Wot I Think – Wolfenstein: The New Sequel

By Alec Meer on May 23rd, 2014 at 1:00 pm.

Wolfenstein: The New Sequel Order is part-reboot, part-sequel to the 21st century Wolfenstein games. Primarily set in an alternate 1960, this big, brash, violent, occasionally moving, singleplayer-only first-person shooter tells the story of a fight-back against a hitherto undefeated, planet-conquering Nazi empire wielding otherworldly technology. Despite having to downgrade graphics card to play it, I’ve spent the last few days with its remarkably long campaign.

I’m fascinated by William Joseph “B.J.” Blazkowicz’s eyes. Someone’s put an awful lot of work into those eyes. His is the quintessential first-person soldiermanhero’s face (indeed, it’s based upon the archetype of that grizzled beefcake design, from his first appearance in 1992′s Wolfenstein 3D), but the eyes come from someone else. Haunted, sad, soulful, sometimes tender – they reveal that this mass of muscle is also a walking wound, and in that they represent the anachronism at the heart of this latest, surprisingly excellent Wolfenstein game.

On the one hand, it’s as dumb as a UKIP candidate watching a Michael Bay marathon. Super-soldiers, robot dogs, a baddie who’s basically the Red Skull from Captain America, mech suit-aided prison breaks, mystical underwater techno-temples, Nazis on the moon – oh man, it’s got it all. On the other hand, it really wants to show us the horrors of war, the preciousness of human kinship, the unparalleled cruelty of the Third Reich, the value and the heavy cost of self-sacrifice. It wants to make us cry, even though we just watched a single man take down an army of clockwork Germans and survive fifty-eight rockets to the face in the process. New studio Machine Games is comprised primarily of Starbreeze veterans, and the Chronicles of Riddick bloodline very much shows: brutality and brilliance, dumbness and detail.

‘Can you take Wolfenstein: The New Order seriously?’ is almost an impossible question to answer. Of course you can’t, it’s ridiculous. Of course you can, it has some touching moments and tries hard to balance its bombastic excess with humanity. And those eyes. Those sad, strong eyes peering out from that hulking flesh-cube of a head.

Wolfenstein is clearly an expensive game, in everything from the eyes outwards. I doubt it commanded quite the budget of a latter-day Call of Duty’s lavish yet rigid singleplayer mode, but it makes a damn good fist of meeting the production values and then underpinning them with an impressively long, changeable and often flexible campaign. For all the fact it’s a Grizzled American Soldier game, really The New Sequel is inspired not by COD’s Clancy-infused hoo-rah patriotism, but by Half-Life 2 and BioShock’s long, sumptuous b-movie-with-a-brain adventures.

The environment changes regularly, there are setpiece oddball vehicle sections, there is a super-powered utility weapon which grows in capability throughout, there is an agonising, (slightly) game-altering moral dilemma, there is extensive work in building an alternate history with unbridled sci-fi trappings, and there is an heroic attempt to overthrow a despotic regime.

Concentration camp scenes are far more Riddick Visits City 17 than Schindler’s List (and there that Wolfenstein’s two-tone of silliness and grimness wobbles – it’s trying to have its cake and eat it), and it makes light attempts at self-reflection about the nature of the FPS hero. There’s an awful lot going on in here, and it’s part of a clear attempt to be a massive, massive singleplayer shooter in an age where multiplayer increasingly rules the roost.

Sure, much of its 20-odds hours (YMMV – Steam says I spent 25 hours with it, but some of that was alt-tabbed time and some of it was too many checkpoint-mandated replays in the tough final act, while people who skip all the talky bits and secrets, are super-hardcore and/or liars are reporting blasting through in as little as six hours) is comprised of cutscenes, approximately half of which engage and half of which posture tiresomely.

This is an old school shooter in a great many ways, one of which is to barely even bother trying to integrate the narrative sections with play – you have an hour or so of Nazi-blasting, then a few minutes of super-high-detail NPC chatter and dramatic action scenes the game mechanics don’t permit doing yourself. Sometimes this is infuriating – could you really not have told me to go to place X over the earpiece, or have the mystic doohickey do that big explodey thing while I ran around under it? – other times it’s a welcome reprieve from what’s often a particularly frantic shooter.

It also tries to balance the intensity of its bullet-storm with take-a-break sections in a small hub environment. The resistance base offers a few optional chats, a few optional fetch quests, and a few mandatory, protracted fetch quests. Though charming and filled with pleasing detail at first, these bits did start to feel like the game was playing for time after a while.

When a man told me he’d dropped his welding torch in the water and could I go fetch it, I did pray for an option to say “buddy, I’ve saved everyone here’s lives a dozen times over, I’ve killed thousands of men, dogs and robots, I’ve escaped from impossible prisons and given a magic’n'robotics-aided Third Reich its first trouble in over a decade. Surely, surely, there is someone else who can pick up a dropped tool?” But hey, Blitz spirit, everyone mucks in.

It’s nice to see a little character-building in the supporting cast too, even if their attitude towards me spikes oddly depending on events and conversations out of my control. Darting repeatedly around the base to fetch things for people just plays havoc with the pacing, that’s all.

Out in battle, that’s where The New Sequel finds its most natural and consistent voice. The shooting is equal parts thoughtful and preposterous, and up until its final act the game usually offers a choice between out-and-out carnage and a simple but robust stealth approach. Silenced pistols, throwing knives and gruesome takedowns make for slower but quieter progress, and there’s a solid sub-game in trying to take out commanders first, so there’s no-one to call in reinforcements in the all-too-likely event you cock up your sneaking.

There’s another sub-game in the Perks system, wherein you unlock assorted bonus abilities and upgrades for meeting specific goals, such as silent-stabbing 20 men and 5 dogs, or racking up 80 assault rifle kills from cover, or causing five men to die from their own grenades. Either you can aim for just the ones that suit your playstyle, or stick your OCD hat on as I did and try to earn everything. Quite a few sort themselves out in the natural course of play, as you’re randomly switching weapons depending on ammo levels, but for at least the first half of the game the Perks worked as a decent secondary priority that helped keep shooting hundreds of Nazis from getting dull.

