“They don’t advertise for Nazi Killers in a newspaper, but that’s what I was ex BJ, ex soldier, ex Nazi Killer…”, okay, my dodgy gravelly voiceover aside it’s Wolfenstein Time!
Three years ago Wolfenstein: The New Order was a huge breath of fresh air, an old school style shooter with big brass balls. It was fully loaded with gore and ridiculous weapons, didn’t take itself too seriously and finished on something of a cliffhanger.
Our review went along with: Far and away the best Wolfenstein yet, far and away the most enjoyable single player shooter since the PS4.
Having had a further dalliance with BJ in the shorter top-up adventure The Old Blood, we were taken back to an earlier part of the story that built on some of the strengths of The New Order.
Now we return to the boots of William J. Blazkowicz, finding how exactly how he escaped the nuclear explosion at the end of New Order, and more importantly what happened to the world in the weeks after. Queue The New Colossus, pump up the music and fill those shotguns troopers.
Machine Games have not trodden lightly here, the narrative for New Colossus is bigger and bolder than ever, some may say crazier, but that’s a question of perspective when you play one of these games. In a few words, the encounter with Deaths Head was not the end for the Nazi effort, they regrouped and in your absence invaded America with a vengeance.
This if course does not sit well with BJ and gives you plenty of motivation to get out of that coma and back to action, even if that means spending the first level wheelchair bound. Which is a trifle of an obstacle to someone like BJ. There is a choice to be made early on on the piece that will change the game slightly, adding a different tone to the cutscenes and giving you access to a different Heavy Weapon. That said I’ve always had a soft spot for Fergus, so sorry Wyatt, again.
It’s fair to say the BJ we know and love has faded away for the first half of the game, his gravelly voiceovers are full of melancholy and regret. Often the flag to note you have completed an attack wave, its obvious the character goes through some weighty mental and physical trauma and it often feels like we are just spectating on his downward spiral. Never fear though about the midpoint of the game BJ bounces back from as far as rockbottom and then some, to be the energetic super soldier we expect.
The game itself pulls no punches, it is a meaty encounter driven shooter. Missing perhaps the RPG lite aspects that gave New Order some depth it makes up for it in action and over the top encounters. Maps are now wide open spaces often with multiple access points, encouraging the player to find their own style whether they prefer a stealthy attack or just going toe to toe dual wielding heavy weapons. There are a bunch of Perks and Buffs collected by way of your actions, but they don’t have the same attraction this time.
Once you get to the shores of America and witness the devastation you could be forgiven for thinking it was a Fallout game, however the abundance of Nazi Commanders can quell that. While we mention Commanders, something I liked was the option of stealth hunting the Commanders before they could raise an alarm. The benefit was clearly obvious in getting access to secrets or bonus items, now its not so obvious, they raise their alarm and wander about while a few backup troopers get destroyed. The Risk vs Reward aspect just doesn’t feel like its there anymore, that said the scope of the maps also makes it much harder to sneak up on both of them.
As far as gameplay goes there’s not much to get hung up on, playing old school means picking up lots of handy medkits and armour while getting peppered. All the time that is going on you are frantically searching for collectibles and killing whatever the clearly insane developers throw at you. Again its heart pumping fun, although a few years on the aiming feels a touch loose to me and more importantly there is very little feedback that BJ is getting hurt so more often than not I’m getting carved up and killed without knowing how low on health I was. Pretty sure there was a vibration mechanic that kept you abreast of these things previously, it is minor negative, more of an irritation.
The weapons are big and hefty as you would expect, again the game turns once the shotguns come into play. Stars of the show again these thunderous beauties can clear a corridor of Nazis in no time. Some of the heavy weapons add some spice, being able to literally melt objects and (some) walls adds a bit of strategy. Dual wielding is managed by selection wheels and it is easy to get a seperate weapon in each hand.
There are also upgrade kits throughout the game that will allow you to modify the standard weapons, these are redeploy able, but certainly help gear your favourite weapon to be a more economical instrument. Not forgetting a few ‘contraptions’ that are geared to certain playstyles, they can add a well placed assist when used properly.
The story is like a crazy rollercoaster, it beats its own score on ridiculousness regularly and that is fine for a series that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The campaign has plenty to do, there are good times to be had exploring the Super Submarine: Eva’s Hammer – your base and hub world, along with some easy side mission fetch quests that have benefits. Not forgetting the assassination missions to test you and of course liberating the good old USA.
What more can I say? It’s Wolfenstein, its supposed to be crazy. Go get some.