Hands On – Wolfenstein: The New Order

By Dan Grill on February 24th, 2014 at 3:00 pm.

Update: This article has been updated to reflect the following factual corrections: your co-pilot is called Fergus, not Rufus; the cover system is still present in the game; a painting on the wall was of Deathshed, not the Fuhrer.

“In my dream, I smell the barbecue.
I hear children.
A dog.
I think I see someone.
Someone I love.

These things are not for me.
I move by roaring engines.
Among warriors.
We come from the night.”

Gawp. Yawp. Goggle. B.J. Blazkowicz does beat poetry. This can’t be Wolfenstein? But it is.

Wolfenstein, father of the FPS genre, eternally damned by faint praise. Of all id’s properties, it has been most competently served by its sequels. Compared to the mediocrity of Quake 4 and Doom 3, the rebooted Wolfenstein games by Gray Matter and Raven are solid. Yet they’re also forgettable run and gun fests, with cartoon Nazis and basic FPS mechanics. Wolfenstein: The New Order is the third in the rebooted series, and attempts to be memorable, whilst maintaining its simple violent entertainment. But does it work?

The slice I played last week was an expanded version of what Jim experienced at GamesCom and what Quintin interpreted Brendan’s shorthand as meaning. We’re reprising the role again of American-Polish hero B.J. Blazkowicz. Deathshead (presumably not his birth name), the scientist-commander who survived 2009’s Wolfenstein has given the Nazis access to giant science-fiction robots which have almost won them the war. So B.J. is part of a huge flight of aircraft assaulting Deathshead’s base in the hope of taking him out and giving the Allies a chance.

After B.J’s poetic dream-monologue, the game begins with a little interior plane adventure, as you dump cargo, play with the radar, man the guns and generally get to explore a 1946 Allied cargo plane. Eventually your bird takes one head-on collision with a fighter plane too many, and you and your Scottish co-pilot Rufus Fergus jump across to a nearby troop transport that’s just lost its pilot. Then you all fall out of that plane, the Captain America pastiche ends, and the D-Day re-enactment begins. What’s that? You don’t remember giant-robot-hellhounds from D-Day? Funny…

Having eliminated the hounds, you and the survivors gradually fight your way up the beach and through the standards of the genre. You run along trenches, throw explosives into machine-gun nests, tear heavy machineguns from mountings, dual-wield machine guns and so on. It’s worth noting that the cover system Jim praised seems to have been stripped out. The cover system is still present – you don’t stick to geometry like Gears of War’s brutish soldiers, but you’ll spend time hunkered behind scenery, using the directional lean to poke out and take potshots.

What’s different are the alternate paths. Pushing into one hangar, I’m confronted by all the Nazis in the world. After twenty years of playing first-person shooters (I suddenly feel so very, very old), even on the hardest difficulty, and with all their flanking and grenade-throwing, it’s not too hard to push through them. However, if I’d thrown a single grenade into the rocket store I found outside the hangar, it would have detonated and opened up an alternate route behind their defenses. Not original, no, but new to Wolfenstein.

These alternate paths can also be very Wolfenstein. Thirty minutes after a dozing B.J. mumbles that quote, I’m scaling the outer walls of a fortified tower with the corseted-grace of Adam West’s Batman, as planes explode above. Inside, I happen across a miniature shrine, reminiscent of the Fuhrer paintings present in Wolfenstein 3D. You know the kind of thing. Big painting of Deathshead. Suits of armour. Draped flags on the rough stone walls. All the faux medievalism of the pseudo-historical Teutonic Knights. Completely Wolfenstein.

One of the knight’s swords is bent, so I unconsciously, anally, bend to straighten it. It straightens. Deathshead’s stern visage recedes into the wall to reveal a secret passage. The passage leads to a vent in an office, where an officer is sitting at a fine old desk, presumably doing the Swastikaword. As the level designer has invited me to, I sneak up behind the officer and silently insta-kill him with my knife, preventing him from summoning reinforcements with his wired-in radio.

Note, bene. Not only have the developers taken a key element of the original Wolf 3D, the secret passages behind paintings. But they’d also recognised that this was a viable way to increase the diversity of paths through their game and encourage a different, stealthier, type of combat. Also, that’s exactly the stealth combat that comes from the original 1981 Castle Wolfenstein, which id had intended to put into Wolf 3D but cut because they created the FPS genre instead. And as he was the fifth officer I’d killed stealthily, I’d completed some objective hidden away in the game’s extensive menus and unlocked the ability to throw knives. Looking at the menu, I notice a whole other bunch of RPG menus too, with character descriptions and maps. It seems The New Order draws on not only Castle Wolfenstein and Wolf 3D but Wolfenstein RPG too.

All that new complexity doesn’t detract from The New Order’s FPSity. This is definitely a sequel to the founder of the FPS. The combat is fast and brutal, the AI is as smart-dumb as we’re used to, the weapons are as varied and lethal as you remember. Your head judder-judders with the flashes and sounds of unloading weaponry. Often I paused from firing just so the flashing would stop and I could tell if I’d actually managed to kill my enemy. Even the throwing knives have that near-silent snicker-snack as they embed in a officer’s neck or, more often, the tinkle of tumbling cutlery when you miss or accidentally throw a spoon.

But, in grand Wolfenstein tradition, it’s also a game about ludicrous bombast, built in a universe of NPCcidal physics. So when you’re not on a plane, it’s liable to explode at the slightest touch. When you’re on it, it’ll survive colliding head-on with another plane. When an NPC encounters a Ubersoldat, he’ll be turned to strawberry jam faster than you can bark ‘Mein Namen’. When that Ubersoldat punches you, B.J., you’ll grimace a little and keep shooting until he punches you another eight or so times. And this is on the second highest difficulty of “I am Death Incarnate” rather than “Don’t Hurt Me Daddy”.

Once you’ve climbed the tower and met up with the few other survivors of the assault, the game changes tone again, getting a bit silly and a bit gross. After meeting a few of Deathshead’s experiments, your team is trapped in a room. A smiley, leathery face appears at the window. An NPC shouts “it’s Deathshead”. And he babbles something about recognising B.J. before triggering the walls of your room to start crushing you. Because all rooms in villains’ fortresses have incinerators and mobile walls.

When you come around, it’s to a forced choice between the lives of your allies, which Jim has talked about before. It’s not pleasant, and the point of the scene is questionable (after all, we already know Nazis are evil), but it changes the game’s flow. Suddenly the narrative has changed from brave allies storming a castle, to brave allies getting tortured and running away. Barely escaping, B.J. jumps out of the castle window just as the room he was in explodes and he gets a big lump of shrapnel in his head. He plummets unconscious into the sea. Roll opening credits.

Then B.J. spends the next fourteen years as a shut-in patient in an asylum.

That’s no joke. The transition from the 1940s to the 1960s is an impressive cutscene, with brain-damaged B.J. watching each day pass as a single frame in a film. Similarly, conversations with a Polish family, with a pair of louche Gestapo officers on a train, and (another) torture scene are each performed with polished, in-engine animation. Machine Games can do well-written, well-animated cutscenes that, amazingly, I didn’t want to skip.

What comes next is the Wolfenstein that’s going to fill your playtime. It’s the 1960s. The Nazis conquered the world. The USA got nuked. It’s The Man in the High Castle, the action game. And B.J.is a lone out-of-era resistance fighter, in a wholly-Nazi world, looking mainly for revenge.

From what I saw, the game doesn’t change up much here. When B.J. comes around from fifteen years of cabbagedom, it’s that same shooter we had earlier, with divergent paths and optional mechanics. The family of the sole surviving asylum nurse (who you will have an inevitable romance with) agrees to help B.J. get to the prison where the surviving resistance fighters have been interned. And to get there, B.J. has to fight his way through checkpoints packed with Nazis, giant robots and some dreadfully annoying flying drones. It’s not exactly new, but it is enjoyable.

From the carefully-curated slice they showed us, it looks like Machine Games really *got* Wolfenstein. The mixture of camp and horror, the strong combat, the RPG integration, the secret passages, and the Nazis as comic book sadists. This is the best we can hope for from a modern Wolfenstein.

Yet I have a personal concern, coming from the core of Wolfenstein. Its choice of Hammer Horror subject matter – science-fiction, occultist Nazis – escaped Western criticism back in the early 90s when the industry was so niche. But it’s persistently caused problems in Germany, where each new game has to be extensively de-Nazified.

Perhaps Germany has it right. Perhaps we shouldn’t be leveraging for wacky entertainment one of the most horrible periods of human history. Wolfenstein is very much like Inglorious Basterds in that, however enjoyable we might find the spectacle of the moment-to-moment violence, there is no moral depth here. The forced choice that both Jim and I balked at is cruel and makes the player complicit in it – but beyond the chosen character not appearing later in the game, it’s gratuitous.

I’m unsure whether subject matter this morally-conflicted demands that we deal with it seriously. Half of modern-day Britain was raised on a diet of televised comedy Nazis in Allo Allo and Dad’s Army, continuing the propaganda caricatures from WWII. It’s completely normal that we think about Nazis as wacky – and it’s easy to joke about Commander ‘Death Shed’, up until you stumble across the picture of an actual death shed from Ohrdruf.