Perks/unlocks are part of mainstream gaming’s attention-seeking tapestry these days, but I reckon Wolfenstein gets it right. These aren’t rewards for those who put in impossible hours, but they’re little, quick-to-gain treats that help both upgrade your abilities as the enemies attack in escalating numbers and encourage switching up your play style. They’re definitely part of the reason I had such a good time with The New Sequel.

Another reason was when the stealth went wrong. Hiding and stabbing people in the back is my natural play/lifestyle, but whereas a true stealth game usually means a prompt visit from the Reverend Death in the event you’re spotted, here you can instead rest on more traditional FPS laurels. Dual wield shotguns, eviscerate people with a weaponised arc welder, burn a supersoldier’s iron face with with a laser sniper rifle – knowingly preposterous stuff, presented with an entirely straight face. While this might not have the clean outlines and escalations of Wolfenstein 3D’s genre-setting arsenal, you can absolutely see the heritage. It lets me roll with the situation and still have a party.

Even in the game’s later stages, when it’s throwing these immense waves of enemies at me, it makes sure to include enough cannon-fodder that I can still feel at least a little like a god of war, even as the heavily-armoured, rocket-spewing bullet sponges who accompany them give me hell. Fights find the right blend of superheroism and desperation, requiring some use of cover (with lean controls! Hurrah for leaning!) a lot of movement. You need to think on your feet, not just rely on reflex.

Big is the word. Wolfenstein does everything big. Big action, big (if a little contrived) emotion, big violence, big guns, big shoulders. Even big, sad puppy-dog eyes in a big man’s big, square head. It should have been chaos, anachronistic with itself – old world shooter values paired with modern age attempts at less vapid narratives and characterisation. Somehow, it works.

I think it works because, for all the oddness of being both a dumb as a box of hammers game and a Feel The Feels can we have an award now please game, Wolfenstein: The New Sequel knows itself very well. It borrows from BioShock and it borrows from Half-Life 2 (to put it mildly), but I don’t believe it truly has aspirations to be more than Expensive B-Movie With A Heart. There’s, oddly, an honesty to it – it’s not like BioShock Infinite, where the fancy talk sat uncomfortably alongside the meatheaded mayhem. Yes, this takes itself and its magical robot Nazis entirely seriously, but that’s not the same thing as believing itself to be capital-I Important.

What it wants, I think, is to be BIG, in every sense, and while there are a few tonal missteps, the checkpoint system was poorly-judged, there are some needlessly protracted and grisly torture scenes (implication alone would have sufficed), and a few too many moments where it mandates all-out assault instead of stealth (if that’s your poison), it absolutely succeeds at bigness. When the dust and shouting and bits of flaming robot settled, I knew I’d had a great time, for a surprisingly long time, and I didn’t feel that I needed to either analyse or defend why.

An addendum on performance issues: despite hours of tinkering, I was unable to get this to run at even a consistent 30 frames per second on a Radeon 290, even on lowest settings. I was not alone in this, but other Radeon owners didn’t have the same problem. Go figure: but if one more person says ‘you need the Catalyst 14.4 drivers’ to me, I’m going to kill the world. Eventually I switched to a borrowed GeForce GTX 670 and was able to get an average of 60 FPS at high settings at 2560×1440 resolution. So it’s not really a particularly demanding game, but be aware that you may or may not encounter issues, and no fixes have as yet been released.

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145 Comments »

  1. PopeRatzo says:

    Wait a minute. If this is a first-person shooter, how do you get to see Blazkowicz’s eyes? Oh, cut scenes, that’s right. Are there that many of th em?

    Anyway, I like big FPS-ers, so I’ll buy this one when the price comes down.

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    Tom De Roeck says:

    Hmmmmm. Now if only a new Enemy Territory were to accompany it…

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Ha ha, sehr gut!

    • frightlever says:

      I was thinking about this – maybe they don’t want people playing as the Nazis.

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        Stijn says:

        There were no nazis in Enemy Territory! There were the Axis though. With their German accents, red/white/black iconography and pale, blonde, blue-eyed faces. And bases in Germany. Either way, I don’t think there’s actually any direct reference to the nazis in the game…

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      Jerodar says:

      I do miss those glorious days when I feared the *plunk* sound of rifle grenades :P

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      Sinomatic says:

      This. So very much this. I loved Wolf: ET.

    • Pheeze says:

      I’m a soldat!

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        cpt_freakout says:

        Ah, when NEED A MEDIC was music to my ears and I just ran across battlefields like a madman with a syringe filled with an eerie green liquid just clicking on the floor reviving everyone, even the stupid ones that died right out in the open, so that they could fire a round or two, maybe kill a stray bunker or mountain, and fall over once again restarting the process.

        Quake ET was never as great!

  3. Zallgrin says:

    I’m fascinated by William Joseph “B.J.” Blazkowicz’s eyes. Someone’s put an awful lot of work into those eyes. His is the quintessential first-person soldiermanhero’s face (indeed, it’s based upon the archetype of that grizzled beefcake design, from his first appearance in 1992′s Wolfenstein 3D), but the eyes come from someone else. Haunted, sad, soulful, sometimes tender – they reveal that this mass of muscle is also a walking wound, and in that they represent the anachronism at the heart of this latest, surprisingly excellent Wolfenstein game.

    This reads like a letter from a romantic correspondence. I’ve counted three times when you mentioned the big soulful eyes (should have been more, imo).

    Good review. It seems that almost everyone is positively suprised by how emotional this game is. Makes me even angrier about being stuck with the German dub which I refuse to play. (Granted, they reverted that policy in Sweden and Austria. Maybe hope still exists?)

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      Cinek says:

      eyes of your character… an essential element in FIRST PERSON shooter.

      • Zallgrin says:

        Yeah, they should allow me to ogle the eyes of my enemies and give me a second or two to pay their shining, beautiful eyes a compliment before slaughtering them. That’s a game I would play.

