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Feature Video

The Old-School Beginnings of Wolfenstein: The New Order

Of dogs and men.

by

If Doom means two things, cocking shotguns and shooting demons, it follows that Wolfenstein, the father of the first-person shooter and Doom's own daddy, can be boiled down to two core elements as well: shooting Nazis, and taking their secret Nazi gold. Wolfenstein: The New Order doesn't forget this. In the game's prologue, which runs for just over an hour, you'll gun down Nazis in a grey stone castle, find a secret room behind a portrait on the wall, and plunder Nazi treasure for extra points. Developer MachineGames isn't just making an old-school shooter here; it's making an old-school Wolfenstein game.

Wolfenstein 3D was far more challenging than today's over-the-top shooters. BJ Blazkowicz featured as the barrel-chested hero on the front of the box, shooting a giant gun at the roof (for some reason) and kicking a Nazi in the face. The image misrepresented the actual experience. You were a prisoner of war, escaping from a castle's cell with nothing but a knife, and subsisting on leftover chicken drumsticks and bowls of dog food. If you were very low on health, you could even drink human blood off the floor to feel a bit better. Sure, you eventually found that giant gun from the front of the box, but the sense of tension that persisted as every bright blue door creaked open stemmed from your inherent vulnerability.

Blazkowicz returns as the other end of your gun arm in The New Order, and he still isn't the kind of bullet sponge other modern shooter protagonists feel like. Cover is important; you cannot expect to pop up and absorb some incoming fire as you take down Nazis in a one-man war of attrition. You need to be smart, think about your positioning, and lean as much as possible. Not only does The New Order allow you to automatically peek around or over cover by aiming down the sights, but it lets you manually lean in any direction: sideways, upwards, diagonally, and even down. After a couple of minutes, using this leaning mechanic becomes second nature, and offers enhanced situational awareness and protection without the need for sticky cover.

You'll need to use this lean mechanic often, because Blazkowicz's health regenerates only a small portion, so you'll be relying on health and armour pickups to stay alive. Compared to shooters with completely regenerating health, this fundamentally changes the way you approach combat. Every time you peek around a corner to shoot a Nazi, his helmet falls off, and you can pick up that helmet to restore your own armour. It's a simple, satisfying flow: kill enemies, take their stuff, live longer.

Even the enemy dogs help out here. Remember them from Wolfenstein 3D--the German shepherds that did their best to bite your face off? Those loveable little hounds are back. This time, they're wearing body armour, which you can pick up and wear after you kill them. And if you come across their bowls of dog food in the castle, you can eat the food to restore your health.

Let's recap: BJ Blazkowicz, the protagonist of Wolfenstein: The New Order, runs around killing dogs, wearing dog armour, and eating dog food. If Wolfenstein 3D's Blazkowicz was a bloodsucking cannibal, The New Order paints him as a maniac.

BJ Blazkowicz, the protagonist of Wolfenstein: The New Order, runs around killing dogs, wearing dog armour, and eating dog food.

I don't think we're supposed to look at this stuff too closely. I don't think we're supposed to ask where Blazkowicz keeps all his guns and grenades (probably tucked away in his new, massive neck). It's old-school in the way that early first-person shooters were abstract enough that such questions never felt pertinent. Take the new perks system. The more silent takedowns you perform with a knife, the closer you get to unlocking the ability to throw a knife. The more knives you throw, the more you can carry. There are multiple perk trees that feed multiple play styles, with new abilities earned by simply continuing to play in aggressive or stealthy fashions.

But the plot of The New Order isn't abstract, so I do think we're supposed to go along with it. The whole setup is ridiculous. The castle Blazkowicz is infiltrating is the fortress of a Nazi general named Deathshead, a scenery-chewing cartoon villain, if the name didn't already give that away. The castle's walls are protected by robot dogs and giant mechanical gun platforms. Deep in the castle's bowels, Deathshead performs human experiments in an attempt to create a kind of mechanical supersoldier. This could easily be the plot of a 1990s first-person shooter--and I'm OK with that! I'm down with ridiculous. But I can't tell if The New Order is as comfortable with itself as I would be, because it suffers from a wildly inconsistent tone.

Over-the-top action sequences are followed by grizzled, noir-esque narration--poetic musings from Blazkowicz on the Nazis' cruelty, or memories of a better civilian life. You can throw a grenade to play fetch with a robot dog, after it devours your fellow soldiers in a gory display of gibs. Later in the story, you'll need to interrogate a Nazi officer. Your first instinct will be to pick up the chainsaw on the workbench, which results in a hilarious onscreen prompt that reads "You need splatter protection."

