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Wolfenstein II: New Colossus – A Video Game Review

Posted: 25 Feb 2018 09:00 PM PST

In an industry just over 40 years old, we have finally reached the point in gaming where character models actually resemble people and game controllers feature more buttons than the number friends I have, it would make sense that we could focus on developing story and gameplay beyond our wildest imaginations. Games today could have branching stories and invest us in the character's background and with the leg up on film or TV through the interactivity. Or they could innovate with new types of gameplay and create new genres to really make the general public treat video games with the same respect as they treat movies. Or a literal cup and mug could make a pact with the ACTUAL DEVIL and then have to gangster-snap a carrot to death to take its soul back.

*despair intensifies*

Fear not, though, as Wolfenstein: The New Colossus seeks to remedy my despair. With amazing cinematography and thrilling gameplay, this sequel to The New Order keeps up appearances for the game's inevitable conclusion via the third game obviously going to be named Wolfenstein: The New Shadowcat. Who knew Fox would make a Wolfenstein game? Does that mean Disney owns it? Does that mean B.J. Blazkowicz is a Disney Princess?

This is a SPOILER WARNING.

 

The Story In Summary

As always, you are still William Joseph Blazkowicz. You have survived what was thought to be your death(again) via severe surgery and some good sleep(again). You awake a few months after the last game ended and start your journey wheelchair bound with pistol in hand. Eventually you gain a power suit from your ex-friend Caroline who has suffered a fresh King Louis and your bomber jacket has these big ole holes in it. (Like, from the power suit. Obviously a jacket has holes in it. How else would you put it on?) You may think Terror-Billy is perfectly fine, but your health only goes up to 50 for the first half of the game. You suffer through the pain just enough to go through a 1950s dream town Roswell to plant a nuke to blow up, you guessed it, Nazis. You drive away just in time, but the you get caught by the main antagonist of the game, Frau Engel. You are put on trial for war crimes and immediately sentenced to join eating cake with King Louis. You legit get beheaded and think you're dead, but obviously SCIENCE occurs and your head is saved. Your melon is attached to a Chris Evans pottery class project and now B.J. is back to 100 health. The rest of the game increases the Nazi killing Zehn-fold and B.J. eventually knifes the heck out of Frau Engel. It ends patriotically and lovingly as you propose to Anya, your long time steady. That's the story in a nutshell. Plenty more happens in this game and some might consider it too much. One of those some is me!

The Me Half of the Story Equation

This game has a story that is really really really trying to be good. I want it to succeed, but can't help but say that the story of this game is its weakest area. While much caries over from The New Order, it almost feels like the writers wanted you to be able to play TNC without playing TNO which you shouldn't do. These are supposed to be episodic and I don't get why they felt the need to introduce so many plot lines in this game as if they were always there because they weren't. I feel like the lack of J in this campaign really spelled out what was wrong with the side characters(aside from Fergus and Wyatt): none of them had really any personality. I especially noticed the side plot between Sigrund and Bombate pointing out as my biggest "Wait where did that come from?" The subplot concerning B.J.'s parents was really weak and introduced a lot of filler and bland storytelling aspects that only kept me from actually playing the game. The ending to the father storyline is completely underwhelming and trivializes what could've been a non-Nazi struggle in B.J.'s life into another "it's all the Nazi's fault" trope. The subplots really make this game look thematically weak which is unfortunate. The main story between Frau Engel, Fergus/Wyatt, B.J., and Anya* is enjoyable and moving. When this game focused on why it was fighting the Nazis instead of how it really shined and made me have fun being happy and happy to have fun. I hope the third game fixes these short changed plot lines because underneath all that mess is a game with a whole mess of heart.

*Anya gets the most badass moment in the whole game. Prepare.

Sorry to beat up on the game, but the praise is coming.

The Design In Question

Many said when The New Colossus was released that Bethesda didn't shake anything up and that the setting formula was no different. I can't outright disagree. Yeah, you travel across the map underground, on a train, and even to other celestial objects and shoot stuff and plant bombs and steal papers: it's the same schtick. They're right. However, where the word "Order" in the first game's title is fitting to its universal grim aesthetic, The New Colossus plays around with the venir and creates a different essence in each level. A character like J in The New Order wouldn't work in The New Colossus because TNC fully embraces the 1960s vibe or haze, if you will. First off, the sheer amount of collectibles in each level is stunning. Like the last game you can collect records you can actually listen to in the game, but you can also collect toys and gold as well as star cards which are drawings of famous entertainers and other German elite. These kinds of collectibles would be out of place and easy to spot in the dark and gloomy film tape of The New Order, but blend into the scenery in The New Colossus.  When you go to Roswell, it's a 1950s dream town (if the dreams featured the literal KKK) wherein you act as a friendly firefighter carrying an extinguisher encasing a nuclear warhead. This scenery is bright and happy, despite your weaponry and their white supremacy. This deeply contrasts with your trip to Mesquite, Texas just after you blow Roswell the hell up. Mesquite is dusty and tan and rundown. Then you get back to the industrial but very personalized submarine you call home, the Eva’s Hammer to be told you have to fly to Venus to audition in front of Adolf Hitler for the lead role in a movie about you since they think you're dead. Venus is, obviously, hot and blazing, but the insides are reminiscent of 1950s and 1960s science fiction bases. Each of these settings is a different flavor. TL;DR: The New Order is like passion-suppressing corn flakes in water where The New Colossus is like those cereal value packs where each cereal gets its own box.

