Wolfenstein: The New Order might be my new favorite modern first-person shooter. I'll give you some idea of just how much I've enjoyed my time with Wolfenstein. I started playing the game at midnight for the PC release. Later that day I received my PlayStation 4 review copy. I finished my run through of the PC version the next day and then immediately started a new game on the PS4 version and I am playing through it again. And you know what? It just feels right. Wolfenstein: The New Order comes across as a near perfect blend of old-school FPS experiences and modern-era game mechanics. I say near perfect because why I did have, and still am having, an incredible time with the game, there are a few areas where it falls well short of perfection.

For those that don't already know, Wolfenstein: The New Order takes place in an alternate reality where the Nazis won World War II with the help of a sadistic scientist leader, Deathshead. You play as B.J. Blazkowicz who, in a bit of an unfortunate twist, finds himself out of commission for a span of 14 years. It is in this time that the Nazis managed to take over control of most of the world. For B.J., he's still very much in the mentality that the war can be won and with the help of a love interest, a few familiar faces, and some other members of the resistance, he aims to beat the hell out of the Nazi regime and Deathshead.

All of this will play out over the course of 16 varied and action packed chapters. The world crafted by MachineGames is the type of dystopian setting one would expect if the Nazis managed to win the war. Large, foreboding structures made out of concrete dot the landscapes. Harsh and unusual punishments are carried out without a second thought from those dishing out said punishments. Technological leaps, including imposing mechs and robotic dogs, are commonplace, created without a second thought to whether or not they should be made, without a care for basic human rights, and without a care for who gets hurt. Though the alternate history in Wolfenstein is one of bleak hopelessness, the environments are rich with atmosphere.

For the first time ever, I actually feel an emotional connection to the characters and the plight that the protagonists in a Wolfenstein game are experiencing. It's an unusual feeling, to say the least. It's one of those rare instances where an FPS game actually managed to illicit any sort of an emotional response from me. The last game that did it was BioShock Infinite. I actually grew to like these characters, including Blazkowicz. At a glance his appearance is one of a rough and tough soldier. I fully expected him to ooze machismo and shout out oo-rahs as games like Call of Duty would like to have us all believe. Sure, he has his moments of being a battle hardened "kill all Nazis" type of soldier but he also shows a profoundly introspective side that you would never expect. His inner monologues are surprisingly deep and they do an amazing job at humanizing him as a character.

The game probably won't win any awards for story but when compared to other recent shooters, Wolfenstein can easily sit near the top of the pile. Every character has unique personalities that you come to know through your time with them, though some could have easily been fleshed out just a touch more than they were. Even the game's various settings told a tale through the use of visuals, newspaper clippings from the alternate history, overheard conversations from NPCs, and from a variety of collectable letters and audio files. The main story takes a bit of a "less is more" approach to some story progression. There will be times where you set up the next chapter and bam, you're already there without much explanation. I actually rather enjoyed it because many developers could have easily taken that as an opportunity to add pointless filler to the game and pad out the game time.

That's not to say that the game is a non-stop thrill ride from start to finish. There are many periods of the game where character development occurs thanks to social interactions and a few minor "busy work" tasks that take place at the resistance's hideout. It's actually a nice change of pace from the other levels and it really allows you to take a step back, reflect back on what just happened, and get a feel for what the next major chapter holds in store.

Even while playing through a level, the game doesn't always adhere to the "non-stop thrill ride" mentality. Oddly enough, the game allows you to play through a rather large portion utilizing stealth. Stealth includes the use of silent take-downs from in close, the use of throwing knives from afar, or the use of a silenced pistol. You are rewarded for your efforts by reducing the chances of officers calling in for backup. You are in no way forced into using stealth but the option is there and it is a very viable alternative to other play styles. Other play styles that can very easily include dual-wielding shotguns that blast body parts off of those evil Nazi foes. Or perhaps running and gunning with assault rifles or even dual-wielded sniper rifles is more your style? Maybe you just want to go loud by throwing in some grenades and picking up a machine gun to mop up the rest? Hey, it's entirely up to you and how you want to play. Thankfully, the level design allows both play styles their chances to shine. Levels are nicely crafted to allow the player multiple routes to duck into and out of during a battle regardless of their particular play style. I never once felt like the game was too linear with how many attack options I had presented to me at numerous points throughout the game. I even became lost a few times and true to its roots, the game doesn't really try to hold your hand too tightly in having you figure out where you need to go next.

