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Wolfenstein: The New Order Review

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Graphics:

The graphics of The New Order are somewhat mixed, and at least some of it I am not sure if it is because of limitations or artistic choice. It is very common to find 3D details included on textures instead of as actual three dimensional shapes and objects. Pens, papers, knives, forks, and more will all be just flattened onto the texture, instead of full 3D objects. Compounding the already poor look to it, many textures will often look to be of low quality, with artifacting around the flattened objects.

In stark contrast to the flattened objects are the destructible objects. Basically no cover is perfect in The New Order as you and your enemies will be able to shoot through almost anything you or they can hide behind. Concrete pillars will shatter, wood planks will splinter, and metal plates will sublimate under the right weapons fire, exposing whatever is behind it to continued fire. Unfortunately I lack any good screenshots to juxtapose an area before and after a battle, but the amount of destruction is almost staggering.

Enemy bodies can suffer similar levels of destruction, too. Apparently Nazis have soft skulls as heads will vanish. I have also witnessed arms vanishing in response to dual wielding auto shotguns. The laser rifle will ultimately be able to amputate limbs from larger enemies and causing smaller ones to just explode in a red and gooey puff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of explosions, The New Order has an interesting twist on them. Instead of the fire-filled, cinematic explosions of many other games, when something explodes in this game, it actually produces just an explosion. Debris will be blown out and dust will envelope an area, just as you would expect in reality, but the only reason you will see fire and sparks is if something in the explosion produces them. This does not make the explosions any less satisfying, and they do indeed look very good as they are.

Fire unfortunately does not look as good to me as the explosions. It often tends to look like an effect consisting of an orange cloud containing fervently moving wisps, instead of a consuming flame on an object. Sparks flying out from something look much better, though.

I would put water roughly in the middle of the worst I have seen and the best. It is definitely moving and reactive, as I like, but the reactions appear to be limited to splashes and not ripples as you move through it. Also the splashes clearly look like they are just effect applied on top of the water instead of a natural reaction.Still, it looks good and behaves well, if not great.

 

 

Time for specs so I can cover performance and some other curious issues.

  • Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
  • Cooling: Corsair H110
  • Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
  • GPU: EVGA GTX 770 2 GB
  • PhysX: EVGA GTX 570 1280 MB
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
  • PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
  • OS: Windows 7- Professional 64-bit

I was able to play at almost maximum settings and the game played very smoothly, most of the time. The only setting I did not max was Shadow Resolution. There was some stuttering, but nothing too severe during gameplay, even at the most intense moments. Actually the worst stutter occurred during cutscenes. Really. Every time the next section would finish loading, the video would hang for a moment while the audio continued, catching up once it started moving again. I determined it was due to loading because before the hang, the game would not allow me to skip the cinematic, saying it was still loading, but after the hang, I was free to skip.

 

When I increased the Shadow Resolution setting, there was considerable stuttering to the point that the game was lagging. Curiously it appeared as though the lag was not because of the shadows, but because not everything was loaded. Indeed I was able to play for a period with no impact on performance at the higher setting, but this did not last. Even turning the setting down did not fix the issue without restarting the game.

Graphics options for The New Order are a little unusual. Along with depth-of-field options you can set the cache size for video textures, if they should be compressed or not, the shadow resolution, screen-space reflections, and haze flare. Not the most common of options. Two more common options are missing though; anisotropic filtering and anti-aliasing. Now I cannot say I always see the impact of anisotropic filtering, so I am not sure how great a loss that is, but this game could use some AA. It is not horrible, but the jagged edges can be very noticeable and make you wish the setting was listed.

 

Although on the list of features, V-sync is also somewhat lacking as I suffered screen tearing on multiple occasions when I turned the camera quickly. Honestly I would almost believe it if V-sync simply was not enabled.

The worst issue was the pop-in. I am not talking about textures popping in when entering a new area, but when you turn around quickly in old ones. To conserve resources, many engines will stop rendering the environment behind the player's view. In The New Order it can take a noticeable amount of time to reload areas, allowing the player to catch the engine working.

One final issue and a criticism before wrapping this section up: there were a number of times when objects would have their textures blink to something else. It was as though the textures were being replaced with the objects' normal maps. This and many of the other issues I suspect patches and new drivers will fix.

 

This criticism actually began as an issue, but then I found out what it was while searching for the game's save files. (I like to back up my save files, and I need to know where they are to do so.) Almost every time I took a screenshot in the game, the screen would turn black, and it often looked like the black came from the top and bottom of the screen, like eyelids when blinking. At first I thought it was an issue with the engine not liking Steam's screenshot system, but then I found, along with the save files, a folder of screenshots taken by the game. Apparently The New Order has a screenshot function that is mapped to the same key as what Steam uses for screenshots (which I have not seen documented anywhere, including with the key bindings). The black screen was Blazkowicz blinking when the game was taking the screen shot. A nice touch, but without documentation, it left the wrong impression on me initially.

Altogether the graphics and performance of The New Order I would consider mediocre. There are points that it is good and points that it is bad. Either way, it definitely still needs some work and has some issues that need to be fixed, but nothing too egregious as to substantially hurt the game.




  1. Wolfenstein: The New Order - Introduction
  2. Wolfenstein: The New Order - Graphics
  3. Wolfenstein: The New Order - Story
  4. Wolfenstein: The New Order - Gameplay
  5. Wolfenstein: The New Order - Additional Screenshots
  6. Wolfenstein: The New Order - Conclusion
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