Characters

Memorable and well written characters you'll probably wish were real.

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Like a good book, the story will have you wondering why it's 2am when you thought it was 6pm.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Review

When Bethesda brought Wolfenstein back into the limelight with The New Order a few years ago, people were excited to get back to brutalizing Nazis in the way only Wolfenstein could deliver. Understandably so when Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was announced and turned the Nazi memes up to 11, people were ready to get back to work. We all know Mr. BJ Blazkowizc is ready to take names, but is The New Colossus up to the task?

The game kicks things off pretty much where we last left BJ: in a bloody heap on the brink of death. Thanks to some epic health insurance and an incredibly intelligent and unsurprisingly witty Jewish guy, BJ is brought back from the brink but not without some serious issues. You kick ass from the seat of a wheelchair while attempting to make a hasty escape from a poorly timed attack by the Nazis, and the game sets you up with some gruesome scenes I’ll let you experience should you take the dive. Ultimately, it all boils down to the Nazis being back at it again and of course despite being just shy of the walking dead, BJ is the man for the job. Shocking, I know.

Now that doesn’t mean that the story or characters are overtly one note or bad, mind you. In fact, perhaps the strongest argument for picking up The New Colossus is just that: the story and characters. There’s some seriously deft writing here that is particularly well delivered by the majority of the cast of characters whether they’re front and center or part of the supporting cast. I won’t pretend that there isn’t some super on the nose social commentary going on throughout, and particularly towards the end of the campaign, but thankfully it only occasionally finds itself outside the lines provided by its already over the top nature. As great as the characters are the bulk of the game is of course taking out Nazis with as many guns as we can get our hands on.

Unfortunately, in some weird twist of fate while the characters are fantastic, the gun play in Wolfenstein II isn’t particularly amazing. There is a sort of clunkiness to everything that is hard to put a finger on, but that’s the least of your worries. The movement speed, especially towards the latter parts of the game, is a bit much. I found myself almost being too fast for the level design in spots when sprinting, and so I often didn’t sprint at all unless absolutely necessary. Perhaps most unfortunate was how seemingly inefficient most of the guns were. It’s not uncommon for folks to find a couple of guns no matter how many are available and stick to them when comfortable, but in the case of Wolfenstein II there are almost objectively a small selection of weapons worth your time and everything else is barely worth the effort even just to mix it up. There is a good variety of weapons to be certain, and the dual wielding lets you mix it up further, but I personally couldn’t find much use for the majority of weapons at my disposal. While the gun play wasn’t exactly incredible, the audio is by far the game’s biggest issue.

At the time of this review the audio balancing is some of the worst I’ve experienced in a shooter of this level in a very long time. Regardless of how I set up the audio in game the sounds of the guns being fired were almost nonexistent. This became unbelievably frustrating at times in combat as I could be getting shot from my left or right side only a few feet away and barely hear a weapon firing at me. I died many times because I simply couldn’t discern where the gunfire was coming from or more comically, because I didn’t know I was being shot from anywhere other than directly in front of me. Even the guns in your own hands are confusingly quiet and it seriously hurts the already awkward gun play. This also needlessly makes the game more difficult than it already is, and honestly depending on the setting it can be a very challenging game to begin with in spots. This sort of poor audio mixing occasionally crops up in cutscenes as well, and can also lead to missing out on some dialogue when walking around the hub zone. This is a particular shame because many characters are voiced really well and is a general high point for the game.

From a visual standpoint, Wolfenstein II isn’t going to blow any minds, but the important thing is that the quality of the visual elements is incredibly consistent. There are a lot of games that are graphically impressive but the range in asset fidelity or visual consistency is poor. This isn’t the case here, and it makes the game look more impressive overall. Performance on the PC was pretty rock solid throughout with only some minor hitches or issues but nothing out of the ordinary. I could certainly see this game benefiting from a high refresh rate just based on the speed it plays at, and so those rocking a 120hz or higher panel will likely be pleased. There’s not really much to nitpick here, it just works and finds a good balance between serviceable and visually pleasing.

In general, I have mixed feelings about The New Colossus. On one hand the characters and their delivery are some of the best you can get right now. The writing is great despite the aforementioned on the nose commentary, and it’s a testament to the team responsible for bringing Wolfenstein into the modern era. On the other hand, for being a shooter the shooting isn’t particularly amazing, and the audio makes the experience even more cumbersome. This might sound particularly damning but I feel because the writing and characters are so good I’d rather just watch Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus: The Movie and skip all the gameplay entirely. Saying that, I’m not sure that it’s worth getting into at full price unless you’re pretty convinced the gameplay will satisfy you. For everyone else there are some unexpectedly great characters and writing to experience here, and so if you get a chance to give it a go, The New Colossus will at the very least give you a few things to remember it by.

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Adam Morehouse

Adam Morehouse

I play games and write stuff about them! Blessed with an amazing online community for many years now. One half of the LAGTV duo.
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