Friday, May 23, 2014

Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4)

Based on an alternate historical timeline in which the Nazis gain global control "Wolfenstein: The New Order" aims to put you in the boots of a Polish-American soldier named, 'B.J. Blazkowicz' who has a personal grudge against a certain Nazi surgeon gone mad. In the year 1946 B.J. joins the world war against the Nazis along with a fellow squadron pilot, and assisting company of soldiers. Unfortunately in the events to follow their pursuit B.J. and his brothers in arms end up falling short of killing 'Deathhead', and botch their mission indefinitely. During his infiltration of Deathhead's fortress B.J. ends up losing some of his comrades, sacrifices one for the sake of another, and winds up taking shrapnel to the head ultimately putting him in an aware, but immobile state. His untimely coma causes him to lose 14 years of his life, and has him sitting helpless in a mental institution that's governed by the Nazis themselves. Upon awakening B.J. escapes in a murderous killing spree along with the nurse who cared for him. Together with the help of 'Anya (The Nurse)', B.J. makes plans with various other individuals to find the remaining resistance fighters who would stand up against the Nazi's now global domination, and set them free. When, and if he succeeds in freeing the resistance of their bonds you can be damned sure B.J. Blazkowicz will give those Nazi bastards "what for"!

In "Wolfenstein : The New Order" you will be taking on the role of 'B.J. Blazkowicz' as he embarks on his first mission in 1946 via the game's prologue, and as he confronts his worst fears in the following year of 1960 after awaking from his shrapnel induced coma. As usual B.J. Blazkowicz, the protagonist behind the well known Wolfenstein lore starts off with the bare minimum of weapons, and must deal with each situation that's presented to him using his combat knowledge, survival skills, inherent killing skills, and weapon management know how that comes along with being a soldier of the US army. As he progresses, and lays waste to the army of Nazi Soldiers, and generals before him more weapons, and more methods of death dealing will be afforded to him. Some of these weapon based methods will be grounded in a modern-day reality while others are based in a more science fiction type of realism. In the initial campaign setup, before you actually embark on your missions as one of Bethesda's greatest heroes you will choose one of several different difficulty settings ( "Can I Play, Daddy?", "Don't Hurt Me.", "Bring'Em On!", "I Am Death Incarnate." & "UBER" ) each with their own advantages/disadvantages. After this you will start your missions as previously mentioned in the world before, and after the Nazi regime took control with their "New World Order".

In an FPS (First-Person Shooter) sense of the meaning you (B.J. Blazkowicz) will be able to freely choose to either go in guns a blazing, or to kill your foes in silence as you track down the Nazi scumbags who are responsible for turning the world upside-down. While the various war torn terrains are built for either method of attack you must choose wisely in whatever you do, because once you are spotted the drone like Nazi army including the mechanized sentries, mechs, and mechanically enhanced dogs will be on your ass like stink on dookie. By switching between obtained weapons on the fly via the in-game weapon selection wheel you will be able to select, and choose the perfect weapon for the job at hand though. As an added feature you can also choose one weapon, and then another via the wheel in order to be able to switch between the two on the go by simply pressing the (TRIANGLE) button on your controller after setting up your choices. This makes for easy access in those situations where ammo is running low, and when you need a back-up weapon in the previous gun's place. It is also a good way to keep your stealth knife/silenced guns separate from your more rowdy weaponry.

Aside from the usual FPS on foot soldiering, you (B.J. Blazkowicz) will also be manning various vehicles as you make your way across enemy territory. Things link mechs, and armored vehicles will be some of the modes of transportation that you'll use to get from area to area. There's even a bit of swimming, and flying involved in the missions. Speaking if missions, you will find that the game is fully campaign oriented, and that your chapter by chapter progress will by broken up by cinematic cutscenes as well as interactive sessions with the characters involved in the plot. Your basic goal, as it were is to make it from area to area clearing out all of the Nazis, and other threats that might be halting your advance by any means necessary. There's definitely a proper mixture of required stealth activities as well as straightforward gunfights as you try a second time to kill off the Nazi's mad dictator.

With specific gameplay styles such as that of the previously mentioned stealth, or the mayhem packed gunplay also comes perks (Stealth, Tactical, Assault, Demolition). By playing the game in a certain manner you will unlock playstyle specific perks which will enhance certain stats, and abilities. Each perk whether it's that of "Stealth (health w/takedowns, knive throwing ...)", "Tactical (increased magazine size, health regen ...)", "Assault (dual wielding, armor by taking down multiple enemies ...)", or "Demolition (rocket launcher magazine capacity, explosives ...)" will be available once unlocked. Perks will definitely help out in the more action heavy, and stealth oriented encounters contained within the game.

At all times, including instances of combat you must mind your health otherwise you'll end up dead quicker than you can count to 4. In the same way as previous retro installments of Wolfenstein you will find health is a limited, and highly precious commodity. Health power-ups as well as shields scattered about the terrains, and hidden within breakable wooden crates are scarcely made available. By collecting health items when you find them (food, dog food, first aid ...) you will replenish your health, and can even overcharge it to the point that it regenerates. The same goes for shields which come in the form of helmets, and bulletproof vests. The only difference with shield material is that it is merely there to negate the health damage that would ultimately end your life. For added effect Bethesda, and their team of developers also included a lock picking mechanism than can get you into secret areas/lockers containing such things as health, and shield items. It should also be noted that by killing soldiers, and collecting their helmets, or killing off mechs, and collecting their scrap metal you can refill B.J. Blazkowicz's shield increasing his longevity, and negating any direct health related damage.