Wolfenstein flits between gung-ho war, camp Nazis, mass-murder FPS and torture-horror. Yet it’s not the portrayal but the tone that’s off. By making these fictional Nazis out to be comically and inhumanly evil, the game is obfuscating that it was real, normal people who calmly and systematically eliminated millions of other humans.

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149 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge Thirith says:

    Not that it matters much, but I’d argue there’s more moral depth in Inglourious Basterds than you accord it.

    • Dan Griliopoulos says:

      I’m happy to hear that argument, if you’ll make it – I just didn’t get that from the film. Or from any of Tarantino’s films, to be honest.

      • Premium User Badge Thirith says:

        I’m not arguing that IB (or any Tarantino movie) is deeply moral, but there’s something more subversive going on in the film than us watching fun slaughter of Nazis. The Basterds are monsters and presented as such, e.g. in the scene with the Bear Jew, which is stripped of any sense of fun. They’re a parody of the righteous Nazi killers, becoming downright grotesque. If anything, the ‘righteous’ revenge belongs to Shoshanna, who is the stealth heroine of the piece, but the Basterds are brainless, sadistic cartoons, and the film is quite self-aware about this.

        It’s been a year or so since I’ve watched it, so I’m doing a lot of this from memory; as I’ve said, I don’t think that Tarantino is making all that much of a moral argument – but the film does go beyond just “hur, hur, let’s kill us some Nazees!”

        • Premium User Badge Thurgret says:

          Going way, way off on a tangent here, but I’ve only seen one Tarantino movie, after a friend persuaded me to – Django. That film was almost nauseating, and certainly a bit unsettling — not just because somebody had conceived of it and made it, but since I just couldn’t fathom what there is to enjoy about it, and it had taken what could have been a potentially fascinating era and piece of subject matter and produced something pretty much unrelated to the time and totally amoral instead.

          Leaves me wondering a bit about some of the games I’ve played, too. Mostly when I was younger – my tolerance for gratuitous, pointless violence has diminished with time.

          • Dawngreeter says:

            I don’t really mind you not liking Django, but I have to say that I feel a person who can’t fathom what there is to enjoy in Django is very likely unable to find any kind of enjoyment in life.

            I might be wrong. But I hold it as a firm personal belief that a person not laughing at Don Johnson proto-KKK scene is dead inside.

          • sinister agent says:

            Watch 12 Years a Slave, and you may well find that you need to watch Django again, just for the sheer catharsis.

          • GROM says:

            You’ll have to forgive me for taking the cinematic opinion from someone who admittedly has only seen one of QT’s movies with a grain of salt. For a country in wich it took the civil rights movement a hundred years after the emancipation from slavery to get equal rights for non whites, I’d say it’s the punch to the face that country deserves. Even now there is a refusal to to acknowledge one of the blackest pages of US history. There is nothing moral or redeemable about slavery and what happened in these days still carries on into the present with socio economic differences between colour. You said you felt the movie was unsettling? Well good, maybe you did catch more of the underlying tones than you know.

            And it’s the same thing with IB like someone allready mentioned. There are no heroes in war only human monsters on both sides and the people caught up between it. We like to forget the german civilian bombardments, or hell even dropping two fat boys on civilian cities is still regarded as the heroic feat that won the war in the pacific.

          • rockman29 says:

            I thought Django was mostly a strong action movie with really good acting. Sure, not the greatest depth or movie overall, but not many movies are that or even try to be. Nothing wrong with enjoying an action movie.

            @article

            I loved Doom3… Why does everyone blast it so? :(

            Looking forward to this game though. Action looks good, didn’t like the cutscenes shown so far though.

        • Dan Griliopoulos says:

          That makes it sound like he attempted to show the Nazi’s immorality by stripping morality away from the Jews too – as the cliché has it, making them into monsters. I’m not sure taking away morality from every possible moral actor gives something moral depth. But, like you, it’s been a while since I saw the movie, so I accept that there could have been more to it than I recognised on first viewing.

          Thanks for talking it through anyway!

          • Premium User Badge Thirith says:

            Tarantino doesn’t do that, though; Shoshanna isn’t dehumanised in the way the Basterds are, and the comment is much less on actual Nazis (or Nazi killers) than about WW2 movies. What satirical/moral edge there is in the film is aimed at audiences cheering on monsters that we consider the good guys simply because they wear the right colours and shoot at the people wearing the wrong colours. Getting the label of ‘good guys’ and fighting the bad guys in movies seems to absolve those ‘good guys’ of any atrocity they commit, and that’s the issue Tarantino raises in his usual, over-the-top, postmodern way.

            Anyway, I’d definitely have to rewatch the film to have more of a discussion about it, but my general point is this: most of Tarantino’s films tend to be more complex with respect to morality and good vs. evil than they appear at first.

            Also, thank you – always fun for me to be opinionated, doubly so if it’s not the all-too-common internet penis comparison. ;-)

          • Ex Lion Tamer says:

            Oddly enough, I scrolled to the comments intending to argue with Dan re: Inglorious Basterds’ moral depth…only to find Thirith’s position leading me back toward Dan’s. I will say that I think one of you is giving too much credit to Tarantino and the other too little, but I have a hard time finding support in the text for a “viewer indictment” reading of the film. It’s certainly a film interested in various forms and manifestations of brutality and cruelty, with no reluctance to depict the “good guys” as ends-driven, but I do think it plays consistently to a standard “boo Nazis” mode which seems to fit Dan’s description of The New Order.

            As a broader Tarantino note relating to Thurgret’s comment above, I think this is one of the main reasons I vastly prefer Django Unchained to IB. Far from being amoral, Django as a film is filled with a deep, powerful anger about American slavery. The titular character is absolutely the main point of audience identification. I keep seeing pieces that argue the relative merits of 12 Years A Slave versus Django Unchained – I see them both as valid and striking responses to my country’s worst and most enduring sin. As thrilling and entertaining as moments of Django are cinematically, it’s shocking to me to see it as anything other than a deeply serious film at its core.

        • Dawngreeter says:

          One important thing to add, for the Bear Jew scene: Tarantino explicitly grants Nazis a sense of honor and bravery. The Nazi officer that dies holds himself with dignity, does not succumb to fear of being lynched by a sadistic mob and when asked if he got the medal for killing Jews, he simply replies: “Bravery”.

          Contrast this to, say, “I like american” scene from Saving Private Ryan.

          • Volcanu says:

            Yes it was quite interesting that in that scene my sympathies were entirely with the german officer, in stark contrast to the baying, repugnant mob of the ‘basterds’.

            I did find it a little discordant with the tone of the rest of the film though – which was (in my view anyway) largely just the glossy ‘revenge porn’ template that most of Tarantino’s films follow these days. I havent quite made up my mind whether Tarantino deliberately imbues these films with hidden depth and subversive comment or whether he’s just a master of style over substance and people see what they want to. I oscillate between the two camps.

          • Premium User Badge Thirith says:

            @Volcanu: The textual evidence is there that there’s more going on than just glossy revenge porn. It doesn’t undo the glossy revenge porn that there definitely is, but it adds a level or two.

          • Premium User Badge JamesTheNumberless says:

            No, the film is quite clear about Nazis, Goebbels and Hitler being the exemplars (Landa is more of an opportunist than anything else) and bravery isn’t something they are credited with. The man in that scene is a German soldier, as much a contrast with the Basterds as Shoshanna is with the Nazi high command. There are monsters on both sides, and then there is everybody else.

        • moizeus says:

          Sympathy for killers is most of the reasons this world is fucked up. There’s righteous killing, and wrongful killing. Righteous would be defending yourself i.e killing an aggressor or someone who’s hurting innocent. Wrongful would be killing just cause you feel like it. i.e nazis, islamic extremists, any other terrorists organizations. So your telling me that I should wave a white flag to Al-Qaeda or Hezbollah? when their killing innocents?

          • joa says:

            I do not think most of the world’s problems comes from sympathy for killers. And I do not believe you can distinguish moral and immoral killing – because you cannot apply logic to such a situation because what is moral and immoral involves perspective. Therefore it is only logical to either condemn or not condemn killing, whomever is doing it. However you can recognize that sometimes people have to kill to survive, and to fight against those who oppose freedom.

          • kalirion says:

            I wouldn’t throw the word”righteous” around so much. Consider that “righteous killings” is exactly what the terrorists believe they are doing.

            I mean, what could be more righteous than following the word of God, the One who Decides What Is Good And What Is Evil, and ridding the world of the Infidels, amirite?

            Definitions.

            Oh and I’m pretty sure there were plenty innocent people burning to death in the theater while Shosanna was laughing.

          • SuicideKing says:

            I wouldn’t throw the words “those who oppose freedom” around, either.

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      • MM1011 says:

        I could go on and on about the movie, and I think it’s quite a bit deeper than most give it credit for. I’ll just submit this, and you can take it or leave it. Warning, spoilers!

