New Wolfenstein is an Uneasy Mix of Romance and Nazis

Flowers for Blazkowicz.

by

Some things change, and some things stay the same. Legendary slayer of Nazis B.J. Blazkowicz is back for another red-blooded adventure in Wolfenstein: The New Order. However, this time out, the world of Wolfenstein is a little darker, a little grittier. Just look at the trailer below, and you'll see what I'm talking about. It's violent, that much is certain, but it's not the same sort of B-movie violence we've come to expect. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and play through the first three hours of this first-person shooter and see for myself how this game compares to Wolfenstein's predecessors.

Let's start with the good stuff: the guns. Wolfenstein is a blood-soaked series built on solid gunplay, and the firearms in The New Order instilled a classic arcade shooter vibe. The weapons all packed an exaggerated sense of force behind each bullet, aided by the fact that Blazkowicz could dual-wield damn near anything. Every Nazi caught in my crosshairs was quickly blown to bits, with spurts of blood flying everywhere. However, what stood out most about the gunplay was the sound. The guns were loud--really loud--a sentiment Chris Watters echoed in his extensive preview of the game. Unloading with two machine guns created a sharp, deafening racket followed by a heavy silence when the fighting was over. Speeding through one firefight after the next was exhausting, but in a way that helped sell The New Order's visceral, ultraviolent tone.

Meet the newer, beefier B.J. Blazkowicz.

Sadly, in my three hours with the game, I didn't find anything as interesting as the previous Wolfenstein's tesla gun or particle cannon--just lots of pistols and machine guns. In fact, The New Order felt a lot more grounded overall than the previous Wolfenstein, which had an emphasis on occult science and supernatural powers. The New Order's outlandishness starts and ends with robots: robot dogs, giant robot dogs, giant dudes in robot suits, and more. They were still a bit outrageous, sure, but the game at least tries to keep things within the realm of possibility.

One thing that was way out of the realm of possibility, however, was the romantic relationship between B.J. Blazkowicz and love interest Anya Oliwa. Yes, this Wolfenstein game has a love story. Developer MachineGames has accepted a tremendous challenge by injecting the historically campy, satirical world of Wolfenstein with a bit more emotional maturity. Blazkowicz is no longer a cocksure, invincible supersoldier. He is a weathered veteran, nostalgic for the peaceful suburban life he never had. "In my dreams, I smell the barbecue," he mused in the game's opening, accompanied by the images of a family gathered around the grill.

It's an interesting approach, but also introduced some problems when the game took itself too seriously. Early on in my playthrough, I was ambushed by a robotic dog. Before I had time to panic, one of my teammates enticed the robo-dog to play fetch with a stick grenade. The dog caught the stick, and then its head exploded. It was pretty funny. Not long after that happened, I was ambushed a second time and taken hostage along with my team. What followed was a harrowing scene in which I had to choose one of my squadmates to be tortured and killed. It was pretty gruesome. When faced with an evil that can be defeated by playing fetch with a dog, but that can also inflict tremendous suffering, I'm not sure how to feel. Any humor felt tainted by the violence, while the violence felt undercut by the humor. Throw the romance subplot into the mix, and I had a hard time getting invested in this nightmare vision of the future.

This image is a pretty accurate summation of my entire time with The New Order.

Romance and humor can coexist with pain and suffering, of course. In Metal Gear Solid 3, Naked Snake gets tortured in one scene, and jokes with Signit over the radio in the next--and it all makes a certain amount of sense. That balance felt out of whack in The New Order based on what I played. The humor was too slapstick to be paired with such intense violence. However, all this could change when I play the final release and am able to see the story through to its conclusion. Emotional nonsense aside, I still had a blast wielding the destructive arsenal of Wolfenstein: The New Order. The game was at its best when it was loud and in my face. I just hope the softer, more sensitive moments are handled as deftly.

Discussion

53 comments
GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

Looks good to me, so long as the shooting is fun and i get a good laugh out of it then im happy, i actually like modern shooters but i miss the mindless crazy fun of some of the old games i used to play, it's just so...relaxing. Now a lot big games want to be taken really seriously, which is fine but I like having a balance of serious games and just plain simple fun ones, like the old duke nukem for example. So this should be a nice breath of fresh air.

Samparksh
Samparksh

Hell yeah,I love crude humor.Plus,I was always confident that the gun mechanics would be great.Now I just have to wait for the game to hit retail shelves.

krishnaV_
krishnaV_

The new order is shaping out nicely. Hope it has those trademark "Oh wow!" moments that Wolf games usually do.

Eyes wide open for this.

RabbiSchmuley
RabbiSchmuley

Umm...

It's the summer-blockbuster I'm not willing to pay to see. That trailer was seriously chuckle worthy. 

