Title: Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
Platform: Xbox One (reviewed)
Developer: Machine Games
Release date: October 27, 2017
TL;DR: Ultra violent Nazi crunching fun
Price: Steam: £40/$60
Xbox One: £50/$60
PlayStation 4: £50/$60
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B.J. is back baby, and he’s back with a nuclear-sized bang. I’m not going to lie; I’m a massive Wolfenstein fanboy and have spent more hours than I care to mention on previous titles like Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Enemy Territory – especially the multiplayer. With games nowadays being built as multiplayer titles, with what feels like a short campaign bolted on for good measure, Wolfenstein has stuck its middle finger up to the trend and provided some long, glorious, and over the top story-driven campaigns featuring larger than life characters and some insane ultra-violence.
It’s worth mentioning that Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is very much a sequel, and the story picks up immediately after the escapades of Wolfenstein: The New Order. I would recommend that you play through ‘The New Order’ first as it’s so good. This is not a necessity, however, as there is a flashback cutscene at the start of New Colossus that covers some of the important bits in the previous adventure, but it is very brief and misses out on a lot of the character development and relationships that are touched upon in this new tale. The game can also be picked up on the cheap now, which is a bonus.
Wolfenstein 2 looks to continue what was an excellent start to this regenerated franchise, The New Order was a great game and The New Colossus is hopefully going to give us the same quality again.
You start Wolfenstein 2 exactly where Wolfenstein: The New Order finishes, Captain William Joseph Blazkowicz (B.J. Blazkowicz) is led on the deck after giving General Deathshead his just deserts, but taking a mortal wound from a grenade that Deathshead produced in his final attempt to end B.J.’s vengeance. You witness your comrades escaping to safety as a voice asks if you are clear of the impact area of an incoming nuclear cannon attack, but instead of the credits rolling, you are greeted by a story segment showing your comrades risking all to collect you before the nuclear attack hits, and omg is it just in time, as the explosion detonates in the distance, viewed from the escaping helicopter.
Wolfenstein likes to poke fun at its difficulty settings; if you choose the easiest level, you are greeted with a picture of Captain Blazkowicz dressed as a big baby. The faces change from friendly baby to maniacal looking crazed killer the higher in difficulty you go, the harder levels in Wolfenstein are just that – hard. There is even a locked level called ‘Mein Leben’ which can be accessed after you have completed the game, and this level features a picture of a skull, which is apt, as you spend every other second dead.
As per the previous games in this series, you operate your missions out of a central hub, this time home base is on the submarine (Evas Hammer) that you captured from the Nazi’s in The New Order. This base will become familiar to you over the course of the game, as you slowly unlock extra rooms and characters on the ship. There’s even a little in-game inception, where we find a game within a game, down in the ships entertainment lounge, where there’s a playable arcade machine running Wolfstone-3D a homage to Wolfenstein 3D, which is essentially the daddy to all FPS games.
The story in Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus gives us a fictional idea of what it would be like if the Nazis had won the war. America is no longer the land of the free, not since the Fuhrer and his Nazi war machine dropped the bomb on New York and changed the tide of the war.
America has had to come to terms with the German occupation, and any resistance groups that are left are either hiding or interned in cordoned off areas, awaiting extermination. Blazkowicz has made it his mission to upset the balance and send the Nazis straight to hell, in the most gruesome way he can think of. The hate-fuelled rampage is easier to understand once we get a glimpse into B.J.s childhood. We meet Blazkowicz Snr. who is a complete ass-hat, displaying bigoted views which align him with the Nazi regime. He is a mental and physical abuser, and very near the start of the game we see Rip Blazkowicz (dad) punish Billy for speaking to a little Black girl, in what is a harrowing moment. We also find out that B.J.’s mother is a Polish Jew and that his dad only married her for the supposed financial gain of her family’s wealth. The level of brutality doesn’t dip throughout the campaign, as we see enemies like the sadistic General Engel return and friends and loved one getting horrifically murdered.
Luckily there is some light at the end of the tunnel for B.J. and we see some quite touching scenes involving his expectant wife Anya, who seems to give him the superhuman strength needed to get through the day to day chores of dispatching Nazi Stormtroopers.
