E3 2013: Wolfenstein The New Order preview

Wolfenstein helped lead the way for first person shooters back in 1992, of course most out there have fond memories of Doom which of course helped greatly in making id what they are today. However poor Wolf always gets left in the dark, not always remembered by all. It may have just been a WWII based shooter but realistically it was so much more than that as they blurred the lines of reality by having you perform actions that would have never played out in history, plus it had some pretty crazy bosses.

Wolfenstein has had a long run of different games in its lifetime, some good and some not so good, but with Bethesda behind the reigns this time round I'd like to think they'll be doing some strict overseeing on the game to ensure it meets their quality bar that they've set on their previous games. This time round MachineGames are working on the upcoming Wolfenstein The New Order, a team made up of some of the original Starbreeze founders which in my eyes means crazy good developers, and they've been working hard on it since late 2010.

The New Order is set in the 1960s in an alternate "if the Nazi's won WWII" scenario. You play as B.J. Blazkowicz and you're tasked with the job to take out the Nazi's who have now taken over the world. Where was B.J. while this was happening, and why wasn't he kicking Nazi butt do you ask? Well he'd been in a coma for the last 14 years and woke up to this craziness. Set as you'd imagine in Europe you have to infiltrate strongholds and take out the Nazi's that get in your way. From what I saw and played it all feels a bit more mechanical than it's last two predecessors and seems to focus on the supernatural a lot less which seems ideal for the slightly more futuristic setting.

The moment which blew me away, probably a little more than it should have was an example of how the narrative is played out through the game. We witnessed a moment presumably from near the start of the game where B.J. Blazkowicz is undercover with a false identity on a night train to Berlin where you meet some very interesting characters. The best part of it though is that everyone is speaking their native languages, which to me feels like it's underdone these days in games. For the most part narrative sections in games don't always take part in a non-english speaking environment.

However in a situation like the Germans taking over it's kind of a given that German would become the leading language and I'm so happy that they didn't skimp out on the German speaking. In the scenario you get to meet two interesting characters; Frau Engel and Bubi who are certainly an odd couple. It was great seeing the emotion they've brought across into the game though, making you feel slightly uncomfortable sat at the table with these two, when it then turns into what feels like you perhaps aren't in the best scenario, only for it to turn into a slightly unfunny joke. It was tense but not in a gameplay sense which was brilliant.

However of course what most want to see is gameplay and we saw and then later played a good chunk of it. When the game is throwing you into action they definitely want you to know about it. The levels felt linear to a certain extent but you could see all these different little paths that would give you the upperhand or other ways that were requiring a tool to open it, potentially leading a different way or in true Wolfenstein fashion to a load of goodies.

In the final segment of the demo you were presented with a large hangar, a number of people and robots on patrol, immediately from playing The Darkness and Riddick in the past I presumed I could take another route through being stealthy. I decided to give it a go but on every attempt ended up unable to take everyone out quietly as it just didn't seem to want to allow me to with the harshly open environment, plus it turned out I had to kill everyone in the end anyway. It was from this moment that I must say I found the game quite hard, I was however up against the odds as the enemy had the upper hand by having a large area of ground covered. Along with this you had the threat of robots which the second they saw you would shower you with bullets. As it was a hanger there were four helicopters which had mounted guns, but you couldn’t pull them off and you were wide open when using them, meaning using them was a big risk.

As with any game based on an id franchise the guns need to have a big impact and feel like they're doing the damage you want them to, one thing that they have done is stick with the staple guns from what we saw. From the pistol, to the machine gun and rounding off with the shotgun, weapons that pack a punch and visually make sense. To make you feel even more powerful you can also dual wield most of the weapons in the game, creating favourites for whether you prefer single guns to conserve your ammo and have the ability to aim or just want to go crazy on those Nazis and spray bullets all over the place. However the guns do go a little retro sci-fi as MachineGames call it, you'll find detachable gatling guns that the Nazi's have built which you can use and detach from the ground. Any Nazi built weapons have a certain flair about them, making them feel that tiny bit more powerful than what you're stuck with.

As well as the weapons packing the punch required the game also looks great, I played it on Xbox 360, but of course being a current and next gen game it'll be much more worthwhile to pick up a next gen copy to enjoy the game how they want it to be played, prior to optimising it for current gen. It also proves that a war based game has no need to be gritty and dull throughout, at one moment we saw what felt like an oil rig in the ocean, you had the sun pouring over the environment along with lashings of sea for miles, all creating a calming atmosphere. Then in the playable section it was a little less visually stunning but still made up of interesting environments. Especially what I can only presume was an exhibit of the Nazi's and their exploration involving the moon. We'd like to think they haven't gone so far as living on the moon yet, but we could certainly hope for a level on the moon, it would certainly be something very different and out-there similar to some of the interesting bosses from Wolf 3D.

Along with the weapons they've also added a weaponised tool into the mix called the Lazerkraftwerk, there seems to be different levels of the tool allowing more powerful cutting as you upgrade it, however the main one used in the demo was a large version that allows free formed cutting on thick metal covers and chains creating a puzzle solving element as well as a way for them to gate off certain locations. It also doubles as a weapon which can be used in consideration, as it seemed to be able to can run low on power, but there were recharge points scattered around the levels.

Not that every game preceding Wolfenstein 3D has been faithful, it's a shame to see that The New Order is following the standard health regen policy these days but they have altered it slightly when compared to the standard shooters out there. You still get your default 100 health and 100 body armour as you may remember from Doom and Quake, and as you would expect your body armour doesn't regenerate. So if you do get caught up in some gunfire don't expect to stay alive for very long, as even though your health regenerates it does at a much slower rate than you'd presume at first, plus it doesn't recover to full health. Still making med packs a worthwhile pickup among the ammo and body armour strewn across the game, although sadly I don't think you'll find any dog food in the environment unless Panzerhunds enjoy a wet dog food as a treat.

Wolfenstein The New Order is looking really interesting and could be the next greatest adventure for Blazkowicz, it's due for release on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Playstation 4 and Windows at an unspecified date around the end of this year.

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