‘Wolfenstein’ update establishes a ‘New Order’

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First Posted: 5/23/2014

The forefather of all first-person shooters has been reimagined for a new generation in “Wolfenstein: The New Order.” It has been 20 years since the original “Castle Wolfenstein” game and B.J. Blazkowicz is still saving the world from the Nazis that are bent on world domination. In the original, there wasn’t much of a story; it was just a big maze where you killed all sorts of German soldiers, attack dogs, and even Hitler in a robotic suit. It had some exposition, but nothing that was too memorable.

“Wolfenstein The New Order” has a new revamped story that is much more interesting. The main protagonist, B.J., failed his mission in 1946 and was injured and left in a coma until the ‘60s. During his time away from battle, the Nazi war machine has won the war and is now the dominate force in the world. The conflict has snapped B.J. out of his slumber, and he is ready to take down any Nazis that get in his way.

This time B.J. isn’t alone; he is joined by a band of resistance fighters. One of the early missions finds him infiltrating a prison in Berlin to break out some of his friends and get some vehicles and nuclear launch codes to even the odds against the Nazis. It is refreshing to see some friendly characters in this series because it is usually a solitary experience; the cast is quite memorable and really does a good job making the story feel believable. Another thing that was never found in the old games is B.J. now has a inner monologue, making moral judgments on what he is seeing; he has some interesting commentaries which fly in the face of the brutal things he has to do to his enemies. Even though things are very different, there are some things that are similar that are put in as nods to the original. Armor pickup and health packs look like they did in the old games, and there are hidden rooms and even some flashbacks.

The thing that has changed the most is the combat; you now have some really brutal melee attacks when you are up close and personal. This also opens up the option of being stealthier, though it isn’t really a stealth game – it is a shooter, after all. The thing that makes that most apparent is the new dual wielding ability and the ability to fire from cover. There are also some light RPG elements in the game when you do things like stealth takedowns and headshots, which let you unlock new skills and upgrades. Most of the weapons are pretty standard fair for a shooter, and the futuristic Nazi weapons are a lot of fun. Overall, “The New Order” controls well, but it doesn’t do anything special to differentiate itself from the other shooters on the market. That is not a bad thing; it means you can just pay attention to the beautiful visuals and interesting story.

The gameplay is kept fresh with these new elements, some varied environments, and a bunch of new enemy types. You don’t just fight soldiers; there are also robot dogs, giant mechs, and guys with heavy armor. You have to use different tactics to take down each type, although none of them are very hard. There is also a lot of replay value because there are a bunch of hidden passages and collectibles to find in each level.

If you are an old school “Wolfenstein” fan, you are going to want to play “The New Order.” However, if the only shooters you know are “Call of Duty” and “Halo,” then you might be bored by the older style gameplay. Overall, “Wolfenstein: The New Order” is the best entry in the series and a really interesting alternate history take on what things would be like if the Nazis won the war with a great mix of old and new styles of gameplay, a great story, and next generation graphics.

-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at rvanderveken@timesleader.com.