No one has rated this review as helpful yet
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 15.7 hrs on record
Posted: Jul 5, 2017 @ 3:08am
Updated: Jul 5, 2017 @ 3:20am

"Wolfenstein: The New Order" is an action and story driven first person shooter that continues a franchise that has been around, at least as a first person shooter, since the early 90s. This, however, is my first foray into the series, and having never played a Wolfenstein game, this review probably won't reference the other games in the series very much. I'll break the review down into parts to discuss the story, gameplay, graphics and audio/music quality. There are some technical issues that I experienced which I'll discuss as well. I will try to describe the elements of the game in a way that tells you how good or bad I thought they were without necessarily giving out spoilers.

The story for this game centers around B.J. Blaskowitz, a man who ends up being wounded fighting the Nazis, and wakes up 14 years later in a world where the Nazis, not the allies, won the war and effectively rule the world. He quickly starts killing Nazis and joins a resistance movement. I'll be honest, I didn't expect much in the way of storyline when I bought this game. It's a first person shooter from Bethesda, and I had played a minute here and there of the old original DOS game, so I was expecting something sort of in the same vein as DOOM or Duke Nukem; lots of gory violence and explosions with a corny one liner thrown in here and there. Oh boy was I dead wrong; the story and the characters are what make this game so great, and sets it apart from titles like DOOM or Duke Nukem. There's meaningful character development, plot twists, personal relationships between the characters, side stories to help you learn about and build raport with the other characters in the game, etc. I didn't just care about the over-arching goals of the campaign, which is obviously to save the world from Nazi rule, but I found myself getting personally invested in not only Blaskowitz, but the characters around him and his relationships with them, to the point that one moment in the game nearly had me in tears. It felt really good playing a first person shooter with a story and characters I cared about.

The gameplay for the game is pretty good. It's a first person shooter, and I played with a mouse and keyboard. There's the usual mechanics for running, jumping, sprinting, aiming and shooting. You collect various weapons as you play the game, and mods for those weapons that add an alternate or secondary fire mode. Almost every weapon in the game can be dual wielded as well, including with each one in a different fire mode. Environments are even destructible, to a point anyway. You can't destroy "everything" around you, but if you stand behind weak cover for long, eventually the enemy will chip it away with their rifles, and even some types of metal will get dissolved by energy weapons. The game does a pretty good job of letting you decide how you want to play the game, and rewards you for continuing to play in that way. Most areas of the game can be approached conventionally by just walking in and opening fire, OR by sneaking, either through a vent or a tunnel, behind some boxes, etc. Sneaking allows you to get behind enemies and eliminate them with your knife, and sometimes leads to other hidden objects in the world. As you play, you earn perks by performing certain actions. You don't have to manually spend points to buy the perks you want, the perks are automatically unlocked and applied based on your play style. The perks can be really helpful, and the fact that they're automatically unlocked based on your gameplay means that playing well will net you more perks, and you won't have to leave your gameplay and spend time allotting points to perks in a menu system. The one negative feature I can think of regarding the gameplay is the "lean" mechanic. It works well most of the time, but there's no way to do it manually, and it doesn't trigger for grenades, so there is a rare occasion where you'll expect a lean to happen and it won't.

The graphics for this game are, meh. They're not terrible, but it's obvious that the game was built with the limitations of the Playstation 3 and XBox 360 in mind. It implements a "texture streaming" mechanic, I guess to get around the limited RAM available on the consoles by only loading the high resolution textures for things in your field of view, but it's poorly implemented in the PC version of the game. Spinning around quickly will often cause the game to exhibit some blatant texture "pop-in". The game looks good enough that once you settle into it, you don't really notice it all that much, but when you first start playing the game it really grabs your attention. Turning down the quality of the textures just makes them look worse more often and makes the texture pop-in even more rampant, and even added some "flickering" to some textures for me when I tried turning them down, so if your rig can handle it, just run the game on Ultra. One problem I experienced was the fact that the game didn't actually create its own texture caching directory. I was able to verify what folder it was trying to use with the in-game command console so I could then go create that folder, and that helped quite a bit with the texture pop-in because it was also affecting my framerate. The game doesn't seem terribly well optimized for PC, or based on what I'm reading, at least if you're using an AMD graphics card. The 2016 DOOM game, cranked to the max at 1080p, held over 100fps almost 100% of the time on my PC, and it most definitely never dropped anywhere close to 60. Wolfenstein TNO however, hovered around 60, and even dropped below it quite often when there was a lot going on. It generally stayed pretty close to 60, but there are newer, more complex and more visually appealing games that run MUCH better than Wolfenstein TNO, which tells me that the performance issues I was experiencing are problems with optimization, especially since it didn't even create the texture cache directory it was configured to look for. Overall, if I had to rank the graphics on a scale of 1-10, I would give them a 6. The texture and effects quality is decent, and there's moments where the game can look down-right gorgeous, especially with the depth of field turned on, but there are some glaring issues not with the quality of the visuals, but with how consistent and stable they are, and if I've got to manually start fixing a game that is now over 3 years old before I can play it, you lose points in my book. Heck one issue I had to resort to Google for a solution; I had to rename the game's executable and replace "x64" with "x32" or it crashed every time I looked at the chains to cut in the prison level. Why in the world that works, I have no clue, but it reeks of inconsistency and a lack of polish.

The audio and voice acting in this game is top notch. I'm not sure what else can be said about it. The voicing of the characters was expertly done in a way that brought them to life. The lack of sound outside your suit on the moon, the alt-universe music tracks, the emotion brought forth by the voice actors, everything about the sound work in this game is amazing and really helps bring you into the story.

Aside from some glaring technical issues, I still recommend this game because once I got through the issues, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, specifically because of the gameplay and story. As my first Wolfenstein game, the story in this one was good enough for me to buy the new one "New Colossus" and give Bethesda a chance to fix the technical issues I experienced with this title, and that's the point I think. I experience amazing stories and Bethesda gets paid to keep doing a better and better job of making them, :-)
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