Last updated on January 28th, 2019
In 2014 Wolfenstein: New Order took the gaming community by surprise. For a long time, the single-player FPS was considered quite dead. Then along came Wolfenstein and showed everyone how it could be done. It was fun. A lot of fun. Not to mention a bit silly, but that just contributed to how fun it was. So, how exactly does Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus compare to its predecessor?
Genre: First-person Shooter
Developed by: Machine Games
Published by: Bethesda
Release Date: October 26, 2017
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC via Steam, Nintendo Switch
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus Review
- Weapons – 12 weapons of incredible mayhem to mow down the Nazi hoards.
- Stealth or Action – Will you be a ghost, or a screaming berserker of destruction?
- Collectibles – 216 collectibles scattered throughout the game for your treasure hunting pleasure.
- Ubercommander Missions – Need a break from the main campaing, or have finished? Go hunt down the Ubercommanders in a series of side missions.
Story & Setting
I want to start with what I feel is the weakest point, because this game deserves a review that ends on a high note. Regardless of how much fun I’ve had playing through the first time, the thought of experiencing the story a second time fills me with trepidation.
The first game had a strong narrative, including a well told love story. It wasn’t profound. It was just the tale of two damaged souls finding solace in each other, and the idea that a better future was worth fighting for. At the end, we all thought B.J. had died. Only, he didn’t.
Wolfenstein 2 starts off with the desperate (and very bloody) rescue of B.J. from the climax of the first game. This results in him entering another coma. Yep, we’re two for two in the new Wolfenstein series for the protagonist starting off in a coma. The game does make up for this a bit with an awesome sequence where you scoot around in a wheelchair gunning down Nazis with a machine pistol. Good stuff.
Then…then you get one of the more disturbing cutscenes I’ve seen in a while, and I’m not really sure what the point of it was, other than to make us dislike the main villain even more. I mean I get it, the Nazis in this game are caricatures of people, not actual people. They are the bad guys. The degree to which they hammer this in for the main villain is eye-roll inducing though.
Even more eye-roll inducing is B.J.’s pity party for a good half of the game. He’s constantly uttering these self pitying one-liners in missions, and in general feeling very sorry for himself. Again, I get it. He has good reason for being a broken man. The problem is that it was done so much that by the time you reach what could have been a wonderful character backstory moment; B.J.’s old home, I was already fed up with his attitude, that I really couldn’t care much.
Thankfully, things get better in the second half, not to mention completely bat-shit crazy. Not a very professional term I know, but I’m at a loss at how else to describe the story in the second half. I wish I could say exactly how it gets crazy, but it’s one of those things where you’re really better off experiencing it for yourself. However there is one cutscene towards the end that, once again, had me scratching my head and asking: “Is all this gore really necessary?”.
Audio & Visual
When I wasn’t eye-rolling at the story (or blinking in disbelief at what I was seeing) my eyes were glued to the screen and my ears enjoying the sweet sounds. Well, sweet in a metal sense. Once again we have Mick Gordon at the helm for music, and it is a feast for your ears. It is different from the Doom soundtrack to be sure, though still in possession of his style, and it fits the game perfectly.
I enjoyed the music all the way through, and one of the first things I did after my run through the game was to check Google Play to see if the album was up. Sadly, it was not. With regards to the other audio elements, everything is spot-on. The gun sounds, environment sounds, explosions, all as expected and satisfying.
Thankfully my PC was able to run the game at “Ultra” setting, but only just. I dared not try the “Mein Leben!” graphic setting. Still, at Ultra this is a very pretty game. And bloody. I don’t really remember the first game having quite this much gore to it. I realize this is an M-rated game, but I’m not really sold on the need for quite so much gore. In Doom, it fit. Here? Not as much. This is, however, a nit-pick and not anything that detracted in the moment-to-moment game play.
Just like the original, this is a globe-trotting adventure. You visit a lot of different places, though “gray-metal Nazi base” does crop more than a few times. Makes sense, really, and I don’t think I’d even notice if it weren’t for the contrast against all the other creative locations. If I had to choose my favorite location, I’d have to say the Rocket Train. Yes. A train powered by rockets! And you get to weave in-and-out of it as you make your way towards the controls. Very cool location, even if I did want to strangle the robots.
OK, give me a moment to whine first before we get to the good stuff. First off, the difficulty. I played on “Bring ’em On!” which is the default difficulty level. You can die stupidly fast in this game. So fast in fact, there were multiple times where I had no idea what killed me. Now I’m not a top-tier FPS player, I fully admit that, but I am competent. I have no expectations or desire for a cake-walk, but I do expect fairness from the game. There were multiple scenarios in which I felt the fights were unfair, and felt relieved instead of accomplished when they were over.
Second, the collectibles. Yes, usually collectibles are busy work, but here there’s just so darn many of them. 216 to be exact, though if you wish to include readables that total skyrockets to 366. That is a lot of busy work. Now you can go back to most locations in a free-roam mode so you don’t have to worry about getting them all in one go, but still. That seems just a little excessive.
Enough of that, is the game fun? I can dual-wield automatic shotguns. I can have an explosive diesel launcher in one hand, and an assault rifle in the other. Oh hell yes this game is fun. So let’s talk weapons first. There are total of 12 in the game, though 3 are temporary and 2 are time-line dependent. All of the weapons are rock-solid and have their place.
The machine pistol is great for spray-and-pray, useful against large hordes of soft targets. The automatic shotgun can chew up heavier enemies quickly. The assault rifle, especially with the scope, is great for long-range combat. Not one of the weapons feels useless, though I definitely have my favorites, the machine pistol and assault rifle. If I died a time or three in a section, I would start switching up weapons, looking for a better strategy, but I mostly stuck to those two. Strictly personal preference.
Of course it’s not all about the guns. Stealth is thing, and indeed there are levels where you can get through completely undetected. Not that I’d have the patience for it, but it can be done. This time around instead of combat knives, you have hatchets. This does once more bring me back to the issue of gore. Does it really add to the game by dismembering Nazis with the hatchet? No, not really. Doesn’t detract from the game, but it doesn’t add anything either in my view.
Getting back to stealth, you have several options here. One is to sneak up on soldiers and officers and do a melee takedown, which is stupidly silent. I mean really, one time I had two guards, who were standing not 4 feet apart, and one guard somehow didn’t hear me dismember his buddy. Don’t get me wrong, it was a cool and suspenseful moment, taking down the first and praying the second didn’t notice, but it was silly on reflection.
You can also throw the hatchet, and as long as it contacts with the enemy, they die. Even if it’s their toe. Yes, I did that on purpose for the giggles. This however does make the enemy scream, as does shooting them with a suppressed pistol or machine pistol, which does increase the chance of detection.
Level design is mostly good. There were a couple times where it just wasn’t clear to me how I was suppose to progress and I stumbled around for a bit trying to figure it out. It never got out of hand, and in a few of those cases I felt quite silly for not catching on right away, but it still feels like some of the levels could use tightening up.
The levels are also designed in such a way that once an alarm is sounded, it can be very easy for enemies to sneak up on you. This can be disastrous, as even a basic foot soldier can rapidly strip away armor and health if they get the drop on you. Not so sure if this is a good feature, or a really annoying one. Perhaps a bit of both. Regardless, the majority of the time I enjoyed navigating through the levels, and I never got bored of them.