There might be nothing more satisfying than killing Nazi’s, and Wolfenstein does it the absolute best. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus takes the series to all new high’s and sets the bar for sequels across the whole generation. If you loved the first one, wait till you get to play this!
The game opens up directly after the events of the first (well second, technically) game in the current storyline of the rebooted franchise. If you are like me then you were probably wondering how the hell they were going to continue the franchise when B.J. was sitting in the middle of a massive explosion at the end of the first game. Well we get our answer and it isn’t pretty. B.J. Blazkowicz wakes up as his organs are being tied together and pushed back in, and his friends are all surrounding him. There is a lengthy scene of him simply getting combat ready with his wife standing by his side praying he wakes up. This leads to some great characterization for B.J., something we never really got to see before, as we explore his past and why he has become the human he is.
Finally we wake up and B.J. is sitting in a wheelchair, but unlike other games that might have him fall out and crawl before we time jump to where he can walk, this game lets you play with him still sitting in it. Yes you get to be the ultimate badass while sitting in a wheelchair about to die. Shooting Nazi’s with one hand, and wheeling your way through a facility with the other, the game sets itself up perfectly right from the beginning. BJ isn’t healthy, Nazi’s are bad, and BJ will do anything to protect his family. This tone hammers itself home, and through various gruesome scenes it becomes extremely impactful the further you chug along.
Eventually BJ is granted a suit that gives him his legs back, but clearly he is still war torn. This carries through right to you as a player because this game is actually difficult. You will find yourself in what seems like basic combat chambers, like the first game, but you will need strategy to get through. Either you are a quick moving player that can be agile and quick on your feet, or you will need to be a cover shooter and pick your spots wisely. Either way you will die a lot as you learn where to go and how to do it, and levels are just quick enough to be satisfying once you figure it out. The game even tends to lead you in a certain direction, by giving you a weapon or feature, and then laughing at you when you fall for the trap that comes at the end. Then you need to sit back and realize this isn’t the first game. BJ might be a badass, but he is weaker in this territory.
The game does have many perks to change how you will play each level. There will be commanders in each room you enter, normally around two or three of them, that you can take out. You can sneak up on them and take them out silently, or you can run into the room guns blazing. If you manage to take out the commanders first (as the game suggests you do) then the rooms are a little easier to handle as you only have to take out the remaining enemies, with very few rushing to you. However if you go guns blazing and alert the commanders, then waves of enemies will be swarmed at you. The enemies will also be “smarter” if the commanders are alive as they will point you out and call out orders to take you down.
Every level has a variety of enemies in all the areas, meaning you will have to be choosy in your approach. You also have many routes to take and great cover mechanics combined with a lot of nifty weapons to choose. Some levels are fun just walking through vaporizing everyone, while others are more enjoyable peeking walls and slashing out commanders legs. The game also rewards you with perks based on how you play. For example being stealthy will grant abilities to improve that aspect, or weapons can be upgraded to suit your play style.
The game is short if you just swing right through it, but the challenge is what adds depth. Normally I play shooters on their hardest difficulty, but even this game has given me some trouble at many points. The fact that you will, for sure, be trying multiple levels countless times means you will spend quite a lot of time in the game. The title even throws at you what could potentially be one of the hardest trophies ever by forcing you to complete the game on the hardest difficulty, and only rewarding you with a bronze for doing so. Trophies in this game won’t be a breeze like it was in the first.
This type of depth is what makes the game so fantastic. Everything is well thought out and not rushed just to cash in on the success of the first game. The story itself is fantastic and impactful, which might make losing a level a little frustrating as you wait for the next scene to develop. But the game overall is masterfully created, and the politically fueled story is mixed with honestly some of the most astonishing jaw dropping action sequences the industry has seen. The mix of the two show that we can have both high impact action mixed with inspiring story.
Each character has their issues, each character develops well, but this is also where I have to say the game has some slight issues. The story pacing is a bit slow at first with a lot of dialogue heavy scenes. I wouldn’t mind it as much if it was mixed with action, like it is later in the game, but a lot of these early scenes consist of you basically sitting still as a character talks. There is very little motion, and it just gets boring. This might turn a few gamers off early on, but it does get better. The game is simply trying it’s best to set up the evil that is coming, and why BJ is doing what he does. It needs to be paid attention to, but it is a bit of a “just let me play!” moment.
There are also moments where gameplay is hit with cutscenes between breaks, and I’m not sure how I feel entirely about it. I do wish they pulled a Doom and kind of let you BE the story at certain points, but at the same time the cutscenes in this game are totally worth watching by the mid point. I wouldn’t have passed anything up.