A Lesson in Shooting
I feel like every first person shooter in the world can take a page from Half Life 2's book. Probably one of the greatest games of all time. Now we can add a new shooter that COD and Battlefield can learn from. Its called Wolfenstein: The New Order. Lets start with the story.
The Wolfenstein series stars B.J. Blazkowicz doing what B.J. Blazkowicz does best. Shootin' Nazis. And god damn does B.J. Blazkowicz do it well. So well in fact, that he has started being haunted by the memory of every Nazi he's ever killed. This is B.J. like we've never seen him before...war weary. The Wolfenstein 2009 game showed us a B.J. who was always ready to kill everything in sight. This game gives us a B.J. who will kill everything in sight, but not before giving us a lot of insight into doing it.
The game starts out with you assaulting the castle of the series main antagonist: General Deathshead. Through a series of action, dangerous circumstances, and death or death choice, B.J. ends up with shrapnel in the head, and a swim in the ocean. Waking up 14 years later he realizes that the world has moved on and left him behind. General Deathshead had taken over the world and its up to B.J. and his rag-tag group of rebels (including a surprise character from Wolfenstein 09) to take down the Nazi Regime once and for all.
Basic plot is pretty simple in this game, but the story telling is what shocks the most. This is a game that isn't afraid to show the fallout of war. Every character is affected in different ways, and a series of audio logs and journal entries reveal a different side to a genre dominated by silent hero types. The characters in this game truly shine in a way that they aren't allowed to in this genre. It should be expected from the creators of The Darkness and Escape from Butcher Bay though. The game always finds a meaning for what you are doing, and the game never lets you escape the feeling of oppression.
The gameplay is where the game explodes. You can dual wield EVERYTHING. Except lasers, but whatever. The game does away with completely regenerating your health, and medpacks are back in! The weaponry is a little uninteresting but the feeling of sliding into a room and taking out legions of Nazis while dual wielding a rocket launcher is unmistakably fun. I found this kind of fun in almost EVERY encounter.
The New Order also adds another facet to the series gameplay, and that is stealth. Amazingly its stealth that works, and it reminds of the series roots in the original two Wolfenstein titles. Stealth is the way you want to go whenever you can. You with your trusty knife, throwing knives, and silenced pistol. It adds some strategic layers onto the standard blow everything the fuck up, and makes it surprisingly work.
Level design is a strong point in this game. From levels on the moon, to smaller levels in an asylum, the game makes every level fun and interesting. The only two faltering points I found was a long stretch in a Sewer and Submarine. These are the only two points where the game truly fails to engage. A standout level is at a concentration camp. It forces you to stealth through most of the level, but in the end lets your rage explode in a mech armed with rockets and a minigun.
There is very little replayability to be found right away in The New Order. Luckily the game has a shit ton of collectibles for you to find, perks for you to unlock, and game modes for you to play. The 999 Mode is a standout, giving you 999 health, infinite ammo, and setting you on Uber mode. Its an easy way to get the platinum trophy, but my is it fun!
Any fan of shooters needs to treat themselves with so far, my game of the year. Wolfenstein: The New Order is the greatest shooter campaign you can get on next gen consoles so far, and makes up for the lack of a multiplayer component. If there is any game to beat this year, this is it.