William Joseph "B.J." Blazkowicz is a legit FPS legend.
His name evokes memories of classic run ‘n gun corridor shooting games such as Wolfenstein 3D and Return to Castle Wolfenstein. The Wolfenstein series and its main war veteran are returning in a new campaign for 2014 with Wolfenstein: The New Order.
This ninth installment in the long-running Wolfenstein series places players back into a FPS theme that was once the norm – World War II. Blazkowicz and his fellow band of soldiers are in the middle of a counter-offensive conflict against the Nazi contingent. The start of my hands-on time with the game placed me in Blazkowicz’s boots as he sat alongside a general on a fighter jet. The visuals are gritty and grey, which is how they should be presented in a military themed FPS. The cinematic feel of this iteration is immediately felt through the chaotic moments that pop up from time to time. For instance, my jet got damaged and I was forced to brave raging flames and smoke as I released the cargo that was holding down my airborne vehicle. Afterwards, the shooting began as I hopped behind a turret and gunned down some oddly futuristic Nazi war planes.
The controls behind this FPS are a tad bit different from the other games currently taking over the genre. The trigger buttons are used to shoot/aim, while the shoulder buttons are utilized for throwing grenades. One of the more interesting mechanics that this game employs is the leaning system. You can choose to stick to cover or stay in place as you lean in any direction to get a more stable shot on your enemies. It works and feels great, so there’s plenty of room to pick your shots and stay alive by sticking in and out of cover.
The first few missions focus on Blazkowicz’s secret mission to take down Deathsbed, a Nazi madman who operates on human soldiers for his gruesome “research.” This search and capture mission threw me into several high octane situations that were full of pain, blood, and gore. I ran through the trenches and gunned down Nazi soldiers with reckless abandon. I faced off with mechanical beasts and left with my life still intact. I planted C4′s onto buildings and watched the beautiful destruction from a distance. One of the more exciting missions I experienced tasked me with rappelling up a castle as Nazis shot out of windows and plane debris came crashing down onto my soldiers. The excitement and action in this shooter never ceases to stop for a moment.
Wolfenstein: The New Order behaves like a modern shooter with old school sensibilities. You get access to plenty of automatic machine guns, handguns, shotguns and more. There’s actually a number of futuristic weaponry that gives you even more lethal firepower. I grew to love and appreciate the 1960 Handgun during my double wielding rampage sessions. Blazkowicz is a tank, but he needs to replenish his health/armor just like anyone else. There’s a wealth of enemy helmets and health rations lying around that keep B.J. alive and kicking. Yes, you heard me right. You have to pick up health packs in order to restore any lost regenerating sections of your hero’s health. Now that’s old school!
B.J.’s original mission eventually ends in failure and he finds himself residing in an insane asylum for 14 years. Once Blazkowicz breaks out of his years long daze, he finds himself in a world where the Nazis have won and become even more advanced. The next group of missions I played featured some cringe inducing sequences (the torture of a Nazi general and a certain “test” may make your cringe) and action packed gunplay. This FPS is a solo-focused title that’s all bout shooting first and not asking many questions.
There are moments where you have to keep your finger off the trigger and use your noggin, though. One mission gave me the freedom to choose how I wanted to tackle a Nazi stronghold. I chose to go the stealthy route, which worked wonders for me. I located a powerful sniper rifle, rappelled down into a building, silently killed some unaware soldiers and managed to do this without raising the alarm. These moments lend a nice change of pace to the “all action, all the time” feeling of this sequel. My calm and quiet movements ended quickly though, since two massive robots entered the scene. I won’t spoil this boss encounter, but I will say this – loose gun turrets are your best friend.
This new Wolfenstein stays old school in its mechanics, yet still offers modern day tech through its cinematic cutscenes and quick transitions back to gameplay. For those who still champion single player games, this may be the shooter you’ll have to keep an eye out for.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is hitting stores on May 20, 2014 (US) and May 23, 2014 (UK) for the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4 and PC gaming platforms. Make sure you pre-order the game so you can gain early access to the Doom beta.
Images: Bethesda Softworks, MachineGames