Wolfenstein: The New Order
Bethesda; PS3/Xbox/360/PS4/Xbox One/PC
After all the years I spent moaning about the pros and cons of blaah, boring interactive movies, I now realize that I was the one who had it wrong. Fifteen minutes into playing Wolfenstein: The New Order and I can finally put it all into perspective. The folks at Bethesda clearly had an epiphany while watching one or all of the three modern post-modernist B-movie hits Outpost, Dead Snow and Trollhunter. All three are a gory, gutsy, cheerful burlesque of 20th century ‘What if?’ fantasy, which began with If, Red Dawn and The Boys from Brazil.
Wolfenstein: The New Order takes some of the premises of the first three movies and runs with them. Outpost and Dead Snow play with the notion that, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, a band of Hitler’s ex-S.S. einatzgruppen death’s-head corps are awakened from a cryogenics experiment and go out to prey on the locals. In Dead Snow they also just happen to be flesh-consuming zombies. The monsters in Trolllhunter, I’m relieved to inform you, are not Nazis; unfortunately, though, they are flesh-eaters. Worse, the Trolls are employed by the Norwegian government, although we never find out exactly what for. In case, perhaps, Russia’s little dictator Vladimir Putin gets the urge to eat Norway as a midnight snack.
All three films were cult hits, but the game looks to be on the cusp of making astronomical sales by Christmas time. It’s all one invigorating, happy-go-lucky absurdist adventure that’s super-addictive and time-consuming.
Generation X gamers are likely well aware of the Wolfenstein legend: Wolfenstein 3D (1992) was the original first-person shooter, which your Titanfall can be traced back to. Theoretically, the game’s developer id Software only put Nazis in as bad guys because it didn’t want any modern serial-killer-type charismatic serial killer issues to deal with. Of course, Nazis are the villains you love to hate, as with Hellboy. Thus we get Wolfenstein: The New Order, which imagines what could possibly have happened if the Nazis had won World War II in the same way John Milius imagined a post-communist world after invasion in Red Dawn.
The protagonist, BJ Blaskowicz, a macho, carnivore, gung-ho US Marine, is the optimum American kind-hearted murder machine. The tale begins in in 1946, with the defeated Allies on their last legs. Desperate, Blaskowicz and his allied colleagues set off on a suicide mission to destroy the headquarters of General Wilhelm ‘Deathshead’ Strasse. Everything goes wrong and I’ll tell you no more…
Fast-forward to 1960, as Blaskowicz regains consciousness in a Germanized Poland, imprisoned in an insane asylum, to find a world thoroughly cowed by the Nazis. Blaskowitz then wages what is at first a one-man-war before recruiting colleagues. Using stolen heavy-duty weapons and collecting every scrap of old ammo and armor, slowly, but surely, the game gets better, improving over five separate degrees of difficulty.
What follows is up to you as you are your own general. You can take a strategic guerrilla approach and knock off your foot soldier enemy one at a time. Or, you can assassinate enemy commanders to create chaos. A reward system helps you improve in different, definite ways. The amount of mayhem you cause is rewarded with weapons upgrades. Long-range shotguns are super-cool game changers, until later when you learn how to use the lass, which is both a ruthless tactical weapon and a puzzle-solving tool.
The depraved, evil Nazis enemy is technology-savvy in 1960. Indeed, rather than fight using humans, the Nazis have created the Aryan Superman of their dreams engineering an army of genetically enhanced, massively armored super-soldiers accompanied by giant dog-robots and huge Transformers-type Mechs.
It’s a shame that there’s no multiplayer alternative, and the graphics are just sort of blaah and okay, but I find very few other faults. The moral dilemma in the prologue level gives you two alternative time-lines. Actually, the full-length thoroughness of the plotting makes it far superior to the duller likes of CoD.