Video Game Review: Wolfenstein: The New Order (PlayStation 3)

*I played the PlayStation 3 version. The game is also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Windows.

*Written in 2014.

I have been a pretty huge fan of the Wolfenstein series since I discovered Wolfenstein 3D (the third game in the series) on one of my friend’s PC’s back in 1992. It introduced me to the first-person shooter genre and led to the great Doom series, also put out by the same publisher, id Software. In fact, both games are believed to exist in the same fictional world.

In 2000, I was blown away by the much improved game in the series Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Then in 2009, one of my favorite video games of all-time Wolfenstein was released. Yep, the 2009 installment, was simply called Wolfenstein. A sequel to that awesome game was inevitable and what we got was this year’s Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Let me start by saying that, in my eyes, this game had really big shoes to fill. I expected a lot from it because the last game was damned near perfect, they spent five years on development and they brought in Bethesda Softworks, who made the magnificent games Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, The Elder Scrolls series (most notably Skyrim), the Doom series (since 2012) and others.

This game is fun, it is exciting but it is not as fun and exciting as the 2009 game it follows. The graphics are killer, the plot is interesting enough but it seems to lack in spirit and ingenuity. It was a very straightforward game and was quick and easy to beat. It was also, at times, tedious. For instance, some missions just had you rummaging through your hideout or the sewers beneath to find random bullshit objects like keys and blowtorches. I found those missions to be distracting, pointless and boring as hell. They poorly broke up the heavy action sequences of the game, they really didn’t contribute to the overall story and after having destroyed a Nazi death camp, why am I the errand boy for the resistance, as opposed to one of the useless office monkeys?

The plot of the previous games were over the top but they had a light heartedness and didn’t take themselves too seriously. This game got more serious and suffered because of it. The fact that it got darker and more realistic didn’t allow it to flow naturally and it felt kind of silly at times, which wasn’t the intention. The point is, this is a story that can’t be taken realistically and when it is presented that way, it works against itself. The end result is that this game’s serious tone and brutality seemed to replace the campiness and adventure of what made the previous game so much fun. It felt like a poor recreation completely lacking any understanding of why the previous game worked so well.

Additionally, this game was missing that supernatural and occult element that encompassed all the previous games. 2009’s Wolfenstein dealt with a lot of really cool occult shit and the protagonist actually had a medallion that would allow him to move through different dimensions, which added an awesome element to the game that was reminiscent of what made the Soul Reaver games so unique and fun to play. This game was a straightforward shoot’em up and you were just shooting at Nazis and mecha the whole time. While that’s cool, I miss the demonic and mythical evil elements that tied this series to its sister, the Doom series.

The hero, B.J. Blazkowicz, felt like an entirely different character in this game and was missing the charm he had from the last one. He was just an angry brute with a hole in his heart and he wasn’t this likeable guy that he had always been previously. I always saw him as an Indiana Jones or Nathan Drake type and now he is like a generic background character in an Expendables movie.

It sounds like I am trashing this game but the truth is, I did enjoy it. It was more polished and a well executed game. It was also enjoyable and entertaining. The problem is, that being a sequel to an amazing game, regardless of its predecessor’s strengths, means that this needs to top it or at the very least, be on the same level. It fell short and that is why it will probably go onto my game shelf, most likely never to be touched again, where I play through the 2009 game just about once a year.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: The 2009 version of Wolfenstein, as well as this game’s sequels.

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