Key point: Sometimes fiction can teach us about reality.
Despite the franchise’s age, Wolfenstein remains in the category of “new nostalgia” for some. While it has deeper origins—starting with 2D adventure game Castle Wolfenstein, which made its Apple II debut in 1981—the series is well known for its seminal contribution to the first-person shooter genre with 1992’s Wolfenstein 3D. For some of us that doesn’t really seem like so long ago, does it? But it still immerses the 3D aspect of the franchise in a history over 20 years old, and while that history has been a rocky one at times, it’s one of the best examples of a fantasy twist on World War II video games have to offer.
We last saw Wolfenstein in the 2009 sequel to 2001’s Return to Castle Wolfenstein, an average adventure that at best served to keep the franchise name relevant. Perhaps it was that teetering relevancy that made everyone raise their eyebrows when the latest entry, Wolfenstein: The New Order, was first announced. I know we wrote about it in these pages, but at that point it merely seemed like more of the same mix of Nazi villainy and mad science, with protagonist William “BJ” Blazkowicz returning to mow them down with an overloaded arsenal of weaponry.
Old Franchise, New Developer
However, there’s more to The New Order than that, and that’s all thanks to developer MachineGames. Even if the name doesn’t ring a bell, the talent the company employs has a killer track record. Based in Uppsala, Sweden, MachineGames was founded in 2009 and includes key members of Starbreeze Studios, which was responsible for games like the remarkable The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (2004) and The Darkness (2007), which adapted the comic book of the same name.
That should be enough to convince those familiar to at least give Wolfenstein a shot, and after playing through it I can definitely say the team lived up to its reputation. Wolfenstein: The New Order picks up after the events of Wolfenstein, kicking off with BJ and pilot Fergus Reid taking part in an intense Allied raid against a Nazi fortress and weapons laboratory. It’s July 1946 so it’s safe to say the war is still going strong, thanks in no small part to the Nazi development of advanced technologies that helped them turn the tide against the Allies.