      • Tacroy says:

        well, it wouldn’t be a particularly good FPS if the main character didn’t have eyes, now would it?

    • Fanbuoy says:

      Wait, Sweden? Which policy are you talking about?

    • DanMan says:

      Eets ohl abeaut zee emoshans!

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Is that LOLspeek or a terrible german accent impression?
        Ich kan eenie Kaseburger gehubben?

        • DanMan says:

          That was actually a bad David Cage impression. I’m sorry. :_(

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            Lol oh ok. Here, you can have my cheeseburger if you like

  4. Rao Dao Zao says:

    I’ve never played any Wolfenstein games, but this review makes it sounds rather good (assuming my six-year-old box could run it at all).

    I mean, a purely singleplayer game in this day and age? I should buy it just for that.

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      Lars Westergren says:

      Yeah, I’m actually interested in this for the first time after this review.

      • Drayk says:

        I am also interested now… I’ve played the first one but not Return to castle Wolfstein. Should I play it first ?

        • FurryLippedSquid says:

          God, yes. Fantastic shooter.

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          Jackablade says:

          I don’t think you’ll really be missing anything by not having played Wolfenstein. It was a fun game with great multiplayer, but there’s unlikely to be any story beats or anything in The New Sequel that you’ll miss by not having played through that game

        • Casimir's Blake says:

          YES! Yes yes yes. Play RTCW, it’s still a superb game even if it has aged visually (though not artistically). It’s a better shooter than Wolf TNO, but the story is rather more bare-bones.

        • your evil twin says:

          Return to Castle Wolfenstein is a great game, but it is also quite long, and quite difficult. If you’re keen to catch up on Wolfenstein before playing the new one, there is an excellent Let’s Play of the game here: https://archive.org/details/LP_Return_to_Castle_Wolfenstein

          And if you’re curious about the sequel, the 2009 Wolfenstein game by Raven, I myself have done a very thorough Let’s Play of that: http://lparchive.org/Wolfenstein/

          The new Wolfenstein game includes a bunch of references to both of those games, such as settings and locations, Nazi technology, gameplay mechanics, weapons and characters. (For example the villain Deathshead was introduced in Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and the resistance leader Caroline Becker was a character in Wolfenstein 2009.

        • frenz0rz says:

          I started playing RTCW Co-op with a friend last night using this mod: http://www.moddb.com/mods/rtcw-classic-cooperative-campaign

          The mod ran perfectly with very few bugs, and suffice to say the game still holds up very well. Unless I’m imagining it, they even seem to have improved the enemy AI. Just be warned, difficulty is scaled for more players!

    • thedosbox says:

      I mean, a purely singleplayer game in this day and age? I should buy it just for that.

      Yes, this looks to be an example of where focusing resources on the SP game has paid off.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      It’s the best FPS I have played in ages. Super-satisfying, smooth, comfortable to play. Well recommended.

      BTW: Good luck to all UKIP candidates.

      • zubbuz says:

        Dude – I know we are discussing the killing of Nazis, but don’t bring politics into this…

  5. Spacewalk says:

    They eyes have the look of morning after regret.

    • GenBanks says:

      Haha… he’s looking at his bank account balance while hung over after a big night out.

      Or perhaps reading through the facebook messages he sent when he got home.

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    tobias says:

    Nice review, agreed with most points. I did feel some of the mandatory stealth sections sagged a bit, and they didn’t really find a satisfying solution to combat in those sections that you are equipped with only your knife. Making your only enemies the baton wielding guys just reduced every fight (if you got spotted) to a kiting back and forward.

    Also the music deserves a mention, especially the excellent main menu theme.

  7. Dwarph says:

    …sounds like you need the Catalyst 14.4 drivers


    *runs*

  8. Crainey says:

    This game was a ton of fun. The characters and to a lesser degree the world were a standout for me. The game’s story/gameplay for the most part flowed perfectly (except for those lossy checkpoints). Best singeplayer fps I’ve played since Dishono[u]red.

    The optimization of this games engine was weird. When I first started it up I set everything to ultra and loaded the game, 1fps stop start slideshow… played with settings and found that I need to turn on compressed textures to run 60fps solid. Except when I reboot the game it lags on the exact same settings until I turn it down to high settings then back up to ultra. There were some other graphical issues but none that significantly detracted from the experience.

    Heck, after playing Transistor this weekend I might move on to do a second playthrough on Uber (completed the one below) and choosing the other story.

    For reference, my PC spec:
    i7 4770k @ 4,4ghz.
    770 2gb sli.
    16gb 2200mhz (somewhere in and around.
    Installed on 7200 HDD.

    As a side note: I tried out the Steam in-house streaming, running this game off the above rig and playing it in the living room on a 5 year old laptop and it worked well. There were some issues doing it over wifi but it was just a fun little experiment and I couldn’t be bothered looking for a wired cable.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      Its really odd that you had issues like the ones you described.
      We have almost the same rig apart from the fact I have a 780ti and have the game installed on an ssd instead.
      Other ppl with your 770, have had no probs whatsoever playing the game on ultra, so maybe its just the ssd.
      edit: actually, its seems a lot of ppl with sli have had problems, even nVidia owners, so maybe it would have been better with just the single gpu instead.

      • Crainey says:

        As SLI is fairly often the cause of the issue I instinctively turned off one GPU and got an unsteady FPS, with the same issues. Running SLI didn’t cause any additional issues but made the game a steady 60 fps (with compressed textures). The game is installed on my HDD not my SSD too so it can’t be that (though maybe it’d run better on an SSD?). As stated in this article and historically with id tech engines, I’m pretty sure it’s a problem with the engine itself and not my steup. One way or another I’m not sure how much of an effect compressed textures had, but I thought the game looked as good as the next recent release. I’ve no doubt the issues will be (mostly) fixed in patches and driver updates with the next week or two.

      • Techne says:

        I found on a single 770 I could run everything on ultra except the shadow resolution which had to be one down (4000ish from memory).

        Entertained by the way that it subtitles the Scottish guy when you have subs on ‘foreign only’.

