LOS ANGELES - In the upcoming video game "Wolfenstein: The New Order," players will be doing only one thing - killing Nazis - but the creators at MachineGames, who have never before taken on a "Wolfenstein" game, have added several updates to make the 32-year-old first-person shooter franchise feel modern.
"New Order" is celebrating the kamikaze style of the "Wolfenstein" series, which essentially launched the first-person shoot-'em-up genre, while reinventing it with a story line reminiscent of "Inglourious Basterds" and "Captain America."
For the first time, Army Ranger protagonist William "B.J." Blazkowitz is illustrated as a real person and not another action hero. "New Order," set for release May 20 for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PC, is giving Blazkowitz a back story, moral choices and a love interest.
After spending a few hours with the first three chapters of the PS4 edition, I discovered five ways this "Wolfenstein" is different from its predecessors:
The bulk of "New Order" is set in an alternate rendition of the 1960s where the Nazis rule. After taking some shrapnel to the head during a secret mission, Blazkowitz spends 14 years in a coma in a Polish hospital. He awakens to find himself in a world completely controlled by the Nazis.
TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES
During the first chapter, Blazkowitz is forced to choose who will live among a pair of his squad mates. It's unclear what impact that will have on the rest of the game, but the question gives "New Order" a sense of morality, unlike previous editions of "Wolfenstein," where choices consisted of deciding which body parts to shoot.
RISE OF THE MACHINES
"New Order" forgoes the wacky supernatural elements from prior "Wolfenstein" games in favor of heavy metal. The brutal Nazi regime depicted here employs all manner of robotic technology, from swarms of deadly soldiers equipped with mechanized suits to massive laser-wielding behemoths that patrol the battlefields. There's even a pack of vicious robo-dogs.
LOVE AND WAR
Anya Oliwa, Blazkowitz's nurse while he was recuperating in the hospital, is also serving as his love interest in "New Order." After rescuing her from drone-equipped Nazi forces, one early mission finds the pair sneaking behind enemy lines with the aid of her gun-toting grandparents.
In a nod to old-school shooters, "New Order" requires players to scour the landscape and loot victims to replenish health and armor instead of relying on regeneration. If a player's health is maxed out, Blazkowitz temporarily becomes overpowered. The boost lends itself to frenetically running into skirmishes in order to take advantage of the fleeting vigor.