Wolfenstein The New Order review

Wolfenstein: The New Order puts a next-gen polish on an old-school shooter

Reasons to buy
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    Loud bangs

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    Varied design

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    Guns… lots of guns

Reasons to avoid
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    Tonal inconsistency

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    Unforgiving checkpoints

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    World War 2 wasn’t funny

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This fps brings old school first person shooter sensibilities to next generation consoles. Read our Wolfenstein The New Order review

Wolfenstein The New Order is a rare beast among shooters. It's neither particularly groundbreaking, nor is it all that smart, but it requires an attitude adjustment from fans of this genre nonetheless.

The reason being is that it's resolutely old school. It looks next gen and thanks to the ID Tech 5 engine, its frame-rate is smoother than butter, but if you approach it in the same manner you would any other shooter, you're in for a frustrating time.

Wolfenstein The New Order: Gameplay

This is one of the first mainstream shooters we've played for a bit in which players have a life-bar, for example.

If enemies fill you with lead, you can't simply run around a corner and regenerate in cover, like you can in the Call Of Duty, Battlefield or Halo games. When the life runs out, you die, so it's worth using cover and the bits of armour you'll find scattered about.

The weapons also have a classic, meaty feel to them – even the pistols. Pull the trigger at close range and you can blow enemies into chunks of smouldering meat. Later in the game players can augment the weapons with visceral and frequently hilarious results.

There are giblets; gristle and claret coat the environment in equal measure as cadavers drop spraying arterial red. It also has to be said that early on in Wolfenstein The New Order, the player gets briefly kitted out with a double-barrelled shotgun that makes the most satisfying 'bang' we've heard in a game since Bulletstorm.

Wolfenstein The New Order: Story

The plot pitch lies in the pulp territory of Wolfenstein's forebears and Inglourious Basterds. BJ Blazkowicz, Nazi killer and gravel throated lunkhead, gets blasted out a window in the opening level and then spends 20 years in a mental asylum with his frontal lobes presumably piecing themselves back together.

Upon gaining back his full faculties, he's told that with the aid of advanced technology and robot dogs, the Nazis won World War II and BJ – who, by the way looks like John Cena sculpted by a Minecraft player – and his ilk are required for the resistance.

Yes, it's all very silly, and yet, no one seems to have told the voice actors, who play their parts with a conviction that borders on Shakespearean.

BJ tips things into even more surreal territory by intoning mumbled asides every now and then, in case the player is too thick to see what's going on – his narration of the game's sex scenes is actually laugh-out-loud hilarious.

In fact, if Wolfenstein The New Order has a problem it's that its tone zings about like a ping pong ball in a tumble dryer. This is the danger inherent in crafting a pulp adventure based on one of the most heinous passages in human history.

While Wolfenstein The New Order isn't the first game to use World War II as grist for the creative mill – and they won't be the last – they're the first in recent memory where the horror of it all feels almost cartoon-like in places.

In one scene, the player is being forced to choose which of BJ's compatriots dies at the hands of a Nazi scientist. In the next, they're blasting holes through giant robots with an oversized rail gun.

Wolfenstein The New Order: Features

That having been said, we're not really here for a compelling narrative in Wolfenstein The New Order. We're here to shoot Nazis and on that score, the game delivers with aplomb.

While the player is funnelled down corridors of varying widths, the developers do manage to mix things up enough to keep the action ticking at a pace.

Just when you think the gunplay is about to get stale, they toss in a new weapon, or a set piece, or a boss battle or – and this is the biggest surprise – a surprisingly well-crafted stealth section around a mini-sandbox level.

Wolfenstein The New Order: Verdict

Wolfenstein The New Order is a brash and bombastic shooter. There's not one subtle aspect about it and this has the potential to put a lot of people off it. But any player who happens to be a fan of FPS games should definitely pick it up. This is arguably the best Wolfenstein game released in years.

Wolfenstein The New Order release date: Out now

Wolfenstein The New Order price: From £39.99

Nick Cowen

Nick Cowen studied Classical Civilisations and English at the University of Witwatersrand and joined T3 as Editor at Large, writing about subjects including video games, gaming hardware, gadgets and consoles. You'll also find plenty of content by Nick on T3.com about video game industry events and shows.