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Wolfenstein: The New Order Review

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Gameplay:

As always, gameplay is the most important part of any game, because if it is not done right, the best graphics and the best story will not save it. There are some issues with The New Order's gameplay, but mostly they do get it right.

Being a first-person shooter, it is important that the guns are fun to use and feel effective. Rest assured, every gun has been well designed and if there was ever a weapon I did not use much, it was not because it was not a good weapon. The auto shotguns in particular I did not use much, but that was because I was trying for a more stealthy approach, and projecting a wall of lead does not always work well with that. Also it is not used by many enemies, so ammo is a little scarcer. When I did use them though, Nazis just exploded in front of me.

The sniper rifle similarly went unused, for two reasons, not including the scarcity of ammo. The first is actually because of a question I could easily answer, but never did in the game. I was not sure if it makes enough noise to alert enemies to me, defeating my stealth attempts. (It does alert enemies.) The second reason was because I was fairly often able to get close enough that I could either use a knife takedown or pull out the silenced handgun, so I did not need to snipe all that often.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a sniper rifle, the weapon did not get much use from me, but almost every weapon has two modes to it. The first, in this case, is as a sniper rifle, but eventually you unlock the ability to use the weapon as an automatic laser rifle. In that mode, I found them quite useful for the amount of damage they do and the ease with which they are recharged.

The handgun and assault rifle were my two most used weapons, but the actual laser rifle definitely got a lot of use towards the end. What made the handgun so useful for me was its ability to equip a silencer and its armor piercing capability. Most of the enemies can be killed with just two or three shots from a handgun, depending on how much armor they have. One headshot will always work though, unless the enemy is a robot or very heavily armored. For those enemies, the assault rifle comes in very handy.

A big part of the reason I used the assault rifle just about all the time was because that is what the enemies carry, so ammo is never in short supply. It also has a good amount of stopping power so that a single magazine is enough to take out a number of enemies. Its secondary fire mode is a rocket launcher, which I rarely used. Really the rockets were only for special occasions.

 

Now for the laser rifle and the fun you can have with it. It is more than just a weapon as its other mode is a torch to cut through metal chains, fences, and plates. When you first get it, the rifle really did not impress me much, except for the effectively limitless ammo. Instead of using ammunition, the rifle uses a battery that can be recharged at charging stations, of which there are many. As I found upgrades for it, it became a much more powerful weapon. The upgrade that really made it awesome is its scope. Instead of giving you a zoomed in view of your enemy with a precise reticule, this scope actually allows the rifle to target multiple enemies or multiple points on one enemy. With one press of a button the rifle can clear a room and just need to be recharged to do it again. Likewise some of the supersoldiers can be stopped with one click as a flurry of laser beams strike them.

Two more weapons worth mentioning are the powerful mounted weapons. Some fire rounds, but others fire laser pulses. Both can be removed from their mounts, so you can explore a level with them, and reloaded by replacing them. In the case of the laser weapon, you can also recharge it at stations like those for the laser rifles.

 

Finally the combat knife should be brought up because of something somewhat funny. The knife is important for anyone trying for a stealth run, as it is what Blazkowicz uses for silent takedowns. Normally these takedowns occur when you are standing behind an enemy, but sometimes the enemy will be turning to face you. When this happens, if you initiate a takedown, the enemy will actually turn back to face away from you, and then you will proceed to stab them. A funny and silly thing to see, but not altogether unique.

Prior to the game's release I saw (thanks to the game's OCC forum thread) an animated .GIF that indicated the AI of The New Order is not altogether intelligent. Well that .GIF is not inaccurate, but it also does not tell the whole story. The melee enemies can be very stupid and just fail to react when they see you. Actually the stealth in the game is just very forgiving, but then you would expect them to do more than stare at you once they spot you. It is almost as though their acquisition range is far enough, but their interaction range is much too short. The enemies with ranged weapons are significantly more intelligent, though.

