Luke Silvers ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Wolfenstein has done everything in its power to make players feel like the biggest Nazi-killing badasses in the universe since 1981, but can a franchise over 35 years old produce a worthy sequel to the most recent series reboot? Luckily enough, it turns out that you actually can teach an old dog new tricks. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, from the fine folks at MachineGames and Bethesda Softworks, seems to do everything completely right.
The New Colossus picks up in an alternate-history 1961, from where its predecessor The New Order left off; BJ Blazkowicz and his team of freedom fighters head to America, in order to take the country back from the Nazis and restore it to its former glory as a bastion of worldwide freedom. Traveling from coast to coast and visiting familiar yet warped cities like Manhattan, Roswell, and New Orleans, Blazkowicz does what he does best—killing Nazis in spectacular fashion.
Like The New Order before it, The New Colossus sacrifices a decent chunk of realism to make way for one of the most fun, intense, and delightfully bizarre stories that a game has told in recent memory. Some standout features are holdovers from the first installment, such as the ability to dual-wield any pair of weapons, but others are new, like a biomechanical upgrade system. Everything seems to pack more of a punch now; weapons that used to make small bullet holes now obliterate entire walls, and what used to be blood-light enemy takedowns now look more like scenes straight out of Inglourious Basterds. The New Colossus asks the question, “why should a game be more realistic when it can be more fun instead?”
From the very first second, The New Colossus stomps aggressively on the gas and never slows down. From the very first fight, which features an injured Blazkowicz defending his ship while confined to a wheelchair, both gameplay and story maintain a level of intensity that stays at full throttle for most of the game. While The New Order was dark, The New Colossus is even darker, throwing massive twists and turns at you at every step. Let’s just say that you might want to go in with the same expectations you would for Game of Thrones.
Also of note are The New Colossus’s graphics, which are easily among the best on the market right now. Landscapes are rendered in stunning detail, and only rarely do characters suffer from the same uncanny valley problem made famous thanks to Skyrim and Mass Effect. Seeing Wolfenstein’s terrifying universe in such high definition makes The New Colossus just as unsettling as most horror games, but if you think you can handle it, then you’re in for a real feast for the eyes.
If you’re desensitized to violence and opposed to fascism, then The New Colossus is not a game that you should miss. After all, as dark and disheartening as the game can sometimes feel, mowing through hordes of Nazis with twin assault rifles is a genuinely cathartic experience. While the faint of heart should probably keep their distance, anyone looking for a quality first person shooter can stop looking and start playing.
A word to the wise, however; you should absolutely, one hundred percent definitely play through The New Order, which is still a fantastic game in its own right, before starting The New Colossus. Your brain will thank you.