It is rare that we come across a good old FPS game with no loot boxes, in-game purchases, and dare I say no multiplayer. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a simple single-player driven action game that does well to keep fans of the series intrigued right from the start to the end of the game. The characters are some of the best in the series and the story and writing are simply brilliant.
Following straight after the events of the first game, William B.J Blazkwicz is rescued from the Deathshead's fortress after finally putting an end to him. The battle has left him in a coma after he passes out due to injuries. 5 Months later William comes to and is half paralyzed due to the fact that he was has been sleeping for all this time. At the same time the new antagonist, who also made an appearance in the past game Frau Engel attacks the Kreisau Circle, killing dozens on board in an attempt to get to B.J. William and Engel have a past as in the first game he was responsible for disfiguring her face. In an act of revenge, she takes someone dear from William and so the events of the game roll out.
The Nazi movement has taken over the entire world while William was out cold, and Frau Engel leads the movement with her crazed political agenda and hunger for power. She hates William, but I mean really hates him and her madness and hatred are both combined together to deliver one of the best characters in the game if not the series so far. If there was a toss-up between Engel and her daughter Sigrun, it would be hard to decide who to love more. Sigrun is new to the series and turns over to the rebellion after her mother, Engel drives her to the brink of insanity.
Returning faces such a Wyatt/Fergus, depending on your in-game decision in the past game, Anya, Set and more all contribute to the story of Wolfenstein II and the cast is one of the game's best features. Every character is their own and standing around the U-Boat next to one as they have a conversation with another resistance member was one of those moments I will never forget. A specific part was when Sigrun chats about her love for music all while Set is trying his hardest to work. The two go off on a tangent for a good five minutes and it is very entertaining.
Germany reigns over all
Wolfenstein II plays out in the traditional sense where you do a chapter, watch some great cutscenes and lead up to a story segment, and then walk around the U-Boat chatting to people before heading off on the next mission. There are around 10 chapters in the game with each of them having a specific sub-chapter part to them as you make your way through the nuclear wasteland of New York City to the marshes of New Orleans, and even take a trip to Jupiter to meet the man himself, Adolf Hitler.
As William's main objective is to bring down Engel and ignite the revolution, the resistance tackles various objectives throughout the game's 12-hour campaign. These include saving new members to build a bigger team, gaining control of Engel's fleet, and even sneaking into a base to nuke it. It is all very explosive and quite an experience to behold. While the cinematics makes up for most of the game's high octane action, there are moments that kept me on the edge of my seat like pushing a wheelchair through the U-boat while shooting things up and even riding on the back of a Panzerhund that breathes fire and can knock enemies back. It was these moments that brought out the best of Wolfenstein II and I wish there was more of them, to be honest.
While those Hollywood blockbuster scenes were far and few between what makes Wolfenstein so great is its flawless shooting and boy is it flawless. It makes for some of the best id Software has ever created and it was almost perfect experience throughout. The same sneak mechanics are present again, which means that William can sneak into the area ahead and be as silent as possible but at the same time you can blast with guns blazing and tear Nazis apart. While the sneaking is the best and safest way to do things, I felt that most of the levels and the overall combination of the lack of hiding spot and ability to spot enemies kept me from completing these sequences without raising alarm.
Go in guns blazing
Every new sequence has commanders that you need to kill to get the call for reinforcements and to get to them you need to, again, go in guns blazing or sneak through the area killing enemies silently with your hand axe or shooting them in the head with your silenced pistol. Most of the time it was faster to just blow enemies apart with a shotgun, but the difficulty spikes are quite intense so where possible the sneaking route was always easier first until you were seen or heard. William has a range of weapons that can be switched to at any time and also upgraded using points collected in the game. The upgrades are helpful and range from adding a single shot to a rifle and a scope to adding a ricochet blast to the shotgun.
While I never upgraded my guns at the start, once I did halfway through the game, they started to feel worth it. The pistol needs that suppressor, and the shotgun helps to have a ricochet blast to bend around corners and puncture enemies out of range. There are only a handful of guns though in Wolfenstein II, six to be exact, so don't expect anything on DOOM levels here. There are, however, various heavy weapons you can pick up and collect during each mission. These range from giant laser beam cannons to Gatling guns, and there is even an OP nuclear blaster near the end of the game that really tears things apart.
The smaller gun roster means you can truly master one of them and simply be good at it, and it works that way. Enemies also wield the same guns so when you see them coming you kind of have an understanding of how far they can shoot from and how fast too. It is a simple gun system that merges well with the game's 40s look and
All this combat flows very well and William also gets upgraded across the game to hold more health and armour and even get new movement abilities that let him shrink and launch stilts that shoot him in the air. It is all very fun but also challenging at times. Often the enemies become overwhelming and swarm in with no sign of any hope. I died countless times in the same spots sometimes and it was frustrating. I was only playing on the third highest difficulty so it was not even that to blame. Maybe I was just having a bad day.
There was a clear feeling of being a badass in Wolfenstein II that fails to come across in a lot of FPS games. William dual-wielding a machine gun and shooting down walls of Nazis fills you with this sense of reward but then again William is no tank and he can be brought down as fast as he is killing those Nazis. Armour and health is plenty to find across the levels but the rate which you lose it as you take fire is also a challenge. Luckily most enemies drop health and armour so as long as you are killing and not being shot, you will survive.
It is also important to note that unlike the original game, Wolfenstein II boasts quite a lot of collectables and even post-game content to go back and play. Enigma Keys dropped by commanders lets you solve puzzles that then target an “Ubercommander” somewhere in a past mission or location. These Ubercommanders act as side missions for the game and each of them gives you a reason to go back and kill some Nazi. Not the best form of post-game content but it is better than just ending the game and moving on.
There are also tons of collectables to find in each level that unlocks new art, recordings, and the sheer amount of lore scattered across the game probably has a whole other story to it all too. There has truly been a lot of effort put into bringing the game, the historic challenges, and all the people to
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus shines when it has all its superb characters on screen which then leads to an intense mission with Nazi limbs blowing up in all directions. Frau Engel is one of my favourite characters in gaming this year and her intense personality and extreme sadism left me in stitches as I chuckled at everything she said and did. But then there are other people like Chloe, William and let us not forget Sigrun who add even more personality to the game and I don't see how it would have been the same without them. Not to mention that while you are not absorbing all their layers of character depth, you are running around with a gun shooting things up in one of the most polished FPS games in years.
Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Reviewed