        What’s happening in the final act of the movie? A German audience is sitting in a theater watching a film about a German war hero valiantly fighting off/killing the enemy.

        Now, I realize that a majority of users here are from the UK, but understand that the movie is from an American director, made to fit in with a long tradition of American WWII films.

        So, what’s happening in real life? An American audience is sitting in a theater watching a film about American war heroes valiantly fighting off/killing the enemy.

        The two audiences are equal, they are both watching a war film with their side as the hero. However, the film assumes the audience identifies with the Basterds. So, how are the protagonists portrayed as they massacre the German audience?

        Backed by fire, faces covered in shadow.

        Laughing manically, bordered by fire, as ordinary civilians are shot down and burned to death.

        Just take those two images out of context and show them to someone not familiar with the film. Would you say these people look like heroes or villains?

        • Nate says:

          Thank you for mentioning it– the fact that it is a US movie is important.

          But the other part of the context that is important is the timing. Inglorious Basterds was released to a US (and presumable a Britain, although there was never the support there that there is here) that was involved in a major change in attitude regarding the Iraq War. This was a war founded in a response to terrorism (in people’s minds if not in reality). The rhetoric flew fast and easy; I only recently saw the clip leading to Maher’s termination, the one where he dares to suggest that of all the adjectives to describe someone who sacrifices him or herself for a cause, maybe “cowardly” isn’t the best fit.

          In the midst of all of this comes a movie full of all of the same rhetoric about Nazis that we’ve been hearing about our own enemies. And it is, of course, the exact same rhetoric that war movie are always full of, because it’s the same rhetoric that wars are always full of. Yet it’s the US Americans who are suicide bombers– who are blowing up a movie theater full of civilians. The only character approaching any level of skepticism or critical thought is of course that played by Waltz. The enemy. The member of perhaps the most objectified group in recent history, the German Nazi.

          It’s easy to disregard this with a 4chan quote like “TURNS OUT WE WERE ALL NAZIS/TERRORISTS IN THE END” but Inglorious Basterds arrived at a time when US American audiences desperately needed this message. Part of its genius is that it never did preach. It is hard to imagine any movie with this message reaching as many US Americans as Tarantino’s IB did. That’s because it’s happy to say, “Of course, the wholesale massacre of a bunch of imaginary enemies is great fun. As long as it’s imaginary.” Which is a message I think anybody reading RPS is happy to agree with.

          • Dan Griliopoulos says:

            That’s an astounding reading and one that I completely missed. And a tough sell, making it not merely Americans, but American Jews as the suicide bombers. I wonder how many people *got* that reading – and how many simply gloried in the death of the Nazis at the end?

          • Nate says:

            Well, it wouldn’t work unless we were cheering at the death of the Nazis. If we were merely horrified at the actions of Pitt’s IB, the message would just have been, “Hey, sometimes, some Americans are bad guys too. But don’t worry, morality, even in war, is not ambiguous, and you audience members are good people, fully justified in your hate, whoever that may target today.” We’ve already seen that movie a hundred times. It wouldn’t have worked with any other war, because WWII was both the first and the last “justified” war to most US Americans. It wouldn’t have worked with any other culture, because what it required was a group that felt sufficiently wronged (and, don’t misread me, were truly, horrifically wronged) to justify torture and the murder of civilians.

        • Premium User Badge Vandelay says:

          Very true. I made a quizzical face at Dan’s comparison as it does not seem particularly fitting. Whether you think it was successful or not, IB definitely wants to say something about the nature of screen violence and the cathartic response we may have. As you say, this also extends to the use of propaganda in films (I really like Nate’s comparison to the climate it was released in.) It is a common theme for Tarantino, but I personally feel it is done better in IB than in many of his other films, particularly Django.

          I don’t really think it is fair to describe it as doing something similar as a Wolfenstein game, which is very much just an over the top B-movie or, more likely, a straight to DVD film. Although, it isn’t as good as Iron Sky.

  2. kikito says:

    That last paragraph is applicable to almost any FPS in existence. People get killed and tortured every day. At the hands of real, normal people. Games make it look less real. But that’s because they are games.

    • P.Funk says:

      Yes but you miss the bit where its about one of THE most horrendous moments in human history and that moment was not very long ago.

      My grandfather died just last year and he saw WW2. As we move further from being able to talk to a person who was alive then it becomes more a relevant discussion – how do we contextualize such events, and does that greatly affect our ability to appreciate their significance?

      I’m not making a stand on either side, but lopping WW2 and the holocaust into the bag of all FPS content is kind downplaying how significant that period was. If anything the subject matter being as popular as it is and being exactly what it is is directly related to its deeper cultural significance than say the generic space marine on a moon killing monsters theme.

  3. Kyck says:

    People still believe in the holocaust? I thought millions of civilians got murdered and raped by commies & bombed by british turd in the name of democracy.

    • Dinjoralo says:

      Be careful, you’re heading into Poe’s Law territory.

      • Premium User Badge phuzz says:

        With that username, I think we’re beyond parody and straight to insult.

      • Premium User Badge Thurgret says:

        That comment went so far that I’m not at all certain that Poe’s Law is applicable.

    • Orija says:

      As someone whose country is a former colony, the Brits were our Nazis. It was the Nazis, instead, who seemed to our people as liberators and the ‘good guys’. That doesn’t mean they were such, but the thing is, the Brits committed far more brutality on my country and its people, while the Nazis an unfamiliar, distant entity, on whom we placed our hopes of crushing British imperialism and bringing us independence.

      • sinister agent says:

        Hey I know which country you’re fro… well.

        Okay, I have maybe a one in thirty chance to get this right. Give me a minute.

      • Buffer117 says:

        I’m sorry I must have missed learning about the country where the British rounded up millions of people and systematically murdered them, where are you from again?

        • Geebs says:

          Well, there was that “inventing concentration camps in South Africa” thing, but then that wasn’t a British colony.

          • Buffer117 says:

            The British didn’t invent internment camps, but the term “concentration camp” was coined from the Boer War. I don’t think anyone can look at the treatment of Boer and Africans by the British with 1000′s dying in poorly run facilities and not be appalled, but it’s slightly different to deliberate mass genocide.

        • gealach says:

          How about Australia? It never reached the annihilation-numbers and -speed of the Nazis, but was a structured genocide nonetheless:

          Quote Wikipedia :
          “The sixty years from 1881 to the 1940s can be divided into two by the passage of the 1905 Aboriginal Act, which resulted in institutionalised racism and created what amounted to Aboriginal “concentration camps” in which the Aboriginal people were to be confined until the race became extinct.
          It began with the Fairburn Report which first drew attention to the “Aboriginal Problem”. This institutionalised racism reached its peak in the 1930s. Children were removed from Aboriginal parents, who were considered “biologically capable of having children, but not socially capable of raising them”. This continued beyond this period until well into the 1970s.”

          At least that’s the one I always remember thanks to an old issue of “Hellblazer”

        • Sheogorath says:

          @ Buffer117
          (I’m not sure if this computer’s ancient browser can handle RPS’ sophisticated space-age commenting technology, so I’m adding that just to be sure this doesn’t fly off into the main section and look totally out of place.)

          The British didn’t reach Nazi Germany in terms of scale, but the ‘quality’ of their brutality was very much on the same level.

          Ireland saw about a million people dead, and more displaced through the potato famine alone. While the famine itself was not caused by the British, they exacerbated it intentionally. If the Soviets get the blame for Holodomer, then I feel it quite fair to say the British were responsible for the Great Famine.

          Kenya saw torture, murder, and general oppression of the same sort as the French perpetrated in Algeria. This is only recently coming to light because the British government has gone to some pains to hide the documentation. Of course, nationalists and racists have already asserted that the documents are fake or ‘exaggerations.’

          South Africa, as mentioned, saw the imprisonment of thousands of Boer civilians in terrible conditions. Imprisoning people is one thing, but if you’re going to throw people in a giant camp, you’ve got a responsibility to provide food and medical care for them.

          Australia was mentioned, although their (arguably) greatest abuses didn’t occur under British administration, there was the hunting (literally) to extinction of the aboriginal peoples of Tasmania.

          So yeah, if you live in one of those places, you might well consider the British to be your nation’s equivalent of the Nazis.

    • Premium User Badge JamesTheNumberless says:

      Oh look, my first block!

  4. Zallgrin says:

    You summarized my opinion. It looks fun with surprising depth in gameplay, but this depth does not extend to the story. The fetishization of nazis as villains is not only getting old, but also feels very creepy by now.

    Either way, it looks like I’ll enjoy the game regardless.

    • Dan Griliopoulos says:

      Exactly. I’m definitely conflicted over this – I enjoyed FPS games, and always have, but am having increasing moral qualms over them. This wacky Nazi theme exacerbates my qualms.

