I've actually been kind of troubled by this game because I am caught in a weird place regarding it. I love Wolfenstein, don't get me wrong. I played Wolfenstein 3d when it first came out and have roughly kept up with the series ever since. Unfortunately, I've been avoiding this one for the same reasons I avoided The Man in the High Castle. It's exactly my kind of science-fiction, the production values look awesome, and I love the people behind it.
I just hate the idea of the Nazis winning the war.
Yeah, I know it's ridiculous. That's the premise of the game that Nazis winning the war has happened so you can murder the hell out of them and take it back. On the other hand, Nazis have always been vaguely problematic as escapist entertainment. The more you learn about them, the more you resent their use as stock villains when I like to think the bastards should be forgotten and left on the dust bin of history. I need an additional layer of unreality to let me enjoy fiction with Nazi substitutes like Hydra, the Galactic Empire, the Enclave, or the Principality of Zeon.
|William Strausse is a contemptible but effective villain.|
If you have the base on your controller because the game is 50 gigabytes worth of space. Which is ridiculous and went entirely into the spectacular graphics rather than the story or gameplay but I'll get into that as well.
The premise of the game is William "B.J." Blazkowicz is, once more, on a daring last-minute mission to take out the Nazi's super-weapons before they're deployed. The thing is, this time, he fails. The weapons are already in deployment by the time he gets to Castle Wolfenstein and General Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse escapes with all the material he needs to defeat the United States within a few years. As implausible as this may be, given Death's Head seems to be employing lobotimized cyborgs in his army, I'm going to give him a pass.
|Sadly, there's no flame-thrower to burn Nazi flags.|
|This old lady actually becomes terrifying. I kid you not.|
B.J. and other characters are portrayed with surprising nuance and depth. Rather than a one-line spewing cliche, Blazkowicz is a man haunted by all the murder he's done and simply wants it to end. Fergus, who has fourteen more years on B.J. in watching loved ones killed, is at the end of his rope and loathes what the world has become. Anya is a sweet, kind-hearted nice girl who has had every bit of world stripped from her by the Nazis. She also gains some more character depth if you assume she's the person responsible for the serial-assassination of Nazi officers around her hometown. I'm also a big fan of Set, who is represents another facet of just what the Nazis are depriving the world.
|Shooting, stabbing, and strangling Nazis. It's B.J.'s one job skill.|
Gameplay wise, there's a couple of missteps in the game. Whenever the game is shooting and stabbing things, the game is fine. However, there's quite a few sections of the game which don't work out quite right. Maps are extremely unhelpful and it can be tedious looking around for car keys or whatever you need to advance to the next level. Likewise, there's occasional mini-games or requirements which the game doesn't really give the proper commands for.
|I actually think Anya and B.J. have one of the healthiest relationships in video games.|
There's also a really petty complaint on my part where you can play the original level of Wolfenstein 3D as a nightmare but completing it doesn't give you any form of achievement or acknowledgement. I'm not an achievement hunter or anything but that strikes me as definite achievement material.
|The Nazis aren't humanized, particularly, but are evil in the petty banal way they truly were.|
|Props to any game shooting Nazis while climbing the side of a castle.|
In conclusion, Wolfenstein: The New Order is a fun-fun game which can, nevertheless, be very frustrating. I can't be too hard on it, though, because I've completed it and I want to play it again--which is a very rare thing. The game has good characters, good graphics, (mostly) fun gameplay, and good storytelling. If the game ever goes too far then it's probably a mission taking place at a concentration camp but even then they rename it a "labor camp." Overall, I suggest folk buy this if they're looking for some old-school shooting as well as a deadly serious take on something frequently made silly yet which still has robot dogs.