Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Review
When MachineGames went back to Wolfenstein with The New Order back in 2014, they did the first-person shooter genre a great service. The follow-up DLC, The Old Blood, was a feather in their cap to celebrate their no-nonsense approach to shooting Nazis. Once more, this studio has struck Nazi gold with Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Suspense, violence, and some damn fine shooting await anyone ready to take up the torch and fight for good ol’ freedom and equality.
Everything starts with a quick recap, so even players not familiar with the first game can jump right in. BJ Blazkowicz has been rescued by his friends and awakens on a submarine, his body weak and broken. After acquiring a power suit and escaping Nazi clutches, you head out on a journey to reclaim America, now under the Nazi regime. Right from the start, you’re shown just how evil and malevolent Irene Engel and her soldiers are. The storytellers here have done a fantastic job of making you despise and loathe your enemies, fueling that rampant desire for revenge. Each Nazi you slaughter is just one more drop in a leaky bucket that BJ needs to fill.
A new addition to the story is several looks into BJ’s childhood and family. It helps to further your anti-fascist resolve and really drives home the notion that Blazkowicz grew up learning to fight for what’s right and respect everyone’s freedom. The voice actors do a great job, both in these flashbacks and throughout the rest of The New Colossus. They make it easy to empathize with and spur on a sense of camaraderie as you go into battle with them. Plenty of the old cast returns, but the new characters are a lot of fun. It’s the early 60s, and everyone’s lost their mind a bit.
“Unless you’re a perfectionist who doesn’t mind constantly reloading, you’ll need to learn to thrive in the chaos.”
The campaign is lengthy, and even on medium difficulty, you should expect to die a lot. Enemies hit hard, and while stealth is still encouraged, eliminating multiple lieutenants while undetected seems to have become harder this time around. Most encounters began with a short silent spree, picking off as many soldiers as possible while moving towards each lieutenant. Something goes wrong, and the pace goes full tilt as you spring from a crouch to constant sprinting and shooting. Unless you’re a perfectionist who doesn’t mind constantly reloading, you’ll need to learn to thrive in the chaos. Diving from cover to cover while switching weapons and snagging kills is tough against a few opponents, let alone armored units accompanied by dogs and robots. It doesn’t help that one of the few issues I had with the first game remains: the somewhat clumsy way dual weapons are implemented.
Since time doesn’t slow down when you enter the weapon wheel, you need to get fast with it. You can hit a button to swap to the previously selected weapon or press another to bring up dual wielding. The slow pace at which you swap weapons, coupled with the different systems, causes a lot of wasted time. Don’t get me wrong, I love the ability to shoot two different firearms at the same time, but I felt like it took just a bit too much effort to become proficient with the system. Once you get good, everything becomes much more fluid but the first few hours were a tad frustrating in that regard.
As far as shooting and moving go, controls are tight and responsive despite a few hiccups. BJ is a big guy, and it’s easy to get stuck on small objects. Pieces of rubble or small poles can impede your movement, stopping a hasty escape in a hurry. It’s annoying to die just because a table couldn’t be vaulted or rock got in the way. However, aside from this, everything feels like a well-oiled machine. Once you’re used to the sensitivity, it should be no problem popping headshots and eviscerating every Nazi in sight. Body parts fly off in chunks of gore when hit hard enough, and the feedback from each gun feels spot on. To top off what was already a great system, Wolfenstein II now offers an upgrade system not reliant on finding particular pieces. Find a kit, slap on an upgrade. It’s perfect for beefing up what you want to play with.
Although Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a fantastic game, a big point of contention for many will be the lack of multiplayer. MachineGames said they forewent it in order to focus on a better single-player experience, and I personally appreciate that. That being said, DOOM was able to tack on multiplayer, and it’s still a nice way to add some more hours to an already lengthy campaign. As is, Wolfenstein II will probably take you at least ten to twelve hours to complete, several more if you die frequently. There are a lot of collectibles, but hunting everything down is not everyone’s cup of tea so replayability will vary.
It’s hard to believe that both The New Order and The Old Blood have been topped, but MachineGames has done it again with The New Colossus. While paying full price for a AAA game these days isn’t justifiable to plenty of people, this bloody shooter and likely whatever DLC comes out for it warrants every penny. If you’ve enjoyed the recent revival of single-player shooters, then Wolfenstein II should be next on your list. Mercilessly mowing down Nazis has never felt so satisfying.
*** PS4 code provided by the publisher ***
- Compelling story
- Weapon wheel
- Weapon upgrades
- No multiplayer
- Switching guns can feel clumsy
- Easy to get stuck on objects