Title: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Format: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
ESRB Rating: M (Mature, 17+)
Release Date: October 27
The Grade: A+
Wolfenstein II Haiku Review
BJ has returned
The U.S. is occupied
Bad guys better run
What is it? It’s 1961 and you’re in the United States but this isn’t the America you know. In this alternate reality, the Third Reich won World War II and has taken control of the U.S. You play as series protagonist and resistance leader BJ Blazkowicz, brutally dispatching Nazis in Roswell, New Mexico, New Orleans and Manhattan.
Highs: Fun. That’s the word that kept popping up over and over in my head as I was playing “Wolfenstein 2.” This is a game that wants players to have as much fun as humanly possible and does a fantastic job of making that happen. Fast paced action, deep story telling and a sense of fearlessness in tackling difficult subject matter make for the most engrossing video game experience I’ve had so far this year.
“Wolfenstein 2” knows exactly when to put the pedal-to-the-medal but also knows precisely when to slow things down. The action is intense, brutal and gratifying. How you go through missions is completely up to you and no matter what gameplay style you prefer, it’s available. If you want to be stealthy, there are plenty of grates and air vents to sneak around in. Want to go in guns blazing? You can certainly do that too or you can be a combination.
No matter your style, “The New Colossus” rewards you organically as perks unlock depending on how you play. You might not even know that you lean more on stealth than mayhem until you see what perks are unlocked for you automatically as you make your way through the game. It’s a clever way to reward gamers for playing in whatever way comes naturally for them.
Unlike most shooters, “Wolfenstein 2” is balanced by a well thought out story. Things calm down when on your stolen U-boat, the Eva's Hammer, and you’re mingling with the crew. Your fellow rebels are available to chat but they also have their own thing going on. They complain to a cohort about not being part of the “inner circle” on the sub, argue about whether or not to slaughter a pig for food as one person has grown attached to it, and are even amazed by working toilets. The conversations go significantly deeper than that but the casual dialogue mixed with serious discussions makes for a sincere vibe. Your fellow rebels aren’t just gun toting automatons, they are people you grow attached to.
“Wolfenstein 2” isn’t afraid to tackle difficult topics in an unforgiving way. Racism, domestic violence, and totalitarianism are all relevant to the game’s plot and MachineGames and Bethesda make their stance clear - these are all horrible things and we should fight against them. Considering that you’re battling the Third Reich throughout the game, this shouldn’t be surprising but developers added another layer. You’ll run into characters who fold under duress and are complicit when terrible events occur. Life in “The New Colossus” isn’t black and white. There’s a lot of gray, even for protagonists like BJ.
Lows: Due to its high level of violence and its subject matter, “Wolfenstein 2” is a game for adults only. Some games are M-rated, but just barely. This title is M+, not that it impacted my enjoyment of the game at all.
The Grade: A compelling story and heart racing action make “Wolfenstein 2” an addictive experience. A sequel that surpasses its excellent predecessor, “The New Colossus” is currently the front runner for my Gazette Golden Controller Award for Game of the Year. This is a must own title for any video game aficionado.
Gazette Media Columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist. He has written for numerous publications including GamePro, GamesBeat, PC World, GameZone, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/terryterrones.