We do love a bit of rebooted Wolfenstein in this corner of the web, the franchise has brought old school style shooters back to the fore along with as much gore your stomach can master. So hearing about it making its way to the Switch was a surprise given the Nazi bashing adult nature of the game and how it would sit with Nintendo’s family fun image. Fear not BJ fans, its (mostly) all intact and relentless as ever.
I can’t quite believe it was 2014 when we reviewed (and Platinum trophy to boot) “New Order“, the first in the rebooted series and it was great. In fact so great I actually called it “Far and away the best Wolfenstein yet, far and away the most enjoyable single player shooter since the PS4”. Then along came 2015 with “The Old Blood“. effectively a standalone DLC and a prequel to the previous game, still great although maybe not quite so great.
Then we waited and waited, until a sneaky breadcrumb exposed in a Bethesda E3 presentation gave BJ fans hope and in 2017 “Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus” came down hard. It was typical balls to the wall Wolfenstein, the narrative was batshit crazy straight from the Head of Batshit Crazy Studies in the university of Batshit Crazy Education. I liked it, I liked it a lot even though there were niggles starting to show – again the perks and buffs felt a touch off where the New Order had them nailed and sneaking up on Commanders wasn’t as fun as it used to be.
However, it is a multiform big hitter and that’s why we are going back to play it again, but this time on a handheld? A Nintendo handheld? Hell Yes!
If you clicked the links above, you’ll know about the game, if you didn’t I suggest you do so because really this needs to be about the Switch and its ability to deliver a full on BJ experience.
First up, lets be honest the Switch doesn’t have the grunt to match its big cousins from Microsoft and Sony, it’s a moot point, so there’s no point waffling on about the graphics being a bit murky here and there. Yes the textures have been watered down, yes the resolution is a bit blurry (especially on a bigger screen) and the frames per second? Well I’m not really bothered about that, because its playable, damn playable.
What the magicians at Panic Button and Machine Games have done is cram the game into a handheld system, as mentioned the resolution may put you off the big screen experience and that’s fine, because playing handheld with my glasses on my head and the screen up close is how it’s meant to be done. Of course there is a stumbling block and with grown up hands versus the Switch form factor of the Joycon thumbsticks, I can hold the unit comfortably enough and for quite long periods, it’s just the travel distance of the sticks to relating to my shovel like hands being wrapped around the unit that causes problems.
In a tight twitch based shooter this can be a big hurdle, but in a game like Wolfenstein that is often forgiving its not so bed – just a learning curve to get your hands and fingers working with the sticks and what that means on the screen. Besides there is often so much to shoot at that by missing one target I am often hitting another. There’s also Aim Assist, but the first rule of Aim Assist is that you never talk about Aim Assist.
While we talk about shooting things, we the weapons are as spectacular as ever and the upgrade system allows you to quickly tailor them to your own preferences by adding scopes, grenades, more ammo etc. There’s been no holding back on the destruction they wreak either, leaving an old-school trail of gibs and corpses behind in a level is really quite satisfying instead of the way most games let them melt away like Thanos clicked them out of existence.
Levels have all the alternatives routes and options they did before although there are a few new restrictions on the background, new walls shutting out bigger views – all for the sake of processing power and a sensible choice.
Interestingly one of the advantages playing on the Switch for me personally is the lack of trophies, something that would normally be the reason for me nosily turning over every corner for collectables and playing on higher (more frustrating) difficulties. Not having this spectre hanging over my playtime lets me relax into the matter at hand and keep charging on, there is less kudos for punishing yourself at a higher difficulty and those off track corners can remain un-searched. This is also a fine reason to make the game more fun and forgiving, especially if your aim is off because of fat fingers. It also means I get less involved in the side missions, which are a nod to what we enjoyed as the RPG Lite aspect of “New Order“, but don’t quite cut it in the warren of a hub area.
Performance wise, well you can’t expect the game to run all day, its the Switch and if you’re sensible it will be in handheld mode. So if you want more than three to four hours from it I suggest you turn your brightness down to about halfway and switch on Airplane mode. The screen can occasionally chug a little when things get crazy, but doesn’t everybody?
Overall, Wolfenstein 2 is still a cracking game, its a magnificent achievement on the Switch and Bethesda have certainly brought their A-Game to this platform. It’s great to see a Nintendo console offering growing above and beyond its family friendly label to push these kind of boundaries.
Now we wait. #Wolfenstein3