Wolfenstein and E3 call-to-action
By Chris O'Neal 06/05/2014
Wolfenstein: The New Order: available now across most platforms, $59.99.
Last week, a documentary aired on the History Channel called The World Wars. Actors portrayed world leaders — FDR, Churchill, Stalin, Voldemort — and re-created famous and infamous moments in the history of both World Wars I and II. While the production values were great and the information was solid, I couldn’t help but wonder why they left out the German robot-enhanced dogs, the laser weaponry and the hulking mechanical goliaths that I had been fighting with extreme prejudice in Wolfenstein: The New Order.
Before I’m hospitalized (or as the British call it, sectioned), I do realize that Wolfenstein is not reality. It’s an alternate take on World War II wherein Nazi Germany gets hold of some farout technology and ends up winning the war. You play Polish American Captain B.J. Blazkowicz who is quite the super-soldier, able to withstand a barrage of bullets and other injuries in superhuman fashion, though not well enough. After the first mission of the game, Blazkowicz suffers a head injury and spends the next 16 years in an asylum, unable to move, talk or really do much of anything except watch the Nazis categorically exterminate everyone around him.
When Blazkowicz manages to awaken, he is somehow still as buff as Schwarzenegger in his prime. (With no explanation, but in a game where giant robotic Tesla coils zap folks á la War of the Worlds, a little suspension of disbelief is in order.) What follows is a literal one-man-army traipse through Nazi reconfigured Europe. London is now the center for the German police, the Americans are under German control after being nuked and, well, let’s just say it’s not a pretty picture.
If you’re at all a fan of blowing things up and being somewhat stealthy, then Wolfenstein may be the game for you. As a sequel to the Wolfenstein games of the past — which include my personal favorite timesink, Return to Castle Wolfenstein — The New Order doesn’t offer much in the way of innovation compared to other modern shooters, but does overload on the fun factor. Alternate reality timelines haven’t been this fun since Marty McFly almost did the nasty in the pasty with his mom.
Let’s talk about difficulty, however. On its baseline setting, I guess you could say Wolfenstein is no challenge whatsoever. Health regenerates in increments of 20 and officers are easily taken down. Even the mechanized warriors are no match for my double-shotgun- wielding assault, and the game’s first real boss battle was laughably ridiculous. Spoiler alert: A large robot comes from a hangar and gets stuck behind a pillar, where I blasted it in the face for five minutes until it exploded. There is the option to turn up the difficulty, and if I had known that medium is the new easy, I would have done so. Otherwise, the best part of The New Order is hands- down the voice acting and the characters themselves, who emote like real actors, precisely what you need from a game in which you fight Nazis; otherwise the gravitas of a Nazi win might seem offensive.
The Electronic Entertainment Expo is just around the corner (June 10–12) and your intrepid gaming reporter is on the beat. This year’s most anticipated titles include perhaps what may very well be the last build of The Witcher 3, more information regarding Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and maybe, if we’re lucky, a look at the missing-since-2012 epic The Last Guardian.
This year I’m doing something a little different. Is there something in particular you’d like to know or wish to see up close and as personal as it can get via my phone camera? Message me on Twitter or Instagram @agentoneal. Stay tuned for a full report on June 19.
Chris O’Neal wishes there were more of The World Wars. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @agentoneal.