Wolfenstein is one of the longest running gaming franchises, since it’s 1981 roots, the 2014 reboot Wolfenstein: The New Order was a welcome change adding depth, variety and a solid story, so will The New Colossus live up to the Wolfenstein name.
My first hour with Wolfenstein 2, wasn’t particularly the strongest, It’s been a while since Blazkowicz last shredded some Nazi’s, a couple of the early cut-scenes seemed as though the facial details where out of focus, and I don’t mind admitting, I didn’t have the slightest clue what was going on, however after choosing to save Fergus Wolfenstein 2 grabbed me by the balls and dragged me through a game that can only be described as a masterpiece.
You begin The New Colossus once again in the shoes of B.J Blazkowicz, or more officially, William Joseph. The former behemoth of a hero is shattered and broken in both body and mind and the early stages see you wheeling around in a wheel chair. Soon after the first of many plot-twists see’s you donning full body armour that can support your fragile frame. It’s from this point where Wolfenstein 2 really starts to shine, while health is a little more limited, you’ll be starting to get to grips with the weapons on offer, a limited selection feels gargantuan when you start duel-wielding and finding upgrade packs to open various enhancements such as the long range scope which turns the assault rifle into a powerful scout rifle at the click of the D-pad, or the Pistol’s silencer which opens up a whole new stealth option.
After making your initial break for freedom, more of the characters are introduced and while the next 2-3 hours is packed with action and plenty of Nazi’s to kill, there’s a near perfect flow between story, backstory and shooting. By the time you reach the 4 hour mark, you’ll no doubt be warming to the main characters, whether it’s B.J’s sense of impeding death, Anya’s mothering nature, the surprisingly in depth story of Fergus and his wandering hand and the fantastic flashbacks outlining the relationship between BJ and his father.
If by this point, you’re not already in love with The New Colossus, the plot-twist around the 4 hour mark, will leave you gobsmacked, shocked and in awe as the world of Wolfenstein once again proves that in an alternate reality anything is possible.
Before you know it, you’re back on your feet, stronger than ever and looking forward to the birth of your twins, shooting Nazi’s, enjoying your birthday party or riding a giant flame-breathing robo-dog.
Over the course of the 12-15 hour campaign, you’ll find the flow from story to action is near seamless, and while new faces and optional side-quests are introduced, you never feel detached from the story, You’ll visit new locations regularly meaning your surroundings never feel old and even the main hub of the giant U Boat houses it’s own secrets and quests, as well as the Enigma machine which unlocks missions dependent on the code’s you’ve collected from fallen officers. It’s not just enigma codes you’ll want to look out for, there’s various collectibles scattered throughout the world and while purists could spend days looking for every last item, whether it’s unlocking character art or a little extra dialogue, everything feels part of story.
It’s safe to say that the story is the shining star here, although the other mainline of FPS shooting is done incredibly well too, the duel-wield system might take some getting used to, after holding RB to bring up the weapon wheel, hitting left to select your other hand before selecting your desired weapon might seem cumbersome at first, especially when under heavy fire, but when you learn the positioning of the weapons, you’ll be changing from a Assault/Scout rifle combination, to a pistol / SMG mix in seconds.
Looking back at those first few hours, and any graphical questions have long since been answered, Wolfenstein 2 consistently throws impressive visuals, whether it’s the character animation from the cut-scenes to locations packed with detailed textures, after the dazed effect early on, I didn’t question the graphical prowess once for the remainder of the game. Night or day, indoors or (on the very odd occasion) outside, there’s always plenty to look at and all presented perfectly beside the ever evolving story.
Audio is another area, which for many years I under estimated, but Wolfenstein 2 is the perfect example of how important good game audio is. Atmospherics set the scene perfectly and the thud of weapons make them feel weighty and powerful, but the real star of the show is the voice acting, the A-list performance across the board is what makes Wolfenstein such a masterpiece, the narrative is delivered with precision and professionalism at every opportunity, characters are believable and brutal while remaining fun and focused which allows the game to throw you from gut-wrenching murder to toilet humour and on to truly sincere heart-felt moments without ever feeling out of place or losing your attention.
It’s understandable that some people might still feel a little sceptical, as I witnessed with greats like Bioshock Infinite, a fantastic single player experience doesn’t always sell a game, but most people will take at least 15 hours to fully enjoy the story and a handful of side missions, and if you want to continue with all of those enigma codes and collectibles you’ll probably be passing the 20 hour mark before you even consider the alternate storyline if unlike me you decide to sacrifice Fergus.
Regardless of length, I can’t recall many games that managed to deliver such a narrative packed with action in quite the same way that the new colossus manages to do, it’s no doubt in part thanks to the fantastic array of characters especially some star performances by the sadistic and twisted antagonist Engel and of course Blazkowicz himself.