Developers: Machine Games
Publishers: Bethesda Softworks
Plot: A mission in 1945 goes wrong, resulting in a war hero being put into a coma, waking up in the 1960s, where the Nazis won the World War.
At its core, Wolfenstein is a pretty daft concept. Describe this game to anyone who isn’t familiar with the story and you will likely to be met with sniggers. The Nazis ended up winning the World War and your guy, straight out of a fourteen year coma no less, is the only guy who can stop them. Oh, and the Nazis have giant robot dogs.
But it is a credit to the writers that Wolfenstein never feels daft. The game builds up a universe, where nothing that comes at you feels out of the ordinary. The game plays everything straight, treating the material as a romantic Noir (romance as in the Epics from the Middle Ages, not the Nicholas Sparks kind). Your hero, B. J Blazkowicz, narrates your adventure with the tone of a man made hollow by the horrors he has witnessed. Wolfenstein is determined to not just fire out a reboot of the classic old-timey game; it attaches a gripping narrative for us to follow, giving the game a certain cinematic quality. The gameplay feels like something out of a Call of Duty spin-off, the brutality of war coming across really well. It seems like an unlikely place to go searching for jokes. Therefore, when you first encounter a giant robot clambering from a trench to take you on, it feels more like a logical progression of a boss fight, rather than an attempt to dial up the cheese factor. Besides, the robot battles become the best part of the game, especially when you get fed up fighting the endless line of Nazi cannon fodder. You need to use your wits and every weapon in your arsenal (Tesla Grenades become a necessity!) The robots also give the game a personal stamp. Before you were playing a FPS, when a Panzerhound comes after you, you are playing Wolfenstein: The New Order.
Serious tone never really becomes a problem though. Wolfenstein is aware that it can hide the camp undertones of its plot, but going too far down the gritty road puts it in competition with the several other realistic first-person-shooters out there, a battle it sadly will be unable to win. Therefore, first and foremost, Wolfenstein focuses on the fun. As much as we are enjoying the story, the second it becomes the player’s turn to start influencing events, we have a blast. A prison break-out sees you take control of your very own robot and mow down the Nazis that have been a pain in your ass for the last few hours. Even when you take them on head-on, they feel helpless against the seasoned gamers. There is something amusing about taking on a large group of enemies that, without back-up, are pretty much guaranteed to succumb to your superior fighting skills. I like the upgrade tree in this game as well. It tries to predict the type of gamer you are by selecting four different combat styles and giving you upgrades, according to your style of play. You can either be a Demolition expert, favouring grenades over guns. You can be a ‘charge-in’ kind of gamer that just rushes into a room and uses their natural reflexes to overcome the enemy. Or maybe you are more tactical, killing Nazis with headshots from afar. Or maybe you go full-stealth and sneak through the corridors, without being seen, until you have a knife at the general’s throat. The game reads which of the four you prefer and grants you new techniques, depending on what style you feel more comfortable with. This helps, because it makes the game feel personalised to your specific adventure, and it also cuts away the possibility of earning an upgrade you will never use.
Sadly, when all is said and done, Wolfenstein feels like your run-of-the-mill first person shooter. Yes, it is a dressed up one that often hides its rudimentary origins, but in sticking to its root genre so tightly, it ends up feeling a little generic. It demands little reason to revisit this game, once you have put down the controller. Sometimes, there is something very appealing about the game’s honesty. I know that I am going to pick up the controller and spend my gaming time shooting up enemies. But it is only as ever as fun as the moment you are in. The second you get stuck on a certain set-piece, Wolfenstein gets old really quick. It becomes very clear that the game wants you to do little more than point a gun and press the trigger. It becomes an endless succession of clearing rooms of nameless soldiers. It does a very good job of making each sequence feel fresh and different from the last, but after a while, Wolfenstein doesn’t feel as good as it did, when you first booted up the game and leapt into the adventure.
Final Verdict: It suffers nearer the end when the gameplay gets old, but for the most part, Wolfenstein is a clever action that promises honest, old-fashioned fun.