Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Impressions

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Video is a read-through of this same text below, with footage.

I’m not – as I’ve said before – a fan of first person shooters; But I enjoy a well written story set in an interesting semi-fictional universe where the Nazis won the war. I’ll happily play through a good storyline, and even though I hadn’t played a Wolfenstein franchise game since they had to mention ‘3D’ in title, like an old movie proudly stating it was “IN COLOR”, I was taken in by the advertising campaign they ran for this title (see below), which mocked the current political climate, and apparent confidence among Nazis to come out of the shadows.

Firstly it’s important to recognize that not having played Wolfenstein: The New Order is not a penalty here; The storyline of the previous title is summed up at the beginning of Wolfenstein II for you. You can quite happily jump into the series with this game. I also feel that The New Order would not be spoiled for you if you went back to it after this.

Second, I just have to say I really enjoyed this game… Despite many of the annoyances that I always feel with games of this type, such as my slow reactions and poor aiming, I was still able to get through it on the regular difficulty setting without too much trouble due to the save game system. The only annoyance there being how far you had to go back sometimes to that restore point.

The game is beautiful in a very strange way that is difficult to put into words, because the first time that you see a town draped in colorful banners and see soldiers in shiny uniforms marching along in perfect lines, it’s almost too easy to overlook the fact that those are Swastikas and Schutzstaffel insignia. The design team did a superb job mixing Americana with the emblems and atmosphere of an occupying Nazi force, just as they did with the war-torn cities and run-down abandoned buildings.

Gameplay itself is difficult for me to categorize as either good or bad, because of the fact that I don’t generally appreciate this type of game. What I can say, is that I played through it – and kept playing. I figured out the puzzles, gradually improved my aim, and was driven by the storyline to continue to the end. Perhaps the only negative aspect that I noticed rise above, was that combat was contained within battle zones where you would advance to a new zone, you would trigger a response, and could usually sit in a defensive position and fire upon everyone who came to find you from there. You would often end up with a pile of bodies that you fooled into walking to the same ambush zone, and then a completely empty set of rooms and tunnels until you reached the next triggered attack point.

For me the reason to buy, play, and probably enjoy this game is the storyline. Anyone familiar with the technological advances made by German scientists during World War II, will be able to understand why a game set in the 1960’s where those minds continued to work, looks and feels like this. What surprised me is just how many parallel and interwoven stories there were, including flashbacks to your childhood and a later visit to a location from that, which helps explain a lot about who you are on an emotional level. It’s those things that get you invested in a storyline enough to enjoy a game that you would never ordinarily even purchase. I’m not going to spoil this, but I LOVED the way this ended. It felt good (make sure you watch the credits to see additional cutscenes, too).

This game is violent, there is no other way to put that. Creative writing can easily give a nutcase in Grand Theft Auto a sense of morals that you’re in control of when killing another character, but this game challenges your level of acceptance far beyond that. There are harrowing cutscenes that use language, violence and emotion to manipulate your senses and set your morals for you, so that seconds removed from burying an axe in the spine of a Nazi minion talking about playing with his kids that morning, you’ll turn – forget – and lovingly embrace your partner immediately. As you play through the levels on this game, the blood of your victims builds on your gloves, and it’s very easy to lose sight of the fact that there is a person under every Nazi uniform. The story deals with this perfectly, with a major character struggling throughout to shed off a Nazi background and renounce Nazism, showing that every single Nazi killed in this game and living on this planet has that option as well.

The game doesn’t end with the storyline, as after the credits you find yourself back in your base where there are additional Nazi assassination missions that allow you to re-visit places you had previously tore through, and help the resistance in those areas.

If you want to have the game totally spoiled, here is a complete set of storyline spoilers for any of you who want to see all the cutscenes and ‘dead stick’ sections from my playthrough.


Don’t watch this if you don’t want the spoilers!

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I began my gaming journey via the family Commodore Vic-20, then later with my own C-64 and Amiga A600. These systems kept my attention until I moved up to PCs around the Windows MS-DOS Pre-Windows 95 era, which means I never really got into the console gaming market in a big way.

My parents spent a significant amount of time sharing my early gaming experiences, and this really helped foster my interests. I discovered racing games and space games for the first time, and those are still my main genres of interest to this day.

These days I use gaming to try to escape from the pressures of real life. I also occasionally upload or stream gameplay to YouTube and Twitch, and rather than doing this to instruct others of the best way to play, I do it because of the social interaction with viewers and other gamers.

Left: Monkey Island 2 Special Edition (a remaster of the original Amiga and PC-DOS classic).

 
 
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Tim is British and lives in the United States with his wife and kids.

He works for software developers Image Space Inc. and Studio 397 on their racing simulations, and is a fan of Gaming, Motorsports, and photography.