The sequel to the 2014 title Wolfenstein: The New Order has dropped on the PS4 in the form of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. The mixture of well told story and excellent gun play brought Wolfenstein back into the gaming consciousness and this follow up hopes to continue the success.
As you begin you’ll see a quick recap of the last game’s story and get a chance to confirm the decision you made in that title. This does change some things in the story and will make different weapons available but won’t alter the course of the story too much. Once you take control of William ‘BJ’ Blazkowicz things start with a bang and it rarely lets up.
As in the last game the Nazis have, through the use of stolen advanced technology, won the war. In The New Colossus the story focuses on America and how the populace, at least on the surface, have embraced their new leaders. Terror-Billy, as he is called by the Nazis, and his crew intend on starting a revolution which basically involves BJ doing what he’s best at – killing a lot of Nazis.
Although the story itself isn’t necessarily the most original the way it’s told is fantastic. Well written, strong characters from top to bottom, some of the scenes and sequences are superb. For someone who plays a lot of story based games I can often take it or leave it but there are moments that are just too good to ignore. I’d love to be able to give examples but it would ruin so much. Just know to expect the unexpected, good and bad, nothing seems to be off the table with this series with the mood jumping from quirky and funny to gory and dramatic from scene to scene.
Still this is a first person shooter, who cares about the story right? Well you will, but yes the gameplay is super important too and Wolfenstein is just as strong in this regard. The weapons feel fantastic to fire and the ability to dual wield any combination of the upgradable weapons makes you an incredibly powerful offensive weapon. You can use stealth like in the last game too, using a hatchet to silently take down unaware enemies though I found it to be quite difficult to maintain for too long with patrols being quite aware and well placed to catch you out.
It is difficult though. The feedback you get for getting hit isn’t great so you can go from feeling invincible to dying in a second. The amount of times I died and said to myself “Oh, I thought I was doing well” is hard to keep track of. It is something you get used to, I certainly died less as things went on and not because the game got easier but because I adjusted but a little more warning would be nice. You can manually save at any time to brute force your way through sections if needed, or you can simply change the difficulty as and when you please. Although there is a very slow health regeneration mechanic you will be reliant on health and armour pick ups to keep you topped up, you can even overcharge your health by going over the base amount but it will tick down to the default over time.
The levels you play in are linear but give the player some choice in how they approach. Guns blazing is always an option but as mentioned earlier stealth, although difficult, does work and there are vents and different areas to hide (and a lean to allow yourself to poke your head out and take a shot) which can be utilised. If you do get spotted then you’re quite mobile with a pacey sprint that allows you to reposition if you feel you’re getting overwhelmed. Areas are generally relatively open so you won’t find yourself shooting down corridors too often but you will be going from point A to point B. New abilities unlocked later into the game open up your options even more and depending on how you play the game perks will unlock as you perform actions over and over, granting you passive boosts.
As well as Nazis and health, armour and ammo you’ll find plenty of collectibles around the levels. In fact the game is infested with them. I wouldn’t mind but in such a story heavy game nothing kills plot urgency like the need to search every nook and cranny for a shiny object. The story is well paced and the action moves too, so searching these, as I said, quite open areas can put the brakes on things and although some add to the atmosphere with extra story details I could have lived without them.
Upon completion the game opens up a little in that you can go back into areas to assassinate high priority targets and get collectibles you’ve missed and take care of side quests given to you by crew members. You could argue that it’s just another form of collectible but at least by that point the story is finished with.
Technically the game is solid. There are some glitches here and there but visually the game has some great effects (the laser weapon is a personal favourite as it melts metal and people alike) and runs very well. Extra praise should be heaped on the sound design too, with the weapon effects, music (apart from a terrible credits song) and performances from the characters all being top notch. Load times can be a little on the long side but I’ve seen much worse.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a game of two parts, thankfully each are equally as great. The story is well told and will constantly surprise you whilst shooting Nazis is enjoyable from start to finish. There are a couple of issues here and there but ultimately they didn’t hamper my enjoyment one bit and I hope they sell enough to make another entry as there’s not really anything else out there like it.
+ Gun play is excellent
+ Presentation is fantastic across the board
- Infested with collectibles