Wolfenstein: The New Order was one of my favorite games from 2014. MachineGames showed people that you can create a modern take on a classic while keeping its essence alive and with The New Colossus they doubled down on everything that made the first game great.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Platform: PC, PS4, and Xbox One
MonsterVine was supplied with a copy for review
Wolfenstein: The New Order ends with BJ Blazkowicz severely wounded after the fight with the final boss; The New Colossus picks up immediately after with you being rescued and pointed in the direction of more Nazis to kill. The first game did this crazy thing you don’t see in first-person shooters where it had this weird thing called a plot, and there were these engaging characters who had actual arcs and character development; Crazy huh?. This game goes even harder into that with a cast of colorful characters who are each given enough depth to always make them a treat to see pop up and spit some incredibly well written dialog. With this game taking place in America, it deals with themes of racism and society openly embracing a conquering culture and actually manages to stick the landing for the most part. Of course, despite the heavy themes the game tackles, and it does go heavy, this is still a wonderfully pulpy romp that’s all about everyone hating Nazis with every fiber of their being. I like my shooters to be focused on the gameplay, but I’ve always been a strong believer that you can have an engaging story too. It’s nice to see I’m not alone with MachineGames doing an absolutely stellar job in this department. Side note, I’m not one to tell people how to play their game, but when the game asks you who you saved in the first game you seriously want to pick Wyatt. Trust me.
Wolfenstein ll takes the already fantastic combat from the first game and refines it. Movement and guns have a nice weighty feel to them and seeing bullets and limbs fly during combat is appropriately gritty. The game also learns from the The New Order’s pacing mistakes by kicking things off right away as a wheelchair bound Blazkowicz proves he doesn’t need his legs to deliver furious vengeance against Nazis. The stealth segments are also drastically improved with better enemy placement and layouts that allow you to forgo the stealth and make going in guns blazing a viable alternative. The perk system is also back which allows you to get better at the things you like to do. Love tossing the hatchet? Do it enough and you’ll get a few upgrades for it. Enjoy dual wielding? Just shoot dudes while doing it and you’ll get better at shooting the dudes. It’s a smart system that lets you play the way you want without having to constantly be pulling up a menu to make sure you’re doing some awful super specific thing. There truly is a god above because you no longer have to press a button to pick up ammo or items like you did in the first game. BJ can now magically do it himself like a normal FPS character, though I did find that the game would sometimes not always grab ammo or armor I’m walking over so it’s kind of iffy.
The combat is spiced up with the inclusion of contraptions: three gadgets that give you new ways to traverse levels. You’ve got the Ram Shackles that allow you to burst through doors or walls, the Battle Walkers which are basically stilts for reaching higher areas, and finally the Constrictor that miraculously lets BJ squeeze into tight spaces like tubes that have a five-inch diameter. These don’t change things in any drastic way, but they add to the silliness that is the combat. Bursting through a door to surprise Nazis on the other side or using the comically ridiculous stilts never gets old. The only real issue I found with the combat is that pulling up the weapon wheel obstructs your view but doesn’t slow down time which can become even more cumbersome when you’re dual wielding and trying to swap weapons on a specific hand. There’s an upgrade you can get later in the game that does this, but it still doesn’t slow things down enough and the fact that this is an upgrade you have to acquire so late in the game is absurd.
A feature in this game I wasn’t expecting to see was the implementation of a sort of pseudo-open world element. Just as in the previous game, there are commanders stalking areas of the game who will raise the alarm if you’re ever seen; killing these commanders will reward you with enigma codes that you can use on a machine on your boat. You can then “wager” these codes on a minigame that will unlock side-missions on a map where you’ll revisit previous areas from the game where your goal is to hunt down a mini-boss called an Überkommandant.
At first I was pretty excited when I unlocked this mode in the game since I thought they’d be unique missions set in new parts of the areas I’ve been to; I was wrong. You’ll go to four major locations during the campaign and these side-missions toss you back into the exact same areas you’ve been to with the only change being enemy placement. Oddly enough, you unlock this feature pretty damn late into the game and after getting access to it you only have two opportunities to partake in these missions before the game ends. It’s kind of disappointing to spend maybe 70% of the game collecting these enigma codes only to just repeat areas of the game that are still pretty fresh in your mind with no new gimmick.
Considering that I’m playing the game on PC I figured I should mention how it runs, which is hard to say since people seem to be having mixed reactions. Many people are having crashes, a few of them already known ahead of time by the developers and things like the Steam overlay are disabled for stability reasons. I personally haven’t experienced any major crashes, only one when I quit the game once, and the game’s framerate has been top notch for me. The only repeated bugs I’d see where game settings like the sensitivity reverting back to the default setting every time I start up the game and opening the console command window will cause a glitch with the mouse that requires you to restart the game. I also encountered an odd graphical glitch in the New Orleans area where I’d see faded static images of the game in the skybox; it only occurred during certain parts the outside portions of this level and never saw it happen anywhere else. So currently there are a few well-known issues that people are having but others are experiencing nothing at all so your mileage may vary.
The Final Word
Wolfenstein ll: The New Colossus is an absolutely buck wild ride of a game. Every time I think the game couldn’t top itself it proves me wrong with another ridiculous moment that left me giddy as all hell. Despite the hugely disappointing new side-mission mode and some mixed PC performance, this is still one of the best shooters in years.
– MonsterVine Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 – Great