Initial Release Date: 27/10/17

The infusion of the 1960’s setting with the future-tech of the Nazi regime make for perfect fodder in terms of fun and violence. By keeping all of these themes grounded in family and friendship, the game transcends being just another FPS and instead manages to offer one of gaming’s greatest stories

Wolfenstein: The New Order was one of the most pleasant surprises in gaming in recent memory. I went in expecting a mindless shooter and instead was met with fleshed out characters, intelligent level design and a game which reinvigorated the single-player first person shooter. On hearing that there would be a sequel, I was thrilled but unsure as to what I wanted from it. While more of the same would certainly have sufficed, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus pushes the boundaries of the genre and tweaks the experience to such an extent that it tops its predecessor in every conceivable way.

This intent to break the mould is evident from the very first moments of the game. After a brief recap on the events of the last game, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus puts you into the shoes of a young B.J and puts the player face to face with his abusive, racist and genuinely upsetting Father. These scenes are hard to take, especially when contrasted with the brief moments with his kind and caring Mother. These scenes immediately give context to why B.J is the way that he is and also helps set up some core themes moving forward.

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It’s important to point out that very early on you are asked to make a choice dependent on the one you made in the first game. The one you choose does alter the game in fairly substantial ways. At the base level, it determines which supporting character will feature in the game. It also determines which weapon you get from a choice of 2, a laser and a gun which fires remotely detonated bombs. While these changes don’t alter the game too drastically it is refreshing to see the developer acknowledge the player’s choices from the first game.

After a short while, the game puts a gun in your hand. One of  the main problems with The New Order was its formulaic and quite frankly boring opening hour. It took way too long to put a gun in your hand and was a confused mix of shooting set pieces and cinematics. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is so clearly aware of this and comes out of the gate with one of the strongest opening in any game I’ve played. Heavily-injured from the events of The New Order, B.J is wheelchair bound for the first hour of the game. But don’t expect the game to go easy on you as after putting a machine gun in your hand it immediately throws you into a gauntlet of ravenous Nazis. The way the game approaches platforming and combat from this position is refreshing and smart. While shooting, you can only use one hand to push the wheelchair, making movement slower.

This attention to detail is present in every aspect of the game. Small character animations really keep the game fresh. Melee attacks in particular are both brutal and varied and are a genuine thrill to behold. Even the animation for being knocked back by a grenade is unique, proving that this developer is indeed on top of their game.

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Visually, the game is stunning. Maybe not in the conventional way in terms of graphical fidelity but more in the game’s style. Early on, you head into post-nuke New York which is striking to say the least. All of the Nazis in this area wear bright yellow hazmat suits which really works as an awesome style choice. The commanders for example wear their big Nazi coats over the suits, which is a cool touch. The sheer variety in the locations you visit, from dingy nuclear subs to lava encrusted planes on other planets, is staggering. The core themes never gets lost though, this is a grassroots tale of revolution through and through, regardless of the setting.

The shooting mechanics feel refined and better than ever with the ability to dual wield and the addition of new and interesting weapons improving the experience in every way. In the first few hours I melted Nazis with lasers, threw hatchets at Nazi faces and used dual-wielded machine guns to dispatch a mech-suit wearing opponent. One gripe I do have with the gameplay is how brain-dead the AI can be. Enemies often walk out into the open or enter searching patterns in the middle of a fire-fight. While this isn’t a huge issue in the heat of the moment, it does become a problem in the stealth sections. The game is also incredibly challenging. Clearly taking cues from an oldschool sensibility in terms of difficulty, the game keeps you on your toes on even the easiest of settings. The higher difficulty setting are downright brutal and urge the player to make use of every last resource available.

Telling the story of a second American Revolution, Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus covers some hefty subject matter and quite frankly bonkers themes. Acid, racism, child abuse and insanity are all thrown into the mix very early on and the game doesn’t let up. This is one of the most diverse games I have ever played with a hugely varied cast of characters each fully fleshed out and realised. It’s wacky, sure, but there is just so much heart in each and every scene in which these characters share the screen. Wondering around the game’s central hub you get the impression of a living, breathing family, all united under a common oppressor. The narrative takes some genuinely insane twists and turns throughout its roughly 10 hour runtime as it veers from sci-fi to period piece to western. There are some moments later on in the game which really add context and weight to the main character, before evolving into one of the most thrilling set pieces of any FPS ever released. The infusion of the 1960’s setting with the future-tech of the Nazi regime make for perfect fodder in terms of fun and violence. By keeping all of these themes grounded in family and friendship, the game transcends being just another FPS and instead manages to offer oneof gaming’s greatest stories to date.

Verdict – 9 Out of 10

We were provided a copy of the game by Bethesda for review purposes

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