      • MkMax says:

        I always wonder why ppl still keep trying to use SLI, it feels like i hear something about problems with it for every single AAA game release

        • waltC says:

          To answer your question, neither SLI or Crossfire is a part of/supported by the OpenGL or D3d API’s. Support for the modes has to be shoehorned into the drivers by the respective IHV’s, nVidia and AMD, on a custom, per-game basis. Your mileage will always vary in every game, ranging from Excellent down to “It doesn’t work at all and you have to turn off SLI/xFire to get the game to run.” With single gpus as powerful as they are today it is surprising to see people still using dual/tri/quad gpu setups–seems like such a waste…;)

          (Amazing thing how difficult it was to read the reviews of this game to find out *who* the developer was: MachineGames. Even here we don’t discover the developer until the last sentence in the second paragraph…Lol. Are they maybe keeping it sort of a “secret” and hoping it’ll sell better if people think it was coded by id?–although why that might be the case is eminently questionable after Rage, which used the same general id tech 5 engine…)

          I still boggle at the recurring Nazi themes in these id software-engine games. The id tech 5 engine is primarily a console engine, and the checkpoints (ugh!) prove that out–but so do the graphics, as well, imo. With id software there were always two recurring, completely unoriginal themes: Nazis and Demons (complete with Pentagrams Everywhere(TM)). As if id software is fixated on them for some reason. Now, here’s another developer–Machine Games–using an outdated, console-designed, id software game engine to do…what? A game about Nazis–Nazis on the moon, Nazis in your soup bowl, Nazis under your bed, “The only good Nazi is a dead Nazi,” etc., ad infinitum.

          At this point I’m wondering if the game isn’t going to be too corny for me–and the main interest-killer for me is the checkpoint-save system and of course the fact that it is a miserable console port. Fie on consoles…;)

          • Geebs says:

            Wait, what? id tech 5 is the only engine that can do 1080p60 on the XBone, and it’s a bad outdated engine? Honestly, people should actually LEARN something about game engines and renderers before they get a License to Comment.

            (I’d imagine that it’ll run much better on 4gb video cards where the lack of unified memory, which the megatexture streaming tech would be suited to, is mitigated – hence the chap upthread whose 2gb card needed to use compressed textures)

          • bjohndooh says:

            Id tech 5 cannot do more than 60 FPS.
            That alone turns me off.
            It is a console engine and it works well on consoles, surprise?

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        FriendlyFire says:

        It’s actually quite likely. id tech 5 seems to be extremely reliant on data streaming, which usually goes from the HDD straight into video RAM. An SSD will dramatically shorten the time it takes for that data to get read, so you won’t notice as many issues. Using compressed textures (and I’m gonna go ahead and wager they’re not compressed on the fly) means you’re reading smaller files from disk, thus less time is needed to read them and they get cached quickly enough not to dip the FPS.

        A lot of recent games have had similar issues actually. I remember having had to put GTAIV and NFS:MW on a RAMdisk to get them to play ball because their data streaming was so atrocious they’d tank the game’s FPS to sub-20 every time you moved into a new area or, in the case of GTA, just turned around.

        • Sakkura says:

          Just bear in mind compressed textures probably wouldn’t do much if used on a Sandforce-powered SSD.

  9. GenBanks says:

    Is the perks/unlocks system thing anything like Bulletstorm? I really enjoyed that game.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      No they are nothing like Bulletstorm. Apart from the enigma codes giving you bonus modes (which are awesome), the skill perks are hardly noticeable and lacklustre and dont have any real gameplay affecting……..effect. The rest of the collectibles like nazi gold are personal choice, but you do get some upgrades you can collect for health and armor (1 type for each timeline). You can collect letters, which just add more to the war time narrative.

      • GenBanks says:

        That’s a shame… I suppose it still sounds pretty good though

  10. DizzyCriminal says:

    What a game. This is the most fun I’ve had with a shooter since Borderlands 2 and Crysis.
    It gets everything right, the guns are loud and angry, the stealth works exactly how it should, there is plenty of room for experimentation, and more importantly room to deal with error when things go wrong.

    The story is worth listening to too, which I don’t normally pay attention to in most games.

    I’m packing a Radeon 270X and its runs… okay. I’ve got Catalyst 14.1, I cant install 14.4 I get a boot error and have to system restore.

    • sabasNL says:

      270X with Catalyst 14.4 here. Windows 7 64-bit and an i9.
      Runs like a charm, she makes some noise but hell the graphics are great. Dynamic lightning is very, very resource-heavy though, so I disabled that. I didn’t miss it at all, and it raised my FPS from 20 to 60+.

  11. nrvsNRG says:

    I really enjoyed it. Going through my 3rd playthru right now, but on 999 mode, and its crazy good fun.

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    Sinomatic says:

    I’m genuinely surprised at the general positive reaction to this game – after seeing the trailers I’d entirely written it off, but it is sliding itself onto my wishlist now. I’m pleased – after the last game in the series seemed decidedly meh (I believe I played the demo and was relatively unimpressed), it’s great to hear that there’s a wolf game that’s worth playing.

  13. GernauMorat says:

    Really enjoying the game. Very good review I think. And funnily enough, the game runs extremely well on my laptop! (An i73630 qm and a 640m graphics card)

  14. Monkeh says:

    I kinda hate how a lot of reviewers tend to name Half-Life 2 and Bioshock, while both of those games were a lot less cut-scene heavy than Wolfenstein: The New Order and are also basically one long journey, whereas in Wolfenstein: The New Order you just skip from Berlin to London for example. Not sure about Bioshock, but in HL2 there even aren’t any cut-scenes whatsoever.

    IMO that makes for a totally different game and this game is much more in the vein of cinematic CoD storytelling, which I disliked.

    EDIT: Btw I do find it a pretty good game, just not great, like say Half-Life 2 and Bioshock.

    • Optimaximal says:

      They call on them because they’re the most popular examples of games that place the story they’re trying to tell at a equal or higher importance than the shooting, compared to the typical modern military shooter, where the plot often takes a backseat to the gunplay.