The New Order seems like it's trying to be Inglourious Basterds, mixing dark, absurd humour with even darker ultraviolence. If the prologue is any indication, I'm not sure MachineGames has enough Tarantino in it to pull this off. But the lows of an inconsistent tone didn't detract from the game's first hour of first-person shooting highs.

The lows of an inconsistent tone didn't detract from the game's first hour of first-person shooting highs.

As the prologue concludes and the plot jumps forward to 1960, the Nazis have spread their robotic death machines all over the world. I feel like I know where this is going: a showdown with mecha-Hitler. We asked Bethesda if the robo-Fuhrer would be making an appearance in The New Order, and received a cryptic reply: "Hitler was killed in Wolfenstein 3D and we haven't said anything beyond that about Hitler at this stage." Now, I've heard enough noncommittal PR responses to know how to read between the lines and see the lack of an outright denial. I'm not sure how you could get any more old-school than a showdown with Hitler in a mech suit. MachineGames, bring it on.

Discussion

78 comments
Gankstar_VX84
Gankstar_VX84

I'm getting it 100%. just not sure pc/ps4. gameplay looks quality, animations for melee, gunfighting and movement either look great or just above average which isn't bad. the personality the game has that chris talked about in a different video also is important to me in a game such as this. Im hoping they don't f*** it up by adding some stupid call of wolfenshit multiplayer mode because it really doesn't need it, MP modes can be fun if done right in theese types of old skool shooter, i'd be happy with a horde/survival type mode as dlc somewhere down the line.
other then that the only thing that really will make or break the game is the progression systems, abilities/perks whatever and gun upgrades if any. also how punishing it is on standard difficulties, and how awesome the enemies are. from what i've heard/read/seen it has 5 difficulties, and some really epic looking bad guys to shoot. nazis look stern and dark and the higher priority bad guys look like twisted evil geniuses with bionic implants and all sorts of comical shit it's going to be awesome.

Algearond
Algearond

Already planning on picking this one up, this review makes me want it that much more

some1good2
some1good2

I think that gamespot will give 7 or 6...

if they do that will be sucks... :\


RELeon
RELeon

I'm sure it isn't anything extremely innovative, and it certainly won't change gaming or break any records. But I did start my gaming days on Doom and Wolfenstein, so this should be a fun little game to bring up some good memories. No hate from me.

Aaronp2k
Aaronp2k

this game will suck just like the last wolfenstein game. the simple doom style mechanics of move forward and shoot has no place in next gen, clearly outdated. Doom 3 is a large example of this, that game bored me so much I stopped playing it about 3 quarters of the way through. Did not even scare me lol, and I played it when it first released. It is such a shame, the art style and graphics look incredible on this game. If only they tried to add a unique game changer to this game it could be amazing.

gameroutlawzz
gameroutlawzz

Ill pass on every FPS games until they bring back open levels a-la Duke 3D where you actually have to do something else than pressing forward to reach the end.

StarsiderSajun
StarsiderSajun

Man I remember playing the original as a kid. Probably shouldn't have been allowed to play that, and Doom, but alas. Can't wait for this. =)

Chronologo
Chronologo

I have good expectations for this game, I haven't played many of the new fps because I don't like them. I keep coming back to Doom and it's helluva big amount of comunity creations.

N-bellic
N-bellic

This actually looks awesome. I hate the whole dudebro shooter genre that's doing the rounds right now, so it's great to see a first person shooter buck that trend. When I eventually pick up a ps4 I'll definitely look into getting this.

bobbetybob
bobbetybob

Hmm, the stuff about tone was one of the things that worried me, it sounds like it definitely isn't taking itself seriously though so that's good.

je29836
je29836

thumbs up for the gory headshots

GymFox
GymFox

wat? *facepalm  Well, let's hope this isn't a standard gallery shooter (yawn)

johnd13
johnd13

This actually seems pretty nice. Maybe I'll give it a chance though initially I wasn't planning to.

LordCrash88
LordCrash88

Sounds like premature crap...but we'll see...

evil_snuggles
evil_snuggles

I admit that this game looks better than I initially thought. This ID Tech 5 engine is super optimized if it runs 1080p 60fps on xboned720. It was 720p 60fps on PS3 and 360 in Rage so not much of a surprise . I hope They fixed the problems with the ID tech 5 engine it had horrible bugs in Rage.

FBohler
FBohler

Looking forward to this one. Seems to be fun!