I have witnessed enemies dive for cover and then lean around it to fire and drop to a prone position to continue firing. If you shoot them in the foot or leg, they will fall down, but will continue shooting you from the ground. I have even seen the auto shotgun wielding enemy pick up another sitting on the floor, and then dual wield them. The AI is intelligent much more often than it is not. I am not sure how they respond to destroyed cover though, as they would die shortly after being exposed.

Returning to Blazkowicz, you will have to be intelligent to win many battles. The key I have found is to have as much armor as you can. Its ability to retard damage is immense and when it is gone, chances are your health will quickly follow. Armor can be acquired by picking up armor vests as well as helmets. (At times there are so many helmets for you to pick up I imagine Blazkowicz looks like a TF2 character.) You can also pick up metal pieces that have fallen off of heavily armored enemies.

Health comes mostly from health packs and has two mechanics to keep in mind. One is that you have striped regeneration. Every stripe is 20 HP, so if you have, say, 81 health, you will regenerate back up to 100. Eighty is the top of another stripe, so you will not regenerate past that. This can be taken advantage of when you find a number of health packs that only heal for ten health.

The next health mechanic is overcharging. Even when you are at full health, you can pick up health packs and have more than your max. Your health will be decreasing towards that maximum though, but it can still provide a useful damage buffer.

 

Now, remember back to the choice I mentioned in the story section? Depending on who you save, and therefore which timeline you play out, you have access to different collectibles. Most of them are present in both timelines, but those for increasing your maximum health and those for increasing the amount of armor you pick up are related to the timeline. To become as resilient as possible, you will have to play both timelines.

To become more lethal you will want to unlock the perks the game offers to you. This is achieved by essentially getting achievements, like killing so many enemies while sprint-sliding. (That particular challenge is cumulative, so you do not need one epic slide to get it.) The perks can be very useful, such as slowing you less when crouched and increasing your ammo carrying capacity.

Every chapter can be replayed at any difficulty, once completed, and when you go to replay a chapter you can select which timeline to play in. Obviously this is important for getting every collectible, and the game does really help you with that. The number and even the order of every collectible is provided to you while playing a chapter and when selecting it. The game wants you to find them all, but that does not mean it will be easy. There are some hidden secrets you will have to uncover yourself.

 

I have probably talked long enough about the various mechanics and details, so how about we start getting to some criticisms. One that stands out a lot for me is that ammo and armor have to be manually picked up. Sure, spamming the button to pick up is not that difficult, but it would just be easier if you only had to walk by it, especially as it can be hard to find that position where something can be picked up.

The balance of the game is just about as perfect as I could ask it to be, but there are still times that it was quite frustrating. Times when there are no health packs or armor pieces to pick up, yet power enemies keep coming, or smaller ones come in from behind you. The final boss was easily the most annoying though, because the arena you fight it in is filled with gas pipes. I died so many times before succeeding and I do not know if that was because the boss hit me or because of the fire burning me. Just seeing the boss, a giant robot with multiple miniguns on its arms (sound familiar), became difficult because of all of the fire and smoke.

 

Oddly the hardest balance I experienced was in an Easter Egg. There is a spot in the game that will take you to the first level of Wolfenstein 3D, though with the modern Blazkowicz. What made it so hard is that the moment the enemies see you, they can start taking damage, even if their animation does not indicate they are ready to shoot. Still, it was tremendous fun for me to be in that game again.

It took me 11 hours and 44 minutes to complete one playthrough on the middle difficulty. (That would be 'BRING'EM ON!', with 'DON'T HURT ME' and 'CAN I PLAY, DADDY?' being easier, and 'I AM DEATH INCARNATE!' and 'ÜBER' as the hardest.) That play time can be as much as doubled by playing the second timeline and hunting for collectibles. Also you can find Enigma code pieces that unlock new game modes you can play. Perks and collectibles are disabled in bonus modes, naturally.

Altogether, the gameplay of The New Order is superb. It may have some hiccups here and there, but overall I could not imagine it being much better. Your actions feel rewarding and everything feels effective, making you want to explore a level and try whatever you want. The game just lets you play and encourages you to do so.




  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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