With all of the previously disclosed methods of health, and shield collecting you will also find, and score ammunition for guns, guns themselves, grenades, knives, and even hidden collectibles (Golden Helmet, Golden Sword ...). Certain other collectibles that are accessible via the game's main menu will only be made available when/if you complete certain side quests/side missions. These side quest oriented collectible extras are mainly character specific, and are character models made for viewing outside of the core game. The "Enigma Codes" on the other hand are basically hidden code files that if collected will reveal one of the game's greater secrets. You must collect all "Enigma Codes", or the secret will not be made known to you.

For those of you looking for easter eggs, and extras in "Wolfenstein: The New Order" you'll be pleasantly surprised that it has plenty of that in store for you. Aside from the internet revealed inclusion of the "Retro Wolfenstein" game you'll also be collecting the previously mentioned "Enigma codes" to unlock further content, golden items, in-game music in the form of German records, and character models which can be viewed in the game's main menu listings. On top of that 'Bethesda', 'Machine Games', and 'id' went out of their way to provide a history's worth of news clippings, and articles further revealing plot material that was not seen in the actual playthrough. These informative clippings also tell the tale from the Nazi perspective painting a negative picture of B.J. Blazkowicz, and the resistance who joined him in his efforts. all of the article clippings are detailed, and ultimately help the gamer to gain a better understanding of past, and present events within the alternate "New World Order" timeline.

It should also be noted that one of your decisions earlier on involving the choice of sacrificing a fellow soldier ("Fergus" or "Wyatt") will alter the playthrough significantly. Choosing Wyatt will allow for lock picking, access to certain routes, and armor upgrades. Choosing Fergus on the other hand will grant you the hotwire capability which gives access to health upgrades, and alternate routes. In both choices the story will be impacted as will the inclusion of certain characters. As such this game does have some significant replay value, and should you wish you go back to experience it all the chapters you previously played through will be directly selectable via the game's main menu.

About the graphics & sound ...

Wolfenstein: The New Order is a beautiful game from start to finish. For those of you PS4 owners who have been longing, and looking for that truly "Next-Gen" title this game is that game. Not only does everything in the game look damn near PC in build, but it also plays smoothly with rarely a flaw. The characters look amazing as do the seemingly generic Nazi soldiers, and bad guys/creatures. The actual gameplay is so close to being cutscene quality that is actually hard to tell that much of a difference. The added fact that there is no generic environments, and that the environments are filled with attention grabbing details really makes the world of Wolfenstein seem like a living place. Every character, and every enemy that you'll meet along the way including B.J. Blazkowicz himself will hold your undivided attention with their conversations, and interactions. Nothing is boring in the way of character design. As far as the mayhem goes the onscreen action which is as war-like as it gets will keep you on your toes, and looking for that perfect vantage/defense point amidst the hail of gunfire, and explosions.

In the way of sound you will find an odd mixture of tunes playing out as to kick Nazi ass, and blast them into yesteryear with your on hand arsenal. There some classical tunes, hard hitting techno, intense thematic music, some German inspired music, and even some American songs that you'll likely be familiar with. The gun blasting, knife killing, and bloodletting also comes complete with their own realistic, and respective sounds. You can hear Nazis gurgle as you drown them in their own piss. You can hear the Nazis drowning/choking on their own blood, and you can even hear shell casings drop to the floor as you riddle the Nazi's bodies with bullets. Vehicles, mechs, and even the mechanical hounds also come complete with their own unique sounds. The environments themselves are teeming with ambient sound effects. As a whole the "Wolfenstein: The New Order" experience is such a rich one that it beats anything Hollywood could produce.

Now for the verdict ...

If you own a PS4, and you have not got this game yet I don't know what's wrong with you (unless you are underage, and not old enough to play it). Wolfenstein: The New Order is one of those rare gems that comes along ever so often, and is seen few and far between. It is Awesome. For lack of a better explanation this game is the epitome of Awesome. I sat for hours at a time playing it, and not wanting to put it down. I was looking in every nook and cranny within the game trying to find every secret it contained. Not only that, but I wanted to see B.J. Blazkowicz's tale through to the end. If it weren't for time constraints, the possibility of my PS4 burning up, and the need for sleep I would have played through it all in one sitting. It is simply that good.

Everything from the graphics, the soundtrack, the smooth gameplay, the character design, and the story elements came together perfectly. If you can handle some "Uber" violence, and don't mind some bloody bits with your war action then this is the perfect FPS experience for you. While I will admit I was disappointed by the lack of a multiplayer experience the campaign more than makes up for that additional type of mode. I have a feeling people would have been bitching about multiplayer anyways if it had actually become part of the game's offerings. Regardless of whether you are a PS4, Xbox One, or PC player I highly recommend getting this game. It is most definitely worth the initial asking price even if you did miss out on getting the "Doom Beta" access code! Do yourself a huge favor, and go get this bad boy, so you can give the virtual Nazis what for!

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