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Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus review

November 18th, 2017 Leave a comment Go to comments

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Wolfenstein: The New Order was one of many reboots of the classic Wolfenstein series. There was one in 2009 that was pretty boring and super-glitchy, there was Return to Castle Wolfenstein in 2001 which was pretty well loved, and even the classic Wolfenstein 3D was something of a reboot of 1981’s Castle Wolfenstein (a top-down 2D stealth game).

The New Colossus is a sequel to The New Order, so it’s nice to see a reboot of Wolfenstein actually getting proper sequels (there was also Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, which was a prequel to The New Order, and a game I thought was slightly better).

So yeah… I was pretty excited for this, though playing it was a challenge at first due to Super Mario Odyssey taking literally all my free time when it came out. But I finally got time to get through it after I finished Mario.

So let’s talk about it! Let’s go!

Developer: MachineGames
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Date of Release: October 27th 2017
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbone, Switch later (PC version reviewed)
Genre: FPS

Rated M for Mature, very understandably

Presentation

Graphically… well, it’s “realistic” graphics, there’s not really much to talk about there. As per usual realistic graphic games, the characters look clearly fake, but they have nice personalities and occasionally fun looks in this case. At least they’re recognizable. Where things do get interesting is with enemy designs. A lot of the enemies are really cool-looking. They’re threatening and clearly evil. There’s big ass robot suits, actual robots, big ass actual robots, dogs, robot dogs, big robot dogs, laser drones, it’s quite nice. Even the weakest enemies are still pretty threatening-looking. The areas you travel are a bit more disheveled than in the previous games, as a lot of them are ruined american cities that were destroyed by the nazis, plus a bunch of nazi bases. All the areas look pretty good in general, despite some occasional genericness.

On the sound side… I do have one big question… what’s up with the fucking dubstep? I had this question with DOOM, though it was suitably metal-ish, but it was still weird. It’s a game where straight out metal would work better if you ask me (with some period-specific music for non-fighting parts, as the game takes place in the alternate-timeline 60s, though that already happens here and there). The sound effects are great for the most part, the guns all feel badass.

On the story side, this game is fucking crazy. Despite the victory against Deathshead in the first game, the nazis did end up winning the war and taking over America. You still play as William BJ Blazkowicz (now nicknamed Terror-Billy by the nazis in propaganda), though at the start of the game (and likely due to the ending of the first game) he’s fairly crippled. You even start the game killing nazis in a wheelchair, but you eventually get power armor which lets you walk around despite Terror-Billy’s crippled-ness. You’re part of a resistance, attempting to fight the Nazis after stealing one of their submarines, with Frau Engel from the first game in pursuit. The game just goes crazy on you several times, it brings out ALL the twists and absolutely out-of-left-field plot points. It legitimately surprised me several times. It was a total blast.

There are a few questionable things to me though. It has this big emphasis at first about BJ’s childhood where he was friends with a black girl, which his super-racist father wasn’t happy about and mistreated BJ and his mom due to that… this leads to absolutely nothing in the story, it’s just kinda there. There’s a few cinematics that kinda happen for no reason (including a specific one near the end which is just badass metal-as-fuck BS but there’s not really any justification for it other than “WTF just happened”). The ending comes literally out of nowhere. After a segment that WAS hard but didn’t feel like a boss battle at all, the game kinda ends. It’s very sudden.

Gameplay

Go around shooting nazis. That’s it. Go, have fun.

It’s a fast-paced FPS, where you kill the shit out of a ton of people. The shooting itself is as fun as ever, it’s all about moving around a lot and killing swiftly (because you can die fast). You have access to a decent arsenal of weapons: a pistol, some machine guns, a machine shotgun, a grenade pistol, and one of 2 weapons depending on an early game choice (and maybe something else I’m forgetting). You can also carry grenades and hatchets. Grenades for mass damage, hatchets for mid-long range stealth kills. Then some enemies or turrets give you access to heavy weapons, weapons that you can’t keep on your person and have limited ammo (with some that have ways to replenish) but they’re very strong. There’s ammo, armor and health pick-ups all over the place, so health regeneration isn’t much of a thing here (it’s there, up to 20 health only). You can actually overcharge your health above the maximum, but it then starts going down slowly to your maximum. Plus you can dual-wield, either 2 of the same gun or 2 different guns for increased carnage.

Stealth is entirely an option, but not quite an easy one. I like to try being stealthy in new sections though. In most combat areas there’s gonna be a Commander or 2. If you just go in guns blazing they’ll call reinforcements and make things harder for you, but being stealthy or at least quick to beat them reduces the number of enemies you’ll have to kill to finish up a section. It might not be AS fun to be stealthy, it’s still pretty satisfying. Sometimes the enemy AI is a bit weird, like not caring when they find dead bodies (they’ll check around a bit but that’s it).

As you advance through the game you do power-up somewhat. Just doing things does actually make you better. Stealth kills, quick commander kills, explosions, hatchet throw kills, combat melee kills, environmental kills, headshots, all of those are counted, and when you get enough some aspect of Blazkowicz gets better. Faster health regen, carrying more ammo or hatchets, all sorts of stuff. You can also find upgrade kits, which can upgrade your guns do to various new things. Some increase ammo, others add new effects to guns such as the Schockhammer’s bullets being able to ricochet off walls or fire from all its barrels at onces for more damage.

Cool thing, there’s a fully playable version of Wolfenstein 3D on the submarine, it has all the episodes and everything but they changed some of the graphics entirely and made Blazkowicz the bad guy. Very cool easter egg. Wolfenstein 3D remains a badass game of course so if you never played it you can do that here.

Issue in the PC version

The PC version is clearly the best one, there’s no question about that. Customizable framerate, customizable graphics, customizable resolution, controls that are actually good for FPS games… An issue for me, however, was that Alt-Tabbing out of the game sometimes soft-locked my computer, I’d just have a black screen, or see my other windows but be unable to interact with them. And couldn’t get out of that state. Had to hard reset a couple times, and that remains after the latest software update (as of the writing of this post).

Also I should be able to go over 60fps. I put the “Max FPS” setting at 1000 just to see how far I’d get on my new PC, considering DOOM 2016 goes at 180fps on ultra settings on my PC, but I seem locked at 60 like some kind of scrub here. Maybe there’s another setting I missed.

Overall

This game is damn fun. The shooting is great, the stealth is fun if you decide to attempt to play that way, the story is insane and truly a rollercoaster of crazy events… there’s little truly bad to point out. It’s a very exciting game that has very few slow parts, and the slow parts are fun as far as the story goes so I’m pretty okay with that.

My biggest problem was that the ending was weak and came out of nowhere. You have this one segment that was pretty hard and had a crazy cinematic at the end, but it just felt like a normal battle against several tougher normal enemies, then the game ends. No final boss, nothing. Just a normal battle with strong enemies, then a satisfying but disappointing final segment where you just walk where the game wants you to and that’s it. It was a big ending story-wise, but it didn’t have a climactic gameplay moment.

Once you’re done with the game there’s still some content left so it does have value beyond the story which is always nice. I don’t fully like the enigma code system (I don’t mind grabbing them from downed commanders, but having to “decode” them is boring and stupid and time-consuming), but they do lead to extra levels which is fun to do.

There is one specific things I wish you could do in the game but sadly can’t. I won’t spoil it though.

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