LTTP: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (PC)

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MachineGames’ Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus’ strengths do not lie within its gameplay. In a post-Doom (2016) world, Wolfenstein II feels clunky when played a balls to the wall action game. As for the stealthy routes? They felt serviceable and only rewarding in the sense that I managed to avoid another drawn out firefight. Wolfenstein II will not be remembered for its gun-toting but instead for its palpable world building and ridiculous cutscenes and story beats.

Delving deeper and further into the alternate timeline laid out in Wolfenstein: The New Order produced a world where the Nazis won. America surrendered after a nuke was dropped in New York and the land of the free was no more. I’ve caught glimpses of this popular thought experiment before but I never explored any of them in great detail.

I found MachineGames’ depictions of this Nazi America to be detailed and surprisingly nuanced. There’s the obvious shock factor of seeing hooded white supremists roaming the streets alongside Nazis but the additional layer of discovering how the occupying regime saw this extremist group was unexpected. In fact, similar revelatory nuggets presented themselves in written communiques and new articles throughout the world. These little details gave the world a “lived in” feeling that worked in tandem with the visuals.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus looks better than it runs on my PC. I am running the Windows Store version of the game so there may be some wonkiness due to that. I am hoping it’s that because my GeForce GTX 1070 shouldn’t be struggling like to keep pace like this.

I struggled to keep any semblance of momentum through Wolfenstein II. I would start it, play it for an hour, stop for a few days, and repeat. It took me such a long time to wade through. Part of it was other games drawing me away but it’s also one of the easier games to just stop playing because of the natural lulls of exploring home base. Exploration yielded minor rewards in the form of story tidbits and collectibles but I generally didn’t find the submarine very interesting beyond the first couple of visits.  

The perks system returned with rewards actions such as silent assassinations and grenade kills. I didn’t grind out completions like I did with The New Order though. Part of it was the lack of time/space to do it all. The other? I was trying to incorporate those newfound abilities introduced at the halfway mark into the game. They felt clunky and ridiculous which made it tough to mesh with it.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus can be summed up by those new additions. The ideas were there but the execution left me wanting. I never got into the groove of things gameplay wise but I can tell you all about the ridiculous cutscenes and set pieces. I don’t know if that’s a mark of a great game but it’s one of a memorable time.

Verdict:
It was okay

Ratings Guide

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood PS4 Review

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Wolfenstein: The Old Blood was billed as a standalone expansion to MachineGames’ Wolfenstein: The New Order. With that in mind, I expected more of the same with a few little twists and additions to the core gameplay and story. They delivered exactly what I expected with glimpses to the events leading up to The New Order and introduction of the Nazi’s occult obsessions.

Where The New Order featured the science fiction angle that Wolfenstein, The Old Blood gave a nod to the occult angle. In this expansion, B.J was tasked to find a folder which detailed the whereabouts of The New Order’s antagonist, Deathshead. His mission lead him to Helga who was in Wulfburg trying to unearth a supernatural super weapon. Seeing how this was before the Nazi victory in The New Order, it was interesting to see the methodical and scientific minds approach something uncertain like unearthing an undead super monster.

A few new weapons like the bolt action rifle, pistol grenade launcher and a sawed off shotgun were amongst the additions to weaponry. The bolt action rifle was the highlight for me. I fell in love with it as a hip firing headshot magnet which proved itself extremely useful in the newly added score attack Challenge mode. Every major encounter in each of the game’s nine chapters were turned into a challenge mode where headshots and quick actions were rewarded. Like all score attack challenges, it wasn’t necessarily about stringing kills as quickly as possible. There was clearly a puzzling element where I had to pick my battles and not only rack up the points but find the best position to hole up and rack up said points.

The beats and pace of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood was like a collection of The New Order’s most memorable moments. There was a tense face to face meeting where B.J played a waiter to a Nazi commanding officer, there was a torture scene where B.J was impaled with a broken lead pipe and of course, stuff fell on top of our hero’s noggin numerous times. I’m tempted to say that if you The Old Blood was a short and sweet version of Wolfenstein: The New Order but that would be selling The New Order short.