    • Premium User Badge cpt_freakout says:

      I think the camp Nazis theme still has a place in pulp fiction – a pretty diminished, weird, place, but a place nonetheless – which is the kind of setting that Wolfenstein thrives in. However, the ‘serious angle’ of supposedly moral choices and the horror drawn from them might perhaps be stretching the theme too much into something that it’s not capable of portraying well. We’ll see how this works out, but so far the impression I have is that the shift in tone is neither subtle nor thought-provoking; it seems to be just there as another kind of titillation that doesn’t match too well with the camp Nazi stuff.

      • Dan Griliopoulos says:

        Yes, this. It could also be a side-effect of either a) the increased realism of games or b) my increased age.

        • Syphus says:

          When I played Wolfenstein 3D, sure I was much younger, but I had many more moral qualms about that game. Yes, it didn’t really have much of a story beyond the very basics, and the Swastikas were just there because they were there. However, I spent a good portion of my childhood around people with tattoos on their arms.

          I don’t really have much of a point here, or anything to contribute to the overall argument. But, I just wanted to include that little tidbit.

        • Smion says:

          Personally, I think it’s more like c) the way the videogame in question tends to portray the atrocities of the Nazi regime. I.e. the way the nazis in the trailers calmly execute the patients of a psychiatric hospital by shooting them in the head through pillows feels a lot closer to the reality of Action T4 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_T4 ) than mad scientists looking like they might be called Frankenstein experimenting on people to turn them into invisible assasins with blades for arms or floating monstrosities with bazookas in their forehead.

      • Premium User Badge blind_boy_grunt says:

        camp nazis just sounds wrong. Like, really wrong.
        Isn’t the question also how movies are doing it? I’d never think to complain in something like iron sky or indiana jones about their portrayal of nazis.
        Maybe it’s a problem of balance(how many serious vs. how many campy) or at least a rule that the more real it gets in the depiction of violence the more serious or earnest it should become in the depiction of nazis. In the end i don’t really have an opinion, but i get where dan…grill… is coming from.

      • Premium User Badge JamesTheNumberless says:

        Just look at how many Downfall parody videos there are. The camp/ridiculous Nazi is as alive and (high) kicking as he was in Chaplin’s day.

      • Premium User Badge ffordesoon says:

        This is my problem with the game. I liked Inglourious Basterds because it knew exactly what it wanted to be. It’s a reaction to World War II fiction, and films in particular, not World War II. Which is not to imply it has nothing to say about WWII, but at no point is it talking about real history. It’s about the stories we create in the aftermath of history. I’ve seen the movie many times, and there’s a lot there.

        This game, on the other hand, appears to be the sort of thing the game industry does so well: aggressive mimicry of a popular film’s aesthetic choices with all the meaning stripped out. The hope, I’d imagine, is that pseudointellectual rubes will associate the aesthetic choices with the film and presume that the meaning is there as well, even if it’s not in evidence. I can’t imagine it working with this game, however, or with any game that attempts to mine Basterds, precisely because Basterds was a conscious attempt to operate within and comment on decades of cinematic propaganda and nationalistic mythmaking. It was, putting it more bluntly, a reaction to other films that had something to say about World War II.

        If we look at World War II games, though, especially WWII FPSes, what is there to react to? What do other World War II games have to say about World War II that isn’t scraped off the top of movies? D-Day was scary? Nazis are bad? Nazi castles had secret passages with cool loot inside? What? Not to mention that, based on this preview, the game seems keen only to double down on those narratively threadbare premises. And it only makes the gruesome “shock” scenes seem all the more out of place and clumsy. You can’t operate in the Wolfenstein tradition (which in turn operates within the “Nazis as pulp villains” tradition) and have Something To Say About The War at the same time. The disconnect is too jarring.

        • TeeJay says:

          What movies do you think the previous Wolfenstein games were copying?

  5. PopeRatzo says:

    Alright. This is a little more like it. If the campaign is more gameplay than can fit into a single day, I’ll buy and play this. If it’s six hours, they can shove their full price up their ass and I’ll wait until Sale Day.

  6. Casimir's Blake says:

    I would argue strongly in favour of Return To Castle Wolfenstein for its single player experience, being full of rather memorable and diverse locations, set pieces and some truly satisfying gunplay. The multi player was pretty good too.

    The “reboot” was utterly dire, tedious, and suffered from the current “tutorial that never quite ends cancer” blighting so many modern AAA games, pointless mini-open-worlds, unsatisfying shooting, and totally nonsensical plot.

  7. chris1479 says:

    The tedious moralising at RPS aside for a moment, censorship is not the answer. Carry on anyway.

    • FFabian says:

      In before more of these holier-than-thou types show up:
      You are aware that banning the Swastika in Germany is done not with the intent of Damnatio Memoriae? It’s a common (for Brits and USians) misconception though – displaying the swastika is allowed (and used) for education, artistic and religious (Hindu or Buddhism) purposes. The NSDAP is a criminal/unconstitutional organization in Germany and so the use of it’s symbols are banned – same goes for the PKK or other, more recent, criminal/terroristic organizations.

      • witzkawumme (wkw) says:

        1) censorship is a totalitarian concept using such concepts to ensure democracy is just fucking dumb with the exception that it is only done for a limited time, e.g., right after a regime change.

        2) Furthermore, loads of nazis in Germany and Austria got away or even stayed/got in high-ranking positions after the war, but every fucking computer game gets censored… yeah that sounds really smart.

        3) it doesn’t fucking help at all, the neo-nazis and others developed codes and shit to express their stuff.

        4) it actually worsened the situation, because officially everything that could be “a little bit nazi” is totally vilified and everyone is told they are just dumb. you know the result, nearly fucking no-one is able to argue properly with those fucking right-wing assholes. because for fucking 60 years nobody deemed it necessary to argue with them. The result: democracy without teeth.

        greetings from an Austrian living in Germany

        • Asdfreak says:

          1) At least they can’t march around in front of a jews houses with a Swastika-flag shouting Heil Hitler like they can in America. Also it is quite nonsensical to rant on about totalitatrian bla bla bla, fact is that that way, they at least can’t use it to glorify Naziism, especially in front of children. Its actually quite hard, if not impossible to censor anything else whith those laws. If you are doing anything even remotly artistical or satirical with it( except for video games, which oddly are sometimes considered art and sometimes not, depending on whom you are asking), or use it for any kind of teaching purpose. Only hate preaching of any kind can be censored. You portrait it as if the government could just censor away any fact they didn’t want to be spoken out loud.
          Maybe the Wolfenstein devs could just say that it is all satirical, if it really is as over the top as stated in the article

          2) Valid point, but kind of too late after 70+ years. Also, there was only no de-nazification in Austria, as the goverment there went all “hurr-durr we were all victims of teh evel nazees, go away, noting to c”. In Germany it was started but quickly ended again by the Americans, as they could not afford to individually check 99% of all people working in any kind of government job. At least the judges were looked through quite quarter-heartedly.

          4) Maybe because if you actually tried talking to them, you would notice that it doesn’t help? The real problem is, that they thought it was a good idea to let caught neo-nazis get away so that they would act as double agents, that were not actually double in the direction they wanted them to be.
          If they had used that money to prevent them from recruiting their small numbers, or to help people quit that have reconsidered, they would probably be close to extinction.
          Anyway, they have massivly lost people even from their core group, their numbers are dwindelling. The only thing that concerns me is that they want to outlaw the NPD ( only party that is openly rightwing. Only other sigificant rightwing party, AfD, consists of old people that don’t want the euro. None of them are in parliament; should maybe not for all those GB and US people reading that conservatives here are probably more leftwing than the american democrats for anything but “family politics”) again, because now we at least know who is a nazi by looking at their member lists. Sure, the NPD is a racist and anti-democratic force, but if we just outlaw all their organisations, they might grow again where we don’t see them. They are, with their measly 2.7% only a minor nuicance and not a major problem like you put it. They only get so “many” votes because so many people don’t vote but all of their members of course go vote for them(plus old people are more likely to go to elections)
          The real problem are all those hidden right wing people, that try to sneak in their views by acting as if they were conservatives or undermining other parties, because there is a social stigma to being right wing here. Maybe not so strong in the east or in bavaria, but definiatly existant, especially visible in polititians with any kind of right wing views. If you ask them if they are homophob, they will akwardly try to steer the conversation into an other direction, but everyone not stupid knows it anyway. Same thing with anything remotly rightwing. “No I don’t “dislike” Foreigners, but…” They could never admitt it, because all parties are anti-right. You make it sound as if it was bad that anyone just starts to ignore them right away and call them dumb.

          Omg half asleep wall of text

    • aldo_14 says:

      I think if we want people to view games as an adult medium, we have to be able to have adult discussions about their content. That includes ‘tedious moralising’.

      • chris1479 says:

        Yes, there is a place and a time for that, but Wolfenstein’s Ultra Sci-Fi Supernazis is neither. It’s like asking if Terminator doesn’t downplay the seriousness of Skynet one day becoming a reality. Just no. The answer is no.

        • SillyWizard says:

          I really agree. That seemed like a really odd direction to go in an article about a new (or any) Wolfenstein game.

          • dethtoll says:

            Word to that.

