Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus review by FreddyFish
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus review by FreddyFish
Welcome to my review of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus!
This is an in-depth, non-to-light spoilery, positive rated review.
Note: I bought Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus with the season pass, so I will receive the following DLC with this package. This effects my outlook on the game differently to someone who hasn't already locked into future content and can only go by the base game.
The New Colossus delivers on its ultimate goal of creating a vivid and morbid alternate vision of a familiar historic timeline. Machine Games' depiction of a Nazi-occupied USA is akin to Amazon Prime's 'The Man in the High Castle', which is to say that it is uncomfortable, believable. Infrastructure is slightly more advanced and appears interwoven with the hallmarks of military subjugation, and the populous and culture flawlessly integrate with the oppression heavy narrative. Buyer Beware though, as the haunting beauty in the vistas, the cutscenes, and the mayhem is best appreciated with a quality GPU. I run TNC installed to an SSD with all settings maxed out on a Nvidia GTX 1080.
In terms of gameplay, the Setting is expressed and experienced via a disappointingly megre number of levels and locations. However, each TNC area differs greatly from the last and is designed to unfurl and develop organically with the story nicely. In addition, the places that you spend more time in, Evas Hammer, in particular, offer up juicy aesthetic details, interactions and enough downtime and development in parallel to the plot to avoid repetitiveness. In conclusion, the addition of a new locale or two in the future DLC "episodes" would satisfy my expectation levels.
Wolf 2 is a direct sequel, meaning that the events from The New Order immediately continue in The New Colossus. That's about as non-spoilery as I can go really. The name 'The New Colossus' is poignant though. It's open to interpretation, but it could be a poetic representation of the towering scale of the Reich, or perhaps a metaphorical representation of BJ and the crew against the Nazis? Standing tall as a beacon of hope in the face of an endless sea of fascism and oppression, offering a safe harbor and refuge to regroup and take on the waves once more.
The backstory is essentially told through indirect collectibles which you can interact with during missions, just as in 'The New Order'. These range from newspaper articles describing certain historical events which in contrast to the IRL timeline are instead perpetrated by the Nazi's, to glorified propaganda on genocide and ethnic cleansing. Direct gameplay doesn't offer a huge amount of color to the backdrop, but it does show you just enough to keep you aware of things and make the previously mention lore-type-stuff recognizable and not obsolete fluff. NPC interactions being the other main avenue of storytelling.
There are segments, such as flashbacks, which don't seem to add much other than to really alienate you emotionally and make you feel a deep sense of dread and discomfort. Having your emotional state toyed with by going from a pleasant scene to one of violence has the desired effect of making you feel ill-at-ease and defensive, setting you up in a way that resembles BJ's personality. These deep and often dark moments are unlike anything that I have experienced in video games and hark more to the emotional theatre, which is very, very impressive given the difference in mediums.
BJ: A very satisfying and interesting character arc, full of humor, embodiment of grit and determination and every bit the bloke you remember from The New Order. The Plot and Narrative and how they interact with BJ, in particular, are completely unprecedented in my experience of Single Player FPS storytelling and the Machine Games writers should be highly commended for that. However, while the constant stream of conciousness and first person narration does help to connect your actions to BJ's character, there was only so much horse and gravely mumbling i could take before wanting to punch a cough sweet through my headphones. Characterisation in TNC is quite styalised though, so that's more of a reflection on my reaction than the game itself.
The Enemy: It's refreshing to come across letters penned from Nazi soldiers to their wives or families. It Defamiliarizes you to a level where you catch yourself questioning whether it's more humane to just atomize "this one" with your faithful Laserkraftwerk, as appose to hatcheting their extremities off in a frenzied red mist. This human side reminds you on a cerebral level in a way that only Spec Ops: The Line previously did, of the indoctrination of war. There were moments where holding off and overhearing two guards whispering in relative shock about their Officers renowned evil deeds, or reading diary extracts hinting to the owner suffering from PTSD, depression, battle fatigue and demoralization resets your moral compass slightly and prevents your eyes from glazing over in a euphoric battle frenzy.
Supporting Cast: Truly standout performances from characters Frau Engel, Anya, and Grace. Their segments were memorable and border on iconic. The remaining supporting cast really does vary in quality though sadly, which detracts noticeably in a game with a plot as gripping as TNC. It's very rarely jarring enough to kill the mood, but it's a pity that those moments exist.
Gunplay feels responsive and weighty. One of my benchmarks for the art of shooting feeling satisfying is Killing Floor 2 and this comes relatively close. The reload animations and recoil effects aren't anything special but they are to the high standard that you would expect. The audio is fantastic, with special note to the heavier weaponry such as the Hammergewehr and the Lasergewehr both looking and sounding phenomenal. The ability to upgrade your weapons is nice and can offer you more flexibility when in a squeeze. Duel wielding is good, but when you want to cycle things about it becomes a bit, er, unwieldy.
Performance issues were non-existent for me.
The soundtrack to this game is phenomenal and deserves a special mention.
Stealth mechanics are on the same level as TNO and not much seems to have been developed there. With the addition of late-game special technology pieces you are able to access places unconventionally which will either help or hinder a stealth approach, but it gives you more options in infiltration and exfiltration if things get too hot.
The Battle Map is a new feature in TNC, it essentially shows you a map of the US and is used in reference to the main storyline and the side missions later on. I speculate that it has some long-term functionality too with the integration of future DLC. It's not an integral side, but it's perhaps a signal to Wolf 3. It reminds me slightly of the Galaxy map from Mass Effect and how you use it to navigate or instigate missions.
Enigma Codes make a return, acting as vital intel and reconnaissance in locating and tracking the Oberkommando. The Nazi command structure of the Wehrmacht in charge of the USA. Somewhat conveniently, every officer in the game will carry an Enigma Code, you collect these and use the Enigma machine on Eva's Hammer to break the codes and help lift their hold over the various states. Again, (hopefully) foreshadowing future additions in the game via DLC or update, if not then it's just a means to a "completionist" end, or perhaps something to record and transfer over to Wolf 3.
In conclusion, then, TNC is a bit over the top or vague in places, which is needed in a narrative as morbid as this. And while it doesnt offer a revolutionized game engine, or offer much development from its predecessor in terms of the feel, it keeps the fantastic things from TNO and adds a few new things. The end sets things up nicely for DLC and Wolf 3.
And that's it for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
No score this time, as I could not figure out how many stars I would give this game. It's a great game but definitely not for everyone.
I really enjoyed making this review, and I have put a lot of work into this, so...!
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