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Review in Progress: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

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'...This end kills Nazis?'

Despite being blown up by a grenade at point-blank range, as well as being in the firing line of a nuclear space cannon, it looks like good ol' boy B.J. Blazkowicz made it, thanks in no small part to his close-knit family of rag-tag rebel friends.

Though the Deathshead compound lies in absolute ruin, Blazkowicz and Co. have only just scratched the surface. The Nazis remain in global power, having fully homogenized the U.S. into a country of their own ideals. American cities are now occupied by The Reich themselves, governing over a population of turncoat sympathizers, and all those citizens who dared stand against the new order have been swept under the rug via a bullet to the skull.

The time has come to take the fight for freedom to B.J.'s own doorstep, but with the team in such disarray, and Blazkowicz himself a wounded, dying, shell of a man, how can the ill-equipped resistance stand up to the psychotic Frau Engel and her legion of hatred?



Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
(PS4 [reviewed], PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)
Developer: MachineGames
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Released: October 27, 2017 (Switch: TBA)
MSRP: $59.99

Thrown back into the horrifying setting of a populace under fascist supremacy, the Wolfenstein world remains a hideous, despicable parallel universe, one which MachineGames brings to the more recognisable setting of the American cityscape, where The Klan walk freely in their robes, hateful right-wing propaganda is sold on every corner, and the American population that do remain march to the beat of the Nazi drum, either through nervous fear or gracious acceptance.

Thank fuck Blazkowicz is here to throw hot lead (and fire-axes) in harm's way, with the game taking cathartic, primal pleasure in allowing the player to lay waste to wave upon wave of soldiers, androids and nightmarish experimental weapons. Once again, Wolfenstein offers guilt-free glee in the act of hatchet-assisted limb-ectomies, performed on the thousands of enemies in B.J.'s path.

Very little has changed from the previous title. The methodology of tackling each mission remains either "Gung-Ho" or "Badly-Implemented-Stealth". In terms of mechanics, Colossus retains a shaky, almost redundant cover system, as well as the unfortunate return of the pace-breaking "weapon-refueling" mechanic, and an over-abundance of armour, ammo and health pickups every step of the way.


However, Wolfenstein was never supposed to be Deus Ex, and the emphasis remains, quite rightly, on full-throttle, dual-wielding, high-octane action. Strafing down gangways whilst hammering both triggers is the order of the day, as waves of bad dudes literally disintegrate before your very eyes. Like Doom, the Wolfenstein series is quite aware of its own shallow gameplay shortcomings, and chooses to accent that simplicity, rather than disguise it behind needless fluff.

Where Colossus has really come into its own, thus far, is in its fantastic character performances and cutscenes, both cinematic and in-engine. Equally disgusting, heartbreaking, amusing and completely batshit outrageous in tone, it's clearly apparent that this is the aspect MachineGames are most proud of. Some of Colossus voice-acting, facial animation and storytelling is so passionately and proudly showcased, that it seems very possible that the game's narrative was the most important labour-of-love for the developers.

I have a lot to say (both positive and negative) regarding Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus in my full review, to be expected very soon. It's a game with a story that walks a tightrope between dark drama and comic-book farce, with gameplay that mixes state-of-the-art visuals with dated shooter mechanics. That's the beauty of Wolfenstein; presenting an unnervingly familiar world, but within completely outlandish context, while providing a gaming experience that breathes life into the first-person-shooter, but never forgets its base roots, embedded in the very creation of the genre itself.

[This review in progress is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]


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Chris Moyse
Chris MoyseWeekend Editor   gamer profile

Chris (Orochileona) has been playing video games since video games began... still terrible at them. Former Saturday Night Slam Master, rambles nostalgically like Abe Simpson. I ain't here to figh... more + disclosures


 



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