenstein: The New Order – PlayStation 4
Nazis, Lasers, and Robots! Oh My!
Platform: PlayStation 4
Developer: Machine Games
Genre: First Person Shooter
Release Date: May 20th, 2014
Nerd Rating: 7 out of 10
Reviewed by Saint Exquisite
I had an interesting experience with Wolfenstein: The New Order. There isn’t much about this game that I completely disliked. It was more a grouping of ideas and executions of ideas that I felt were ill advised or not well thought out. Overall, I had a great time playing it and I have recommended it to several friends but there were some things that I really wish had been tweaked.
Wolfenstein: The New Order has some real highs and lows. Not that graphics are a huge issue to me, but I will say they left something to be desired for a next generation title. I understand that it was released cross platform, but it seems the developers cut some corners in the rendering department. Where this game really comes out swinging, however, is with spot on mechanics, as one would expect from an IP that pioneered the FPS genre. Largely, Wolfestein: The New Order consists of traveling from place to place and single-handedly destroying squadron after squadron of sixties style Nazis. And you know what I realized? It had been too damn long since I had that feeling! Growing up with Medal of Honor and earlier iterations of Call of Duty, I must say, it was nostalgic. But truly, when it comes to games that are trying to deliver the ultimate power fantasy, Wolfenstein: The New Order hits that Third Reich nail right on the head. The controls are somewhat forgiving so you never feel like you have to be exceedingly accurate. It‘s not about accuracy! It’s about running and gunning! Right?
Well, there are some tricky stealth instances where you sneak around and knife officers to avoid alarms. I appreciate what the developers were trying to do, but it seems like a muddied attempt to retrofit a brain into a game that is purely about shredding Nazis while dual wielding machine guns. It was a valiant effort, but I don’t think it really added much to the game as a whole. The wide array of weaponry and environmental strategy was enough to fuel the entire game. This is coupled with a very sparse leveling system for certain weapons. Sometimes you will acquire special attachments, like a silencer for a pistol. This is a nice touch but I don’t feel like I really needed those things to stay interested. However, there is a specific weapon that frequently gets upgraded more than others and it affects the game in rather interesting ways. Once again, not wholly necessary but it was a nice touch and I felt it gave some depth to the environment that the game takes you through.
Let me explain what I mean by “not necessary.” The weapon that I’m referring too is called the LaserKraftWerk, which I still think is hilarious. It allows you to cut through fencing and there are certain enemies that are highly vulnerable to it. In fact, there is a boss that requires the player use this weapon. So by mechanical design it is necessary, however, I feel like it was placed in the game to relieve the creators of having to come up with more inventive ways of solving problems at certain junctures. I’m okay with that since it did not really take away from the game as a whole, but I feel like there were some missed opportunity. On the other hand, it could be acting as a way to streamline a game that isn’t so much about puzzle solving and critical thinking as it is about blasting your way through a Nazi hoard. It really all depends on what you’re looking for in a game.
Now let’s talk about narrative. At times, it kind of feels like this game was written by a fifteen year old and a first year creative writing student. There are some memorable characters that seem like they would be right at home in a Joss Whedon film and there were some genuinely inspiring, tense moments that pulled me in. But then, the story would flatline due to a predictable and uninspired plot. The characters that the player interacts with are really what kept me engaged. I do wish, however, that some of them were more fully fleshed out. There is a character named Bombate, that you meet about midway through the game. I was so excited to become more involved with this character because they did a great job of setting him up to be an excellent piece of the story. But, to my dismay, he is introduced and then summarily couched for the rest of the game adding very little to the narrative. In fact, I think that’s the problem with most, if not all, of the story progression in this game. Things get set up so well and they get you hooked and you’re ready for more and then… nothing. Things seem to fall apart like an editor went through and cut out every part that gave all of these great setups meaning and purpose. And that may be what happened which is a real shame.
Also, I took issue with a romantic arc that starts pretty early in the game. It seemed shoehorned and stilted, adding no real substance to the narrative. In fact, and I know this may be contentious, I think it actually managed to trivialize the overarching subject matter of the game which happens to be quite dark. I understand that it was an attempt to humanize a character that is largely depicted as a brutish killing machine, but the sappy lines and somewhat graphic sexual content seemed heavy handed, more like a gimmick than actual plot with substance. As someone who enjoys a good story in my games I would have gladly foregone some of the shooting and action to get a more meaty story. Don’t get me wrong, there are some characters that truly stand out and have really stuck with me but I feel like there not only could have been more but that there should have been more. It should have been an action game that used an ensemble of well written characters to tell a gripping tale about the struggle of humanity in a terrifying, isolated, and strange world. And I could tell it wanted to be that!
Unfortunately it comes across as a great action game with a story that, like so many other triple A games, had great roots but left so much to be desired. But in the end looking back at it, I really did enjoy myself and the ending is really quite riveting. It didn’t really end the way I wanted it too and honestly I respect that. So, for a game that may have a deeply flawed story, I could tell there was a writer working on this game who really knew what he or she was doing. That really wanted a lot out of it, but just couldn’t make the wheels of industry turn in his or hers favor.
My final verdict: Definitely not a game that will change your life but if you’re looking for a great action shooter game than it’s definitely worth a play. And if you have a good enough imagination to fill in the blanks that the story leaves then that’s definitely worth it too. 7 out of 10, Nerds.
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