Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

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The Series

This series originally started out as Wolfenstein 3D in 1992, and typically evolved with the gaming hardware that its been played on. I never played the original version, which just reminded me of Doom back on an old 486 PC, which I seem to recall loaded from a handful of floppy disks! This release follows on from Wolfenstein: The New Order, which itself is a fantastic game. Co-incidentally, that was one of the first titles I played when accustomising myself to the Steam Controller and found it worked very well.

Its an interesting franchise, not only that it is set in a dystopian future where the Nazi army has taken over the world, the storylines and characters are strong, engaging and captivating. What is particularly notable and what works well for the series, is that the publishers have stayed true to the series throughout, they’ve not churned out title after title each year, nor have they jumped on each and every band-wagon in terms of features. Theres no zombie-battle-royale mode in any of the titles (so far!) and that helps New Collossus stand out.

Does it matter if you’ve not played Wolfenstein: The New Order before-hand? Not really, although I would recommend it, purely for the depth of the back-story and its a title that would run well on modern PC hardware and look great even given its age.

There is a nod to the previous title at the start of this game where you have to choose between Fergus or Wyatt. If like me, you cant really remember who you saved / executed, I chose to save Fergus, simply because you dont tend to hear Scottish accents in gaming storylines and as the game panned out, he’s a funny guy with entertaining references to him being “English”.

Graphics

The visuals in the game are as expected from the id Engine, crisp, detailed and very vivid. I hadnt noticed any issues cropping up when playing in 4k which was pleasing. The NVidia Geforce Experience settings were all maxed out even using 4k resolution and the frame-rate didnt suffer. What really stands out is the cut-scenes which are very well done, match the gameplay which you are dropped in immediately after and look fantastic.

Gameplay

The age-old debate of graphics versus gameplay, doesnt really apply to Wolfenstein II as this has it both. Visually, it is hugely immersive and detailed, but it also has excellent game mechanics to go with it. You never feel like either has been compromised when playing.

With the actual fighting mechanics, theres a whole host of options you can choose, from mix-and-match dual-wielding guns, throwable axes and power weapons including heavy energy or heavy flame guns. Its an impressive arsenal to be carrying and well matched for some of the characters you need to fight. Towards the end of the story, I even encountered a combined energy laser and fire combination weapon that was brutally destructive! I even contemplated loading a past save to hunt this out early-on for some hardcore rampage. Theres upgrades to be had on the weapons too, but I focussed on my favourite, the Schockhammer. A fully automatic shotgun, which combined with my somewhat dusty Steam Controller aiming skills, it was perfect for getting me through a lot of the levels.

Its all neatly done too, you cant run with your 50 kilo power weapon, nor can you climb stairs with it so you have a choice to make, drop it and run, or in some cases, you cant take it to the next fight no matter how attached you have become to it!

The missions in The New Collossus are brilliantly put together, they lead the story well and immerse you in the fight, but also the plight of the characters. There’s plenty of opportunities to interact with various characters, perform side-missions and provides a serious amount of depth to the game.

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The moment you’re questioned for your papers in a cafe was a particular stand-out moment, capturing the suspense you feel through the game perfectly. This is where the game excels, you feel the suspense, you are so deeply embedded as the protagonist Blazkowicz, you dont want to shoot your own dog, you see what your childhood was like, you can see and almost feel every twist and turn in the storyline . Even with my odd moments of forgetting what was mapped to what action on the Steam Controller, I was fully immersed and enjoying it.

Like in Game of Thrones, the strong feelings you have against the evil character are very much in evidence here. The main “Baddie” as such is Irene Engel, the head of the female wing of the Nazi party. She’s a real piece of work and will have you cursing all manners of revenge at every appearance.

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What I didnt expect in this dystopian world, set far in the future was a guest appearance from Mr Hitler. Granted, this is where the storyline for me went somewhat awry, having to audition for Adolf for a movie… in a space station…. on Venus.

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Despite the crazy-ness of this particular storyline, I had no clue this was featured in the game, but despite the madness of it all, it was very entertaining. Lots will run through your mind about what would be possible in such a (bizarre) situation. Interestingly, I read that in Germany, Adolf’s appearance was censored, but this meant they simply removed his mustache. This merely made him appear like any normal, old bloke you would find in a Working Men’s club.

Dodgy mustaches aside, what was even more entertaining was seeing your pregnant wife, suddenly do this to take out a metallic robotic dog-monster after protecting you from near-death. I’m all for strong female characters in games and this game has a lot, but this awesome scene had me genuinely torn;

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That feeling of pride, fear and an overwhelming sense of wanting to protect. Before reality kicks in and you are totally perplexed as to why she took her top off in the first place to unload two magazines into the enemy. Did I mention how good it was done, the expert rendering, immersion and more importantly, could this be done on the school run in the morning?

Know your enemy

The sheer depth and variety of the enemy in The New Colossus is great. There are numerous humans, robots, dogs, robot dogs and huge mechanics to fend off in the game. Each of these has their own traits, weaknesses and require different tactics to defeat. The core theme is that if they’re covered in armour, you need to shoot that off first to start doing that foe some serious damage. A well placed headshot will still do the trick if you’ve managed to shoot the helmet off first!

The larger Mechs work on a damage system, so taking out their guns is always a priority. This not only stops you from dying quicker, its also entertaining to see such a great hulk plodding around without any purpose anymore. I found it easier to take out the knees of these hulks as it severely limited their movement and meant they were too busy stumbling around than walking and shooting me. It was an added bonus to see most of them had their knees pre-marked so you knew where to shoot.

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You start to get a feel for those you like taking down against the ones you start hiding from. For me, the human characters were the easiest to take out with my trusty Schockhammer and therefore the most enjoyable. It was the robotic, armoured dogs, the Laserhund that had me running for a corner and hoping for the best. These bad boys will tear you apart if they catch you, but to make matters worse, on death, they also explode. This played havoc with my run to a corner and blast-it-till-its-dead ethos as I generally had nowhere to go from there apart from up in the air with the blast.

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The nice touch to the game was if you were hit with an explosion or other blast, you would obviously drop your mega weapon if you had one in hand and are immediately on your backside trying to get back on your feet. This made things all the more challenging but also added some reality to dent your at times, deluded sense of invincibility.

Its not all one-sided with the armour thankfully, as you can pick up body armour packs as you progress each level and slowly watch it reduce with each hit. It works well in that you can also kind of loot some armour from the deceased if they were wearing any. The huge mechs tend to drop a lot which helps you prioritise those wearing armour in any large fight scene!

Knowing you’re stepping into a huge battle, you can also stock up on health kits. This has a bonus advantage in that you can overcharge yourself. Effectively putting yourself on the equivalent of a coffee binge will help you get through most levels. The downside of all this high, is that it slowly ticks down from a maximum of 200 to 100 over time. This pushes you to go all out while you’re off your face on meds and is an aspect that works well throughout the story.

Summary

Its an excellent game, very well done and did leave me wanting more. The good thing is that it even allows you to do that, by replaying past levels, or more interestingly, you can take on contract assassinations from cards you pick up through the game. I’m not so much an acheivement hunter, but theres plenty more replay value here on these executions alone.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable game, even with the oddness in the storyline above, there was so much depth, graphical beauty and the gameplay was just simply solid. I’d happily play through this game again, not only because I’d be more adept at using the Steam Controller (hopefully!), but that it was a blast from start to finish. Like finishing a good series on TV, it left you wondering what else could have happened, would a different weapon or tactic have helped? More importantly, when’s the next one due out?

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