Garm31
Garm31

They need to get that texture quality up. There is no excuse for it. The consoles have a lot of ram. Hideous low res textures can make even the prettiest game engines look bad.

Wej_accept_it
Wej_accept_it

It's not CoD or Battlefield, in fact it looks drastically different from those two with it's emphasis on old-school action arcade gameplay, I want this. It won't be a contender for GOTY (okay t could in theory but not many are going to bet on it) but it shows a shift away from the stagnant stye of play popularized by Modern Warfare. The first MW was amazing, in 2008, now it's been used as a blue print for too many other shooters

jcogopogo
jcogopogo

wow this looks good , cool idea for a story

hadlee73
hadlee73

I hope Blazkowicz's girlfriend knows that his idea of R&R is fighting on a different front :P

g1rldraco7
g1rldraco7

Well you have me convinced, I'll definitely check this game out, thanks Maxwell.

Darkreaper_1
Darkreaper_1

Not sure about this from what i've seen and read so far.  I think the one thing that will help it sell is the beta for Doom 4.

wgerardi
wgerardi

This unconventional wackiness sounds pretty intriguing imo. Nothing worse than playing it safe.

vicsrealms
vicsrealms

Here's hoping the campaign is more then the 4 hours that CoD has been putting out since MW.  

sherberttcat
sherberttcat

Return to Castle Wolfenstein was, and still is an excellent game. Shame Wolfenstein 09 turned out such a boring mess. I don't have the highest of hopes for this one.

cboye18
cboye18

This game will get a 6 tops. I've said it first. 

brockelley
brockelley

been playing RPGs for the last 18 months; can't wait to dive back into FPS games until Q3 when the good RPGs come out

youre_a_sheep
youre_a_sheep

For years I've longed for gunfire to actually sound like gunfire and not the timid popping sounds we almost always get.  Glad to hear this game has it right.

It's too bad it sounds like the trend of making protagonists the everyman is continued here.  It's The Big One, and there's too much at stake for character development to get in the way.  I didn't need to know "the marine" in Doom and I don't need to know Blazkowicz.  Blasting anything with a swastika is ample motivation.

Gallowhand
Gallowhand

I watched Adam Sessler's impressions on the game, which were mostly positive, but more interesting to me is that they seem to have some decent stealth mechanics in there.  You can sneak up and do some silent take-downs, as in Return to Castle Wolfenstein (which I enjoyed).  So I have more hope for this game than I did before.

dmdavenport
dmdavenport

Once you're married, you will know that romance comes with pain and suffering.

sammoth
sammoth

Classic I just hope it's good.

kingnothing47
kingnothing47

Shadow Warrior balances humor and a serious undertone pretty well, so it's definitely do able.

Brakkyn
Brakkyn

I'm not a fan of ultraviolence--or dual-wielding everything.

unreal101
unreal101

I don't really think that an MGS game is a good example of balanced writing. Kojima has never had a sense of subtlety.


Anyway, I don't mind a corny story if the gameplay is good. This is Wolfenstein we're talking about, after all.

StHapns247
StHapns247

The latest trailer really did a lot to get me excited for the game. As long as the action is big an intense I will enjoy it.

I like the idea of the guns sounding loud. So many FPSs today have muted, generic sounding guns.

barrybarryk
barrybarryk

"Developer MachineGames has accepted a tremendous challenge by injecting the historically campy, satirical world of Wolfenstein with a bit more emotional maturity. Blazkowicz is no longer a cocksure, invincible supersoldier. He is a weathered veteran, nostalgic for the peaceful suburban life he never had."

I wouldn't really consider giving Wolfenstein some added "emotionally maturity" a challenge.  It centres around the same premise as hundreds of "emotionally mature" movies and books and lets not forget WW2 was a thing that happened and already has huge wealth of emotional weight attached to it, if anything it would have been more of a challenge to keep up a campy, satirical feel throughout the game.

And making BJ "
a weathered veteran, nostalgic for the peaceful suburban life" instead of a "cocksure, invincible supersoldier" complete with bond-esque quips seems like a poor choice considering practically every FPS in recent memory has the exact same protagonist.

I love the idTech 5 engine environments, I loved the gunplay in Rage (I still fire up it's scenario mode regularly), I love that the guns are really loud and combat feels meaty, but if this game is going to stop being a game every 5 minutes so the MachineGames art team can indulge themselves with rehashed, B-movie cutscenes, telling a story I can't imagine anyone giving a damn about, I'll just not bother.

I'll wait for the modkit and maybe someone will make an actual game out of it or else I'll just wait for the new Doom game.