No matter which play style you choose, even if you mix and match styles, you are rewarded for your efforts thanks to four different perk trees. A lot of the unlocks for these trees will simply occur naturally during the course of the game. You may, for instance, be rewarded with the ability to hold more throwing knives if you excel at stealth take-downs. If going loud is more your style, you may be rewarded with the ability to get more ammo while dual-wielding or the ability to hold more grenades over time. It's actually a very nice system that allows the player to feel more powerful as the game progresses without being too in your face about it all. The game even offers up diverging timelines, with each opening slightly different game mechanics and even a few alternate paths depending on your choice. It's the only choice in the game, it happens early on, and it essentially guarantees that you will want to re-play through various segments to see how they would play out in the other scenario you didn't initially choose. Honestly, the game felt solid throughout and there weren't too many instances where I felt the gameplay came up short.

Though, if I were to nit-pick a bit, I would say that some of the later levels relied just a bit too much on a rather tedious game mechanic. Without spoiling too much, you do have access to energy based weapons. Instead of reloading these guns from ammo you find, you must instead recharge the weapons at stations that are periodically scattered throughout the environments. It's not terrible but it's a bit time consuming when some of the more powerful shots can fully deplete your energy reserves. One more thing that ended up becoming more and more annoying as the game went on was the lack of any automatic pick up for ammo and items in the environment. After a battle, most of your time will be spent mashing on the use key to pick up additional ammo, health packs, weapons, and anything else of interest your foes may have dropped. It can be very, very tedious over the course of a ten hour long game.

Sadly, even though that is the extent of my gameplay based gripes, there are just a few more issues I had with the game. The audio, for the most part, is solid throughout the campaign. The music selection is top notch and actually incorporates some German renditions of classic hits. The gun sounds are tolerable though they seem to lack of a lot of punch, especially the double-barreled shotgun. The most serious offense when it comes to the sound design is the rather terrible mixing job. Whether pumped through my headphones on the PC or through my TV speakers on the PS4, the audio mixing left a lot to be desired. Too often I struggled to hear what characters were saying since the other sounds were just as loud as the dialogue. There were no options to adjust music and speech separately either, which meant that I had to play most of the game with subtitles enabled. That is honestly a shame because what I did hear of the voice acting was excellent. I was truly impressed by the voice acting in this game and the performances given for every major character.

Visually, the game holds up to a certain degree. The levels are rich in atmosphere and little details and they all look great, but only at a distance. The not-so-hidden layer of ugly comes when you look too closely at walls, floors, or just about any texture in the game and you see just how low resolution it really looks. It's interesting how id Tech 5 plays a trick on your eyes where things look great up to a certain distance and then the illusion just falls apart terribly. I'm not saying the game looks bad, far from it, but I would have quite preferred some higher resolution textures across the board. Despite this, it's nice to have experienced a game where the environments are quite varied, include various levels of destruction, and are just a joy to look around in once the dust starts to settle. The locales are certainly helped along by some great looking lighting and even some depth of field effects for good measure.

Some gamers may lament the fact that there is no competitive multiplayer component to the game. I do not feel as though this at all takes away from the value of the title. There is a leaderboard where you can compare your stats with your friends but a competitive game mode is simply not needed in an age where we all know it would just fall by the wayside to games like a new Call of Duty, Battlefield, or HaloWolfenstein 3D and Doom days. I enjoyed how it incorporated some more modern gaming staples such as a well told story, an optional cover fire mechanic, varied locations, and memorable characters. The New Order is another one of those games where I want more and I want it right now, be it some story based DLC or even another full title from MachineGames. With just a few gripes against an otherwise fun ride, I highly recommend picking up Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Overall: 8/10

Gameplay: 9/10
Audio: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10
Value: 7/10

Related Information
Title: Wolfenstein: The New Order
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Rated: M for Mature (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs)
Website: http://www.wolfenstein.com/

This review is partially based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game as provided to us by Bethesda Softworks for review purposes. This review is also partially based on of the PC version of the game, which was not provided to us by Bethesda for review purposes.