Today marks the launch of three incredibly anticipated non-MMO games, but if there’s one I didn’t expect to be so thoroughly engrossing, it’s Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. In a day where publishers and press are bemoaning the decline of single player, MachineGames and Bethesda give us a surefire contender for game of the year. This is our Not So MMO - Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus review.
The sequel picks up precisely where The New Order left off, and if you didn’t play Wolfenstein or The Old Blood, don’t sweat – there’s a nice opening sequence that gets you up to speed. Wolfenstein 2 is a true-to-its roots FPS, and comes with a melee system and weapon upgrades that immediately reminded me of last year’s excellent DOOM reboot. Two mighty fine systems to add to BJ’s repertoire, to be sure.
Wolfenstein 2 is a fairly linear experience, but only in terms of the narrative it tells. Levels are expertly designed, and while environments are not very interactive the way in which you can approach your goals is wide open. Weapon upgrades are a nice way to choose special goals for different tools (silencer on the pistol? Yes, please). And there are loads of side missions and activities to do with the Enigma codes that you collect throughout missions. But the honest heart of the game lies in its narrative – so much so that there’s no multiplayer to be found.
Rest assured there will be lots of blood and Nazi murder, but at its heart Wolfenstein also manages to pack serious moral questions, a gut-wrenching love story, and as much human soul as possible. Yes, MachineGames asks you to revel in the murder of Nazis, but at the same time it asks you to value human life. Race, religion, even child abuse are all covered in the scope of the 10+ hour narrative. But it does feel odd to be dealing with them in the same game where blood stays on your clothes and you can spend the entirety running from Nazi to Nazi hacking them to pieces with a hatchet.
And yet, what better bad guy than the Nazis? They make the characters so reviled, that you won’t ever really feel “bad” about the slaughter. Terror-Billy gets the job done, you know? But midway through the game, there’s a change of pace that I won’t spoil, and you see things a bit more from the Nazi perspective. Not in a way that somehow says they’re “misunderstood”, but you’re reminded that the soldiers you slaughter have families of their own. It’s a weird juxtaposition.
Similarly, it’s clear that MachineGames are no big fan of the current political climate in the US. There’s a fantastic exchange in a level where two Nazi soldiers talk about how the “terrorists” like BJ and the Resistance are too violent and that violence begets violence. They say that they just have a different point of view and there’s nothing wrong with that… then they start talking about their next Death Squad assignment and how they hope they get to be on it together so they can kill. It’s darkly hilarious, and a great tongue in cheek example of how The New Colossus deals with modern-day issues in a game set in the 1960s.
When you finish Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, you’re going to be elated. MachineGames’ sequel is probably one of the most cathartic experiences I’ve had in gaming. I’m frustrated as anyone with the rise of “White Power” in the US, and there’s no mistaking it, this game is in direct defiance of that bigoted ideal. If you find yourself on that side of the argument, you might not like this game. But if you’re not a total piece of shit, you’re going to love Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.
- Pitch-perfect action
- Great acting and story
- Simple but smart upgrade system
- Not very replayable
- A little on the short side
NOTE: Our copy was reviewed on PC, provided by PR for Bethesda.