      • Tarvis says:

        I think that’s the thing though, Bioshock in particular places its story VASTLY above gameplay. Wolf TNO would be a very enjoyable game without the story, which isn’t something you can really say for Bioshock, Infinite in particular.

        As for Half-Life 2, I dunno about that one either. It DID have cutscenes, cutscenes that you can’t skip, where you have to stand around and fiddle with a book while people talk. It really hurts the replay.

    • HadToLogin says:

      HL2 was full of cutscenes. They just allowed you to turn around or jump and shove your butt into person monologuing.

      Those are usually the worst kind of cutscenes, as there’s no way to skip them – and when you replay game for Nth time even forcing your butt into people talking heads gets boring…

      • dE says:

        There is! Not intendend but oh so fitting: Just bash their skull in with objects and they shut up quickly. Their animation resets to the next stage of the script. It’s probably more complicated than that, but that’s how it looked like in the speedrun thingies.

        • sabasNL says:

          Pretty sure that’s a mod or cheat, since the HL2 NPCs in cutscenes can’t die. I’m not even sure whether you can kill Alyx, Kleiner, etc. at all as Gordon.

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    Matt_W says:

    Does anyone else remember playing the old ASCII Wolfenstein game from the 80′s? It was the one we snuck onto my elementary school’s Apple II’s and got detention for being discovered at (because you can really corrupt young people’s minds when they see a ‘*’ shoot a ‘#’ with a ‘-’.)

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    golem09 says:

    I usually ignore most FPS that don’t have a coop campaign (a la Borderlands) or or focs on story (a la Bioshock), but this reads interestingly enough that I will probably buy it at some point.
    I was so far pretty much completely ignoring that game, but the title image was already chosen well enough so that it peaked my interest. Good review!

    • MkMax says:

      you are missing a lot of excellent games, coop made games worse, not better, fps used to not require a friend to be fun

  17. Bob says:

    “Hurrah for leaning!” Oh yeah. I don’t know why more shooters of recent vintage don’t have it, or at least allow the player the option to toggle it on/off.

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      Wisq says:

      I imagine it’s due to consoles. The natural place to put lean buttons would be the shoulder buttons, but using the trigger plus shoulder at the same time can be awkward.

      That, plus general accessibility (by which I mean pick-up-and-go simplicity). While you can certainly argue that people don’t have to lean if they don’t want to (and so there’s no accessibility impact), the bottom line is that it does give you some advantage (possibly a large one), and that requires that you take that into account when doing your playtesting and balancing.

      The end result is pretty much one of three things:

      1. You have a game that’s normal difficulty without leaning and too easy with leaning;
      2. You have a game that’s normal difficulty with leaning and too hard without leaning;
      3. You have to balance and playtest the two independently, which is more work.

      And that’s just for singleplayer games. If you implement it at all in a multiplayer game, you can 100% guarantee that everyone will do it, because they feel they have to do it to be competitive. If that means weird finger contortions on a console controller, it’s going to reflect badly in the eyes of reviewers.

      So, I’m not surprised that leaning has mostly disappeared in modern games. I also don’t entirely lament its loss, since corner-leaning tends to be the sort of thing you do when you’re camping a corner / opening, and I prefer games that focus less on cover shooting (“move to cover, shoot a while, move to next cover”) and more on mobility and tactics (“slice the pie around this corner and move on”) anyway.

      • Bob says:

        Yeah, you make sense. I don’t think leaning would have prevented my numerous deaths in Borderlands 2 anyway, hehe.

        I do like my shooters so I’ll pick this game up when I can afford to and consider the option to lean as a bonus.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Joshua says:

    Some of the game’s heart must have been spilled onto the paper, as it is oozing trough in this review. Excellent write up, mr Meer.

  19. Boozebeard says:

    Game was pretty good but the unnecessary cut scenes and the fetch quests really got on my tits. Good but not as good as the new shadow warrior.

  20. Megakoresh says:

    Just finished it. The ending was lame as hell, but other than that pretty good game. Predictable as all hell, but mildly non-linear story, cliche as all hell, but tolerable enough main character, huge as all hell, but well-modeled and satisfying guns. It’s all hell, but in the end enjoyable with this game. Except the ending. Friggin annoying and uninspired boss battle with a boss that has literally nothing but health behind him. No extra mechanics, special attacks and telegraphs, no change of pace, just lazers and LOOOOADS of health.

    Oh yeah and spoiler: the protagonist is one-use material. LOL not like it wasn’t obvious anyway. But it means this game was likely a one-time effort. A good one, but singular. Although come think of it, sequels are mostly inspired and desired due to lore and good characters. So I won’t be shedding any tears over the likely absence of a sequel to this.

    But still: money well-spent. Sob-Sob. Ka-boom. GG. Bai-Bai. I am looking forward to what Machinegames makes next. I am also hoping for the new proper Elder Scrolls in id Tech 5 engine. Did I type hoping? I mean dreaming, of course, silly me, having hopes that high…

    • Pulstar says:

      You know what, I think people are just starved for an fps that isn’t CoD. Rage was a better game. This game had its moments but the review has made me cringe audibly.

      • ResonanceCascade says:

        Rage? Really? I found myself trying to apologize for Rage for months before I caved in and admitted that it flat-out sucked, despite the good gunplay and A.I. And I wanted so badly for it to be good.

        I don’t need to make up excuses for Wolfenstein. It’s exceeded my expectations and is handily the best FPS campaign of the last few years.

      • sabasNL says:

        Could you explain why you liked Rage better than this game? I’m pretty sure most people here disagree.

  21. Premium User Badge

    DarkLiberator says:

    yeah the framerate with a 770 here was really terrible. Latest drivers too. Such a shame because its a great game so far.

    • Techne says:

      Try everything on maximum but shadow resolution on the second highest (4000ish). Works for me.

