Play it loud. Wolfenstein has always been about high octane adrenaline rush gameplay. A nonsensical plot and explosive Hollywood style action on a scale most other videogames can only muster in their closing chapters. Even at it’s lowest the franchise has maintained a balls-to-the-wall take on the genre it is often credited with creating: shoot first and don’t bother asking questions later. Despite occasionally wavering from this path, Wolfenstein: The New Order, launched a decade ago today, was an enjoyable representation of the retro-cum-modern reboots we have come to expect from AAA development budgets.

Grab a gun, shoot some Nazis. What could be simpler? Sadly, MachineGames decided that this wasn’t enough to make the game as bold a statement as they wanted. All manner of elaborate set-pieces and changes of pace; Wolfenstein: The New Order has a few too many missteps, poorly placed checkpoints and uninteresting boss fights to be considered a classic in the same ilk as the originator of the franchise. It’s an enjoyable journey, but it’s far from inventive.

Wolfenstein: The New Order screenshot

In fact, most of what Wolfenstein: The New Order gets right can be traced back to a game that was almost universally panned. The criminally underrated Bodycount proposed an inspired use of environment destruction and lean techniques which have been brought into Wolfenstein: The New Order wholesale. The first of these, known as ‘shredding’ in Codemasters’ poorly performing FPS, sees the player able to take out foes in cover by removing the object protecting them. Wood, stone and metal alike can be cut through, providing you have heavy enough firepower. In doing so you can cause massive explosions or find hidden items as well as doing your enemies damage. It’s an elementary gameplay design, and yet it still remains surprisingly absent from most FPS titles.

The lean technique is a revision of the cover lock that many titles on previous generations of consoles decided to base their gunplay mechanics upon. Instead of pressing a button or forcibly pushing against an object, the player simply sits behind cover and looks out by holding the L1 button (LB on Xbox formats) and moves the left analog stick in the direction they wish to lean. This can also be used for angling their viewpoint up or down as well as left or right. It presents the player with the ability to peak around corners, over bushes and under doors with ease. Though it’s still a simple mechanic, it’s easy to understand that not every FPS would choose to adopt this approach; indeed we often forgot it existed throughout the duration of Wolfenstein: The New Order‘s campaign.

Wolfenstein: The New Order screenshot

That campaign is lead by a story which is entirely superfluous to the gameplay. It’s completely at odds with bullish nature of the majority of the action. Not only is the storyline uninteresting but it does in fact harm the experience; pulling the player out of immersion for ham-fisted delivery of both script and plot. Wolfenstein: The New Order would be a better experience if it took the twists-and-turns out of the mix. Simply offering a ‘you’re the good guys go kill the Nazi’s’ videogame.

The visual quality bears the hallmarks of a videogame hamstrung by cross-platform development. It’s not as detrimental to the experience as the frequently irritating plot, but it is unfortunate to say the least. The cutscenes look fantastic but much like Square Enix’s ThiefWolfenstein: The New Order won’t be a shining example of the visual clout of PlayStation 3 and Xbox One hardware. Just like the core experience itself, Wolfenstein: The New Order is a good attempt at something familiar, with a few too many flaws to offer as recommended by today’s standards.

Categories: Games