Fail Forward: Wolfenstein: The New Order

Fail Forward is a series of videos all about the bits of games which don’t quite work and why. In this episode, Marsh Davies discusses Wolfenstein: The New Order [official site], its robot dogs and limpid eyes.

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  1. Palladian says:

    These are some of the best videos in games criticism, I’m so excited for another! Thanks, Marsh.

  2. Simon_Scott says:

    Nodded vigorously throughout. I think the Jewish tech aspect did feel like a mis-step – like finding that the Catholics were really intent on overthrowing the German monarchy.

    The French and Jewish writer Georges Perec noted that the problem with any representation of Naziism, in fiction or even in memoir, is the portrayal of Jews and Nazis. If the Jews remain human in the face of what was done to them, then you misrepresent what was done to them. If you show the extent to which they were dehumanized, then you run the risk of exonerating the Nazi’s antisemitism. Similarly, if you treat the Nazis as monsters then you rob the work of the real horror, that they were human too. If you treat them as human then you invite sympathy, which again is dangerous ground.

    (Perec is perhaps most well known for writing a novel, La Disparition, that never uses the letter e. What is less known is that the novel, which starts off as a thriller in which a group of friends search for the mysteriously missing Anton Vowl, can be seen as a parable about the Nazi’s attempted destruction of European jewry – that the “e” was a symbol of power, that the invisible erasure of it from the world, to the point that most of the people in the book (and at least one critic reviewing the book!) are unaware that the erasure has taken place; a whole section of culture and society plopped down the memory hole.)

  3. Serenegoose says:

    That was an excellent video. Really well done.

  4. heretic says:

    Great vid Marsh, probably my favourite one so far.

  5. Grizzly says:

    One of the things this video misses is, when you pick Wyatt, one of the guys you meet in the resistance base is called “J”. Here’s a video of him:
    [youtube link to

    • Grizzly says:

      Not sure how to make youtube embeds work, but I’ll just let that video speak for itself.

      • Synesthesia says:

        Wow, that is really good. Fucking jimi! I never managed to get that scene… might be time for a re run.

  6. amateurviking says:

    These just keep getting better and better.

  7. Synesthesia says:

    Fantastic, as always.

    I also said this on the youtube video, but would you and others mind reccommending more korean film to me? The few movies i’ve seen i’ve loved.

    • Jody Macgregor says:

      Another Korean movie worth watching is The Thieves. It’s directed by Choi Dong-hoon, who is famous for his heist movies. The Thieves is about a group of criminals from South Korea working with another crew from Hong Kong to rob a casino, and there’s a lot of interesting contrast between the two cultures. It’s also a really well-paced escalating caper flick.

    • Quagkapi says:

      A really interesting digression into Korean cinema. This reminded me of “The Host” (2006), which also has exactly the described – and completely unexpected – panoply of juxtaposed emotion in what is ostensibly a horror / action / suspense monster flick.

    • wu wei says:

      Two that I’ve really enjoyed are the crime thriller Tell Me Something and the horror The Guard Post.

  8. thedosbox says:

    Another excellent addition to the series.

  9. Ridiculous Human says:

    This has fast become my favourite series on RPS.

    Also, consider supporting Marsh’s other fantastic work: link to

  10. cbn says:

    Haven’t watched these before, this is great stuff :]

  11. w0bbl3r says:

    The end, when he sits on that ledge watching those allied planes coming in, talking to scotty (whatever his name was again, I don’t remember) on the radio, it all just got to me. I found myself with a lump in the throat, right after taking out a brain from a giant robot, only to find it was my “dead” friend’s brain, indoctrinated to the nazi regime, only regaining his humanity after I rip it out in a silly kill animation.
    Such silliness made the game great.
    Such earnest depth and touching moments in the story (the guy with the huge dent in his head, and the guy who looked after him, for instance, just wiped me out emotionally), well, they just made it something incredible somehow.
    But this article gets it perfect; it should have been ludicrous to have these moments in there. It should have made the game bad.
    But it just managed to make it a whole lot better.
    Never thought I would be so upset at the “death” of B.J. blazkowitz.

    • Simon_Scott says:

      He’s coming back, you know. He’s coming back. Any day now. You see if he doesn’t . Any fucking day now.