Poison-tooth
Poison-tooth

Wow! Wolfenstein 3D's cover art is so rad!

ahpuck
ahpuck

Looking forwards to this game. I just hope it's not a walk in the park like most FPS games now days.

guardianofhonor
guardianofhonor

Game was good but now it looking like another CoD clone. "yawn" Call of Wolfenstein

cboye18
cboye18

I don't get it. What I'm seeing is another regular FPS with health system. How should it be different from other FPS out there? Pass.  

hoscba
hoscba

Excitement levels critical!

kingdmnro
kingdmnro

Not bad to be honest, did not liked the previous one but for this one I am hyped. I like the art work & the combat looks a blast with the shooting looking arcadish and the AI spilling blood/guts/limbs when hit.
I don't like games that use guns but don't show any blood(cough Watch Dogs's headshots).

Caanimal
Caanimal

Thank the gawds they aren't going w/ that stupid 2 weapon limit...  THE single most hated thing in FPS by myself, we can thank Halo for making THAT "innovation" popular, I'd rather have my selection of weapons that I might need so I don't get stuck for not having the "correct" weapons for a situation...


This definitely sounds like a classic Wolfenstein game, and I'm certainly looking forward picking up for my PS4.  Hmm, thinking about it I think I've played every Wolfenstein game that has come out, interesting.

nightsinner
nightsinner

I'm a big fan of the Wolfenstein 3d/Doom/Duke Nukem FPS games.  This was what I cut my teeth on my 486SX back in the day.  I could care less about multiplayer games.  Give me a good crazy bloody sci fi/demon/ Nazi FPS.  I just went out and bought a PS4 for this release.  I am psyched!  

gamefreak215jd
gamefreak215jd

The stealthy knife sequences look a lot like Dishonored.I mean he even holds the knife in the same way Corvo does.

faizanhd
faizanhd

The preview of the first hour blew me away to be honest. The animations of the game are simply brilliant. Plus the great framerate made the game look incredibly fast.

The future of old-school shooters hangs in the balance with this game. Hope it turns out alright.

john_doe2
john_doe2

@Aaronp2k  "the simple doom style mechanics of move forward and shoot has no place in next gen, clearly outdated."


It obviously does, since that is basically what all of COD is.

ferna1234
ferna1234

@Poison-tooth yes, with all the guns spewing fire out their cannons despite pointing anywhere

dirkradke
dirkradke

@guardianofhonor The problem with CoD is it takes itself too seriously and then ends up falling flat on its face.  A game that has a decent story provided the issues with the guns, ammo, and health are ignored could be just what people are looking for in an FPS.  It doesn't help that Activision has run the franchise into the ground with yearly releases for the last 10 years.  As for this being a clone of CoD it is more accurate to say CoD is a clone of Wolfenstein.

quakke
quakke

@guardianofhonor  

"No need to use ironsights, no full healthregen, secrets to find, no weaponlimit, non-linear levels.."

Yeah i dunno how this transfers into just being CoD-clone? A game which is being inspired by Wolfenstein 3D, is going to be a CoD-clone when it's being advertised as "The resurrection of Old-School FPS". Because that sounds like a CoD-clone..

MJ12-Conspiracy
MJ12-Conspiracy

@cboye18  So you'll play the real generic FPS with dogs in it then? very smart..............NOT!

Wofenstein is a classic, by sitting there saying NO you're saying NO to the past....without the original WOlf 3D we wouldn't even be here looking at this....

knox140
knox140

@gamefreak215jd  I wouldn't go into this game expecting Dishonored... I think the stealth won't be a particularly large part of the game, it'll probably be handled like they handled it in Killzone: Shadow Fall. If you play it expecting to be able to play it stealthily chances are you'll be disappointed.

faizanhd
faizanhd

@gamefreak215jd  

It's possible that they train soldiers to hold the knife that way in the military.So it's not strange that they would have similar animations. Plus the artstyle has that exaggerated cartoon feel of Bioshock and Dishonored.

quakke
quakke

@faizanhd  

Oh it's gonna do fine, just have some faith. Afterall, we still have Serious Sam afterall these years. If they weren't making profit, they wouldn't be making those games ;)

knox140
knox140

@quakke @faizanhd  Plus DOOM's coming back! I'm probably gonna preorder this to be honest, I don't usually like to preorder games but access to the DOOM beta is just too much for me to pass on ;)

quakke
quakke

@knox140 @quakke@faizanhd 

To be honest.. I ain' holding my hopes on DOOM or DOOM4 being good, since this new Id Software has been continuosly trying to make it a Call of Duty style FPS, and Bethesda has continuosly stopped them from making it just like they stopped that Call of Duty Prey 2 version. Bethesda atleast knows that DOOM is supposed to be Old School FPS just like Prey. Wolfenstein The New Order gonna do this "half modern, half old school" which i'm really excited about since that is gonna bring Old School FPS in general, back to mainstream.