E3 2013: Wolfenstein: The New Order (Xbox 360) Preview
The Wolfenstein franchise gets a new coat of paint courtesy of developer MachineGames and Bethesday Softworks with Wolfenstein: The New Order. During an early pre-E3 event for Bethesda, we got the chance to get a first look at the game and also play the Xbox 360 demo of the game. The game is not in fact a reboot, and does continue the story of B.J. Blazkowicz. Unfortunately though, the Nazis have taken over the world. In the era of the game, the Nazis have won World War II. It is now the 1960’s, and Blazkowicz joins up with other resistance members to put down the new regime.
Before I got to the demo, the developers ran through one of the storyline sequences in the game. Blazkowicz is traveling incognito in a German disguise aboard a Nazi train. There he encounters a deranged leader, Frau Engel, and her “psycho-sexual” Aryan boy toy, Bubi. In a tense QTE type of sequence, Blazkowicz is forced to play a card game to show he’s a “pure German.” The wrong move could mean a bullet to the head. It’s like the videogame version of Inglorious Basterds. After passing Engel’s test, Blazkowicz is able to return to his cabin to convene with his female partner, Anya. Anya looks looks to be the main romantic love interest for Blazkowicz throughout the game.
The actual demo I got to play picks up later in the game. You are on a high-stakes mission in London, which has also been overrun by the Nazis. After your British partner makes a noble sacrifice to blow up the entrance, Blazkowicz has to storm into a Nazi science base in order to disable their communications tower and confiscate their specialized helicopters for the Allies. These Nazis have some mecha type drones at their disposal. Early in the demo, you are forced to face off with a massive, mecha wolf drone. After you get into the base, you must defeat a bi-pedal mecha drone before moving forward. This is where the fun really begins. The shooter combat is really fun once it gets going. I especially like that you can wield double guns, basically like the original Goldeneye. Once I got two shotguns, I went crazy. From the demo, there looks like there will be a fun variety of weapons and guns you will be able to use throughout the game.
As you get deeper into the base, you get glimpses of this new, twisted version of history in which Nazi Germany has taken over. Blazkowicz is far from a silent protagonist in this game. Frequently throughout the demo, he gets to spout off hilarious, badass one-liners. If you take a look at the environment and notice how the German space program ended up landing on the moon instead of the US, Blazkowicz grouses “So they put a German on the moon…f*** the moon.” It definitely looks like the game will have a fun, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. At one point, BJ drops his laser bolt cutter in disgust when he finds a giant, souped-up version. You are faced with numerous waves of soldiers and also flying drones. After you disable the communications tower you sneak further into the base and have to ride up the elevator shafts, Die Hard-style. So the game will not just be nonstop shooting. Once you get into the helicopter chamber, you get the chance to try out some stealth kills to take out the guards. Eventually you have to stand off with the remaining soldiers and robots. Since this demo was on a pretty advanced difficulty, it was quite hard to get through, but it was a lot of fun. Once I picked the write strategy of using the guns on the helicopter, I was able to eliminate the final mecha drone boss to beat the demo. It also appears the mystical, occult element hasn’t gone away from the series either. One room you discover is littered with ancient artifacts that seem to serve some arcane purpose for the Nazis.
The demo was a lot of fun. It did remind me in many ways of the classic Goldeneye, which has always been my favorite shooter. Controls were really good for the most part. I will say however, that switching to alternative fire on some of the weapons was problematic and somewhat unresponsive, but that could’ve been due to a faulty controller. I like that Blazkowicz is still this traditional, hard-boiled hero. The new villains look really fun. The designs and environments look fantastic. Action and animation moves incredibly fluid. The Nazis using these new mecha robots is also very cool. The stages look like they will have a lot of hidden rooms with various little Easter eggs that will tell you more about this altered version of history. I’m interested to see how the “storyline moment” sequences will be mixed in throughout the game and how prevalent they will be.
Wolfenstein: The New Order will be released on the PC, Xbox 360, PS3, and next generation consoles in the fourth quarter of this year.