The second installment in the Wolfenstein franchise by Machine Games is finally here, and it was damn worth the wait. If you’re like me, and you grew up playing First Person Shooters like Quake, Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, among others, the chances of you having a good time with The New Colossus are pretty high.
While this sequel is still a FPS at heart, this time around the game is much more focused on storytelling, with a rather surprising amount of cutscenes and exposition. With that said, while sometimes this felt good in order to take a deep breath after all the action, sometimes it also felt like it was breaking the pace of the game. People who’re just in it for the action might get somewhat annoyed by this, but rest assured, that deep down, The New Colossus is still a Wolfenstein game.
If someone were to ask me how I feel about the exposition in general, I’d say that it’s a mixed bag. Wandering around the hub area between missions and listening to people talking to each other can provide some rather entertaining and funny moments but I didn’t find some of the characters that have quite a good amount of screen time during cut scenes to be really interesting or engaging. On the other hand, the ones that are funny and interesting seem to barely show up at all, and while Blazkowicz is an amazing nazi killing machine, he isn’t that much of a great character.
In any case, while there are some particular things that I didn’t really enjoy in regards to the game’s storytelling, as a whole, Wolfenstein II provides a fitting follow-up to the events of the first game, and by the end of it, you’ll probably be eager to know what awaits us in the next chapter of this franchise. It’s also worth noting that at the very beginning of the game you’re presented with a choice, and this will change your timeline, conversations between companions will be different, cut scenes are changed, and choosing one or the other also means getting your hands on a laser cannon or a flamethrower.
As far as gameplay goes, the game comes with a few new additions this time around, such as weapon upgrades and contraptions. With that in mind, while the game is pretty linear as far as mission structure goes, the game does reward you for exploring each level. For instance, in order to upgrade your weapons, you need to find weapon parts, and the game doesn’t hand these over to you, more often than not, they’re hidden in some levels and you have to search for them. Likewise, the newly introduced contraptions, of which there are a total of 3, allow you to approach certain segments in some levels in different ways, either by crawling through tight spaces, bashing down walls, or by elevating yourself and becoming pretty much an AT-ST Walker, which also allows you to reach higher places. While initially you’ll only unlock one of these, exploring the side missions that the game has to offer grants you access to the other two.
Like you’d expect, the core experience of Wolfenstein II is the main story, but between missions, you’ll go back to your base where you can talk to people, take some side quests, go to mission areas that you’ve previously visited, as well as decrypt Enigma codes. These codes can be found in the bodies of enemy commanders and then decrypted by completing a simple match puzzle, after which it will unlock a mission to assassinate one of the nazi’s ubbercomanders.
Besides the aforementioned, the way the game feels is exactly what you’d expect if you have played The New Order. Having access to a decent amount of weapons, and being able to dual-wield pretty much any combination of these, allows you to approach each fight in various different ways. Much like in the previous game, levels often have these sections in which there are one or two commanders which, if alerted, will summon reinforcements. This enables a stealth element to take place, which while it’s not the most complex, it’s decent enough, and you can play through a huge chunk of the game by resorting to stealth alone.
Despite the fact that I’ve already beaten the game on the hardest difficulty that the game lets you chose the first time you play it, I can’t really tell if the game was structured in order to be better played in stealth, or if it just felt like it because it was the hardest difficulty and the enemies were relentless. In any case, you’ll be fighting in a lot of close quarters, which mostly take place in nazi bases, but there are also a fair amount of rather open areas that let you approach enemies from at least two different directions.
From a technical standpoint, the change to the id Tech 6 engine is extremely easy to spot. Much like 2016’s DOOM, The New Colossus not only looks great, even when I played it with the settings turned down a little bit, but it also ran flawlessly for me. Still, even though I didn’t experience any stuttering or frame rate problems like some have, the game did crash multiple times on my system, and I haven’t been able to track down the culprit. The animation work is also spot on, and watching enemies disintegrate with a laser beam or get blown up never gets old.
At the end of the day, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a great sequel to an already great game. The added focus on storytelling might put some people off, and the first few hours of the game are also not its best, but once you reach a certain point in the game, everything gets better. If you enjoyed The New Order or The Old Blood, the chances of you enjoying this game are pretty high. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for some fast-paced nazi killing action filled with marvelous moments and an admirable soundtrack, by none other than the famous Mick Gordon, Wolfenstein II will most likely not disappoint you.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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