Picking up directly from the nuclear finale of The New Order; Machine Games continuation of the rebooted Wolfenstein series, The New Colossus delivers the right amount of lead dropping action and drama. The long-awaited sequel to one of the biggest and baddest reboots of 2014 has finally landed, and it’s everything a fan of the series could have hoped or wished for. Taking place in 1961 in an alternate timeline that saw Adolf Hitler and Germany win WWII and take over the United States of America, Wolfenstein II is a test of raw emotion and brute power as returning protagonist B.J Blazkowicz looks to reclaim America from its Nazi rulers.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus: Xbox One [Reviewed], PS4, Windows PC
Developer: Machine Games
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: 27 October 2017
Price: £49.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
The New Colossus really took me by surprise; flipping my emotions upside down, inside out and beating on them just for good measure. The direct follow up to The New Order opens with antagonist Frau Engel capturing Blazkowicz, his crew and their freshly stolen U-Boat and holding it to ransom with the sky fortress known as the Ausmerzer, (sounds a bit mental so far right?). Following this scene both Blazkowicz and the players are shown just how brutal and relentless Frau Engel can be as she brutally executes one of your closest friends right in front of you. It was at that moment I realised I was playing with a totally different animal. In contrast to The New Order, The New Colossus takes a broken, beaten and failing B.J. Blazkowicz and the player on a real journey from friendship to loss, from moments of joy and pure ecstasy to ones of sheer shock and sorrow.
The New Colossus addresses touching matters such as discrimination and domestic abuse, so no matter what your background or class there’s something that’ll hit likely everyone hard. Because of its brutal, emotional nature, I strongly believe The New Colossus to be one of the most compelling, heart-warming and heart-breaking stories of the 21st century, and I’m talking about all of the modern-day media. The fantastic story is backed up by the fast paced, action packed gameplay you’d expect from the series, but not once does it hinder The New Colossus‘ powerful narrative.
Make no mistake, The New Colossus will break you and at points, you’ll consider turning that difficulty down, but if you push forward with perseverance, once you get past a particularly difficult section there’s no better feeling, especially with some of the latter game segments where The New Colossus becomes all about survival. Each level design is flawless too, with multiple paths and options at each twist and turn, and little by the way of hand-holding or the usual “Play Your Way” pop-up that we saw with previous Bethesda games Prey and Dishonored. To its credit, The New Colossus allows you to discover openings and paths for yourself, which really helps with that sense of immersion, and coupled with your expansive arsenal of weapons and gadgets, really does make you feel like not only a soldier – but a super soldier.
Players familiar with predecessor The New Order will be happy to know that not only has the majority of the weapons of 2014 returned, they do so with some much-needed and welcome upgrades. With the Laserkraftwerk, there is no longer the need for players to cut lines into metal boxes to crawl through, instead, firing off a single blast turns metal surfaces into a molten mess on the floor. The Sturmgewehr or assault rifle can now be equipped with a marksman scope allowing the gun to be used as a single fire rifle capable of picking off Nazis’ from a great distance and the trusty Schockhammer shotgun can now be modified to fire three shells at once, tearing apart most elite of Frau Engel’s forces.
With a raw and evocative storyline and some new toys to play with, The New Colossus has almost everything nailed down. From beginning to end there is never a dull moment, although if I had one gripe with my time, it would be about the difficulty. And no, I’m not going to cry or whine on about how hard it is because I played The New Order on its hardest difficulty and was aware of the intense battles I’d be in for prior to stepping in. Surprisingly, what made The New Colossus more difficult for me personally were the game’s checkpoints. I found that whilst playing on the games no-nonsense “I am Terror-Billy” mode that I was dying more often than not due to the fact checkpoints would place me in front of a room of enemies, or even in front of turrets; meaning if I died, I’d end up repeatedly dead for long periods; praying bullets would miss me so that I could proceed with the story. Though checkpoints broke up parts of the game, it’s not to the detriment of the overall gameplay experience.
The New Colossus brings not only a single-player storyline but also an all new use for the enigma codes obtained by killing officers of the regime. Their use? tracking down “Elite” soldiers of the Nazi army and taking them down one by one to crumble the Nazi empire. Whilst these missions can be accessed at any point in the game, I strongly recommend leaving them until the end as they involve BJ visiting multiple states and districts in what can best be described as assassination missions which can certainly be made easier with upgrades you gain such as the constrictor harness and ram shackles, allowing you to access all new areas and take on threats from all new angles. Aside from these missions, there are also side missions that can be handed out to you by crew members and these can involve anything from finding toys for Max to recovering encrypted tapes from a warzone. No matter what location the players visit or the situation, The New Colossus is a thing of beauty.
Despite its touching theme, Wolfenstein II is stunningly beautiful. I thought the New Order was something to marvel at but oh my The New Colossus takes that beauty one step further. Every setting feels alive from nuclear fallout zones, a bustling city and even other worlds; The New Colossus doesn’t just place BJ Blazkowicz in New York or New Mexico, it places the player themselves into a collection of wonderful settings that truly feel alive. Water effects that don’t just splash here and there, metal dissolving and Nazi blood flying over the screen, all of which look stunning and will most certainly look all the more glorious on the Xbox One X.
Complimenting the visual spectacle is The New Colossus‘ score composed by Mick Gordon and Martin Stig Andersen. The only word I can use to describe the accompanying soundtrack is perfection. With tense moments you’ll find the soundtrack not only allowing that suspense to build up on screen but also assisting it. In epic gunfights, the soundtrack suddenly springs to life, filling the player with pure adrenaline as they push forward in their fight against the Nazi’s. Lastly, The New Colossus features an element greatly overlooked in video games – the use of silence. At certain moments the game will leave you shocked to your very core, and it’s at these precise moments where the use of silence is key. Avoiding spoilers as much as possible, when revisiting BJ’s childhood and from the games touching moments the lack of sound really allows the players to soak in the severity of these scenes.
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus will go down as one of the biggest and baddest shooters of not only this generation but of all time. The story strikes an emotional chord, its soundtrack compliments every moment of the narrative and the action-packed gameplay feels incredibly smooth. There are some minor bugs such as occasionally having to back out to the main menu when the odd checkpoint wouldn’t load or issues with checkpoints not being the greatest, but even its small flaws are not enough to slow this game down. The New Colossus truly is a modern day masterpiece.