Wolfenstein is a name that conjures up memories for many seasoned gamers. One of the first games to truly nail the FPS genre, Wolfenstein's gave gamers their first taste of a modern shooter. Pacing through corridors with sweaty palms, Wolfenstein evoked feelings that many gamers now take for granted. Once a leader of the pack, Wolfenstein has since been overtaken Goldeneye, Halo, Call of Duty and many other that have broken the mould - pushing the genre to its limits. Now Wolfenstein returns - but is The New Order an outdated dinosaur, an exercise in nostalgia or a new breed entirely?
Taking place in the 60's, our main hero Blazkowicz has woken up from a coma to find a world in which the Nazi's have won. Pitting you against legions of augmented Nazis - and their dogs - The New Order brings Wolfenstein kicking and screaming to 2014. The future-Nazi's backpacks sizzle with stunning, infernal energy and each square inch of the game's bleak alternate reality looks uncomfortably real. Cold steel and torn flags look unsettling good, whilst small touches like an alternative cover of a Beatles album help to flesh out the world.
If its presentation points to a new breed of game, Wolfenstein's linear gameplay is anything but. In all but the stealth sections, cover is optional rather than essential and "running and gunning" is the key to success. Tellingly, aiming takes precious time and actually provides no accuracy benefits - encouraging the player to move and shoot their way through levels using just the onscreen crosshair.
A shooter wins or losses by its arsenal and Wolfenstein delivers in this arena. Guns get more ridiculous and more imposing throughout the game, with dual-wielding really adding to the action-hero feel. What's more, Wolfenstein's old-school rules mean Blazkowicz can carry several guns at once - so you don't have to choose between a trusty shotgun or an assault rifle.
Gameplay is captivating and for most of the time, the story provides a decent excuse for further carnage. However, there are patches where Wolfenstein attempts more - forcing empathy and injecting larger questions into the picture. There is a glimpse of this when you have to choose which of your companions lives or dies, and throughout the game there is a sense of Blazkowicz's struggle to come to terms with a new world - echoing the problems of the developers. It's interesting to see and is a nod to those that understand what Wolfenstein is and was about - a one man army coming to terms with the fact that his old methods need amending.
Reminding the gamer of Nazi atrocities is trickier territory. Scenes such as being tattoed with a prisoner number and nearly incinerated all remind you of the very real horror of the Nazis, but dispersed between epic fights with robot dogs and bionic Nazi juggernauts, it feels artificial and wrong.
Overall an accomplished shooter, Wolfenstein does many things right, with its old fashioned game mechanics bringing a surprisingly fresh look at the FPS genre. It's just a shame they didn't stick to the tried and tested approach, with some clumsy story elements making the game feel like a shoddy attempt to modernise, rather than a throughbred old-school shooter.