  22. XhomeB says:

    OK, I’m literally hovering my mouse cursor over the “buy” button, but I need to know two things, which the review kind of glossed over:
    - level design, level design, LEVEL DESIGN. Call of Duty-like linear garbage with omnipresent NPCs yelling at you and opening otherwise “unopenable”/impenetrable doors for you, or is it closer to Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Quake 2 and the like?
    - Weapon Accuracy – can you run ‘n’ gun? Are you forced to rely on iron sights (which slow the gameplay down to a crawl, but you won’t be able to hit anything otherwise)?

    • Techne says:

      Level design is pretty decent, usually a few routes, some quite open levels.

      There is ADS but it doesn’t appear to alter accuracy at all, you can run and gun just fine. It’s fun!

    • Duke Nukem says:

      You are never forced to rely on iron sights (they are good for getting more headshots but normal hip fire is a lot more accurate than “modern game hip fire”)
      I really liked the level design, you can always take your time to explore, even if you are going alongside an NPC (there are 2 sequences where you have an NPC companion)
      There are a lot of “unopenable” doors but they are there by design (decoration) and no one will open them for you. When the game needs someone to open a door that someone is you.

    • DizzyCriminal says:

      Level Design: Think Crysis 2, only a bit bigger and with more variation.

      Guns: Iron sights don’t improve accuracy, but just give you a new crosshair. You can hip fire through the whole game if you want without any problems, and bring up the sights for the longer range more thoughtful shots. The shooting has a very Quake 4 feel about it. Which is intended to sound like a good thing.

      • Pulstar says:

        Where is this open-level design that you speak of?!

        • sabasNL says:

          There’s quite some of that in the first chapters of the game. The very first mission is a good example, the level is pretty big and had multiple routes.

    • XhomeB says:

      Sounds promising. Thank you, mates. Bought.
      46 GB, wow, I’ll be downloading that for days.

    • Xeros612 says:

      Level design: Linear, but old-school linear. (Perhaps even better.) Your path is linear, but there are a lot of alternate routes and side passages that let you get around in a different manner, find secrets, and all sorts of fun things.

      Weapon accuracy: Much like RAGE before it, ADS is only necessary to use the scope on the scoped rifle. Accuracy seems to be roughly the same if not identical between hipfire and ADS. The only time I think you’ll have issues with run and gun gameplay is on difficulties like Uber… depending on your skill!

  23. Orija says:

    “unparalleled cruelty of the Third Reich”
    As someone belonging to a former colony of the British Empire, I’d like to disagree.

    • Smion says:

      But but Stalin and Mao and Genghis Khan were bad too.
      Seriously, though could we please not turn this into some sort of oppression olympic. Again.

    • P.Funk says:

      Unparalleled for anyone alive to remember it or heard about it from someone who lived through it.

    • Pulstar says:

      The Nazis were lame in this. You’d think after 20 years they’d come up with something more imaginative for them in this game.

    • MobileAssaultDuck says:

      While I, in no way, want to diminish the horrors that the former colonial powers committed the world over, I don’t think it compares to making you dig your own grave, hold your infant over your heart, and then being shot through your baby into your own heart to save ammunition. Let us not forget shoving you naked into a gas chamber like cattle.

      Many people in history have been brutal, but the Third Reich reached a special level of brutality mixed with cold efficiency that made it so much worse.

      • sabasNL says:

        Please do know that most of the crimes against humanity were commited by the most fanatic Nazis (and fascist supporters abroad). People tend to blame the Wehrmacht or the German people as a whole, which is rather unfair since the same situation could’ve easily existed in any country. Which, as we know now, was the case: In the USSR, Imperial Japan and to a lesser extent PRChina during/after the war.
        Not to forget Western forces also commited crimes against innocent civilians (even those of their own nationality), prisoners of war and enemy combatants. Sadly those are not as well-known, but I guess that’s the typical way history is written.

        Not trying to defend anyone but people tend to generalize quickly when it comes to sensitive topics like this.

  24. Synesthesia says:

    “Nazis on the moon”

    oof, i just had an atrocity archives flashback.

  25. Premium User Badge

    deadfolk says:

    Looks good, but I think I’m going to have to wait until they sort the performance issues out. I’m on AMD too, so I’m not going to risk it.

    • Pulstar says:

      And wait for a sale. Hindsight will assuredly not be too kind on this game.

  26. silgidorn says:

    They already announced the follow up. It will be a prequel :
    Wolfentstein : The Joy Division
    …Badum Tsssss

    • disconnect says:

      The spin-off game Wolfenstein: The Other Two certainly has me intrigued

  27. Casimir's Blake says:

    I expected very little, thought Wolf 2009 was pathetic, was prepared for The New Order to suck.

    It doesn’t.

    Oh, it has issues. Checkpoint saves only, bugs (a killer memory leak that’s caused the first total system freeze on my gaming PC for years), and waypoint markers that cannot be turned off. Oh and the same old “slow texture loading” thing that id tech 5 did in Rage still does here. The difficulty spikes at points such as the bridge and the moon, and some of the bosses are rather cheap.

    Everything else is surprisingly decent. The gunplay is completely satisfying, particularly the dual wielding. No two-weapon limit, BJ is a machine. There IS regenerating health but only to 10-20 hp, otherwise OH GLORY THERE BE HEALTH PACKS! There’s a reasonable enemy variety, AI is okay, and there is surprisingly functional stealth.

    The story is mostly good and there have been many harrowing and memorable moments (e.g. when first reaching London). Some of the characters are jettisoned unceremoniously without given proper time to establish any kind of development, and some of the more “emotional” moments are a touch ham-fisted. Most of the level design is linear but there are sections that sprawl allowing for a variety of ways to reach objectives.

    I hope mod tools will be made available. As a sequel to Return To Castle Wolfenstein this succeeds where Wolf 2009 failed, and though the campaign is good, I would like to see more.

    So if I’m not disappointed with the game, I am for having to give money to Zenimax. I applaud their choice to fund substantial single player games in a multiplayer obsessed gaming industry. But then go and make quite the dick move suing Oculus. Hmm.

