A Shift in Tone Doesn’t Mean Wolfenstein II Has Lost What Made New Order So Special
After a beautifully crafted yet strange trailer for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, I was slightly weary to the shift in tone of this Nazi nightmare. Reminiscing on my first journey against the Nazi juggernauts in Wolfenstein: A New Order, I remembered the humanistic passion, the fear of war, and the drive to keep pushing no matter what stands in your way.
What I saw was an acid-dropping soldier with a pregnant lady stabbing the shit out of Nazis. What I played reassured me that Wolfenstein still holds the intense emotions between characters and Hitler’s regime that left audiences so captivated with the fight against Deathshead.
After going hands-on with Wolfenstein II at E3 2017, I’m glad to report that the emotional intensity New Order brought to the franchise is still present… along with some ridiculously badass mechanics and a narrative that blends gore and comedy seamlessly.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ll be the first to praise a DOOM or Wolfenstein for it’s over the top nature with estranged mechanics that change that take a trip down memory lane for the FPS genre; I just didn’t want to see Machine Games’ latest installment of this twisted Nazi fantasy losing sight of its vision. The mix of comedy and destructive carnage has to blend, and when you start off Wolfenstein II by using one hand to push your broken self in a wheelchair while you blast a Nazi invader with an SMG in the gut, you know you’re still in for one hell of a ride.
The demo I got to try out was taken from the opening level of the game. Blazkowicz is obviously still alive but not doing so well after his encounter with Deathshead. I was guided into a wheelchair, given an SMG, and set forth on the path of destruction through the tight corridors of a massive ship. Cover mechanics remained the same from New Order, allowing me to lean in either direction with ease, and everything with the UI felt reminiscent of the previous titles. The first thing that stood out to me was the graphical fidelity of this truly next-gen title. Where the first one also had its last-gen counterparts, Wolfenstein II shines with its beautiful lighting and Id’s well-known attention to detail through every crack and drop of water on this humongous vessel.
Guns sound fierce, wheelchairs are squeaky, and putting a man’s face into my armrest has never been so exhilarating.
Conventionally, Wolfenstein II feels like Wolfenstein with a 4K coat of paint and the feel of a brand new adventure. The first level had me running through fire fights, taking on stealth sections where I’d sit on conveyor belts to not make a sound, and even working with microwave traps where I could bait enemies to following me to their doom by flipping some switches. This whole package comes together with the cast of New Order returning while inviting this new sense of humor to the dark adventures of Nazi-populated industrialism.
One cinematic that stood out to me is when I met with one of the scientists. The whole time he ranted about what was going on since I’d been asleep, enemies kept running into the microwave emitters on the opposite side of the window. With the camera almost fully focused on being told these awful things that had been happening, I couldn’t help but laugh at puzzled soldiers questioning why blood was splattered across the walls until they themselves would walk toward the same demise. It was comedy like this throughout the entire level that made me realize that Wolfenstein II will still hold the deep emotions fans of New Order are used to, but with the subtle implementation of over the top ridiculous shenanigans you can’t help but laugh at.
With the demo ending on a cliffhanger of life or death for one of my companions as Nazi soldiers chant at Frau Engel’s daughter because she’s a chubby chubster and struggling to kill your friends, I’m finding myself very pleased with Wolfenstein II‘s similar but new direction. While I grind through New Order one more time, I’m definitely looking forward to Wolfenstein II which will be available on Xbox One, PS4, & PC on October 27th.