A brilliant old game with stale ‘new’ beginnings.
May 5th 1992 proved to be an apogee for first person shooter video games. This heyday was brought in by iD Software in the form of Wolfenstein 3D. A 100,000 units sold back in the day meant a lot, and it was so that Wolfenstein took the days of the yore by storm with the players assuming the role of B.J. Blazkowicz, a WWII Allied spy, escaping a Nazi prison called Castle Wolfenstein. iD Software etched into our minds those perfect blue walls, the (erstwhile) humongous arsenal of weapons that made gamers laugh sinisterly, the trundling and ripping through numerous guards and thick skinned bosses right before the elevators and just how can the secret treasure caches and levels or Blazkowicz exulting in his triumphs right after the killcams while we wished to give him a thunderous high five or to include his name in our respective wills for all the world to damn.
Wolfenstein successfully initiated a movement which set in motion a refined way of looking at games and even became the archetype for future first person shooters. Following up to this brilliantly thought out game were a number of sequels, some deserving a cold shoulder while some sharing the jubilant cries of childhoods in the making. All of them though, ever stuck to featuring a fictional world with twisted Nazi experiments to pave the way for death and cause troubles for the spy Blazkowicz while pitting him against other surreal creations and claustrophobic castles. Wolfenstein: The New Order carries the nub of the series. But does it really?
Keep in mind that everything here is speculative and based on assets that are 6 months old. The final game can and will turn out different – because you can’t count out Machinegames and Bethesda when it comes to quality – so just take it as a bit of food for FPS thought.
"The name Wolfenstein has since ever been synonymous with words like daft, lunatic, ridiculous, demented, ingenious, glorious etc. Most importantly, it has always tugged at in our brains that little node of fun."
Wolfenstein: The New Order, just like the series’ previous instalments, is based in an alternate history world in the 1960s where the Nazis win the World War II. Sounds a bit too familiar. Whilst its true that we all loved the way Wolfenstein had employed a new idea and brought up a refreshing new way of looking at FPS games with its gameplay, it’s a bother to see the same ideas being embodied in a ‘new’ graphically improved game. The game obviously looks like a decent FPS game but aren’t we all fed up with the already chock full line up from that category? Machine Games – The New Order’s developer’s – appear to have dextrously collected all the dross from the refuse of modern gaming and put together the bits and pieces to make something awry.
It’s never easy to hate something that has had you flipping over throughout your early years but Bethesda has evidently taken that as a challenge. Bethesda – with respect to this game – is like your possibly amnesiac friend who tells you of how he had looked a spectacle of virility, ingenuity and sheer brilliance as he jumped over a feet wide drain, explosions and limbs flying around him in slo-mo as he deftly moved through the perilous alley near his house. It sounds like the perfect thing for fun, but not if he and a bunch of other friends keeps smacking and badgering your face with the same tale of marvel day in and day out.
The name Wolfenstein has since ever been synonymous with words like daft, lunatic, ridiculous, demented, ingenious, glorious etc. Most importantly, it has always tugged at in our brains that little node of fun. We’ve all equally loved and hated those crazy Nazi experiments, gargantuan weapons and even the over the top battles with ghosts and sprites. But what’s had people going manic crazy after Wolfenstein is its notion of fun. Wolfenstein: The New Order has still those crazy ideas inculcated in it but it just becomes banal and trite vis-a-vis the previous games. It simply doesn’t bring anything new to the table.
" Mowing through truckloads of humans does get quite dull after some time and the prospect of having to bring down a metal robot sounds like the thing to break the dim pace of the game. Sadly, it is not so in the least."
In the game’s trailer, after having given a mumbling speech in a surly manner about his caretakers, Blazkowicz sits to witness the manslaughter of the same caretakers by Nazi soldiers and all that bullet spraying, grunting and shouting hurls him back to reality just as all the drab colours of the room and walls come to life with Blazkowicz realising what exactly is happening. Then, all this sudden violence spurs him into an adrenaline filled rage that now has him splaying Nazi blood. Probably the only scene in the game that’s gonna hold your attention enough. After that, it’s the same rage continuing in a more rugged and mindless manner
Disregarding the overused idea of putting the Nazis as the baddies with devious and nefarious plans of world domination and complete control with their uber high-tech weapons and robots, the game still doesn’t get you moving. Mowing through truckloads of humans does get quite dull after some time and the prospect of having to bring down a metal robot sounds like the thing to break the dim pace of the game. Sadly, it is not so in the least. These robots are just big metal bullet-hog monstrosities that take more firepower and deal more damage than your average soldier. They feel like super mini bosses thrown into the middle of levels because the developers felt that some points in the game required more bullet shell accumulation than others. It provides even less satisfaction that smashing holes through human skills not wearing armour.