I will say that if you were looking for more of MachineGames’ excellent shooter then I recommend picking up Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. It’s more of what made Wolfenstein: The New Order great. If you weren’t a fan of The New Order, then I don’t know what to say. It’s one of the best first person shooters in recent memory and in an age of open world or corridor shooters, having a superb blend like this not only uncommon but down right impossible.

Verdict:
I love it

Ratings Guide

 

LTTP: Wolfenstein: The New Order

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Return to Castle Wolfenstein was a significant title in my gaming history. It was my first introduction to class based multiplayer shooters and my first Wolfenstein title. I enjoyed the campaign but it was never the star of the show; it was the multiplayer. 2009’s Wolfenstein was a direct sequel to Return to Castle Wolfenstein but I ignored it because the multiplayer didn’t resemble RTCW or Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory’s. It was mid-2014 before I gave a Wolfenstein title serious consideration.

The New Order was a re-imagining of Wolfenstein with a de-emphasis on the supernatural and a refocus on alternate timeline “what-if” scenarios. This trailer gave us a glimpse of what life would be like under Nazi rule. It showed a cold concrete cityscape with stormtroopers patrolling the streets. With an interesting premise and plenty of praise throughout 2014’s Game of the Year season, it would have been silly to not pick this up on the cheap — especially when The Order 1886 didn’t pan out and I was itching for a quality single player shooter.

I was immediately impressed by the quality of voice acting, art direction and fluidity of the framerate. It’s invigorating to see first person shooters (that aren’t Call of Duty) favor 60FPS on consoles. I noticed aliasing and poor textures on a regular basis but I’m more than happy to live with those issues if it meant I could have the rock solid 60FPS framerate. This was one of the many correct decisions MachineGames made throughout the game.

Why aren’t there more first person shooters made in this manner? It’s not a foreign style — in fact, I’d say it’s very similar to the likes of hugely popular BioShock. The spaces aren’t as wide open as the ones found in those titles but they offered player choices in approach. Stealth was often a viable option with close range takedowns, throwing knives and silenced pistols at my disposal. On the flipside, the inclusion of the weapon wheel enabled a multitude of choices of firearms for which I can wreak dual wielding havoc with as well. Gluing it all together was a capable cover system that allowed me to be sneaky and keep the firefight going.

I expected to see MP40s, Lugers and Tommy guns make their way back into my virtual hands. I was disappointed by the facsimiles but they were soon replaced by a plethora of re-imagined post-WWII weaponry. The classic german potato masher grenades evolved to include EMP properties that stunned mechanical foes. The MP44 look-a-like evolved to include under barrel rocket launcher attachments. Without constraints, the Nazi war machine’s R&D produced powerful energy weapons. The early prototypes required frequent recharges which limited their usefulness on the field early on. However, the deeper I delve, the more upgrades I found to offset the shortcomings.

The perks system was nothing more than challenges that I’d find in other shooters. They were fun side activities for Trophies but I felt the perk challenges were disruptive to the flow of the game. If I wanted to unlock a particular perk, I had to spend time farming kills in specific circumstances. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you’re Trophy farming), I was able to reload checkpoints to make farming easier.

B.J Blazkowicz is a known video game character name but who was he besides being loyal and dedicated soldier? I wouldn’t say MachineGames did a lot to redefine who Blazkowicz was, but they did refined his militaristic characteristics and added a layer of murderous intent. He whispers to himself and utters venomous words towards the Nazis. Most of what Blazkowicz was muttering was warranted but the manner which he does it shows a man who isn’t quite right. I mean, who would be with shrapnel embedded in his head?

The Wolfenstein franchise has been all over the place for me. I recognize it as the genesis of first person shooters. It was my gateway game towards a life of loving team oriented multiplayer shooters. And after playing The New Order, I will also associate the Wolfenstein franchise with a fantastic single player campaign. It’s the only franchise where each instalment is a crapshoot. MachineGames will be bringing an affordably priced prequel and I’m considering picking it up sooner rather than later. They only made one game so far but after such a tremendous start, they’ve made a fan of me.

Verdict:
Must Play

Ratings Guide

For more information on Wolfenstein: The New Order, visit the official website.