          • Faxanadu says:

            Oh thank God, the sane people are here. For a moment I was wondering what the hell are these people talking about. Now I know they were just being silly. Can we talk about the GAME now? :) The GAME sounds good tbh. :P

        • Premium User Badge ffordesoon says:

          But the game itself is inviting these ruminations with content designed specifically to shock. Look up any gameplay trailers for the game and you’ll see it’s being sold on that sort of thing.

        • LogicalDash says:

          Ok. Why is the answer no?

    • Dan Griliopoulos says:

      I’d agree censorship is not the answer. But I do think these things need to be thought about and talked about.

  8. Felixader says:

    Hi, my name is Felix Schmidt i am 30 Years old and as you probably can guess, i am German.

    I want to talk about the trouble of portraing nazis in games and media in general in germany.

    First off, in Movies it is apparently cool not in games though, bullshit, just saying.

    But that is not what i want to talk about. I want to talk about how Germany, with this behaviour, does not help itself AND kinda gets on my fing balls.
    The whole Second World War, starting from Germany and setting the whole world on fire, with all its awfull crimes and horrors is a thing that may never be forgotten and repeated (not that many care as we can see in the news on a daily account of crueltys that are on a similar level in everything but numbers). I for one will do everything i can, as long as i live, to keep any faschist regime from taking power again in germany.

    HOWEVER, i am tired. I am tired of Germans making a droopy face upon nazis beeing mentioned, i am tired of german politicians making knee jerk decisions and keeping behind the bush with obvious oppinions in regards to certain themes, when someone wiggles the Nazi Flag.
    Neither me, my parents, or their parents had anything to do with the Nazis. I am NOT letting people guild trip me into stuff because of germanys past, may it never be forgotten and taken as a lesson (but i mentioned that already).
    There is not a nation that has taken a look upon and researched the crimes of that war as thoroughly as Germany and its people.

    I say let the people laugh about the absurdity of this theology, of this absurd ideology. Let the people read Mein Kampf ( is not allowed in germany) so that they see truth behind this little mans idiocy and let me have Nazicrosses in my games and shoot up the caricature of what is a joking shadow of the truth.

    I think Germany has come to far from the terrible horror that was its past to further needlessly paralize it’s youth, who have done nothing wrong, with guild for things they never committed.
    What is even worse: when i was a teenager and we learned of our past (wich i think is very much necessary) it soon was SO overdone, on german TV with Documentary over Documentary over Documentary, that my teenager self kinda got really pissed off at it because i simply had the feeling that i am beeing blamed for it.

    Gist of it all: We shall never forgett the past and learn from it, but stop trying to guild trip especially the younger generations of germans. We are not our past and having some symbols in the one or other game wont cause anyone of them to become nazis. Especially considering that Germany is an immigration country nowadays and many germans share their classrooms with children and teenagers from many different cultures.

    • Syphus says:

      Only because you brought it up, I am not curious as to what your grandparents did during the war that they had “nothing to do” with it.

      • FFabian says:

        Probably picking his nose and asking stupid questions – the usual stuff children do. My grandpa was 9 years olds when the war started.

        • Syphus says:

          Don’t know if you’re the same person? But either way, I am the same age, and none of my family waited particularly long to have kids, yet both sides of grandparnets fought in the war. So that is why I asked.

      • Felixader says:

        My Grandparents were both born after the war. Their parents weren’t entirely without fault, i think. My grand grandfather was a germany footsoldier but i never met him.

        • Syphus says:

          Aha. A lot of these discussions these days are weird to me when I realize that a lot of people grew up without knowing any living family member who was involved with the war. There is a certainly a different way you talk about it, such as how we talk about the US Civil War these days.

      • Orija says:

        I didn’t know all Germans, from seven to seventy, were conniving fascists during WW2.

        • Syphus says:

          I probably shouldn’t bother responding to you. But, I’m not sure if you’re just really dumb, or if you honestly don’t know much about Germany in the 30s and during the war.

          • P.Funk says:

            Maybe I’m just dumb, but I can’t quite figure out exactly what you’re trying to say, other than to vaguely bait this passionate German into some kind of typical narrow minded joust over some BS you haven’t yet articulated but are no doubt waiting to unleash as soon as he says something particular you’re trying to draw out of him.

    • chris1479 says:

      Danke dir, Felix. Das stimmt, ich wünsche, dass mehr Menschen wie du denken würden. Sie verhalten sich als ob Bücher – Mein Kampf zB – irgendeine Art von einem “korrumpierenden” Effekt auf Menschen haben könnten. Tatsache ist, wenn es verboten solche Sachen zu lesen ist, wie würde man herausfinden, dass es total Schwachsinn war? Im Endeffekt: Mehr Extremismus und Ignoranz.

      Now, I dont want to embarass myself with any more of my terrible German, so I will just say that you are right and again – censorship is not the answer, the very people who condemn the Daily Mail and its hysteria, as if they were themselves somehow above it all, are the same people who would happily censor historical texts such as Mein Kampf in the name of… whatever.

      (Im Uebrigens hab ich auch satt mit den langweiligen sogenannte “Witzen” in Bezug auf die Deutschen und Nazis, besonders im Kontext von den Briten. Ich finde es richtig Aetzend)

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Less than two weeks ago, Neo-Nazis marched in Dresden to commemorate the anniversary of the World War II bombings.

      They were met by a far larger Antifa protest, but the point is that these people still exist. Violent right-wing extremism is still a problem. It’s not some dead and gone issue. We can maybe argue about whether the ban on Nazi symbols in entertainment is too broad, but history is important. It’s relevant. There are still very very few Jews in Germany.

      • chris1479 says:

        Splinters, planks and eyes come to mind. The Antifa are thugs of the lowest order, scarcely any better than the fascist thugs they presume to oppose and there are hundreds of examples of their behaviour e.g busloads of protesters imported to perfectly legal albeit unpleasant demonstrations kitted out with bats and knives, or how they burnt down an Alternativ fuer Deutschland member’s house because he kept campaign materials there for the party.

        There are few innocents in this.

        • Chorltonwheelie says:

          Horseshit.
          Fascists will attack you if you’re black, gay, Jewish, socialist, Romany, disabled, a trade unionist, an honest journalist or even a whiny liberal who’s forgotten how whiny liberals handed them victory last time.

          Antifa will attack you if you’re a fascist.
          Sorting it out with bats and fists is nothing to the ultra-violence unleashed on the entire world needed to stop them when they got power last time.

          Never again.

          • Felixader says:

            Wich doesn’t mean that Antifa can’t go overboard at times. They are humans after all, even if their goals are to contributing to the NEVER AGAIN.

            Wich i occur to, althougth not beeing Antifa myself.

            Never Again.

          • SillyWizard says:

            Intolerance of intolerance is just as bad as the intolerant that you don’t tolerate.

            It’s important for regulated social organizations (police, FBI, etc) to monitor and react to hate groups, but a hate group cannot receive a pass simply because the target of their hate is an ostensibly more vile hate group.

            The correct response to intolerance is tolerance. Any psychologist will tell you that any aggressive or defensive reaction to conflict is going to cause all parties involved to dig in their heels and become that much more entrenched in their beliefs.

            However, when aggression is confronted with vulnerability, a very natural human response is to offer conciliation and vulnerability in kind. When vulnerability is taken advantage of and harm is done, it’s time for the police to intervene.

            There’s certainly no room for one set of thugs to designate themselves morally superior to another set of thugs and be given carte blanche. That’s essentially how all unsuitable might-makes-right dictators have come to power throughout history.

            Never again.

          • Smion says:

            Uhm, nope. Intolerance of intolerance is not just as bad as intolerance of people based on their color of skin, as the first is directed against the behavior of a person whereas the latter is directed against the mere existence of another person.

          • SillyWizard says:

            For the zealot, having something over which to be violent is more important than the cause itself. It’s a type of sickness which urges physical altercation over social construction.

            Humans are by nature social creatures. Those of us who prefer destruction over conversation are quite literally mentally ill.

            Whether you’re talking about straight-edge kids who will gang up on and beat the shit out of people they see smoking or drinking; or neo-nazis; or Antifa; what is important to these people is having an outlet for their animalistic urges.

            Fortunately, over time the human species has managed to establish regulated and responsible methods of dealing with dangerous fringe groups. The moment a fringe-group becomes socially acceptable, safety for everyone else is in danger.

            Recall that the Brown Shirts presented themselves as protectors/saviors of the German people from all the shit the populace was dealing with at the time. Life in Germany was so awful at the time, these people were given free reign ultimately and inflicted unimaginable horror across the globe.

            No matter how “noble” the philosophy, if the means to the end involves fists and bats, it’s wrong. (The exception being a situation in which the state itself — which should be representative of and protective of the people — is not addressing a clear threat to its own citizens, or is exploiting/harming its citizens directly.)

            But even in the event that a state must be overthrown, vigilantism isn’t really ever appropriate.

          • joa says:

            Agreed. Everyone is convinced they are in the right. So of course each group thinks it’s OK for them to be intolerant of some other group, because that other group being bad justifies it. But it all comes down to perspective in the end.

