Who let the Panzerhund’s out?
Minor spoilers ahead
Machine Games début game is a new entry in id software’s alternate history World War II series on all major platforms and using id’s tech 5 engine. There has been a surprising amount of buzz generated from their interesting trailers and it reviewed favourably among critics which was a good sign.
I was interested in Wolfenstein was for two reasons: the first being that machine games (ex Starbreeze developers) developed a single player only game in a market flooded with tacked on multiplayer especially when it comes to shooters. I’m not against multiplayer – especially for an FPS but the fact that machine games only had a vision for single player and were allowed to make that bodes well for the game which is also very lengthy – as you’d expect. The second being that they have managed to create a game for 2014 but with subtle old school touches that I think separate the game from many of its rivals nicely.
So what do I mean by subtle old school touches? Well, as I said its subtle touches. I’m a big fan of collecting loot and Wolfenstein has collectibles to find, gold plates, enigma codes, recordings, health upgrades etc which are common in today’s games but still a nice touch. You can also scavenge for ammo, armour, health and grenades in breakable crates which need multiple slashes, another nice little touch too.
The game features some serious weapon collecting, dual wielding of assault rifles, handguns, shotguns which aren’t too common today as well throwing knives, a laser cutter and sniper rifle. On top of that the ammo drops, which relate to my loot comment too don’t give you 30 bullets every time, you get at most of 10 bullets from soldiers you have killed but also small armour pick ups that can be collected enemies, there are of course pick ups of more armour and ammo in stashes but these aren’t littered around the game.
With regards to health the new order takes a leaf from its retro roots but still uses modern regeneration (to a certain level) which let you overcharge your health by collecting medical packs and your health slowly drops down to your regular amount as your travel around or when you get shot at by the nazis. These elements aren’t huge but are nice touches that make Wolfenstein feel a bit different and did make me feel like they understood the roots of the game whilst also realising that they needed to make the game appeal to todays gamers which I think they got a great mix of.
The story is about what would happened if the nazis had won and taken over the world, with fairly gruesome images of brutal murders and the like, there is nothing that has been compromised or watered down in Wolfenstein. You are William Blazkowicz and you are an American soldier in the first level repelling the Nazi forces before you get caught up in an explosion and spend the next 14 years in a mental hospital. Unsurprisingly there is a bit of a ruckus and you are given the chance to escape and find out what has happened whilst you have been sat around in the white coat.
With the nazis creating lots of mechanical weaponry, robots suits, drones, panzerhunds with armour there’s a decent amount of enemy variety as well as the soldiers and commanders makes the game fun and especially so if you choose to use stealth to work your way through the game which adds a nice layer of depth. You can of course go guns blazing as well which is equally fun too but I did enjoy going round and throwing knives at nazi’s backs.
Theres a good variation of level design even within a linear title in different locations and the aforementioned collectables and loot really give you a good reason to go hunting around each level looking for everything and there are newspaper clippings that give you an insight about what has gone on in the world which are an interesting read too.
The story is unsurprisingly a little over the top at times but considering the plot outline it’s not a surprise, your typical one man band for the most part doing extraordinary things against an army that controls the world and its all in keeping with the style. There is a big choice to be made at the end of the first level which can affect the game and send you down two different routes and potentially mix up the story a bit (I have only completed one of the timelines) and the game is centred mainly around exacting revenge for what happened in the first level of the game and the choice I made. I was surprised Hitler wasn’t in the game at all but that could be the basis for a sequel if there is one.
The New Order is a lengthy game as mentioned which you would expect for a game with no multiplayer but having recently completed it I did really enjoy it and I hope it’s a successful title for Machine Games to build on. I haven’t fully played a Wolfenstein (although there is a cool easter egg I won’t spoil) game before so I don’t know how exactly faithful it is to the original games but I was surprised at how enjoyable it was and it didn’t strike me at all as a title stuck in the present or in the past, a good balance of both has been achieved.
On the subject of multiplayer, I respect and admire Machine Games for focusing on what they believed would make the best game and I somewhat agree with the decision not to include it although I must admit I was surprised. I think it would have lent itself quite nicely to competitive multiplayer or some sort of co-op mode but its good they followed through on their vision and didn’t compromise that to tack on something they didn’t want or need to.
On a technical level the game is 1080p/60fps on next-gen (with some resolution adjustments) and I think the game looks nice, the levels are quite linear but ultimately that doesn’t matter as it’s a fun game with good level design, well presented story and is put together nicely, hopefully we get a sequel to build on a successful first effort.
Wolfenstein The New Order brings back the franchise in a way that is very enjoyable and to be honest a surprise package really, Machine Games have surpassed all expectations with a great single player game that is both modern and relevant to the way games have changed over the years and has some nice classic touches to it as well, I would definitely recommend it.
Curiously copies include a Doom beta is included with the game – although when we will get to play I have no idea but I think it would be good if id themselves looked at how Machine Games have handled Wolfenstein to consider how they move forwards with Doom, perhaps a Quake reboot/sequel is next on the cards?
Played on Xbox One