Wolfenstein: The New Order is unashamedly old-school. The product of Swedish upstart Machine Games Ė a new outfit comprised of Starbreeze veterans Ė the revamp endeavours to ditch the conventions that have consumed the first-person genre over the course of the current generation, evangelising classic staples such as medkits, enormous arsenals, and even bigger guns. But while the excursion through time is clearly a risky proposition, does it profit from its more simplistic sensibilities?
Assuming the role of William ĎB.J.í Blazkowicz, gamingís inaugural Nazi eliminator, the narrative takes place in an alternate history in which Adolf Hitler and his band of unhinged cronies have taken control of the globe. Unable to lead a resistance due to the untimely onset of an irksome coma, the steroid-powered protagonist awakes to find the world a changed place. This leads to the ripped hero embarking on a Rambo-esque adventure across Europe, pumping lead into any Swastika-branded grunts that dare to cross his path.
Wolfenstein: The New Order 2
Narrative was not the emphasis during our hands-on session, but coming from the team behind The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, weíre pledged plenty of exploratory segments in which the plot promises to take centre stage. Itís worth noting that the Uppsala-based studio is skipping multiplayer entirely, opting to concentrate on concocting a killer single player campaign. Itís a sound decision Ė especially considering the dominance of the genreís biggest brands Ė but itís going to put even more pressure on the developer to deliver something special throughout the solo affair.
Fortunately, the gunplay is more satisfying than rubbing salt into a mouth ulcer. Throughout the course of our relatively brief playthrough, we managed to amass an expansive artillery encompassing various shotguns, submachine guns, laser pistols, and more. Many of the weapons can be dual-wielded, meaning that you can sprint into battle picking off ostentatiously dressed adversaries with simultaneous shots of magnum fire to the face. Not that youíll have much opportunity to do so in the gameís current guise Ė our Blazkowicz seemed more Blazkowimp due to the title's punishing difficulty. Itís still being balanced, apparently.
Wolfenstein: The New Order 3
That doesnít mean that the weapons arenít exceptionally good fun, though. Picking off foes feels satisfying, with streams of bullets coercing your folly into macabre death marches. Itís not just gunmen of the flesh that youíll be slaughtering Ė robots are also a fixture in this alternate history setting, testing your engineering acumen as you dismantle their armoured chassis one clip at a time.
Itís fun, but thereís going to need to be more to the game. Perhaps thatís where the communicative components will click in, but as already alluded, there was no hint of that in our hands-on. One sequence does introduce an element of verticality Ė pitting us at the bottom of a heavily-guarded spiral staircase Ė so there is evidence of variety in the gunfights. These shootouts remain intense throughout, primarily because youíll need to gather resources from the carcasses of your fallen foes, resulting in reckless sprints through crossfire in order to grab an essential boost.
Wolfenstein: The New Order 5
In fact, the health system is daringly different. Your life does restore in a lethargic fashion, but youíll need to loot your victims or find items to properly replenish your energy. Both armour and vitality can be collected, but if either exceeds 100 per cent, the figure will deplete. This is actually a neat system which adds to the intensity of the action, as you kamikaze into battle when youíre overpowered in order to take advantage of your temporary buff.
Weapons are not restricted to combat either, with one laser rifle that we snatched able to cut through steel panels. This is not only essential for navigation purposes, but also for finding collectibles, as a cracked open metallic case rewards us with a welcome ammunition upgrade. The full game will be packed with intelligence items, currency, and more, perhaps paving the way for plenty of replayability. Again, we didnít get to see enough of this for it to convince us either way.
Wolfenstein: The New Order 4
Still, the game looks good enough. Itís being powered by Bethesdaís proprietary id Tech 5 engine, which was last employed in the flawed post-apocalyptic outing RAGE. A lot of the environments that we got to explore involved clinical corridors, but there were some standout areas, including a gigantic hangar deck scattered with cyborgs and disgruntled guards. The frame-rate is already fluid, and the studioís promising an additional layer of polish prior to release. Itís no Killzone: Shadow Fall just yet, but thatís partly through artistic intent Ė this is shooting for a much darker tone, which is perhaps in-keeping with the story setup.
Itís the simple act of pulling the trigger that left us most impressed, though. Machine Games is clearly not trying to reinvent the wheel Ė in fact, itís very much attempting to turn it back a few notches. And in a round-about way, thatís actually sort of refreshing. The commercial success of Call of Duty has forced the first-person genre into an insipid production line of rat-a-tat shootouts and larger-than-life set-pieces. By stepping away from that, Blazkowiczís rebellious return to form promises copious amounts of combat catharsis. Will it be brilliant? Itís too early to tell Ė but itís definitely going to be brash.
Bethesda has pushed the release of Wolfenstein: The New Order to 2014, missing its original Q4 2013 window.
Bethesda's Pete Hines confirmed the news to Polygon today, blaming the time required to polish the multilayered gameplay on offer and the challenges of cross-generation development.
"Working on next-gen and current gen definitely has an impact, you're developing for two different things. The fact that the next-gen stuff is still moving is also definitely a factor," said Hines.
"But the most important thing was definitely just looking where it was at, what they needed to polish. Because it's just not trying to be a shooter, because it's trying to be a shooter that also has driving elements, story elements, narrative, stealth sections - each one of those has to be excellent," he added.
Announced in early May and in development ay Swedish outfit MachineGames, New Order takes place in 1960 in an alternate reality where the Nazis won World War II.
Players take on the role of American war hero B.J. Blazkowicz and are tasked with launching an "impossible counter-offensive" against the Nazi powers who have taken over the world.
The game is headed to Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox 360 and PC. Check out our video preview with lots of gameplay footage here.
"GIT OUTTA MY OFFICE!"-Matt Groening
My stance on Anime...I just can't understand any of it, everyone is either a 10 year old girl or a monster.