Nazis are in control of America and it’s up to you to start a revolution. That is the
premise of Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus. In this sequel to MachineGames 2014 game Wolfenstein: The New Order, the Nazis won the Second World War on their prowess and advanced machinery. It follows the story of one William Joseph Blazkowicz and his goal to put every Nazi in the dirt. The New Order was well-paced, fun and, at times, absolutely crazy. The New Colossus has its moments but does not feel as good as the first.
The New Order balanced sneaking with a standard shoot-’em-up. Some missions could be done with patience and stealth so that no alarms would be set off. Its guns felt good, the AR Marksman could double as a sniper rifle and a battery-powered plasma rifle. It showed the versatility of gameplay with just one gun. The New Colossus does not do so well with its gameplay. The guns feel like they’re by the numbers. By the time that the game comes to a close, you feel like you have gone more Rambo than skillful assassin. Not that there is anything wrong with a little Rambo but after spending hours with The New Order sneaking around and surprising fascists with a knife, it feels like an unwelcome change of pace.
The levels feel less thought out this time around and there are fewer places to hide and
sneak around enemies. This could be because I chose the wrong power-up at the mid-game but even before then every room felt condensed. Streets are closed in, whole levels take place in corridors where there is no other option than forward. The New Order was full of alternating routes that could lead to your destination. The New Colossus gives you one route and that route will almost guarantee a firefight.
However, The New Colossus does have many moments where it shines. World building is the greatest selling point of the game. It’s the ’60s and the Nazis have taken charge of the United States. Culture as we know it has gone German, with The Beatles being renamed “Die Kafer.” The world is almost exactly as it was in the ’60s, with black revolutionaries, the drug culture and the musical tastes. It is hard not to admire the thought that was put into the alternate reality. Little notes dot the landscape telling the story of how the Axis forces conquered the free world. The very beginning of the game lays out the framework for white nationalists – purity and racism. It tries something a little different than the other Wolfenstein games before it, which was just fighting Nazis. It attempts to sprinkle some hard hitting facts and tries to go in a different direction, which is commendable.
The New Colossus attempts to upgrade its world and bring new life to this 36-year-old franchise. There have been worse games on that list and this one places high. But compared to The New Order, its pacing is rushed and could be a little more stealthy. With the first DLC of The Freedom Chronicles recently published, one hopes that MachineGames can learn from their design mistakes and make a truly memorable adventure.