I loved Grace’s character the most, she is a bad-ass black woman, who was heading up the New York resistance, whilst also raising a baby. In one scene with Blazkowicz she is swearing like a trooper, whilst breastfeeding her child and asking how B.J. is going to help their situation, she just doesn’t give time to small talk, and gets straight to the point, showing a strong and determined character with the sassiness volume turned up to 11.
The graphics are visually good, with different areas around the game world looking unique, I particularly liked the 1960’s USA intermixed with a little fascist regime design, with Ku Klux Klan members parading around the streets helping out the Nazi soldiers. The design and aesthetics of the super soldiers and robot-hounds are also on-point and really bring that mechanised German war machine to life.
As for the gameplay, not much has changed between his earlier outings and now. Captain Blazkowicz has access to a small arsenal of weapons that you unlock early on, and with the aid of a selection wheel, you can easily equip a weapon, or even dual wield. There are upgrade tokens that you can find on each level that let you upgrade your favourite weapons to suit your playstyle, for instance, suppressors for staying in stealth, or increased capacity drum magazines if you want to spray hot lead in every direction.
Perks are slowly unlocked as you complete tasks within the game, for instance, stealth takedowns increase your mastery perk for movement speed whilst crouched, other perks offer bonuses like increased health regeneration or increased damage with suppressed weapons, so it’s worth having a look through them all and unlocking the perks that would benefit your playstyle first.
Alongside the perks are ‘Contraptions’, these are a type of armour you get through the course of the adventure. There are three contraptions, the Constrictor Harness, Ram Shackles, and Battle Walker, each offering different abilities, primarily to access different parts of the map levels. You eventually unlock them all throughout the duration of the game, but you do get the option of choosing the first one. Some of the perks on these contraptions are, in my opinion, game-changing, so it’s definitely worth your while having a look at what the perks do so that you can make an informed choice. I went for the Constrictor Harness first as one of the perks was silent steps, this made it easier for me to stealth through zones on harder difficulties.
Levels are large and, although linear, their size allows you to feel like the world is more open than it is. There are multiple paths through some levels and depending on whether you prefer to avoid a fight or go in guns blazing. You’re encouraged to explore, sometimes finding a little grate or hole in the wall that leads to a shortcut and has you avoiding a large enemy mech, instead of wasting your time, ammo, and possibly life on a non-essential encounter.
I found the controls for the Xbox One far too twitchy until I put the sensitivity down from 50/50 to 30/30, then It was just head-shots galore. But I did get the occasional frustration when reloading next to a freshly downed ‘Supersoldaten’, as it would pick up the heavy weapon instead of reloading and that few seconds transition was enough to get me killed a few times, when under fire. I mean who uses the same button for picking up an object and reload?
Also, another bugbear for me was the lack of directional indicators for incoming fire. On harder difficulties, you can withstand one or two shots and that’s it, and it can be hard to tell where the enemy fire is coming from. It’s also sometimes hard to judge what kind of damage you are receiving, as the force feedback on the controller was somewhat underwhelming, this made me start making save points after difficult encounters so that I didn’t have to keep doing it all over again, although I’d imagine this isn’t an issue on easy or medium difficulties.
Overall, I loved the game, so much so that I couldn’t stop playing it, and ended up having one too many late nights. I thought the story was well executed, even though it was very far-fetched, but this was real escapism and I loved every moment. Accompanying the carnage was the soundtrack which is a mix of some squelchy synth overlaid with some heavy guitar, and it just seems to match perfectly with the death and destruction. I played The New Order on PC, so I was a little underwhelmed with the textures and graphics quality on the Xbox One version, but this didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the action and storytelling, and I will definitely be playing through the game again.
- Satisfyingly difficult to complete
- Relaxingly ultra violent
- Brilliantly acted cutscenes and storytelling
- Twitchy Controls
- Poor damage indicators
- Reload and weapon pickup on same button was annoying as hell
This game is rated PEGI: 18, and ESRB: Mature, as this game contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, and the Use of Drugs. So recommended for adults as the dismembering of bodies into a million squishy burning pieces isn’t really suitable for the young ones.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.