Lead Character BJ Blazkowicz, aka “Terror-Billy” lead the assassination of Nazi General Deathshead in the previous game Wolfenstein The New Order but it was a short-lived victory which also left Blazkowicz a bit worse for wear. The Nazi grip on the American people intensifies leaving Billy and his band of resistance fighters on the brink, fighting back at every opportune moment on American Soil. Cue Wolfenstein II the latest FPS from Machine Games/Bethesda.
There is an interesting story being told here which crosses many issues of morality and looks at the differences of perspective from groups of people. The result is a tale of two sides but ultimately leaning on the side of American rhetoric against its greatest enemy who looks like tearing up the constitution and pushing its own Nazi themed ideals on the American populace – through fear. So there is quite a bit to search for and read about when playing, offering a greater insight into what is happening on the ground. Collectibles are an optional gameplay feature, but their abundance here means they should not be overlooked unless you just want the full-on shoot-to-kill gameplay experience.
The story is told via numerous cutscenes which give much life to the main cast of characters, however it’s the gritty and often chilling fusion of stealth and action based combat that is key here, the rest could be considered fluff. Although Blazkowich begins his campaign from the seat of a wheelchair, he soon becomes a formidable monster able to charge at enemies, dual wield weapons and gruesomely stealth kill with ease. It has to be said, playing stealth is much more challenging and requires some patience. The lure of going loud though is there at every turn and in many ways feels like the right way to play due to being highly enjoyable. The most fun comes from mixing up the two where being discovered isn’t a cue to restart the checkpoint, but an excuse to see if you can batter the Nazi opposition and survive. The shooting mechanics are top quality here and with a blistering speed means you really do feel like a tough nutter all neatly wrapped up in old school gameplay glory – collecting health packs, ammo and Armour on the fly.
Between missions there are moments on board the captured sub Evas Hammer which allows you to interact with others and freely explore, including a shooting range and gathering side missions even an arcade game to play. It makes for a welcome distraction from being in the field and comes complete with numerous entertaining scenes pre and post mission. Players can also upgrade weapons and during combat there is a perks system which constantly evolves the more you perform various actions. In all, there really is little to complain about aside from the stealth being rather unforgiving – another reason to ignore it entirely – and the locations verging on the side of dull and uninspiring. Beneath this is a really competent shooter that is enjoyable and simply satisfying to play.
Visually, there are some pretty decent looks here although some of the character models appear like they are wearing false eye lashes – which looks even more strange on the male characters. Great looking texture detail and impressive lighting and shadow effects present a fine looking game. The performance overall is good although at the time of writing some of the resolution issues haven’t been fixed which meant playing at 2K rather than the preferred 4K. So the jury is out until this can be addressed. Naturally the GTX 1080 Ti had no problems keeping a steady 60 fps at 2K.
Audio is of a high standard too with plenty of great performances from Billy, Grace Walker and Horton Boone and let’s not forget the rather despicable General Engel. Gun sound effects are catchy and music drives you forward with some pumping tunes as you would expect.
In terms of length and replay value the campaign will last beyond double figures and much more if you collect the massive numbers of collectibles. There are several difficulties to explore, and once you finish the main story you can return to the Evas Hammer and carry out hit missions on various Nazi Generals which is pretty neat. There are also some differences determined by a choice you make early on in the story. So there is enough single player content here to keep one satisfied.
Wolfenstein II The New Colossus, is a great follow-up from the previous offering Wolfenstein The New Order which released in June 2014, and whilst some elements are much better and work well in context with the story, the missions themselves are less inspiring than the first game. The stealth felt more forgiving, and the range of locales more interesting than the dull ruins on offer here. In this regard it’s hard to suggest Wolfenstein II is a better game, frankly it’s not even though it has much more under the bonnet. That said, the enjoyment factor is high and it’s a well produced first person shooter with plenty of character and delightful cutscenes. Therefore it goes without saying, fans of the first game will be pleased but others might find the game’s lack of imagination a turn off considering the competition at the moment in the FPS genre.