    • sabasNL says:

      Since Oculus Rift is now property of Facebook, please don’t feel bad for them. It’s Zenimax vs Facebook, and we all know which of the two is the worst.

  28. Shooop says:

    Can you skip the cutscenes?

    • Megakoresh says:

      Thankfully: yes. The overly-mopey predictable stuff it tends to throw at you would really detract from the game if not for skippable cutscenes. Unfortunately you can’t skip all of them.

      TBH the storyline is the game’s absolute weakest point. Just like in the new Tomb Raider, it’s hugely disconnected from the gameplay.

      While the gameplay is visceral and fun, reminiscent of old-school shooters mixed up with a bit of Bulletstorm; the plot is overly dramatic, extremely cruel and grim, with a lot of torture and over-the-top violence and sex scenes. The former aren’t Duke-Nukem style, mind you, they literally tried to put some sort of fucking mental fracturing and moral dilemmas of the main character behind him and some woman having sex, so it’s “mature” instead of “juvenile”. Had I not been dual wielding automatic shotguns and splattering 20 brains per second over the wall a minute ago, I might have believed them…

      These two elements don’t mix well. In fact it also affects the colours, which make sure the game’s very impressive graphical fidelity can not be fully appreciated because it’s all the same colour.

      If you make a bombastic shooter, you better make sure the story is bombastic, funny and crazy all the way, like Bulletstorm. This game didn’t do that, thus the plot was annoying as hell, even slight non-linearity didn’t help that much.

      • Shooop says:

        Wow, I didn’t expect this much in-depth an answer! Thanks for that.

        When I read about the attempts at being more serious in the story, it severely diminished my expectations for this game. Just seeing the developers tout the fact they had a story for the game was a bad sign.

        It’ll be a bargain-bin pickup for me since the shooting’s good.

      • Eight Rooks says:

        On the other hand I thought Bulletstorm’s story was rubbish and neither funny nor clever, so sounds like I’d think you have terrible taste and that I might actually think nuWolf’s story is pretty cool. Thanks for that, indeed.

        • Megakoresh says:

          Oh my goodness! It’s the Master of All Taste. Quick, book a reply from the master such that he can pass upon you his absolutely superior taste!

        • Shooop says:

          Good thing he never called it clever, but bombastic instead – which it definitely was. Whether or not you liked it of course is subjective and I can definitely understand someone not liking it.

  29. Arithon says:

    I was chatting to one of the Zenimax guys at the EGX last September and even then I was impressed with the game (which was why I picked up a Wolfenstein T-Shirt).
    Playing the game on my PC for the hours I have, it has been a really enjoyable game. It runs smooth as a nut on my four year old Core i7 950 with nVidia GTX 660. The graphics are amazing and the screen-shots above don’t really do them justice.
    This is a prime example of where concentrating on the Single Player makes a game worth playing. If they want a multi-player game, they can always make a “WNO:ET” and make a decent multi-player later.

    I had begun to think playable FPS games were a lost art. Thanks Bethesda. One time when it’s nice to be wrong.

    • GamerDad says:

      I also get great performance on my four year old 6950. I was pretty impressed.

  30. derbefrier says:

    just bought it this combined with other reviews made it a no brainer to purchase as I love these types of shooters.

  31. WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

    Why the unnecessary and rather incongruous UKIP dig, Alec? I don’t think it does your review any favours when you offhandedly call swathes of your potential readership stupid.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      I’m guessing it’s because he’s not overly concerned about swathes of UKIP supporters going WHY, I’VE NEVER BEEN SO INSULTED and cancelling their RPS subscriptions post-haste. Plus hey, I’ve got little or no respect for UKIP, so cheap shot or not it still elevated the review for me.

      • colw00t says:

        RPS readers who vote UKIP (or BNP, one assumes) are readers RPS would be perfectly happy without, I think.

        • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

          It is precisely this kind of high-handed obnoxiousness that makes the members of the self-proclaimed liberal intelligentsia so irksome to read.

          “Oh no, we wouldn’t want *their* kind in here anyway. I never wanted those”far right” proles (because the National Front and an anti EU party are basically the same thing, right?) in here anyway.”

        • QbertEnhanced says:

          First off, this really was a nice meaty single player campaign. In an age of multiplayer first shooters it was nice to see an fps with a lot of care and thought put into its campaign.

          Secondly, the anti-ukip dig is really quite tiresome. We can’t all still have faith in your little socialist dreams after seeing the way France is going down the toilets.

        • Lb122 says:

          Not just RPS, I think.

    • Premium User Badge

      Napalm Sushi says:

      Absolutely. It’s not like UKIP even need Alec’s help on that front:

      http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/may/23/ukip-councillor-blames-poor-london-polls-cultured-elite

  32. unit 3000-21 says:

    This sounds really great. Now i really have to upgrade my OS to 7. So long XP, my trusted friend.

    • sabasNL says:

      Well, you should’ve upgraded some time ago already. Using Windows XP is a huge security risk.

  33. PenGunn says:

    Is it as stupid easy as Rage? I guess so because everyone seems to like it, a common sign.

    I played over half of Rage on Nightmare without getting killed. Quit there.

    • dazrael says:

      I’m playing it on ‘Death Incarnate’, which has been sporadically challenging – more so in the later levels. Pretty certain I’ll be going up to the Uber level on my next playthrough. Definitely felt a bit easy to begin with.

    • your evil twin says:

      I’m playing on “I am Death Incarnate” (hard mode) as well, and I was killed a whole bunch of times in the first three chapters.

      It’s worth pointing out that the game has five difficulty levels – beneath the default ‘normal’ mode, you’ve got easy and very easy, and you’ve got hard and very hard. And like old games such as RTCW, normal mode is actually supposed to be somewhat challenging. And hard mode is actually hard.

      • dazrael says:

        I received a definite arse-kicking on the Bridge and Moon levels, especially when an unfortunate checkpoint left me on 20 health before an immediate fight against a rocket dude and his goons. Maybe I just got lucky earlier on – Blazkowicz certainly did ;)

  34. dazrael says:

    A properly fun game with some great moments (the Jimi LSD bit, the nightmare bed, the asylum, and others). Also, as discussed in the review, when I f*ck up on stealth I can switch straight into double-shotgun-maniac-mode without feeling I need to redo the section (unlike, for example, Dishonoured), which is enjoyably liberating.