The Gameplay In Question

On the subject of gameplay which is this game's strongest aspect, I couldn't put the controller down. I had a lot of trouble with The New Order when it came to the mesh between stealth and combat. I died non-stop and felt cheated nearly every time because the stealth mechanics were terrible. In this game, they've intertwined much better and make both stealth and combat seem like viable options at all times in the game. B.J. feels faster and leaner in this game once you get your new body. I would replay missions just for the heck of it because I love how Terror-Billy feels when he runs and shoots. This game lets the player decide when it goes from slow to fast and I adore being given that choice. This game fixed my biggest problem with TNO and I'm very grateful. This game features new tech for B.J. to strap to himself including ram shackles, which allow B.J. to run into people to kill them,  a battle walker, which allows you to double your height to gain a vantage point, and a compression harness, which allows you to compress your body under tight spaces. These all make the gameplay feel even fresher when the game is halfway done and come with their own upgrades that allow stuff like regenerative health and armor. This game when its about killing Nazis is 110% fun and I can't get enough.

The Guns In Question

I'll walk through each of the guns included with the figure and talk about how they were in the game.

The Machinepistole is a 9mm fully-automatic submachine gun. It's the first gun B.J. gets in the game whilst battling à la wheel-chariot. This gun is your typical shooter submachine gun with three possible upgrades: a compressor, a nail gun attachment, and a drum magazine. I found this gun very easy to use in those areas where stealth could turn to combat as the compressor made headshotting enemies easy. I'd say this gun isn't really worth much until you upgrade it, but I never stopped using it. I'd say I never ran out of ammo for this gun so you can trust it as a fallback gun above anything else.

The Schockhammer X is a buckshot automatic shotgun. I think this is the most "run and gun" weapon in the whole game. Someone peers out of the corner two feet in front of you and *BANG.* From distances more than ten feet, this gun is some weaksauce. But, that's fine seeing as it's a shotgun and you're carrying a plethora of other such things. When B.J. is in the trains or any other tight squeeze, equip this gun. Even up against a heavy, this gun is fantastic at mowing any Nazi down in just a few shots. This gun has three upgrades: ricochet, which sends shrapnel flying all around after a shot, rotor, which allows for three shots to be fired with one trigger pull, and and extended magazine. Unlike the machinepistole, the schockhammer's upgrades, to me, are really pointless and don't help the gun do any more than it already does. I enjoy this gun a lot, but it is what it is: a dual-wieldable shotgun. Your mileage may vary.

The Laserkraftwerk is only available in the Reid Timeline. It's very similar to the gun of the same name from the last game, but this is much more compact and powerful. This gun is a laser. It's a laser. It takes a second to warm up, but it does some serious damage. Expect constant rumbling in your controller when firing this gun. The laserkraftwerk also works to melt metal plates in B.J's way at various parts in the game. This gun works fine and is certainly cool looking, but functionally I didn't really enjoy my time with it. There are three upgrades: enhanced scope, battery upgrade, and supercharge which kills a heavy in one shot. These upgrades do more than the schockhammer's do, but not very much to make this gun fun. I much prefer the next and final gun in this package…

The Dieselkraftwerk is only available in the Wyatt Timeline. I think this is the most interesting and innovative gun in a series of extremely standard selections. It fires diesel-powered grenades that you can stick to just about anywhere and blow up anytime. I think this is a great weapon in both stealth and heavy fire as the ability to hold the detonator button down as you fire so the grenades explode on impact can essentially clear your screen. It is dope shooting a grenade on the back of a heavy causing his firepack to explode instantly killing him. If you detonate a regular Nazi they will go flying and actually get stuck about ten feet in the air, clipped into the wall. The Dieslekraftwek also helps B.J. traverse through metal plates and blast through holes in infrastructure. This gun comes with three upgrades: an ignition muzzle, which detonates the grenades as soon as they leave the barrel, supercharge, which fires five grenades in a row, and an extended barrel. The only thing  "bad" about this gun is that ammo can be incredibly scarce. Like with the Laserkraftwerk, there are charging stations placed randomly in the missions, but when you're in a pinch they seem to disappear for a good half hour. Either way, this gun is my all-time favorite and I think this gun makes it worth playing the Wyatt storyline over the Fergus story. (Though you should still play both. They're great stories that I won't spoil here.)

The Overall

Overall, this game could've been better. It continues a great story of rebellion against Nazis and though topical right now, this game doesn’t get caught up in current politics. It remains true to the run and gun Nazi killing spree fans have loved for years while branching out and evolving extremely well and maturing for today's audience. The story could use some work and maybe some of the guns could be a little more interesting, but like I said; I couldn't put the controller down. This game is absolute fun from start to finish and a real-looker at that. This game hopefully seems to be the beginning of a new era in video game storytelling and I'm very behind Bethesda's ultimate goal. I'd give this game a 7.5/10 only because I feel it banks too heavily on the success of the last game and feels a little closed in its world. Otherwise, please go buy this game and have as much fun as I did.

…. I'm still waiting for Wolverine and The Fastball Special DLC