AlexNSN
AlexNSN

The wolfenstein team need to be very careful, romance and humor in a dark first person shooter needs to be balance just in the right way.

berserker66666
berserker66666

Do you still get to kill Mecha HItlar in this game again?

wookiegr
wookiegr

I have high hopes, I've always like the Wolfenstein games. As long as it launches during a release lull it will do ok.

quakke
quakke

@Wej_accept_it
Agree with everything but first MW being amazing. First MW was same ol' CoD2 with same ol' Quake3 engine. Imo CoD4 was a complete ****.

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

@sherberttcat Absolutely loved that game, played through it again about a year ago, it was still great, aged very well, I think I might hop back on it soon actually.

I have the feeling that this game will be fun, but idk if it can capture the magic of RTCW, it seems unlikely tbh, but it could still be good.

jcogopogo
jcogopogo

@sherberttcat  was that the one , that the demo was the omaha beach muliplayer? loved that one if it was 

jcogopogo
jcogopogo

@cboye18  a lot of next gen games will get a 6 , tough to wow gamers anymore 

jcogopogo
jcogopogo

@brockelley  you know dark souls 2 is coming out might be a bad time to ditch RPG's :P

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@youre_a_sheep  Yea there's a real trend in trying to instil great character into otherwise cliché elements, and those two forces don't exactly compliment one another.

swordoflorn
swordoflorn

@Brakkyn  I hate violence... but you're killing Nazis. It's not like you're killing humans or anything.

nyran125tk
nyran125tk

@Vidpci  im ok with interesting fps's or tactical fps's in interesting worlds and universes.


Like i went back and played Perfect dark the other day on N64 console emulator. Fps's today are just missing variety. its only 1 standard now. thats straight up Multiplayer or action FPS. A few years ago, you had some choices. tactical, you had stealthy, you had different variety of games, like Ghost Recon, rainbow 6, No one lives forever, Half life 2. I guess you have ARMA 2 (which is amazing, espeically the editor) but at least it adds variety of FPS.


Now its just one way, action Mp fps and nothing else.


what we need is another Half Life or perfect dark or no one lives forever or a true successor to Ghost recon or some more variety. Doom is coming, hopefully that wont completely suck.

Pyrosa
Pyrosa

@unreal101 Well said on both counts!  


We often forgive bad writing with some kind of blanket "well, it's a Japanese port" logic.  That doesn't cut it.


...and reviewers can't fairly say "it used to be campy, which was fun / the campiness in the new one isn't"... 

youre_a_sheep
youre_a_sheep

@barrybarryk"if this game is going to stop being a game every 5 minutes so the MachineGames art team can indulge themselves with rehashed, B-movie cutscenes, telling a story I can't imagine anyone giving a damn about, I'll just not bother."

You've captured my sentiments perfectly.  I felt that way about The Last Of Us but in reverse, with gameplay getting in the way of a good movie.  Trying to be both in alternating spurts is too jarring.

xsonicchaos
xsonicchaos

@berserker66666

Who knows?... It's a game set in a 1960's world where nazis won WWII and now have huge mechs. I sure hope we'll see something along the lines of the ending of The Wolverine.

quakke
quakke

@KillzoneSnake  

Flop? Nah you're completely wrong. This is the one FPS that is old school oriented and also AAA release. This is the one FPS that is being made with passion, has imagination with it and does not courage healthregen or aim down sights gameplay. 

This is the time CoD and slowpaced console FPS dies. Seeing how the sales were horrible with Battlefield4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts, this is pretty much the case. Old school FPS has already made a step with quite a few Indie FPS' like Serious Sam3, Hard Reset and Rise of the Triad. This the AAA-one which is gonna bring it back for real.

DamnILoveGames
DamnILoveGames

@nyran125tk I agree. I think when people say 'I hate FPS' what they really mean is they hate modern military shooters. There's only so much you can do with middle-eastern combat and we've pretty much reached all there is to see, and ARMA has the majority of it covered. Not enough FPS games have multiple interesting mechanics outside of the first person shooting, and as such the lacking creativity makes them boring.

TehUndeadHorror
TehUndeadHorror

@kingnothing47  Oh man, that scene in the Darkness 2 where you dance with Jenny is the saddest thing ever. The Darkness 1 was awesome (except those weird war sequences).

olddadgamer
olddadgamer

@Vidpci @nyran125tkOn one hand, it isn't, but on the other hand, neither are we.  We like to think about how games felt different 15 years ago (or more) but damn, we were all 15 years younger and looking at the world differently.  


We are keen to point out the 13 year olds playing CoD.  We were those kids once, and aren't anymore. 


Maybe us hardcore folks have just grown up and FPSs have stayed the same.

TehUndeadHorror
TehUndeadHorror

@mattress805  I liked the idea, but those weird guns you got just felt so clunky. It was crazy ambitious though. Boy would I love another open worldy game like the Darkness (Dishonored was great).

mattress805
mattress805

Darkness 1 and 2 were awesome IMO. Those World War 1 parts in the 1st one were crazy, as I recall.