A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Wolfenstein: The New Order is an extraordinarily violent first-person shooter intended for mature audiences. Its weapon-based combat depicts human enemies being violently torn apart by a variety of guns, leaving mutilated corpses on blood-stained ground. Strong language can be heard throughout the game and a pair of non-playable narrative sequences depict the act of sex, though without showing any nudity. The game's hero is perhaps more thoughtful than one might expect of such a game, and the story dives into some surprisingly philosophical ideas concerning discrimination and free thought, but this is unquestionably an interactive entertainment designed with adults in mind.
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What's it about?
The franchise that invented first-person shooters more than two decades ago returns with another Nazi-slaying adventure in WOLFENSTEIN: THE NEW ORDER. After kicking things off with a grueling mission set near the end of the Second World War, the game jumps forward to a dystopian, alternate-history 1960 in which the Germans have long since conquered the globe, subjugating "impure" people with their advanced military might. Counting himself among the world's final fragments of resistance is series hero B.J. Blaskowicz, a tank-like Polish American soldier determined to bring down this new Nazi empire. Embarking on a journey that takes him from the heart of Berlin to the streets of occupied London, "Blazko" works tirelessly to bring down the mastermind behind the Nazis' power: The villainous Aryan scientist Deathshead.
Is it any good?
Wolfenstein: The New Order is a curious and unexpected mix of old-school shooter action and some surprisingly big philosophical ideas. Combat proudly and stubbornly embraces classic shooter ideals, with firefights generally eschewing sneakier tactics in favor of gory full-frontal assaults. There are occasional stealth sequences and infrequent nods to modern gaming in the form of weapon and ability perk systems, but make no mistake: This is a game intended for players who harbor a soft spot for mid-1990s first-person shooters.
And yet lurking within this obstinately retro game is a surprisingly progressive narrative unafraid of tackling some difficult concepts. From a scene in which a Jewish engineer digs into the differences between Nazi absolutism and religious faith to a lengthy metaphysical tirade in which a woman suggests all actions are determined and that our lives are composed of a series of segmented, disconnected consciousnesses, gamers may be surprised to find themselves still thinking about some of The New Order's concepts long after they've finished playing. It's not without its problems -- the story offers far more questions than answers, for starters -- but it certainly makes for an unusual and memorable stew of a game.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. In your mind does it matter whether bloody, brutal violence is directed at humans, zombies, aliens, or fantasy creatures? Would you be any less affected seeing a goblin slain with a sword, for example, than a person killed with a gun?
Families can also talk about the Second World War. Do you think the sort of discrimination fostered by the Nazi party could take root in a modern culture? What might be done to prevent this?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Bethesda Softworks
- Release date: May 20, 2014
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- Topics: Robots
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs
- Last updated: April 14, 2020
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