Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Review

Tristan Reyes

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a bold, but somewhat lacking game about BJ Blazkowicz, our favorite Nazi killer since Wolfenstein 3D (1992). After the events of the first game, he wakes up in a German u-boat that the resistance group from the Kreisau Circle has captured. He is slowly dying, his wife is about to have twins, and an insane Nazi General is trying to kill him. He has a lot of work to do.

In  the first game, Wolfenstein: The New Order (2014), Germany was on the verge of winning the war, so BJ Blazkowicz was sent on a mission in 1946 to kill Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse, who armed Germany with advanced technology. After the mission goes wrong, BJ Blazkowicz remained in a vegetative state for fourteen years while Germany took over. In 1960, he regained consciousness and with the help of the Kreisau Circle, BJ defeats Deathshead and nukes his fortress in the process. Unfortunately the nuke almost kills Blazkowicz, leaving him in a coma for 5 months leading to The New Colossus.

Throughout the game, you will be travelling to different areas of America in order to spark the rebellion America needs to fight back. You will be travelling from the destroyed remains of Manhattan, to the secret base of Roswell, and even to Venus which actually looks very similar to Doom (2016)’s Mars which I can dig. Of course, the player will have lots of fun killing the Nazi soldiers occupying these places as well and the gameplay allows this.

The game is so satisfying to play. BJ is fast, versatile, and able to cause mayhem in a moment’s notice. The levels allow for different playstyles. You can treat it as a cover-shooter as you tactically shoot enemies with different upgrades and weapons while leaning on cover. It can be a stealth game with silenced weapons and gruesome sneaky takedowns, if you prefer. You can also just forget about all of that BS by dual-wielding different weapons and brute-force your way through your enemies.

The game is fairly similar to Doom (2016), since they both use the same idTech 6 engine. You move fast, shooting from the hip feels great, and you get to see some brutal executions. Still, as both games were basically the pioneers of First-Person Shooters, and are published by Bethesda Softworks, I expect some similarities.

You can duel-wield different guns, Halo-style. Bethesda Softworks.

The best thing about the gameplay is that you are rewarded for playing a certain way. In the perk menu, you have three categories, stealth, mayhem, and tactical. You level up the perks in these categories by doing completing certain actions in the story that level up your playstyle. Stealth killing your enemies makes you move faster while crouching, headshotting enemies makes headshots do more damage, dual-wield kills give you more ammo for dual-wielding weapons. It feels great to know that you can play however you want, though most people would generally want the health buff from doing combat executions. Either way it feels satisfying to move, shoot, and brutalize these Nazis that took over America.

The one part of the gameplay that really hurts me is the mission markers; they don’t work. If you get lost, good luck pressing down on the D-Pad while looking around in the environment, the marker is way too small and there is no indication on whether or not the marker is above or below you. The same goes for the Nazi Commanders that call in reinforcements, the signal that appears at the top of your screen when one is nearby feels broken. The arrow gets confused when they’re either above or below you, sometimes ruining stealth session unless you manually save frequently.

I have mixed feelings about the story, but that doesn’t make it bad. The New Colossus digs deep with BJ’s past as it shows how abusive and horrible his father was, and how it made BJ the man he is today. I like seeing how the Nazis think of America and how unfortunately they become part of everyday life in the game. It makes you think of how afraid the citizens are around the regime as many Americans, including the KKK are uncomfortable around them. Though, these parts are strangely short-lived. I feel like I passed through BJ’s past way too quickly, and you start to miss the sentimental monologues he has about wearing the power armor belonging to his close friend. The game has some significant tonal changes, and sometimes they don’t touch on them even after they pass.

It’s not all bad however. The more outrageous parts of the game can still be very memorable. For example, you get to meet Hitler himself on Venus and the game’s portrayal of him is absolutely fantastic. Let’s just say that there is one certain interaction with him that will make you smile (walk up to him while he sits on the ground). Also, there’s this fantastic sequence where you escape your death sentence by single-handedly killing all of the Nazi guards around you. It’s unreal.

America after the Nazis won WWII. Bethesda Softworks.

Despite these moments, I have some issues. It’s such a shame that as soon as you get the freedom to get plenty of upgrades for yourself, you use them on doing these side-missions where you get to assassinate Nazi generals in previous levels, that play differently in all fairness. You can’t exactly replay some missions and you can’t actually have a new game plus experience, which is a shame since I feel it’s generally fun to replay missions using your overpowered abilities and weapons when you get them.

Wolfenstein II is a one hell of a ride. For a modern-day single-player FPS, it’s high up there with DOOM, but still has its flaws. The story is decent, and you’ll love the wonderful cast of supporting characters. If you are looking for the deep emotions that the first game featured, those moments are short-lived. However, if you’re looking for a game filled with over-the-top Nazi killing gameplay, then you will be pleased with this sequel.



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