Dear Wolfenstein: The New Order,
[Embargo: Monday, February 24th, 7AM PST]
I greatly enjoyed our date. I loved playing through your first three levels. Your alternate history antics kept me amused and fascinated for almost the entire three hours allotted for us to play through them, putting me in the hands of American WWII GI William B.J. Blazkowicz as we blasted through tesla-coil-powered Nazis. You delighted me with your mix of Memphis Bell and Omaha Beach-inspired opening segments (not sure how the plane managed to crash exactly on the beachhead, but whatever) before we stormed a castle together... surely presaging the eventual storming of a Castle Wolfenstein in some later tryst, right?
But I digress. A good date knows that there is value in making the other comfortable, and you carefully taught me all the steps to the machine gun blazing firefights that left Nazis with giant chunks of their bodies completely missing, their heads sometimes exploding in fountains of brain and blood-matter. In each of your segments, your British exposition master carefully told me everything I needed to do as robotic giants decimated my fellow American fighters, in a war extended into alternate history 1946, with superior Nazi jets and mechanical enemies.
You held me in your care, with the other soldiers yelling out and providing radio transmissions to let me know what my objectives were (and allowing me to discreetly check my journal if I got confused) as I scaled the castle exterior to open the gates so my fellow soldiers could join me on our castle interior combat. I especially liked the efficacy of your grenades, particularly the way the splash damage crumbled the destructible parts of the environment, letting me know what I could eventually shoot through (or be shot through) for cover.
A good date also knows to keep things engaging, and you surprised me Wolfenstein: The New Order, when in a wonderfully flashy show of art direction you put B.J. Blazkowicz in a coma for 14 years while Nazis consolidated their rule and acquired even more futuristic weapons. Your version of 1960, with its super-technology and advanced robotics, and an entire world of cardboard Nazi "evilions" (my own combination of evil and minions, I hope you like it) was quite a welcome surprise. After all, who doesn’t love fighting their way out of a sanitarium to rescue the lady you’ve had your eye on while vaguely aware of the passage of time for a decade and a half?
I also delight in your ability to set up serviceable set pieces, the action rolling heavily from one moment and objective to the next. Allowing me the opportunity to use the anti-aircraft canons to blow up a gargantuan walking tank, to forcing me to make the amoral decision of which of my two friends to let the evil General Deathshead slaughter in front of me to assure my own survival (originally when I didn’t choose, you murdered all three of us; which was hardly fair).
However, Wolfenstein, a good lover also knows not to frustrate their partner. I was quite put out—to the point of a double-flip-off to the screen—that during one segment my minigun rampage didn’t immediately eviscerate standard Nazi enemies I was firing upon point-blank. Seriously, at that range any standard enemy I should fire upon should be reduced to flying chunks and a satisfyingly refreshing blood-mist, no matter the difficulty. As they not only withstood this point-blank fire, but continued to fire on me, I was quite put out.
Still, I forgive you, Wolfenstein: The New Order, because our relationship (is it too early to say we have a relationship?) is young, and I know you are growing and evolving, and this was only your Beta. I look forward to seeing you soon, for a longer engagement. I saw you this time on the PS4, but I know you’ll also be on PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC, available for social engagements on May 20th in North America this year and May 24th throughout Europe.