Wolfenstein: The New Order probably isn’t the game you’re expecting. Sure, it’s got lots of Nazi-killing, just as the 1992 original did. It’s also got cyborg Nazis and the ability to dual-wield machine guns.

What’s unexpected is that it’s also got a heart and an often sombre, melancholy tone and a preoccupation with the pointlessness of war.

Don’t worry, it’s also got carnage by the panzer-load, and even if it doesn’t quite get the balance between its thoughtful and action-packed sides quite right, it does provide a very effective distraction from the big lull in the next-gen release schedule.

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B.J.'s back

Once again you’re cast as American-Polish muscle-bound hero and one-man army, B.J. Blazkowicz, but after an initial (and actually rather dull) mission set during WWII you find yourself in an alternative 1960s where the Nazis won the war, enslaved the world and gave referees the right to shoot uppity footballers who object to getting a yellow card; we’re not joking, just check this trailer.

The setting's allowed the designers to go full-blown bonkers with the technology and machines of the now advanced Third Reich. There are now genetically-engineered super-soldiers, giant mech-like robots, little flying robots, cyborg-dogs and EMP grenades.

There are also insane characters. Deathshead returns from the last couple of (largely ignored) games, and the deranged, sadistic Frau Engel and her toy-boy Bubi are introduced.

Is any of it realistic? Heck no. But it is fun and fairly inventive. The problem is that this insanity and lack of grounding is rather at odds with the sombre mood. The game wants you to reflect upon the horror of war while giving you ever more mental and gruesome ways to kill your enemies.


Pretty as a (really gory) picture

It’s not the most spectacular game in existence, but if you buy the next-gen version you get a clearly next-gen experience, with loads of detail and realistic animation to character models, bright, dynamic flashes as bullets ricochet off armour, and some brilliantly bombastic sound effects. It ran judder-free for the duration of our playthrough, too.

Cutscenes are brilliantly detailed and directed, too, even if the content sometimes jars – the sex scenes feel rather crowbarred in while the gore can be a little too nasty at times. This certainly isn't the most tasteful gaming experience around and the 18-certificate is well earned.

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I am death incarnate

There’s a bit of an issue with the difficulty level, too. The normal, “bring ‘em on” setting is far too easy most of the time and then very occasionally really chuffing hard. Similarly, respawn points are generally very forgiving but every so often rather unkind. Combine one of the unkind ones with one of the tough bits and you’ve got a recipe for occasional frustration.

Wolfenstein: The New Order verdict

But overall the new Wolfenstein game is a pleasure. There’s variety in its levels and flexibility in the way you approach combat. There’s gore, insane set-pieces and obvious-but-effective scares. And while it doesn’t do much that’s particularly new, it will keep you entertained from start to finish even as the silliness struggles against the sincerity. All in all a very effective plug for the next-gen gaming gap.

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Review by Tom Parsons

Stuff says... 

Wolfenstein: The New Order review

It doesn't hit every mark, but when it works Wolfenstein is an absolute blast
Good Stuff 
At its best offers big, bombastic fun
Great production values
Inventive setting and tech
Open combat options
Bad Stuff 
The balance between silly and sombre isn't quite right
Some difficulty imbalances