Review - Wolfenstein: The New Colossus (PC)
After a lengthy wait, Wolfenstein: The New Colossus went on sale during Steam's Winter Sale (I know, I know, it was also cheap during Black Friday. Lay off.). The game I've waited months to play is finally in my hands, figuratively, and I've never been more excited to decimate the Third Reich in another go around as the incredibly well developed B.J. Blaskowitcz. I press New Game. Here we go! There's a recap of the first game. Awesome, they're bringing back the alternate choices! I Shift+Tab to check my Steam Friends list. CRASH to desktop. Wait, what, really? I try again and it's the same thing. Okay...Then I won't touch it this time. Now the game's working but I've got this itch in the back of my heard during the first hour or so of The New Colossus where I'm worried the game's gonna crash.
During this anxious period, I'm trying out the stealth mechanics which have somehow gotten worse from the first game. Enemies off in the distance see me with little to no effort, alerting Captains to my presence who then alert everyone else in the level to my position and I can't negate that unless I restart from a checkpoint. Great. Now I'm feeling this swell of disappointment not in the story of Wolfenstein: The New Colossus but in the gameplay.
No. I give in and let my rage take over. I'm done worrying about whether the game's gonna crash, I'm done worrying about who can and can't see me. I'm B.J. ****ing Blazkowicz and I'm going to exterminate the Nazi Reich occupying America.
I go all in on Dual-wielding machine guns. Any weapon upgrades I come across I put into extra ammunition. I pick up every disposable heavy weapon that's dropped, vaporizing every Nazi scumbag that crosses my path. I rarely die and if I do, it's of my own accord. I never ran from a fight, I always ran towards it.
This is the Wolfenstein: The New Colossus I've been waiting for.
The story's not bad either. In fact, it's great and even better than the first.
Every major character makes a return from The New Order with a few new surprises and additions along the way. What's brilliant this time around is how tight and strong the narrative is compared to the first with twists that had me jumping out of my seat with joy. B.J's recovered from the final fight at the end of The New Order by his lover Anya and the Kreisau Circle but his body is in broken shambles but before he succumbs to his mortality he must confront the villainous Frau Engel one last time. I enjoyed the story of the first game but it felt duct taped together in places while the New Colossus is more compact with little filler and many new interesting subplots. Strong characters are abound with strong development and unexpected turns as well and the voice acting is so well done that I wish everyone in this game received an award of some kind.
The social commentary is on point, embracing recent political events and zeitgeists. Instead of focusing on just the "Nazis are evil" slogan the Wolfenstein series is known for, developer Machinegames focuses on how an invading ideology could change the ideology of the invaded country. Mid-west white America embraces the Nazis under duress like scared dogs between their tails while the brothers and sisters in an analog to the Black Panthers are keeping up the good fight against an overwhelming force in the Eastern States. It's on the nose but doesn't feel too far fetched. *Cough* Roy Moore *Cough*
The New Colossus is quite gorgeous when it wants to be with vivid imagery and stand out character animations. The New Order I remember being quite dull and gray while this game ups the ante with brilliantly vivid oranges and reds, but it also reverts to those grays in tight close quarter areas that on another note are downright claustrophobic to navigate. To make matters worse, these areas you return to quite often in the late game side missions and they're more a prison than a playground.
The gunplay is incredibly fun when dual-wielding but lacks when carrying a single weapon, unless it's my pride and joy: The Ubergewehr. Oh man, every time I pick up this heavy laser weapon I feel unstoppable. While it is disposable, you do come across it quite often after downing most heavy armored enemies. Every gun but the heavy weapons do have upgrades whether it be adding a single shot sniper to an assault rifle or turning a single shot shotgun into a triple shot. BJ himself has an upgrade system carried over from the first game where the more specific combat actions you make, you unlock benefits for that kind of play style. Since I played more destructively, I gradually unlocked everything pertaining to dual wielding and heavy weapons. This upgrade system is well implemented and as I got stronger, the game kept getting better with more intense firefights.
There are however a couple of things that detract from an overall enjoyable experience. The technical hitches such as poor optimization and strange crashes that happen in some of the damnedest of ways are one. If just trying to bring up the Steam overlay causes my game to crash, that's a major issue, one that made me nearly write off the game entirely. Hopefully, they'll have this fixed down the line because when looking at Steam reviews, it doesn't look good on MachineGames if this is affecting that many users.
The other big problem is the stealth. I really dislike the stealth in this game. Any game that gives me the option to choose a more stealthy approach, I always choose first above going in guns blazing, which I even did with The New Order. Unfortunately, the stealth isn't well implemented here resulting in about five minutes of stealth at the start of a mission before being noticed and found out to just obliterating fools with all the weapons at my disposal. If somehow you find the stealth to be enjoyable, I envy you but it is something I will never try with this game again.
Much like B.J. Blazkowicz's tattered body, Wolfenstein: The New Colossus fires on all cylinders but occasionally blows out along the way. Strangely enough, it's a shooter that I will talk more positively about the story rather than the gameplay and that's both a good thing and a bad thing.