Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is the perfect sequel to The New Order. Everything has been improved from the enemies and weapons to the visuals and sound. The game has a great story too. If these are the last days of single player, we could not ask to go out with a better bang.
The beginning of Wolfenstein II is a tough and intense couple of hours. Going back to B.J.’s formative years, we see indications of how he became the unstoppable, Nazi stomping soldier. This game does not flinch away from serious issues for better and worse. Although a little heavy-handed at times, it sets a strong focus for where the narrative is headed.
The narrative is important, because I think MachineGames has really nailed the tone. It would have been very easy for them to take the goofy route and make everyone a comedian or to go the opposite way and tug at your heartstrings as an interactive crying simulator by throwing nothing but serious content at you. It takes a strong approach with great pacing that lets you catch your breath to examine some of what it has shown you.
I was really impressed with how well it was integrated and the effort taken to make characters more than two hands for holding guns. Blazkowicz is a person with fears and personal motivations beyond naked revenge. His mind is open to us, showing us a heroic everyman without so much of the cliché we see in other characters.
The standout character in the game is Grace Walker. She is voiced by Debra Wilson, and I really hope she does more voiceover work. When we first see her, she doesn’t seem like a person you want on your side. By the end of the game, she is the general that future history books will describe as having led and won the war.
While the villain of the first game was Deathshead, Frau Engel is the larger than life baddie that tirelessly hunts you. She is nightmarishly evil. She gleefully kills, but there is more going on behind that insane smile on her humpty dumpty face. It’s a fascinating vision of crazy.
I am gushing about the story and characters, but the combat is fantastic. After a combat sequence from a wheelchair, you are propelled through many different locations on your quest to liberate America.
The Nazis have been busy building or taking over structures and redecorating with their favorite red and black. Levels are enormous, and I only had loading at the beginning. In one area, I ran up and down four flights of stairs and back and forth with no problems at all.
These are not empty arenas. Along with enemies that need your special attention, there are usually multiple paths to reach the end. Some of these require contraptions acquired later in the game that can help you reach up to higher areas, squish down to fit into smaller areas, or just ram through to the other side.
Each level also contains hidden collectibles such as gold, concept art, or toys for Max. You don’t have to explore each level to its fullest, but, if the game tells you to go left, try going right a few times. The extra ammo, health, and armor is always worth it.
While wondering through the halls of your overlords, be sure to send them to hell with the tight and satisfying shooting. Each gun has a unique feel with a weight to them. The dual wielding is amazing, and I found that using a schockhammer and sturmgewehr for close and medium combat was the right amount of balance for me.
Weapon upgrade kits can be found everywhere, and these let you put a little extra oomph into your favorite boom stick. Each gun has three possible improvements, and you can choose the order to upgrade. The sturmgewehr can add a scope. You can add a bigger clip or a faster reload. You can even make the schockhammer rounds ricochet or silence the submachine gun.
Most of the time, ammo is plentiful. I had no problem emptying my clips to the point that John Woo would think I was being gratuitous. Watching as the armor or helmet was flying off whoever was stupid enough to fill my crosshairs was fantastic, and I rarely worried about whether I would have enough rounds to survive. I would still die, but my ammo count was normally not the issue.
After killing some of the bigger robotic opponents, you can pick up their heavy weapons. These limited use guns pack a punch. You move a little slower, but the extra firepower in a tight space can clear a room faster than your Uncle Bill’s irritable bowels.
The game starts with a choice about who to save, and this slightly impacts the story of the game. It also determines which heavy weapon you will acquire later. Either way, you are not going to be disappointed.
You can also choose to move through a level in stealth or run through with guns a’blazing like Rambo. I normally tried to sneak until someone noticed the gigantic muscular guy with six guns on his back was silently killing his way across the room.
I then served everyone a big helping of my bullet salad and even offered seconds to some. You can run quickly and shoot, and I really enjoyed this faster combat style that is slowly creeping back into games. There were times when I was able to plow through a wave of soldiers just by running through an area, before they could trap me in a room.
If you do take a quieter approach, don’t forget to grab the new hatchet. The hatchet is perfect for the stealth kill, and it can be thrown as well. The death animations are bloody, and I liked it better than the standard knife in most games.
The commanders roaming the levels are the perfect home for your woodsman cutlery collection. If you raise the alarm before they have been eliminated, they will call reinforcements to hunt you down.
Like a human piñata, they carry enigma codes. These collectibles will enable you to locate high-ranking Nazis and go on special missions to kill them. There is a mini game to decode them that includes matching a top and bottom sequence. The missions are in places you have already been, and you can keep playing after you have beaten the game.
Perks are improvements in what you already enjoy doing. If you stealth kill people, you will move faster in stealth, so they never see you coming. If you like dual wielding (and, honestly, why wouldn’t you), you can improve your kills when you use it. You are never forced down a specific skill tree, but you can see what you need to do to reach that next level in the perk.
The best part of Wolfenstein is that the game wants you to play it. If you have the reflexes of a South Korean StarCraft player and want a difficulty that would break mere mortals, it’s there. If you want a difficulty that doesn’t make you sound like a tryout for the next Def Comedy Jam, you can have that too. You can change it at any time to tailor it to your preferred challenge level.
You can also save the game at any point. This is slowly starting to become a more prevalent feature in modern games, and I love it. Sometimes, I only have a few minutes, so being able to pause, save, and come back to that point is great. If my power goes out while my PS4 is in rest mode, I don’t have to worry. (Yes, that has happened a few times. My power sucks, or we have a poltergeist.)
The sound is great. The soundtrack is a powerful pumping rock track for fights and has quieter music for the more emotional scenes. The sound in general from the explosions to the environmental noise was finely tuned. Turn it up.
Visually, the game rocks as well. I noticed a bigger emphasis on lighting and shadows and many of the environments were filled with little details. The best part is that everything just runs smoothly when you have so much action on the screen.
Technically, the game was as proficient as its hero. There were a few times in which I saw flickering shadows or another minor graphical glitch. During my sixteen plus hours of playing, I did not experience any major problems that kept me from playing.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a sequel, but it has been transformed into something far more than the first game could have hoped to be. With a great story, interesting characters, solid mechanics, and giant levels for you to explore and explode, it is an experience you should not miss.
It is a great example of how a lovingly crafted single player game will always have a place in our hearts and on our hard drives. It never outstays its welcome, and the ending leaves an opening for us to continue the fight. Let’s hope it isn’t too long, because I cannot wait to jump into the sequel.
Wolfenstein 2 PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8.8/10
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is an amazing shooter with a well-developed story and characters. The weapons and combat feel great as you move through enormous environments filled with ammo, armor, and collectibles. There is always something to see or shoot in the large environments, and the entire game has an extra level of polish.
If you are looking for a single player shooter with a lot of heart that rewards a stealthy or loud and proud approach, I cannot recommend this game enough. Don’t stay away too long, Blazkowicz, the world needs you.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.