Wolfenstein – The New Order

A bout of appendicitis and subsequent recuperation time coincided nicely with the release of this latest iteration of an old favourite. I have played all the Wolfensteins bar the first couple and always found them entertaining, well-made, if not earth-shattering games. That goes for this one too, its thoroughly enjoyable, a good old-fashioned shooter such as is a rarity today, but there’s no wow factor. Its set in an alternate 1960 where the Nazis won WWII and now dominate the world, although they seem to have largely forsworn the magic and mysticism that  as a feature of earlier Wolfensteins in favour of hard-core technology. Acres and acres of gleaming steel and concrete, robotic watchdogs, armoured guards and giant assault robots, you’ll have to fight through all these as the ever reliable B J Blaskowicz. However, Blaskowicz himself has changed considerably in this brave new world from the robotic Nazi-killer of earlier games. He’s much more human, he hurts, falls in love (complete with explicit sex scenes) and muses wistfully on the  meaning of life and the horrors of life in the Nazi new order. He has also discovered stealth as an alternative to blaziing away upon the mere sight of a Nazi.  The stealth mechanic works reasonably well, but swings wildly in difficulty depending on whether Nazis have their backs to you. If thay’re turned away, no problem, knifing them is ridiculously easy. However, woe betide you if they’re facing you, for their eyesight is incredibly keen and they readily will spot you from 100 metres away if the slightest portion of your anatomy protrudes from behind cover. This can make the stealth sections a complete lottery. I was able to wander through a prison knifing a dozen guards in the back without raising a peep, but later an attempt to stealh a railway depot with just 3 guards I had to abandon in favour of going in with guns blazing after a dozen failed attempts because I was spotted no matter how well I hid. And choosing to go the firefight method has major consequences because if you fail to take out the officer with stealth he will sound the alarm and you will end up fighting a dozen or more enemies, including tough to kill armoured soldiers, watchdogs and assault robots. Luckliy combat in this game is fun and rewarding if you’re careful. There are an array of weapons with impressive firepower that feel good and sound realistic. Overall this comes down to why this game with its old-fashioned shooter feel continues to enthrall decades after its first appearance, Basically, its fun to kill Nazis, you can enjoy this game for that simple reason and no other. Games seem to become more complicated and loaded with deeper meaning every day, but as long as the simple joy of pouring a magazine  into a bunch of hysterical, shouting caricature  Nazis remains, there’s a place for Wolfenstein in this world.

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