- The Washington Times - Friday, May 23, 2014

The Third Reich wins World War II, setting the stage for the return of a legendary, dimple-chinned, video-game superstar in the first-person shooter Wolfenstein: The New Order (Bethesda Softworks and MachineGames, rated Mature, reviewed with the PlayStation 4, $59.99).

The decades-old, ground-breaking franchise that turned Nazi hunting into a blood sport is back and again starring OSA operative, Capt. William “B.J.” Blazkowicz.

A player assumes the role of the muscle-bound, American war hero as his journey begins in 1946 while storming a medieval German castle on a mission to end the world conflict and stop evil scientist Gen. Wilhelm (Deathshead) Strasse, a famed Wolfenstein villain.

Things don’t work out so well for Blazkowicz and his British pals. After making a terrible choice (one that will affect the rest of the story) and surviving an encounter with an incinerator disguised as a research lab, he wakes up 14 years later, slightly brain damaged and in a Polish mental hospital looking for revenge.

Now firmly entrenched in a B-grade action blockbuster, the player explores an alternate 1960s universe where Nazis rule with ferocity and technological might as he assembles resistance forces and, through his own perseverance, tries to single-handedly end the very bad guys reign.

In fact the action and story are so B-movie level, thanks in part for the potential for gratuitous gore and scenery-munching villains, I expected a half-dressed Machete to pop out of a car trunk and skewer a small platoon of those Swastika-loving fanatics.

However, I digress.

This solely solo campaign leads the hero across Europe, though warehouses, a prison, a planetarium, an aircraft hangar under water and even eventually to the moon.

His objectives vary between covert rescue missions as well as Rambo-esque rampages against such foes as cyborg German shepherds, laser-spitting drones, multistory tall robots and masked stormtroopers while occasionally stopping for some tender moments with a Polish nurse.

For as much as the game allows a stealthy approach to many assaults (with plenty of chances to use silencer-attached weapons or knifes to quietly eliminate the enemies), it also revels in vintage Wolfenstein firefights of the adrenaline-flowing, violent, pedal-to-the-metal variety.

Capt. Blazkowicz quickly finds a delectable collection of stored and dropped supplies and weapons scattered among bodies and terrain in nearly every mission.

It allows him to quickly wield enough heavy-duty firepower to literally liquefy those ratsy Nazis through explosives and a high-caliber line of fire.

Particularly brutal are use of two assault rifles, one in each hand, or a pair of automatic shotguns empowering the player to feel like the Terminator as he eviscerates bands of bad guys.

Even better, the technology of the Nazis can be harnessed against them. Items such as a Laserkraftwork rifle can do terrible things to an Aryan’s facial features and destroy robotic dogs as well as cut through thin metal doors.

Suffice to report, it’s a not a game for the squeamish and received a Mature rating for very good and often gory reasons.

Within this comfortably familiar and linear confines of a first-person shooter, the above-average story flows seamlessly through the power of the PlayStation 4.

We get a consistent narrative about the horrors of tyranny and war brought to light with some touching character development, all mixed in with a steady stream of eye-popping visuals to make the player feel the need to towel off after his latest enemy encounters.

On a more solemn note, mixed in the absurdist, futuristic narrative is the constant reminder through numerous scenes that the Nazis existed, and they never flinched while performing atrocities against minorities and enemies of the Third Reich.

Voice acting really brings the player into the action while character design reminded me of the stylishly grotesque imagery of famed Judge Dredd artist John Hicklenton.

Be it a cackling female German officer looking to play a deadly psychological game with our hero, the Nazi super soldier cyborgs (with disfigured faces) or the scarred sadistic prison guards, it’s a creepy-looking journey for the player tasked with survival.

Although Wolfenstein: The New Order never attains to the complexity or design beauty of a Bioshock, it still delivers a stress-relieving punch for the mature gamer.

It was my pleasure to take vengeance on one of the greatest forces of evil in the history of mankind with no mercy.

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