The Wolfenstein franchise is something that’s near and dear to my heart. It was one of my first experiences not only in the first-person shooter genre, but gaming entirely.
Both Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory was the first game I devoted a large portion of my life to playing online. Man, the multiplayer in both games was an absolute blast and in the case of the latter, I gained a few friendships out of it. With the 2009 release essentially removed from my memory, I approach Wolfenstein: The New Order with much caution, attempting to avoid more heartbreak.
Bethesda showed off three portions of the game at E3. The first two were non-playable portions shown off in Bethesda’s theater, starting with a cinematic experience to help give some framework for the games story. The second involved traditional FPS gunplay mixed in with exploration. The third portion was playable, featuring fast-paced shooting and the occasional puzzle.
As has always been the case with the Wolfenstein franchise, you’ll assume the role of B.J. Blazkowicz. Only this time, it’s not World War II. It’s the 1960s, the Nazis have won, and just ain’t pretty. This is the same Blazkowicz you’d expect: he doesn’t love a good conversation, but he does love to kill Nazis. Lucky for him, there’s going to be a lot of Nazi Killing in The New Order. But don’t you dare think that this is a simple run-and-gun type of game.
The gameplay will be mixed in with moments of exploration and puzzle solving, no doubt to help make the set pieces stand out more. It’s tough to tell what kind of effect this will have on the game currently. At times during the E3 demonstration, things felt a bit tedious; gameplay felt boring and generic. Yet the playable portion had a really good mix of the two styles. One minute I was running and gunning, desperately hanging on for dear life, and the next I slowed down, caught my breath, and attempted to figure out a quick puzzle.
Still, there’s no mistaking that the highlight of the game is shooting. Wolfenstein: The New Order definitely has an old-school feel to it. Unlike other modern shooters which all feature regenerating health, you’ll need to constantly pick up medkits if you’d like to survive. The only real way to do this during a firefight is to kill a Nazi and run over the goodies they drop over. Dead Nazis will produce ammo, health, and armor. Yes, that’s just like the good old days. This helps create a frantic pace to some of the more intense moments of gameplay. I was often scrambling for dear life, desperately trying to find something resembling cover as I reloaded my dual shotguns before bursting out into the open again.
There’s something that needs to be said about the way I felt while playing The New Order. Did it do anything remarkable? Not really, but it felt familiar, like a long lost friend I’ve forgotten all about. This isn’t a game we’ll be able to mention in the same breath as a Halo or Battlefield. Instead, we’ll need to compare it to its true peers: the 90s FPS. That’s exactly what playing Wolfenstein: The New Order feels like, a high-definition 90s FPS with modern features. Whether or not that type of game can make it in 2013 remains to be seen, but for now, I remain cautious.
I’m also curious.