The S.M.A.R.T. on: Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
Developers: Machine Games
Price: 59.99 euros
Available on: PC, PS4, and Xbox One
Review console: Xbox One
A bit about the game:
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is the direct sequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order. It picks up directly after the events of The New Order, and features some gameplay enhancements and new mechanics, as well as a new setting and the continuation of the story that the New Order started. In the alternate history timeline of 1961, where Nazis have won World War 2, the game follows returning protagonist William “B.J.” Blazkowicz, as he struggles to destroy and kill all Nazis. The setting for the New Colossus is America, which submitted to the enemy and is living under their rule.
- Gunplay feels very solid and impactful. There isn’t a lot of variety in the gun options, but every gun feels unique and useful in its own way.
- Movement is fast and fluid, and when the level design is used to design levels as battle arenas, the frenetic movement speed and flow of movement makes combat encounters feel chaotic and cool.
- Some new additions to the gameplay features, such as weapon upgrades, are welcome; they encourage the player to pursue certain aspects of the game (like exploring) and showcase that side of the game to more people, with meaningful rewards at the end of it. Returning features, such as the perk system and dual-wielding weapons, are still present and are as fun as they were in previous games.
- Pacing of gameplay relevant stuff makes sure that the player is never bored. New weapons and mechanics are constantly introduced, while the game offers a variety of enemies and locations kill and explore in.
- The combat just feels satisfying; everything from the gory takedowns, to the way limbs fly off bodies, the game makes great effort to bring the fist-bumping, brutal satisfaction the series is known for and, while the combat itself may not be the best that the series has to offer, it is certainly presented as if it was and, at least in terms of satisfying, eventually it was.
- The game does not surface information that is vital to the player in an adequate way; I rarely knew that I was taking damage, let alone knowing who was dealing it. This actually made me start again with the easiest difficulty setting and stick to it for the rest of the game.
- While visuals are a different category, here they create gameplay issues as well; some enemies would blend into the background very well and deal damage to me without me being able to distinguish them from the surroundings. Moreover, there were multiple lighting issues, where areas were pitch black and become hard to see in.
- The new feature of side-missions is a neat idea, but showcases most of the issues I have with the gameplay. While they are a great reason to go back to previous levels and pick up any collectibles and upgrades you’ve missed the first time round, they showcase problematic AI behavior (like when every enemy knows where you are as soon as one spots you) and how much the game relies on gunplay to make the levels fun, but also punishes you for being too careless. While the rewards for those side-missions were enough to push me and finish all of them, I would not say I enjoyed those missions; same thing with the gameplay. While the narrative and some great features mentioned before pushed me through, the enjoyment did not come from the overall gameplay experience.
Visuals& Technical Performance: 7/10
- The game looks amazing; the grand vistas look exquisite, but the game does details great, as well.
- There is a lot of variety as well, which was missing from The New Order; there are many industrial complexes in The New Colossus as well, but there are farmlands, ruined cities, Americana settings with a sinister twist and many other surprises. They all look great and I really liked the visual style and execution of the game.
- The game runs pretty poorly in certain segments; there are levels that drop frame rates and have massive problems with popping issues. “Fortunately” this does only happen in specific levels, but makes those levels feel really bad.
- Besides the gameplay issues noted in the corresponding section, the lighting issue often pops up in non-combat segments as well, which breaks immersion really hard.
Sound& Music: 9/10
- Great soundtrack; especially the rock/hard rock tracks that burst into the scene when a gunfight starts.
- Top-notch sound design; everything from the weapon sounds to environmental details, are very well realized and on-point.
- All the voice actors were exceptional; from the gravely “B.J.” to Americans trying to speak German on the streets of occupied USA, I haven’t found a line-read that felt off or (unintentionally) bad.
- When the story takes a breather and more dramatic moments are depicted, the soundtrack adjusts to those moments and delivers somber tracks that fit the emotion of the scenes; however there were a few disappointments where the music was not that great.
- The end-credit song was on-the-nose, fitting song choice, however, the developers decided to go with a cover song of the original; and it sorely backfired, as it was a cringe-inducing choice, that I was really disappointed with.
- Absurd, over-the-top and insane story telling; the game has it all: Jaw-dropping twists, fist-pumping set pieces, melodramatic and tragic moments, as well as laugh out loud humor and weird, dark, comedic moments. All these elements flow incredibly well and are paced to perfection; Overall a great narrative experience.
- Well written and well realized characters that have running themes and characters arks that are as satisfying as they are meaningful and engaging.
- Overall, the writing of the game is amazing; from the story and the characters, to the collectibles and readables scattered around the world, the writing on display is top-notch and elevates the world building and overall quality of the game. Few games make incredibly, macabre situations as funny as Wolfenstein 2 does, without diminishing the gravity, the impact or the sinister undertone that those situations have.
- When a game is so over-the-top, it is virtually impossible to not run into a few missteps, and Wolfenstein 2 is no different; some character’s perspectives and opinions are turned on a dime, meanwhile others are given no time to actually feel like characters.
- Sometimes the game feels like it is trying too hard to be edgy or over-the-top; there are sequences, where humor is forcibly inserted, that holds their emotional gravity down, while other sequences are too on-the-nose with their messaging or too grotesque with their imagery, that the intended messages and themes feel forced.
Wolfenstein 2, in theory, is inferior sequel; I don’t think the advancements it made in gameplay terms, were significant or good enough to overcome its many performance issues. Just like its predecessor, it features a great narrative, with solid enough gameplay, visuals and sound design, but where The New Order, at least on PC, was steady and consistent performance wise, The New Colossus is not; but that is only in theory. In practice, the combat feels more satisfying and brutal, the storytelling is better and more memorable, which is why I will remember it more fondly than The New Order.
It may not be the best shooter I’ve ever played and its certainly not the best in technical terms either; but, I value the experience of playing a game, more than anything, and the experience Wolfenstein 2’s campaign provides, is clearly an improvement from its predecessors’ and one of my favorite campaigns in recent memory.
As always the G.R.IN.D. is recommended for those who want a more in-depth analysis. You can find it by clicking here.