What if the Nazis Won?

What if the Nazis Won?

Gabriel Silvas, Columnist

The year is 1946. The Führer, disappointed with how the Third Reich’s research into the occult has fell flat on its face, turns around and finally gives the funding to Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse and his more scientific approach to the war. It all goes horribly right as Strasse finally completes his Ubersoldaten program and numerous other technological advancements that gives the Nazis the upper hand against the Allies. Making a last ditch effort to take out Deathshead and give the world a fighting chance against the Nazi war machine, the remaining allied forces storm his fortress in a massive invasion force that quickly turns sour when Strasse’s advanced designs lay waste to the army. When William “B.J.” Blazkowicz, longtime Nazi killer and archenemy to Deathshead, and his team make it to his labs, they are quickly captured and left for dead, but barely manage to escape, though not before B.J. takes some shrapnel to the skull, knocking him straight into a coma. He wakes up 14 years later, only to learn that the Nazis WON World War II. It is up to B.J. and the remnants of the Kreisau Circle to do everything they can to survive and take out Deathshead once and for all, but in a world governed and ruled by the Nazis, how easy is that really going to be?

Developed by Machine Games, which was founded by former Starbreeze Studios employees responsible for The Darkness and the two The Chronicles of Riddick games, and released in May of 2014, Wolfenstein: The New Order is the fourth (technically sixth) entry in the Wolfenstein series, taking place in the continuity set by Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Featuring a mix or both old and new FPS mechanics and elements, this game surprised everyone with its solid story, great controls, and overall fun, as well as its nightmarish portrayal of just how awful a world ruled by the bad guys of humanity would be like.

Once more, players take control of B.J. Blazkowicz, taking part in the failed invasion of Deathshead’s compound in 1946 before falling into a coma and waking up in 1960, just as a death squad moves into the mental hospital he is in and begins to slaughter the staff and patients. The events of the war have changed Blazko immensely, going from a cocky soldier in his prime to a shell-shocked man trying to hold it all together. He still maintains his intelligence and his compassionate nature, but the horrors of the Nazis and World War II have unhinged him a bit, leading to him being quite brutal towards his enemies and fatalistic in his actions, realizing that he may never be able to lead a normal life after all of this. At the very least, he is not alone. The remnants of the Kreisau Circle still continue the fight against the Reich and a number of his old friends are there for him, alongside some new ones. Chief among them is Anya, the young woman that helped nurse B.J. back to health and is the only other survivor of the hospital massacre. Together, they stand as perhaps the last line of defense in a world fallen to ruin and evil.

Adolf Hitler, only mentioned as the Führer, still runs the show and is now standing at the top of the world, but he is NOTHING compared to the likes of General Wilhelm Strasse, more commonly known as Deathshead. After suffering defeat at the hands of Blazkowicz two times before, he gained a new and “unique” outlook on life, fueled only further when the heads of the party finally stopped faffing around with their failed occult nonsense and gave him the freedom to do whatever he wanted, which ultimately lead to the completion of Project Ubersoldat, his life’s work, and the victory of the Nazis. A vile and sadistic scientist that takes a genuine and absolute JOY in torturing and experimenting on human beings, Deathshead might as well be the very embodiment of the Nazi’s evil and ambition. His underlings are hardly any better, with Frau Engel, the depraved and almost psychotic warden of a concentration camp, perhaps being the worst among them. Really, every time a Nazi does something on screen, that is all the justification you need to shoot them.

The gameplay is very much a unique hybrid of both classic and modern shooter elements. B.J. is a one man army with an entire arsenal of weapons stuffed in his backpack, there are separate units for health and armor, the levels contain plenty of secrets, and there is even a map to help navigate and find objectives and other hidden objects, though it will need to be found first. On the more modern side of things, a perk tree of sorts encourages and rewards players for doing certain actions with different playstyles. Whether it be a more sneaky approach, fighting tactfully, straight up running and gunning, or using grenades and other explosives, various perks will be unlocked that further enhances B.J.’s various abilities. How the player goes about completing each level is entirely up to them.

While the story does still contain a bit of the silliness that revolves around the core concept of the series, it has been praised for being a serious, well-executed, and finely crafted tale that is not afraid to show the reality of what the Nazi party actually did during their reign, only further explored by imagining what else they could do if they had advanced technology at their disposal before their downfall. The excellent voice acting is also something worthy of commendation, with an especially masterful performance given by Dwight Schultz, providing perhaps the single most chilling performance of his voice acting career as Deathshead.

Much like how DOOM would become a success a couple of years later, Wolfenstein: The New Order breathed new life into the series by both going back to basics and updating to the modern age, becoming a well-received entry and ensuring a proper sequel in the form of Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, though no release date has been announced at this moment. The story is exciting, the gameplay is action-packed, the secrets are well-hidden, and it all comes together to make a game that remembers that the FPS genre, and video games in general, are supposed to be fun. Even without having knowledge of the previous games, one can still heavily enjoy the story while punching Nazis in the face and shooting giant robots with Tesla cannons. In the end, is that not what everyone wants?