The levels in the game seem pretty dull. They’re all too linear and boringly systematic and straightforward. It’s like taking a journey in a train with everything zipping past you – the good, the bad, the nasty, the not nast – except that you have about half a dozen weapons at your disposal and about a hundred quintals of ammunition in your satchel. As you rampage through the corridors dual wielding pretty much any weapon of your choice and emptying them on anything that shifts a pixel on your screen, you get to know that Wolfenstein:The New Order just hasn’t struck the mark.
"As you rampage through the corridors dual wielding pretty much any weapon of your choice and emptying them on anything that shifts a pixel on your screen, you get to know that Wolfenstein: The New Order just hasn’t struck the mark."
Wolfenstein tries to convey a story cooler than anyone can expect but all that hard work isn’t seen anywhere else in the game. All that frenzied shooting comes at the cost of gnashing teeth with the game’s difficulty. Blazkowicz can only take so many hits before kicking the bucket and even the Nazis have their troops attacking in huge groups. The A.I. is surely more clever than before but it adds to the difficulty of the game as the old school health bar of Blazkowicz dwindles about, apathetic to your shouting and cussing. The game doesn’t have a multiplayer either. At least not yet.
Another thing that will probably have a lot of gamers thumping their fists in frustration is Blazkowicz’s commentary throughout the game. If you can call it commentary that is. B.J. has never really been the gabby guy and having him talk through the game certainly brought some nods. B.J. talks all right, but throughout the game he speaks in hushed and whispering tones. Enough to grab your attention and deficient enough to make you petulantly say “What?” out aloud. His one liners, instead of being whacky, witty or informative are just a ho-hum corralling of words that are said in a flat manner that induce ennui and some of them are completely out of context and said for the heck of it.
Although there’s no doubt that the game has absolutely gorgeous visuals, but that certainly is no compensation for the faux pas that is extant. The game is said to be inspired heavily from the original game, Wolfenstein 3D, but there’s hardly anything reminiscent of that except the Nazis. What happened to all those secret rooms or alternate routes? Why does B.J. sound so traumatised and ripped far away from reality? No, it’s not that anybody’s saying that you make B.J. just another bloke lacking grey matter in his cranium who just wants to kill everything that moves. But why does have to be such a dreary backdrop to such a character? Why in Satan’s name does he have to speak not at all and is speak, do so in an unintelligible and inaudible manner or if everything fails, curse. Curses seem like the best fillers.
"Although there’s no doubt that the game has absolutely gorgeous visuals, but that certainly is no compensation for the faux pas that is extant. The game is said to be inspired heavily from the original game, Wolfenstein 3D, but there’s hardly anything reminiscent of that except the Nazis."
It’s not that Wolfenstein: The New Order is a bad game. It looks like just another game that is being force fed to the audience. Maybe it’s just that we’re all fed up with FPS games and we all had a lot of expectation from the New Order but the game really lacks in innovation and that wee bit of imagination.
The game doesn’t capitalise upon its grisly bits, nor upon the intriguing or involving ones. In this ‘new and re-imagined’ title of the series, the game in its endeavour to tell a fascinating and dark story, barging in it the evilry of the world fails to capture the heed of gamers. The game becomes another title where you have to switch off your brain and bluster through enemy ranks for some reason or the other. Even the gore splattering and gut flinging bits aren’t as impressive. Another game that has benefited from the rich stream of money.
On the bright side, you can carry guns by the truckload which makes you think if B.J. is a mentally scarred human being or a modified android guns for hands…ears, nose, feet, face etc. with bullets for bones that regenerate at an impressive pace. Also, eating replenishes your health and it can also increase your health to more than 100 momentarily if you have an appetite like a Pixiu without the fear of having to buy a bigger pair of pants the next time B.J. is at a clothing store and maybe get a few more pockets to carry some extra ammunitions.
Not that we mind any of that, but it’s imperative that such elements be incorporated in the game in such a way that it makes the experience of playing the game worthwhile and thoroughly enjoyable just as the previous iterations in the series had. Wolfenstein: The New Order has had quite some eyeballs swivel its way courtesy the series’ powerful presence in the gaming industry since the days of the yore, and whether the newest title in the series does justice to its predecessors or not, can only be known once the game is out.We’ll be having our eyes on this one, so should you.