Wolfenstein: The New Order

Wolfenstein: The New Order came out of nowhere and shocked everyone by being one of the best-written and most fun first-person shooters of all time. The long-dormant series had been flapping around gasping for air like a landed fish since the seminal classic Wolfenstein 3D(1992), which was followed by a couple of lacklustre sequels that didn’t bring much to the genre, but The New Order brought a new life to the series.

Image: Machine Games 2014

The game starts in 1946; you are BJ Blaskowic, a captain in the US Army, on a last-ditch attempt by the Allies to launch an invasion of Germany. This fails, and you and your squad are captured; the nazi General Deathshead then makes you choose between two of your squad mates for which one will get killed. After this, you spend 14 years in a hospital in Poland recovering from injuries sustained from the attack. You wake up in 1960 when the Nazis (who now rule the world) begin to purge the hospital you are in, you murder all the Nazis, and then you and the one remaining nurse, Anya, escape to her grandparents’ house. The rest of the game then follows the story of you meeting with the resistance and fighting General Deathshead.

The writing was second to none in the FPS world. The Villains are written spectacularly to be the most evil people ever seen. General Deathshead barely features, but in his time, you have to watch him torture and kill your friend and his underling. Frau Engel is an insane Nazi murderer whose every line is filled with such evil monstrous joy. She is one of the most threatening villains I have ever seen in a video game. The writing is amazing as well as a fantastic performance by Nina Fransovek.

Every member of the resistance is well-rounded and real, and it makes you feel for them when some of them die; there’s Wyatt/Fergus, depending on who you choose to save at the start of the game. I chose Wyatt, and he’s so wrapped with guilt about what happened. He feels so useless that you just can’t help but feel for him. There’s Max Hass, a giant with a piece of his head missing, so he is mentally impaired, and his carer, Klaus, a former Nazi who’s now fighting for the resistance; these two have an incredibly close bond. Other characters include Caroline Becker, who is the wheelchair-bound leader of the resistance and close friend of BJ as well as J, a guitarist who has one of the coolest deaths in the entire game as he turns his amps up and plays a solo so loud it can be heard all around berlin, he is shot to death in his room by the nazis. Bombate and Bobby Bram, two former resistance fighters, Bobby especially stays with me even though he has maybe 5 minutes of screen time, he’s dealing with severe depression after his wife died fighting the nazis in London and as he drops you off to the London Nautica, a symbol of nazi oppression built on the neighbourhood that his wife died fighting in he says, “Make this one Count” and drives into the building in a suicide bombing, blowing up the parking lot and sacrificing his life for the life of the resistance.

The characterisation of the main character, the unkillable block of meat known as BJ Blaskowic as an almost dead grumpy dad who’s constantly depressed fits the tone of the story so well. One of the developers, Jens Math, commented on the development: “The goal is not to have a protagonist that’s so neutral that you can project yourself into them; the goal is to have a protagonist that is so relatable that you become them.” He’s done, he’s over, there will always be more Nazis and nothing he does will ever stop the endless tide of evil, but he keeps fighting, and he keeps struggling even after he thinks all is lost, even after all his friends are killed and captured he soldiers ever on. His humanity is brought out most in his relationship with Anya, the Polish nurse who cared for him for 14 years. They begin a relationship on their way to Berlin, and by the end of the game, it feels like together, they’re fighting in equal roles for the resistance.

The Gameplay in the first game is also incredible, although the free-flowing movement would be improved in later games, for a game that came out in 2014 it holds up incredibly well it’s a lot more fast paced and action focused then some of the humdrum *rEaLiStIc* shooters that were coming out at the time. The New Order embraces the run-and-gun atmosphere reminiscent of Doom and Quake. The enemy variety is somewhat lacking, but due to the variety of weapons and the different scarcity of ammo, the game never drags or feels padded in any way. The gameplay also ties in well with the story; the feeling of barely surviving really makes you empathise with the main character.

Image: Image: Machine Games 2014

The game balances a perfect mix of stealth and action. As I crouch behind a nazi drown them in a toilet, open fire on the officer, and then hide behind a door when the rest of the troops come in. I blast them with my shotgun, It’s so gratifying to blast through an entire army and equally so to glide past unseen. The movement feels intuitive and clean although somewhat lacking by the limitations of the genre at the time it still plays great.

All in all, this is probably one of my favourite games. Its grounded but still interesting story and excellent gameplay make it one of the best First-Person Shooters ever released.

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