            So that’s why the only logical option is to be tolerant of all (or intolerant of all).

          • Smion says:

            Maybe it’s rather that actual repulsion at an actually repulsive ideology that bases a person’s worth on their genes/country of origin rather than stuff in which they have any sort of input is a pretty understandable emotion for humans to have (also, regardless of justification, I tend to think that wanting to destroy that you consider to be bad rather than talk about it has historically been a pretty standard feeling for humans all over the world. Does that mean everyone but you and the Dalai-Lama is mentally ill?) rather than a mere justification of an outlet of animal tendencies (because people who feel strongly about stuff I don’t feel strongly about are just faking feeling strongly about it).
            Whether or not violence is an actually constructive way to counter such repulsive ideas is another question and one where I’m more ready to line up with your position but, just because something is bad if it’s done to a specific person doesn’t mean it’s not worse if it’s done to another person. I.e. while I think that the death penalty is wrong in all cases, that doesn’t mean that I think a convicted double-murderer getting poisoned in Texas is just as bad as adulterers getting stoned to death in Iran.

      • Felixader says:

        No, you are right, it is not and it is good that even more people are acting against it.

        I am also not against the most important of meassures; educating.

        But as i have written below: I think we should stop treating ourselfes (germans) like idiots in regards to certain themes by hiding certain symbols and tiptoeing around certain themes.

    • genosse says:

      Another German chiming in – hi Felix! My personal opinion about this issue is: don’t worry too much. The older generations are slowly making way for younger people who carry a lot less emotional ballast and who will voice their opinions (and hear out other’s) without always drawing a line to our Nazi past.

      It is just a matter of time, as it always is. And instead of complaining I would rather like to see everyone of us leading by good example: be open minded, interested and curious, listen, treat others with respect and still don’t be afraid to point out facist and bigoted reasoning in people, which unfortunately still exists in large amounts – but not as an exclusively German problem.

      What irks me about this “it’s time we shake off our shackles and look towards the future” talk is the fact, that you also hear this a lot from closet nazis who like to appear all progressive, but are in reality just looking for the next best thing that somehow empowers them to send a lot of immigrants out of the country or other (in my opinion) stupid shit.

      It is basically what our past education tried to prevent, so please be aware that bigotry and racism have many faces and do not always carry a mustache or swastika. Also be aware that you might indirectly associate yourself with those people and support their ideas even if this was never your intention.

      Just let time sort it all out and until then just continue to act decently, because in the end it is our actions that shape our society one tiny piece by another, and not our complaints.

      Edit: Also, sorry for sounding like a wisecracking hippie, but I always take comments like yours with a huge grain of salt and I tried to reply as reasonably as I could. ;)

      • Felixader says:

        You are right. It still bothers me though and on account of beeing a bit in a bad mood today it caused me to rant.

        Mind you though that i still stand by what i saiid up there. ^-^

        That said i am providing my part of making the world a better place by beeing a Erzieher in an integrative kindergarten and somesuch institutions, teaching (or trying so) tollerance by example. ^-^

        I just think we should stop treating ourselfes like idiots in regards to certain themes.

      • Premium User Badge Bluerps says:

        I never felt guilty about the crimes of Nazi Germany, and I think I would get very angry should someone demand that I did. However I also always felt a responsibilty for not letting this part of history repeat. For fighting fascism, racism, national socialism and all the other isms associated with the Nazis. Which is stupid, of course, because everyone should do that, not only Germans. But still, the Nazis were Germans, and we should not forget that.

        Ugh. I am tired, and I have trouble to find the right words here. I guess what I am trying to say is that no German should feel guilty, but no German should forget our history either.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      Thanks for the insightful comment , Felix. Fascinating and saddening to hear that the children of children of children still share the guilt of the ancestors. Speaking as a Brit I’m probably meant to reignite old war jokes about you but that is a British tradition I am equally tired and ashamed of. To the commenters above trying to say all Germans during the war were evil, I would recommend reading All Quiet on the Western Front. Different war, I know, but the point remains: anyone of us born at that time could have been Nazi. If u were born a young, angry German in the 1920s you would, with absolute certainly, have grown up to be a Nazi. That is the awkward truth we ALL face. The problem is the Nazis were human beings so as fellow human beings we should all feel that shared guilt of our ancestors atrocities and we should all take time to remember what went wrong and make sure it doesn’t happen again in our lifetimes. I have no doubt Germans are very good at doing that in this day and age. The rest of the world….maybe not so much.

    • Sian says:

      Hi Felix

      While I completely agree with you, I do have to correct you about one thing: Mein Kampf is not forbidden in Germany. It’s not being printed and sold in Germany solely because Bavaria owns the rights to the book and won’t allow it to be printed, but even that ends in 2016.

      See here:
      http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mein_Kampf#Aktuelle_Rechtslage

  9. Viscera says:

    There aren’t any more satisfying enemies than nazis. They are the closest thing reality has to ruthless, murderous monsters. As such, I’ll continue killing them in video games. Not despite the horrors of the Third Reich, but because of them.

    There is, of course, a rather strong escapism angle, that is especially strong in the original Wolfenstein 3D, where you single-handled destroy the entire nazi machinery by killing Hitler. But it’s there in other games too, when you fight against the nazis and, implicitly, against the horrors they cause.

    I’m actually more aware of the escapism aspect nowadays, as Wolfenstein 3D is more fun to me today. After the disastrous investigation of the NSU murders, driven by racism, and the horrible election results last year, that made clear that nazi(-like) mentality is still (or again) very widespread in Germany, killing nazis in a game is a great outlet.

    Yes, it’s shallow, but so are many games. Yes, it’s very escapistic, but so is nearly every game. Yes, it’s morally questionable, but so is every game in which you kill people.

    • FFabian says:

      ” and the horrible election results last year, that made clear that nazi(-like) mentality is still (or again) very widespread in Germany”

      WTF? Bullshit!

      Germany learned the lesson WW2 taught – and that’s why we know that mass surveillance, disregard for civil/human rights of non-Ary…Americans and militaristic jingoism leads to “very bad things”. A lesson especially smug USians and the Brits seem to disregard lately…

      • Syphus says:

        Yet being a Jew, or even worse, a “Secret Jew” is still an appropriately German (and Eastern European) insult. The only difference is that its even worse since there are only about 3 Jews left.

        • FFabian says:

          Do you just make these stuff up? Is this some sort of weird british stereotype about Germany? WW2 is over more than 70 years ago. I know the common USians and especially the Brits self-confidence still relies on the fact that they fought the Nazis, probably because it was the last time they did the “right thing” and today are more concerned with building their own authoritarian system.

          FYI Germany has the seventh largest jewish population after Israel (more than 100K)

          • Syphus says:

            http://www.spiegel.de/international/anti-semitism-at-german-schools-insults-against-jews-on-the-rise-a-453402.html More recently: http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/eu-study-fear-of-anti-semitism-rising-in-seven-european-countries-a-932597.html So no, I am not making this up.

            Germany’s population of Jews is basically nothing compared to the population before the war. Also, the Argentinian Jewish community is larger than the German Jewish community. You know where all those Jews came from in Argentina? I’ll give you a hint: There were barely any there before the war. But that’s not really the argument, we all know what happened. The point is that being a Jew is still an insult in Germany despite the fact that there’s a damn good chance you’re not talking to anyone Jewish.

          • Felixader says:

            One of the articles makes an interesting and i think not unimportant point about perception in regards to the recent situation in world politics.

            Another thing is that in case of the circumsicion many Germans critisised that comment in regards to this tradition.
            But i don’t want to hide that a disscussion was beeing had in regards to the basic right of every human beeing not to be harmed and how this should be handled in face of traditions.

            The last thing, as also mentioned in the article, is in regard to the Israeli politics and the decisions of the countrys government as of late wich many simply see very critical. This is not an criticism on the Jewish believe in itslef but it think is seen so by many of its believers.

            That there are still narrow minded people all over the world is not to be denied though.

            All in all the article is pretty singleminded in mentioning these discussions but not all sides of the arguments to be had.

          • FFabian says:

            Did you actually read the articles? Or was it a quick google search and just picking random articles? First article is talking about Berlin and children with arab and muslim background (Berlin-Kreuzberg 36,5% immigrants, Berlin-Neukoelln 38,5%) showing anti-semitic tendencies. The second article states: “In Germany, the KPMD, a service for registering crimes, has recorded a decline in anti-Semitic crimes since 2009.” Your arguments are getting pretty thin eh?

    • Felixader says:

      What horrible election results are you talking about?
      The ones were the Nazi party more or less ceased to exist because they hadn’t enough votes in any kind of way?

    • Baines says:

      There aren’t any more satisfying enemies than nazis. They are the closest thing reality has to ruthless, murderous monsters.

      Only because the world at large tends to sensationalize Nazis and ignores everything else.

      America puts Japanese in camps? No problem, because it was for “the greater good.” Just like the idea of nuking a country until it glows. Or slavery. Or imprisonment without trial.