    • Shooop says:

      ?

      The majority of items and powers in Dishonored were for balls-out assaults on people. Stealth was the most restrictive approach in that game.

  35. avus says:

    steam shows me the following text: “Notice: Denazified version! Historical, fascist references have been replaced by other no less atmospheric alternatives. Only available in German.”

    does that mean that i will get a german dub???

    damn steam who thinks that everyone with a german IP speaks german…

    EDIT: oh, the steam forums is full of these comments. nvm then :)

  36. Pulstar says:

    I think I and you people are playing different games. I wasn’t impressed. Sure it’s fun, but we’ve been through this trip before.

  37. Michael Fogg says:

    One thing that puzzles me about the Wolf series is the fact that no one of the people in charge through the years seemed to realize that there was a German WWII general by the name of Johannes Blazkowitz, who was one of the architects of the invasion of Poland and later stood accused at Nuremberg after the war.

    Makes it seem strange to name your main Nazi-killer B. J. Blazkowicz.

    • Pulstar says:

      And I find it ironically hilarious that they try to counter the aryan supremacy in this game by establishing a Hebrew cult that is centuries ahead of the rest of humanity. Way to miss the point!

      • dethtoll says:

        It’s not Wolfenstein without weird science and/or occultism.

    • HamsterExAstris says:

      Back when the first game was being made, you couldn’t exactly just Google the name to see what came up. And now later games are stuck with it.

  38. dethtoll says:

    I pre-ordered this and spent the week beforehand cringing with worry and anxiety. I still remember the shock and pain of Bioshock Infinite being so bad, and I didn’t even pay for that one! (It was a gift.)

    After a day’s worth of downloading it, I finally started it up. A few days later, I’m still only sort of inching towards the end, and I have to say all my fears were unfounded, this review is actually spot on for once (I wasn’t expecting RPS to be particularly kind towards it) and this game is everything I wanted out of a modern Wolfenstein.

    Also, that Wolf3D E1L1 easter egg is hard as nails!

    PS: That Red Skull comparison is apt. I’m starting to think there’s a character archetype — the evil Nazi mastermind who works in the shadows and is more dangerous than Hitler, likely based on folks like Heydrich.

  39. CookPassBabtridge says:

    It really sounds like a “wait til its £12 in a Steam sale” job to me or at least wait and see what the community response is. I’m still not convinced that 60% (+/- 0.3 according to my Hype-U-Lator 2000) of the good feeling for it doesn’t come from a sense of “thank god its not as bad as the Battlefield 4 Singleplayer”, like an explodey pendulum swing from ravenous FPS drought to AT LAST A CAN OF VIMTO.

    Vimto is horrible by the way. And an anagram of ‘vomit’.

  40. Darth Gangrel says:

    Yay, both RPS and reviewing-with-numbers-sites likes the new Wolfenstein. This is the most patriotically proud I’ve ever been for a game, since not only are Machine Games located in my hometown, but I also know one of the developers working on it.

  41. waltC says:

    “Geebs says:

    Wait, what? id tech 5 is the only engine that can do 1080p60 on the XBone, and it’s a bad outdated engine? Honestly, people should actually LEARN something about game engines and renderers before they get a License to Comment.

    (I’d imagine that it’ll run much better on 4gb video cards where the lack of unified memory, which the megatexture streaming tech would be suited to, is mitigated – hence the chap upthread whose 2gb card needed to use compressed textures)”

    Heh…;) ‘Wot I said’ was that *I didn’t like the id tech 5 engine.* In case that is still puzzling for you, Geeb, that’s not a technical matter–it’s a matter of opinion. Has nothing to do with the fact that it’s an “outdated” engine–poor engines can be current, too, you know…;) Also–so-called “shared memory” is an economic consideration–not a performance feature–the bandwidth of my 2GB 3d card absolutely decimates the bandwidth of my system memory (it’s at least 10x faster), which is is *why it isn’t shared.* Indeed, that is why it has *never been shared* except on cheap laptops using cheap integrated Intel gpus with dog-slow shared memory. And now, of course, on cheap consoles where penny-pinching is the name of the game. I stand by my statement that megatexturing sucks. Sorry we can’t agree…;) I also guess you are unfamiliar with the term “bus contention,” as well? (Another reason shared memory is not a performance feature.)

  42. RichardGamingo says:

    I have been having a blast playing through this game. There just seemed to be no better way to express it but through a montage of some of the most fun moments I have had https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHElXNJYm8s although the game definitely has its serious side. During certain times it can really get you in the feels because you have to make life-or-death choices, and the cutscenes are great. My only complaint is the loading with textures is clunky and overly slow and graphical artifacts show up when textures pop in and out of existence lol.

    Best Regards,
    RG

  43. GamerDad says:

    When Bioshock: Infinite came out, I was excited to play a big dumb scripted shooter (I like them if done right). I detested it. This one had me giggling out of fear and excitement the whole time. I want to talk about the game here but I’ll just spoil it. The goddamn face on that guy looking through the door hatch. Damn.

  44. Tegiminis says:

    The highest compliment I can pay a game is that I feel the characters, and their emotional struggles, are real.

    BJ’s struggle, and his behavior, is the most eerily-accurate depiction of PTSD I have ever seen in a game. He even has triggers!

    I got New Order because I thought it would be a fun, if dumb, romp through the cyber-nazi future. Instead it turned out to be a surprisingly smart game full of good characters and good writing. In that respect it reminds me of Shadow Warrior (reboot) and Bulletstorm, and that’s damn good company to keep.

    • GamerDad says:

      I’ve been meaning to try the Shadow Warrior reboot. Thanks for reminding me!

  45. sophof says:

    I did not expect to actually want to play this game until I read this review. Sounds like great old-school fun.