  12. gummybearsliveonthemoon says:

    I usually skip video articles, I prefer to read. I’m so glad I didn’t skip this one.

    Wolfenstein: TNO really impressed me, for the first reason in this video – the emotion and characterization. I agree that it seems jarring, but I’m glad that the reviewer felt it was overall a positive, even if it did seem whiplash at times. I can’t imagine that that world, were it real, would be any less whiplash between anger and attempting to find small tenderness.

    And I’m going to have to find that Korean film you mentioned.

  13. diamondmx says:

    I do skip video articles, because I read RPS largely on mobile data, and wish to be able to skim the article to see if the content is of interest.
    Really dislike video only articles.

  14. Eukatheude says:

    Well I’m not going to watch the video since it seems a bit spoilerific.
    I’ll admit I torrented the game to try it out. Got to the second or third level in complete boredom. The guns felt like pea shooters, and the baddies died after a couple of shots even at the hardest difficulty.
    So is it all like that?

    • drewski says:

      It’s not really any more spoilerific than the reviews at the time. If you’re interested in game criticism it’s worth a watch, especially if you boreded out on the game itself.

  15. drewski says:

    Great video as always Marsh.

  16. demonalcohol says:

    This is the first one i’ve watched and I’ve got to say, well done good sir. I wasn’t expecting anything more than a fluff piece to relive my time spent with the game. Not only did you reinforce things I felt while playing, you left me with things to take away and think about after watching. A real maturity here that often times is ignored when it comes to gaming. Thank you.

  17. moroder says:

    Fantastic video. So well put to words what’s great about this game. Plus some really neat insights. Glad I found this!

  18. SlimShanks says:

    The Flare Path, Philippa’s adorable-ness, and everything about Alice used to be why I came to this site. Now there’s this too! Your deep thinking makes for fascinating contemplation. Keep it up!
    Seriously though, Marsh, how many people can steal the show at RPS? You’re making everyone else look like they aren’t trying.

  19. running fungus says:

    If this series is ever in danger of coming to an end – unless due to a lack of your interest in continuing it – please let us know what we can do to show support. Outstanding games journalism.

  20. GenBanks says:

    A bit late, because I only just finished The New Order and watched this video. Spot on, and outstanding game. Absolutely loved it, and despite all the positive press I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. Imaginative alternate history setting (I found myself reading all the little news articles sprinkled around the levels), surprisingly believable characters (some of them) and shooting bits that are a huge amount of fun.

  21. bl4ckrider says:

    By portraying the Nazis as simple, ridiculous monsters it makes it easy for us to sit back and perceive them as pure evil with no connection to ourselves. They are cartoon villains, nothing more and the Leni Riefenstahl-woman is well created, but falls very flat.
    If on the other hand they had introduced a likeable Nazi, a character that expresses his motives: For example the same fear of foreigners that the teaparty, UKIP and all the other European right wing parties express, a simplistic believe in an ideology that promises a greater purpose of life or the naïve faith in nationality that people also share when they yell the name of their country in a crowd today. If the game had done that it would have created an uncomfortable statement. But Nazis remain on their side and the hero on the other. The world is still simple and we are the good ones.

    And on the other hand hinting at the holocaust has no other purpose in the game than to make the villains look more villainous. It’s torture porn. Those victims of the real holocaust are once again objectified to sell a game about shooting bad guys. All those emotions evoked are just there to justify our own killing.

    I prefer the old games that were at least honest about what they wanted to be. Cartoon games with cartoon villains. Popcorn entertainment does very well to separate the Nazis from their victims. In Indiana Jones you never see a death camp, and that is smart because it states that Nazis are ridiculous but the holocaust is not a topic for an action comedy. Neither is it for an FPS.

    The game gives us a reason to kill people in a video game without remorse. The Nazis did just the same. At least Wolfenstein could have made us uncomfortable in our actions like Spec Ops the Line tried to do.

    • Sandepande says:

      I believe that the game – being Wolfenstein – was about shooting Nazis for fun. Questioning that might get in the way of fun. And the one human Nazi might have ended up being a double agent or a Kreisau member, but not a “neutral” Nazi. I would imagine the writers have thought about this…