Publisher: Bethesda Softworks Developer: MachineGames Players: 1 Release Date: Out Now Price: £14.99/$19.99
B.J Blaskowicz is back again to kick ass, kill Nazis and save the world once again, in a prequel to one of the best games of last year, 2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order, which mixed the best elements of old school 90’s shooters and today’s more modern approach to the FPS, but can Bethesda make lightning strike with this release?? Let’s find out. Gameplay - 9/10
The 2014 release of Wolfenstein really caught me off guard, having playing the first release on the Xbox 360 way back in 2009 I wasn’t really expecting much, however, for me, a good indication of a game is how much time you put into it in a single sitting, so if I was to say that I played through the entire 2014 release in a single 13 hour session completing everything to 100%, I would hope that it would give a good indicator as to just how much I loved the game. With that being said I went into this game with hopes raised, and I wasn’t disappointed. The game is split into 2 parts, each taking place over 4 missions, and it starts in a pretty lacklustre way. After infiltrating the infamous Castle Wolfenstein you and your companion are captured, separated, and after a few cutscenes the game begins, however it definitely starts with a whimper instead of a bang, as you have to navigate a potentially tricky stealth section. It isn’t an instakill section, but it may as well be as you are unarmed and left to fight some of the toughest enemies the game throws at you, persevere though, and the charms of the game will soon start to shine through. The mechanics are your usual FPS fare, you can have 2 weapons that you can change between at any time (although you can bring up a weapon wheel allowing to select which 2 weapons you have at any time), health does recharge a little after a while, but only in small increments, the rest you can only recover by picking up one of many healthpacks that are scattered through each level. The level design itself is pretty on point for the majority of the game, with only the stealth section from the 1st level letting the game down. Weapon handling itself is excellent; all of the guns in the game are responsive, although I did find that shooting without aiming down sight is maybe a little too accurate at times. There are a couple of new mechanics in this game, which centre around your ability to use a metal pipe, it doesn’t sound overly interesting, but this pipe actually allows you to navigate to hidden areas via one of your moves, which is the ability to scale walls. This is done by being able to split the pipe in 2, and using each piece as a climbing spike, there are a lot of these sections in the game, and I feel that is the game were longer I would probably have got a little irritated by these, but the 8 missions can be finished in around 6 hours, so this isn’t too much of a problem. B.J himself is a very likeable character, although since the game is so short you don’t really get to build any sort of bond with the various characters in this game. It’s a shame, as the story is consistently strong, even the way the game handles Nazi zombies doesn’t feel tacked on, which is a credit to the writers. Visuals - 9/10
This for me is one of the best looking FPS games on the Xbox One, the New Order was a reasonably pretty game, but it may have been slightly handicapped by the fact that it was also being released on last generation consoles. This is only for Xbox One, PS4 & PC, and it shows, there is tons of detail to be found in every nook and cranny, whether you’re taking a cablecar down a mountain vista or fighting your way through a burning church, the graphics never falter. A neat addition to the game that is a welcome throwback to the origins of the game are the Nightmare levels, finding these can be a little tricky, but if you do you are warped back to a level from the original Wolfenstein 3D. The graphics may have been slightly smoothed out, but it really is a trip down memory lane, also dotted throughout the game are several Bethesda easter eggs, I’ll not spoil them, but it definitely shows the amount of care that has been put into this game. Audio - 8/10
Voice acting for me can sometimes make or break a game, if the main characters voice doesn’t sound right, it really ruins the immersive qualities that games can have (I’m looking at you, The Saboteur), luckily Bethesda has absolutely nailed it, as B.J is perfectly cast. The rest of the characters you meet throughout the game sound fine too, as does the various weaponry you fire off, a shotgun shell to the face makes a satisfying squishing sound, as it should, as does a metal pipe to the head of a zombie that is feeling peckish. Nazi soldiers can be heard conversing in the game too, which adds to the feel and immersion. There are some clever little touches too, such as the grammar Nazi, it isn’t hard to miss him, in fact I think you have to pass him to progress in the game, when you do it’s definitely advisable to stop and listen to him correcting a fellow soldier on his vocabulary and use of words, it’s hilarious, and yet another example of the love & care Bethesda and MachineGames have put into this game. The music in the game does the job, it isn’t overly memorable, but it fits well with the game. Difficulty - 6/10
You have 5 difficultly settings in this game, ranging from Uber, which is the hardest, all the way down to Can I Play Now, Daddy, which is by far the easiest, so how difficult you find this game is entirely up to you, I played through on I Am Death Incarnate, which is just under Uber in difficulty, there are a few points in the game that it can feel pretty hard, but in general there’s nothing here that a decent FPS player will struggle with, there are Achievements linked to finishing the game on the hardest difficulty, but there is a trick you can use that means you only have to play the final mission on Uber if you feel you are unable to do it. The main cause of difficulty for me was actually found in the Challenge section of the game, these are a new (and in my opinion, unwelcome) addition to the game, where you have you fight a certain amount of enemies, scoring points for various criteria such as headshots, stealth kills or stringing together kills for a combo. There are 10 of these, and they can be played on any difficulty, if you want to attempt to get the achievement for these though they have to be played on either of the 2 hardest difficulties, and you need to hit a minimum score to get the required gold for the achievement. While they aren’t impossible they can be extremely frustrating, which is a shame as the rest of the game is such a pleasure to play. Achievements - 5/10
If you have played the 2014 Wolfenstein then the Achievement list for this game will look somewhat familiar, there are the usual achievements for finishing the game on various difficulties, unlocking upgrades by carrying out specific tasks such as ‘x amount of kills’ and once again you have collectables to be found in each level. Without a guide these were pretty hard, I doubt I would have ever found some if it wasn’t for the various YouTube videos on offer. Combine all of this with the Challenges I mentioned earlier in this review and it equals a fairly run of the mill list. It’s a shame as I think there is massive potential for a fantastic achievement list within this franchise, especially after seeing all the Easter Eggs and other neat touches that were included in this game. Summary
This game doesn’t quite hit the same heights as Wolfenstein: The New Order, that being said though it is still a fantastic game in its own right, it also happens to be an amazingly good value game, for the price you pay your looking at around 15 hours of action from start to finish. For me the only thing lacking from this game was more missions, but hopefully this won’t be the last we see of Mr Blazkowicz and his Nazi killing exploits.