Saturday, July 8, 2017

Wolfenstein: The New Order (PC) Review

The last Wolfenstein game I played was the 2009’s Wolfenstein developed by Raven Software and published by Activision. It was a fairly underwhelming experience, and it did not do well commercially, which resulted in layoffs, and the rights to this franchise were sold to Bethesda Softworks.

Machine Games ended up working on the next game in the series, Wolfenstein: The New Order. I thought they did a better job than Raven Software, but Return to Castle Wolfenstein still remains my favorite game in the series.

This game begins three years after the events of the last game. Despite the destruction of Black Sun Portal in the last game, Nazis make a comeback and win the war against the Allies. Rest of the game takes place 14 years after the war, and Nazis have dominated the world or at least the western hemisphere from what I can tell. The situation is about as bad as you think it would be with Nazis at the helm. It is once again up to Blazkowicz and his friends to destroy the Nazis and free the world.

America surrenders!

The gameplay is linear but it is not like Call of Duty. There is some freedom in the way the player can approach a situation, but there is very little choice in story progression. This is not necessarily a bad thing, I do not expect Wolfenstein games to be open ended. I do expect them to be well optimized for the PC, and not resort to console gameplay mechanics.

The game is a PC port, and while it is not awful, it definitely suffers in some areas because of it. The visuals are not great in my opinion. I expected better graphics. They are not terrible, but looking back at the footage of Wolfenstein (2009), I felt this game does not look a whole lot better. Also, the framerate is locked at 60FPS. I’ve been told that this is a standard for idTech5 games. There are some mods that will unlock the framerate, but I read that physics are tied to the framerate (like most games designed for the console), and therefore unlocking the framerate could cause issues. I haven’t personally tested these mods.

Graphics settings

In addition to the 60FPS cap, there are unskippable intro logos, the silly warning about not turning off the machine when the game is saving progress (which is a staple of console ports), lack of quick save and quick load etc. They definitely did not go the extra mile for the PC.

Another very annoying omission is the ability to use Mouse 4 and Mouse 5 buttons. There is no way I could map any actions to these buttons in the game. I am so used to binding these buttons to certain weapons that I find myself using them during combat, and getting killed because nothing happens when I press them. Took a while for it to sink in.

On a positive note, I think they did a good job with the environments and level design. An insight is shown into how the citizens are controlled by the media. You hear certain conversations about how the government targets individuals who do not conform to what they consider to be “moral behavior”. That said, they really try to hammer home the idea that Nazis are racist. Sometimes, it is subtle and clever, and other times it's just lazy writing.

Aryan features! Haha!

More often than not, I do not care about parallels to current political events in video games, because game developers pushing their own point of view, however noble they consider it to be, is something I regard as propaganda in and of itself. Gaming for me is an escape, and while I can appreciate a slight nod to certain social issues, I do not care to be preached. For the most part, this game avoided that.

Moving on to weapons, I thought they did a pretty good job with it, but the system of weapons management was very poor. We now have a weapons wheel, which serves the purpose but the weapon variety is not great as the last game. I really enjoyed dual wielding weapons though. Pistols are weak, but the rifles and shotguns are strong and fun to use. There are some stealth sections thrown in here and there, to change the gameplay, and they are not too bad. The annoying thing about stealth sections is that the game decides to strip the player of all weapons at the start of the level. All the ammo acquired prior to the level is gone. I can understand if this happens once, but that is not the case.

The New Order is definitely worth playing for FPS fans, but I am not sure it's worth full price. I paid $6.59 and I think I got my money’s worth. If you can find it for that price, I recommend picking it up.

Verdict - Wait for sale

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