Wolfenstein: The New Order PS4 review – iron, stone and a lot of blood

By Dave Cook
20 May 2014 05:14 GMT

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”At a time where features and mechanics are being piled on your plate like pork pies at an all you can eat buffet, it’s nice to see a game going for the ‘less is more’ angle without comprising quality.”

But through all of The New Order’s wanton destruction and death, there’s a great story that is told through moments that feel similar to Jackie’s trips to the subway in Starbreeze shooter The Darkness.

Unsurprisingly, Machine Games was founded by several core members of that game’s team, and it shows once Blazkowicz kick-starts the resistance. You’ll walk around their hideout, talk with NPCs, read up on how the Nazi’s conquered the globe and listen to stories from their past. It’s not literary benchmarking, but it’s a welcome respite from the carnage. A breather, if you will.

There’s also some truly menacing scenes that put you on edge, such as an encounter with an Aryan profiler that recalls the opening farmhouse scene in Tarantino’s flick Inglorious Bastards. There’s also an unfortunate incident with a chainsaw early on, not to mention some gameplay sections in a prison that feel positively similar to Half-Life 2’s locales. As I sneaked past patrolling guards and under the gaze of auto-turrets, I was reminded of the Combine and the oppression felt in City 17. Later on, a long journey up a towering research facility in London brings platform sections that feel close to Freeman’s escapades.

And like Half-Life 2, The New Order also has it’s ‘Gravity Gun’ moment in the form of Blazkowicz’s laser cutter tool, which is later swapped out for a more-powerful rail gun. Using these devices, players can burn their way through mesh fences and steel covers that collapse with accurate physics, and no, I didn’t use it to cut out a giant cock. Anyway, this simple mechanic gives you the option to prize open alternative paths, burn through fortified ammo crates and complete simple platforming puzzles. It’s not earth-shattering, but certainly neat.

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”While I’m certain other critics and gamers will pick larger holes in The New Order’s blood-stained fabric, I was perfectly happy to kick back and hip-fire my way through an entire army of enemies while laughing.”

The game’s not perfect of course, as the AI stumbles at times between being ruthless and deceptive, to simply walking into the open or idling, waiting to die. While it runs at 60FPS on PS4 and is often wonderfully-presented, there are other areas that feel murky and drab by comparison.

I’m happy to overlook these dips based on the game’s grimy aesthetic, although there’s also a real disconnect between the visuals in cut-scenes and gameplay at times, with Blazkowicz’s model looking fine in some cinematics, but lacking polish in others.

Also, where’s the multiplayer? It should be in there.

While I’m certain other critics and gamers will pick larger holes in The New Order’s blood-stained fabric, I was perfectly happy to kick back and hip-fire my way through an entire army of enemies while laughing at the sheer absurdity of it all. It handles well, makes a decent stab at pathos and narrative, while keeping things sinister like its parent.

I like it because it retains that base simplicity, and at a time where features and mechanics are being piled on your plate like pork pies at an all you can eat buffet, it’s nice to see a game going for the ‘less is more’ angle without comprising quality. The extras are there if you wish to fully embrace them, but if you want to ditch stealth and ignore the story, then that’s entirely up to you.

The New Order is a game about silly men shooting sillier men and robots in the face with hyper-violent results.

It’s fun. That’s why games are made to begin with, right?

Disclosure: To assist in writing this article, Bethesda sent Dave a PS4 copy of Wolfenstein: The New Order.

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