      Japan was part of the Axis, and they don’t get treated the way Nazis do. Japan captures and forces a few hundred thousand women into prostitution? Hardly anyone even speaks about it, except on the occasions when a Japanese politician makes some embarrassing related quote. Similar for the Rape/Massacre of Nanking.

      The world has continued to see attempts at genocide beyond World War II. And plenty of other country-level crimes.

      And if you did it more than a couple of centuries ago, attempting to commit genocide can turn you into a respected historical figure/hero.

      I’m not trying to defend Nazis. There is, and has been, plenty of evil in the world and Nazis are only a part of it. Most likely a decreasing part. But a blanket view of it being okay to kill them en masse because they are a stereotypical evil isn’t far removed from holding the same view about other faceless stereotyped groups or cultures.

  10. ZIGS says:

    Inside, I happen across a mini-Hitler shrine.

    I didn’t know Hitler had a mini version of himself. Maybe that’s where the guys who made Austin Powers got the idea from :)

    • Writhe says:

      My interpretation was that the shrine had one of those cute, chibi-style vinyl figurines of fuhrer on it. Zehr kawaii!

  11. XhomeB says:

    I’m sorry Dan, did you just describe the utterly brilliant Return to CW as “a forgettable run and gun fest, with cartoon Nazis and basic FPS mechanics”? That description fits Wolfenstein 2009 perfectly, but not Return to CW – for that game was utterly brilliant, cleverly designed and extremely memorable. In fact, its SP campaign is so good I play through it almost every year.

    Anyway, it’s comforting to hear there are some alternate paths that change the player’s progression through the levels to a certain extent, but just how linear is New Order? Should we expect Call-of-Duty-like corridors (in a literal sense) or something more “open”, slightly “maze-like” levels which allow for some flanking manouvers?

    • Dan Griliopoulos says:

      Haha, I may have done. Apologies, I enjoyed the first one, but I have absolutely no memory of it beyond a cable car. :-/

      There’s a bit of flanking and mazing, yes; areas tend to be quite open, where they’re not in giant Nazi fortress-towers.

  12. Arithon says:

    A game is, like a film, a work of fiction. Provided it isn’t promoting Nazism (clearly not in this case) then I cannot see an issue.
    All games have to have bad guys. You can argue the moral and ethical dilemma of saying its okay to fight someone because they are perceived to be “bad guys” until the end of time, but this isn’t a real war or a real set of bad guys. Nobody (in their right mind) would hold any Germans, past, present or future accountable for fictional events in a computer game.
    Nobody gets their panties in the same twist over Hitman (unless the nuns have big boobs) or any other equally violent shooter.
    it’s not real. It doesn’t claim to be real. Okay?

  13. MrUnimport says:

    I’m probably missing the point here, but there has to be a way to create compelling FPS enemies that you mow down en masse besides by making them relentlessly sadistic and thoroughly unpleasant. I just want to kill people, I don’t want to be charged with cleansing the world of monsters in human shape.

  14. 321 says:

    “Compared to the mediocrity of Quake 4 and Doom 3″

    Christ almighty. So the last two great old school FPS games are mediocre? And the landmark RtCW alongside Allied Assault for those times is “basic and forgettable”. I need to sit. Some water please.

    • Dan Griliopoulos says:

      I’ll stand by Quake IV and Doom 3 being awful, but that’s my personal opinion, not RPS’s. RTCW was enjoyable but pretty basic – but maybe my standards got set too high, too early.

      • 321 says:

        So now they’re not even mediocre, they got demoted to awful ? :( A shame you see them as such, because they are absolutely in the most objective way not only not awful, but as i said, the last great old school FPS games, unsoiled by modern fps conventions. Non stop action, more than ten guns, you can carry all of them at once, dozens of enemy types, progressive difficulty, no cover, no regen health, all you. Theres a different template when you judge a game like Doom,Quake or Painkiller than a game like Bioshock or Metro. Bad AI is not a problem, is actually required. Smart enemies in Quake would have ruined the whole game, you don’t need crossfire and enemies jumping trough windows, they have numbers and high HP. Awesome games.

        • Dan Griliopoulos says:

          Sorry man. I’ve replayed both of them recently and they were still brain-drainingly boring for me. They didn’t give me the sort of innovation I needed. Horses for courses.

          • Dominare says:

            Can you give an example of a reasonably recent FPS that *does* give you the sort of innovation you need?

          • Dominare says:

            Gotcha. So perhaps if Doom 4 has quicktime events and lets you shoot the demons in the crotch you’ll be on board!

          • Geebs says:

            Quake 4 was terrible (as has been everything by Raven since about the year 2000), Doom3 was disappointing for a Doom game but had some satisfying point-blank shotgun-to-imp-face gunplay, Bulletstorm was great.

            Rage was decent.

      • Premium User Badge RobF says:

        Agree with Dan here. I sort of have a soft spot for Doom 3 because I love the interface stuff and the sound design and even the torch/gun thing but it rarely rises above mediocre. Quake IV is, like Raven’s later take on Wolfenstein, best described as “functioning and has stuff you can shoot”.

        Nothing to hate about either but nothing to really write home about.

        • unit 3000-21 says:

          I quite liked the way Raven treated the whole “being a part of space marines military operation” thing in Quake IV – it felt quite good. Too bad the shooting was mediocre at best.
          Doom 3 on the other hand had problems with being half horror (darkness, plot, crappy weapons), half shooter (ambushes straight out of classic Doom, whole segments with loads of enemies teleporting in a’la Serious Sam). I really liked the interface stuff though.

    • XhomeB says:

      I’m going to partly agree with Dan – Doom 3 I liked despite its flaws, but Quake 4… No, I’m not going to defend this one at all. It was a terrible sequel, I found it boring, uninspired, linear as all hell and lacking the charm of Quake 2. The Strogg don’t resemble the Q2 ones at all, the weapons felt plasticky and weak, just like Doom 3 ones… Overall, it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t a *good* shooter either.

    • gebrps says:

      Totally agree with you. Looked more like trolling than proper argumentation. So, for what I’ve read, probably I’ll absolutely love this game as the past Wolfensteins. And of course Doom 3 and Quake 4 are great games for me.

      Most people that criticize Doom 3, for example, never read a single mail or saw the videos in the game, and then they say: “There’s no plot”.

      Yes, of course you could play the game just shooting stuff with a “I didn’t read, LOL” attitude, and even like that, back then when it was launched, was great.

      Later a lot of games copied Doom3 atmosphere and the mix between FPS and survival horror stuff.

      I loved Bulletstorm too, but I can judge it the same way Doom 3 and Quake 4 were sentenced here: “Bulletstorm is stupid”. And that it’s unfair too.

      Sorry for my english.

  15. Discopanda says:

    The blatant historical revisionism in this comment section disgusts me. DOOM 3 WAS NOT A MEDIOCRE GAME. It was awesome. Doom 3 engine > Source engine 4 lyfe

    • Dan Griliopoulos says:

      Haha! I remember Doom 3 being reviewed and being wowed by the scores. Then playing it and loathing every minute of it. Imp closets, dude.

      • The First Door says:

        I never quite got all the hate for Doom 3 to be honest, I really enjoyed it and thought it was actually a pretty good Doom game as well as having a really good sense of place, which few FPS games really seem to manage.

        Plus… it’s Doom… it’s supposed to have Imp Closets! Old Doom was full of those. You knew when you picked up a key card or a good weapon you were going to get jumped! That was half the fun of games like Doom and Descent.

        Not that I’m saying you should like it if you didn’t, of course! Just that I did!

        • DatonKallandor says:

          The problem with Doom 3 is that they didn’t know what they wanted to make. It has the level structure of a scare-game, but it’s supposed to be Doom – a fun open level shooter where you collect keycards and kill tons of stuff – so it has monster closets too. It has far too few enemies because they wanted an engine that could wow people with graphics (especially shadows) but it’s really sub-par scary game too because the enemies and game mechanics are laughable.

    • XhomeB says:

      Let me put it this way – it was a mediocre DOOM game (id didn’t even get the “feel” of the weapons right, they were awful, especially the shotgun), but an atmospheric and solid shooter overall in its own right.

    • Necroscope says:

      My advice is to get DOOM3 modded, alter the Doom config file so Nightmare is set to ’1′ so that the Nightmare mode is available from the start, no need to run through the game on a lower difficulty than go and have some funn. My opinion is the designers made a mistake making this the true experience. The soulcube is a vital component and was introduced too late. Nightmare is a game changer. The game is faster, deadlier, the imp closets are more threatening and seem less canned in execution. Lacking the shift in speed this game is solid enough but with the game comes alive. Quake 4 was mediocre I admit. It needed Cthulhu. Rtcw was one of my old favourites. The MP maps were terrific….

  16. JonasKyratzes says:

    As someone whose grandparents fought on both sides of the war (German grandfather as a soldier, not by choice; Greek grandparents in the resistance), I think there’s just as big a danger of elevating the Nazis to a kind of Sacred Evil of the Past that can only be talked about in the most solemn of tones as of turning them into silly cartoon villains. In fact, turning them into cartoons may do more damage to their idiotic ideology than anything else.

    One has to wonder, though, whether this is even the right question to ask. Art matters, sure, but does it matter more than real-world political action? By talking so much about what is “allowed”, aren’t we maybe both limiting the freedom of art to approach historical matters in a variety of ways, while also neglecting to apply our political impulses to the actual crimes against humanity happening right now?

    As scary as modern neonazis may be, today’s torture camps are for the most part run by various vaguely-centrist/liberal capitalist governments (who do, of course, happily cooperate with openly fascist parties or movements, as in Greece, Ukraine and elsewhere).

    • sinister agent says:

      As someone whose grandparents fought on both sides of the war

      Buongiorno!

      Joking aside though, yeah, regarding ANY group of humans as “monsters” is self-serving, dangerous rhetoric. Its purpose is self-congratulatory – “I’d never be like that!”, ignoring that under the right circumstances, yes, you would – and only makes us more likely to repeat the same mistakes. To make out, as a lot of popular culture does, that WW2 meant killing the nazis which meant hurrah now those monsters are dead we humans never have to worry again, is deeply unwise.

      • Dan Griliopoulos says:

        Totally this.

        (And we could be making those mistakes right now – we’ve no awareness of what social horrors we unconsciously follow now that our grandchildren will be tutting at us for saying when we’re old and doddery.)

      • JonasKyratzes says:

        If *all* that popular culture contains is Evil Nazis From Space, then that certainly creates an unhelpful mentality. But it also works the opposite way, especially here in Germany: by making the Nazis a topic that can never be approached with anything except Very Solemn Drama, they become just as much a deified Unimaginable Evil of the Past, irrelevant to modern society and other human experiences, impossible to learn from, impossible to laugh at – and I think it’s very necessary to laugh at the idiocy of fascism even as we recognize its horror and its crimes.

        The point being: we need both. We need serious drama about the past and we need silly pulpy stories about Space Nazis.

  17. Loyal_Viggo says:

    Anyone know if this has coop?

    Coop = WIN

    No coop = FAIL

    Then again, Nazi Zombie mode also = WIN

    Therefore does Nazi Zombie Coop = WWIINN?

    These are big questions.

    • The Random One says:

      Careful not to mistake Nazi Zombie Coop with a Nazi roadside hotel. One is WWIINN, the other only a WW inn.

      • Premium User Badge JamesTheNumberless says:

        Is that where zombies keep their zombie chickens?

        Last time I saw a zombie coop in a game was Monkey Island. Bring it on!

  18. Smion says:

    I should mention that I find it slightly uncomfortable that at the point of viewing, this article had 88 comments underneath it. Now that’s fixed.

  19. The Random One says:

    an officer is sitting at a fine old desk, presumably doing the Swastikaword

    Swastiku, surely.

  20. Beyond the Sea says:

    A game that dealt seriously with the Nazi era would have to address hard questions about the extent to which the German people as a whole were complicit in the crimes of the regime. Not just the fanatics, but the ordinary party members, the bureaucrats who kept the system running, and all the people who were happy to see the Jews rounded-up and didn’t much care what happened to them afterwards. That would cause far more controversy than any AAA game studio would care to handle and would probably destroy its sales prospects in Germany, not least because the Germans have been agonising about these issues for decades already. It would also be virtually impossible to make a game of that kind work as an FPS.

    The previous Wolfenstein game dodged the issue by portraying the Nazis as if they were foreign invaders occupying a German town. I assume it was done that way to make it easier to rebrand the enemy as something else for the German market without changing the whole structure of the game. But it comes dangerously close to the kind of sinister historical revisionism that tries to portray the German people as merely the victims of Nazism. I’m sure that wasn’t intentional, but it felt to me as if the developers had forgotten that Nazis weren’t just fictional monsters invented to tell a story.

    I suspect that the only way to do a serious game about the Nazi era would be something like “Papers, Please”. Put the player in the position of an ordinary citizen or a minor functionary, and challenge them to make the kind of choices that people actually faced in that kind of society.

  21. DatonKallandor says:

    ” Yet they’re also forgettable run and gun fests, with cartoon Nazis and basic FPS mechanics.”
    You’re wrong by the way. Ravens game had AI that other-shooters-that-aren’t-FEAR wish they had, incredibly awesome wacky weapons, no weapon inventory limit in a time where everyone was doing 2 weapon limits and great superpowers with an upgrade system. It had secrets, it had an open world to murder fun enemies in which upgraded the patrols to include even more outlandish enemies as you unlocked them.

    It was in every respect a fantastic shooter, and you (and the games media you exemplify) are the reason it got a bad reputation it factually does not deserve. So sit in the corner and think about doing better.

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  23. mariandavid says:

    I have no problem with the portrayal of Nazis in this or any other game: They are a convenient target and more worthy of being mown down with mechanical ease than most and when turned into a tormented fairy tale as in the various Wolfensteins cause no angst in my trigger finger. I tend to have a greater objection to games demonizing nations, as ludicrously easy targets as in the various initial COD’s or Russian nationalists as in the later ones. Mainly because their predictable incompetence is a nonsensical distortion of history and I suppose, in all brief seriousness because the ease with which they can be extinguished betrays the difficulty and grief it caused soldiers in the real world.

    As for the Nazi issue (and stop reading if you wish as this has nothing to do with the game): I have the edge over most here in having been bombed by Germans and in having lived among them in the decade after 1945. My experience then (and it has not changed since) is that the Germans were fully accepting of the consequence of failure and that the greatest tragedy was the fault of the United Kingdom and especially the United States when they jointly decided that the need to rearm Germany in the late 1940′s justified the ending of the hunt for high level Nazis. From that point on prosecutions of industrialists, senior civil servants and military officials was left to the Germans themselves and later unofficial Jewish groups and dwindled to inconsequence. They did the best they could but, after all, the drive to punish was inevitably reduced when, for example a Werner Von Braun was being worshipped in America. End of my rant.

  24. grrrz says:

    well if we can’t have fun with nazis, really what joy is left in our pathetic lives?
    (at least it’s much much healthier than any scenario from any call of duty)

  25. gi_ty says:

    I believe in contrast to your opinion that campy evil Nazi’s as cannon fodder somehow cheapens or disrespects the actual harm and horrific events of world war two. Yes we need to remember horrific acts of inhuman scale and devastation, however humor and satire are constructive and can be positive as well. These caricatures tell the truth to some degree and give a window into our own fears of evil regimes. They remind us and keep them relevant. If it weren’t for campy horror and shock films/games how many people do you think would know about the holocaust today? If the German government feels the need to de-Nazi-fy it only speaks to their insecurity of their history. While it should be shunned I would say it is counter productive to try and sweep it out of national consciousness.

  26. bstard says:

    Woo so much philosophy bout the nazi’s. Just shoot em! Although I fear Enemy Territory will never be surpassed :(

    • chris1479 says:

      Enemy Territory is genuinely the gold standard for multiplayer FPS and I’ve sunk more hours into that than I care to remember.

    • manny says:

      Yep, if your kiling nazi’s your on the right side of morality.

  27. smoke.tetsu says:

    Commander Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse is not reference or code for death shed. If anything it seems to me to be a reference to Totenkopf. The German word for the skull and crossbones and death’s head symbols. The skull and crossbones symbol seen on german uniforms.. In particular a reference to SS-Totenkopf. You can argue that none of that is a laughing matter though. But we have satire and parody and stuff like this falls under that.

    Anyway, he was introduced in Return to Castle Wolfenstein and it appears that Wolfenstein The New Order draws a lot from Wolfenstein continuity. Even characters from Wolfenstein (2009) are present such as Caroline Becker. Whom I’m surprised is returning considering her fate in the last game.

  28. 2late2die says:

    By making these fictional Nazis out to be comically and inhumanly evil, the game is obfuscating that it was real, normal people who calmly and systematically eliminated millions of other humans.
    I find that statement odd considering your issue with the “false choice” scene. You’re basically saying “why are we so callously joking about this?” but then bulk at a scene that aims to show the seriousness of the situation.

    I think the whole point of that scene was a way for the developers to say “sure it’s all fun and games, but actually it was a really horrible thing that happened”. The reason the choice in that scene is not much of a choice is because for many many people there was in fact no choice in the matter – horrible things happened to them and they had no control over it.

    Of course I haven’t played the game and maybe its tone doesn’t really work after all, but from what I read I get the sense that the developers are aiming to on one hand still have some of the silliness and over the top action of the originals, while at the same time conveying, as best as they can, some of the real horrors of that war.

  29. Wytefang says:

    I think it’s safe to just enjoy this as a videogame, nothing more, nothing less. We don’t need all the dramatic moralizing when it comes to simply having fun playing a videogame. To quote the late Heath Ledger’s Joker, “Why so serious?”

  30. epicnetwork says:

    Free beta code key Wolfstein the new order can go to the page and check it yourself http://wolfsteincode.blogspot.com/ Enjoy guys: