Wot I Think: Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus

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Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus does not pull its punches. Early in the game a returning villain asks, “is this what a hero looks like?” She’s mocking and threatening a wounded, degraded and broken woman. She’s about to execute that woman.

Wolfenstein’s answer is a defiant “yes”. Its heroes don’t look like any one thing because they are many and they are diverse. They are survivors and fighters and thinkers, black, white, American Jewish, British, German, male, female, disabled, disfigured and powerful. They’re also flawed – sometimes too angry, sometimes too selfish, sometimes too afraid to face up to reality – but they are the kind of people you’d want in your corner if the world went wrong.

They’re also the game’s greatest asset and its most potent weapons.

This is, remember, a game about shooting hundreds of people, so for its greatest weapons to be its characters is not necessarily the best news. Usually, if I’m playing a first-person shooter, I’m going to complain about all the times the story got in the way of the action. Cutscenes as clumsy punctuation. With Wolfenstein 2, I occasionally wanted to blunder through corridors and rooms packed with Nazis (and Nazi robots and Nazi zombies and other things) as quickly as possible so I could get back to base and catch up with my pals.

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There was a point when I met with another member of the resistance out in the field – the field being a small American town – and realised I wanted to be playing as him rather than as Blazkowicz. He’d infiltrated the town and was working undercover; Blazkowicz only arrives when it’s time for the shooting to start. It’s a sign of how much I wanted to explore the world and to spend time with the characters that I was craving some sort of Mass Effect RPG rather than a straight shooter, but tied up in that is a complaint about the shooting. It’s a mild complaint, but an important one.

Wolfenstein 2 is spectacular, grotesque, cathartic, beautiful, horrible and shocking. It is all of those things regularly and effectively throughout the campaign, but too much of the actual environments where gunplay takes place are variations on corridors and rooms. The most impressive parts of the world and story often frame the action rather than informing it. You might be fighting on an impossible machine, or in an incredible setting, but the flow of combat remains the same, defined by the walls and obstacles in any given room, no matter where it might be.

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After the opening sections, which lean a little too heavily on machinery and ruins, there’s plenty of environmental variety but, perhaps fittingly given its roots, Wolfenstein is still a corridor shooter for the most part. That’s fine, and it’s mostly a very good shooter with a couple of caveats that I’ll get to in a second, but I am left with the feeling that The New Colossus is a hair’s breadth away from being one of my favourite singleplayer action games of all time because so much of my time was spent looking down the sight of a gun.

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It’d help if it weren’t quite so unforgiving. I’m not talking about difficulty – which can be changed at any time and has seven settings – but rather the flexibility it allows in approaching each scenario. As in the first game, though much more often, a map will often have several officers in play. You can track them down via their radio signals, and it’s possible to sneak toward them, stealth-killing enemies en route.

One mistake and the alarm is raised though, and the officers call for reinforcements, and suddenly all is chaos and mayhem. Maybe I’m crap at sneaking, but I barely managed to stay hidden for much longer than the first encounter with an enemy in any area. Crouch, squat-walk, axe to the back of the knee, neck-snap, ALARM ALARM.

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From there, I usually make a bee-line to the officer so I can stem the flow of reinforcements, and that involves lots of tense weapon-switching, grenade-lobbing and contraption-flinging. These contraptions are new. They provide another method of clearing rooms and corridors, added to the pile of other approaches already available, including the use of multiple weapons (now upgradeable in ways that give them specialisations), stealth, temporary heavy weapons snatched from dead super-soldiers, dual-wielding and crunching melee attacks. For me, the apparent flexibility led to diminishing returns the more I diverged from running and shooting. It’s solid running and shooting, and occasionally it feels just right when I’m pinging helmets off with headshots. But it’s a whole lot of sound and fury bolted onto a story and setting that are so adept at varying their volume and tone.

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The whole game is spinning a lot of plates, though perhaps it’s more like juggling chainsaws. From the opening scenes, it’s brutal in both its language and its depiction of violence. Domestic abuse, virulent racism, innocents harmed and murdered. That it then spins off into grindhouse grit and slapstick comedy, before pinballing into melancholy, dread, romance and sentimentality is absurd. I found it to be brilliantly absurd, and laughed, cringed and cried (yes, I cried while playing a Wolfenstein game; 2017 is weird), but be prepared for some real horrors alongside all of the imagined ones.

Even the imagined horrors aren’t too far from reality, of course, and one of the questions I was asking myself going into the game was about its place in today’s world. The marketing hasn’t shied away from drawing parallels with the politics and language of today, and I was half-convinced the game would pull its punches in that regard, if nowhere else. It doesn’t. It shoves its fist right through the skull of questions around white privilege, machismo, racism, feminism and a whole lot more. You’re getting all that and toilet humour too.

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What impressed me is that these things are presented as ugly facts and we see, repeatedly, that bullets and bombs are not enough to fix them. Even when the fight turns in their favour, the resistance know that burning the Reich out of the USA, or even off the face of the planet, is one part of a battle that has been raging for centuries.

The entire cast are wonderful, with even my least favourites having at least a couple of great scenes or lines, but Blazkowicz and Anya are the heart of the story. He is broken and thinks his body will fail him entirely soon, she is pregnant, carrying their child. It could easily become a tale of fighting for the next generation, taking hope from what is to come next, but Anya doesn’t allow Blazkowicz to give up on now. Given that the game makes clear he could well be a man in need of a strong father figure, it’s surely intentional that our hero learns more from the women around him than from the men. In Sister Grace, Anya and other members of the resistance, Wolfenstein 2 is home to some beautifully take-no-bullshit women.

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And it’s at its best when it’s letting those characters rage and weep and love one another. Just as I found the more ordinary moments of violence the most chilling, demonstrating the banality of evil rather than theatrical alt-reality super-villainy, it’s the quieter scenes that I reckon are the boldest. A black woman leading a resistance group through hell and breastfeeding her baby daughter while she’s plotting the downfall of the Nazi regime and deconstructing the use of ‘balls’ as a synonym for bravery? That’s something I’ve never seen in a game or anywhere else, and as an image and a statement of what this game is all about it’s worth a thousand battles against enormous ubermachines.

I just wish the action were as bold. It’s good, occasionally great, but there are enough small things that bother me that when I do replay (and I will), it’ll be to see more details of the world and collect the hidden things rather than to enjoy any particular setpieces or fights again. Those small things relate to the environments not supporting stealth approaches as much as I might like, damage to Blazkowicz often feeling inconsequential right up until he drops down dead (totally at odds with enemies, who really look like they feel the impact of every blow), and a sense of repetition before the credits rolled. There are exceptional things as well, such as the best enemy barks I’ve heard since Half Life 2 convinced me it had great AI, and flying drones that are somehow brilliant to fight rather than annoying as heck.

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It took me twelve hours, though your timing will vary depending how much you want to collect and how tricky you find some of the tougher fights. I actually spent a fair bit of time hunting collectibles; they’re fun things like cards of Reich celebs or records, as well as notes and diaries – they add detail to the world and it’s a world that makes me crave all of its details. For replayability’s sake, there’s even an entire separate timeline to play, which will be familiar to people returning from the first game. You can make the choice again at the beginning here, rather than having to import a save. It swaps out one character for another and does the same with a couple of weapons.

Earlier, I said Wolfenstein 2 is a hair’s breadth away from being one of my favourite singleplayer action games of all time. The hair seems to have become much thicker as I think back, but the truth is that if there were even a handful of first-person shooters this strange and spectacular released in any given year, I’d barely find time to play anything else. In a week that has seen speculation about the future of this type of big budget singleplayer game, for all its flaws, this is a reminder of how powerful and vital they can be.

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is out tomorrow for Windows, and is available via Steam for £39.99.

132 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    subdog says:

    I feel like I have a moral obligation to buy this. Glad to hear I won’t regret it.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Grizzly says:

    And here I was thinking big budget singleplayer shooters wouldn’t interest me anymore. Sounds like they’ve outdone themselves anyway.

    • CaptainDju says:

      Same here, what surprises me the most is that they chose a non-standard £40 price. I think it’s the first time in a while I’m considering not waiting for a discount. Well, there was Hellbade recently but same logic.

  3. The K says:

    Huh. Back when i was a teen and loved me some Wolfenstein, it was universally condemned by the moral guardians as the epitome of a “Killer Game”, and the international version was flat out banned in Germany because of the Swastikas.

    Now in 2017 there is a moral obligation to fight Nazi-Zombie-Robots and their evil female Hitler Frau Engel as blue eyed, blonde man to combat the vile patriarchy and fight the good fight for diversity. Sometimes i cant help but wonder…still gonna buy it of course, because i loved the last iteration.

    • MrUnimport says:

      I didn’t really care for TNO. Lovely art design, but ambivalent, even wimpy shooting mechanics. Hit feedback is lacking, too many low-damage automatic weapons, enemies barely make noise when shot, enemies open fire too quickly and too accurately so you feel like you’re just facetanking all the fire that comes your way rather than engaging in a skillful gunfight. Nobody I’ve talked to about this agrees though so I’m resigned to being an outlier.

      Everyone can agree that BJ is an unexpectedly soulful character, though, I think.

      • Titler says:

        I agree with you. I’ve had the first game for years, but still never completed it because I just find it anaemic to play.

        There’s some lovely characterisation, although often jarringly inconsistent; BJ being crippled for years, but still being super humanly ripped, so you get a power fantasy body whilst also being nurtured in a hospital just fell totally flat to me. But the actual combat and weaponry has no sense of impact to them so outside of the cut scenes I didn’t get to feel powerful in actual gameplay.

        I keep thinking I should try and push deeper just to see more interesting scenes like the one on the train, where I last left off, but then I remember the nerf gun gameplay and just never can be bothered.

    • Stumped says:

      The great irony here is the generation that fought the nazis was deeply patriarchal, racist, homophobic etc. The U.S army was racially segregated, the US was the land of Jim Crow laws and FDR brought the US closest to National Socialism with the passing of the NRA act, according to the esteemed English commentator on American life Alistair Cooke. Nevermind that though the game has got me all psyched to go punch a nazi in the name of diversitay. By nazi I mean some white guy I disagree with of course….

      • Nevard says:

        Amazing that such a terrible generation managed to eventually come together and decry nazism in all forms (even if it took them a little while, especially in America), but our modern progressive generation finds it much more difficult to decide that they need to simply stamp on it until it is gone again.

      • Premium User Badge

        Grizzly says:

        Obligatory scene from the first game:

      • battles_atlas says:

        “FDR brought the US closest to National Socialism with the passing of the NRA act, according to the esteemed English commentator on American life Alistair Cooke”

        If that was Cooke’s take on it then Cooke was a cretin, who apparently missed the fact that Hitler murdered the ‘socialist’ part of national socialism during the Night of the Long Knives. What FDR did, and what his modern day equivalents have so far failed to do, is neuter nationalism by using socialism to correct for a crisis of capitalism.

      • Dugular says:

        Do you mean you share the game’s understanding of that irony, or you see something the game missed?

        Because I played the first game and it was definitely aware of the fact that to white males, Nazis were bad, but to other groups the Nazis were just another form of segregating powers, and beating the Nazis wouldn’t be solving the problem entirely for them.

        This article suggests the second game is fully aware of that as well.

      • datreus says:

        Don’t tell me – ‘Antifa are the real Nazis’, right?

  4. Kefren says:

    Has the DRM system been revealed yet? As long as it isn’t Denuvo, I’m in, even though the previous Wolfenstein had some absolutely awful silly moments amongst the great ones.

  5. tomimt says:

    I couldn’t really get into the previous Wolfenstein. While I loved the retro-futuristic aesthetics it had, it felt like the story was taking itself far too seriously for the pulp mush it so clearly was meant to be. There was too clear of a divide between the style and the story, that I didn’t really enjoy it the same way I enjoyed killing the mecha Hitler in the original Wolf3D.

    • The K says:

      But you HAVE to play it! Because shooting Videogame Nazis is now equivalent to fighting real Nazis.

      Seriously, i am bringing this up the next time i meet my mother (pro-feminist, anti-videogames). “Look Ma, i am fighting the good fight too! The anguished screams of the Nazi Mooks i boil alive with my Laser represent the last dying screams of the patriarchal oppressive creed!” I am sure that will totally fly.

      That being said, i quite liked the story and the earnestness of the last Wolfenstein, it just sometimes didnt mesh right with some of the over-the-top silliness…getting from the nightmare inducing concentration camp level to the wacky moonbase was..strange.

    • E_FD says:

      I played TNO and Doom 2016 back to back (the other way around, actually, because I played Doom first, loved it, and was feeling in a good enough mood about remakes of classic ID shooters that I decided to get the latest Wolfenstein too), and the difference in how they handled their plots felt so stunning, particularly since the actual gameplay design behind the two had so much in common.

      Doom is almost aggressively minimalist in a way I don’t expect from modern AAA games, giving you the bare minimum of plot to set up the overall tone and aesthetic, and doing as little as possible to ever slow down the momentum of your action. I thought it was a tremendous breath of fresh air.

      Wolfenstein takes pretty much the complete opposite approach, and I don’t think TNO was the stronger for it.

  6. Junkenstein says:

    Hmmm, even though I enjoyed the plot of the first, all the non-combat sections really bogged it down for me. Great story and characters or not, it sounds like this is even worse in that regard.

  7. cpt_freakout says:

    I absolutely loved the first Wolf, and it’s great to read that this one is just as fragmentary and grotesque as the first, but even bolder.

  8. Freud says:

    I liked the previous one. Beyond all the over the top things it had a beating heart and a dark sense of humor.

    Sometimes the only way to approach issues that are hard to get the tone right is to approach it from an unexpected angle.

  9. Vandelay says:

    Sounds pretty great to me, although the play time of just 12 hours is a little disappointing (if it was that without exploring much then fine, but sounds as if Adam did a reasonable amount.)

    Also seems as if we should be encouraging Machine Games to branch out from shooters and give RPGs a go. Sounds like they would do a much better job of it than Bioware and the like.

    • simontifik says:

      I would love to see Machine games make an RPG. They are one of the few developers able to write complex characters who actually behave like adults.

    • Jerykk says:

      If you play on the highest difficulty, do all the side-missions and find all the collectibles, you’ll get far more than 12 hours out of it. I actually put over 30 hours into the game for 100% Completion on Death Incarnate difficulty.

  10. Daymare says:

    Glad this got recommended here. TNO and TOB were a grand return to Singleplayer FPS that I could recently only find in the Metro games, Titanfall 2 and nu-Doom, I think.

    And since I absolutely loved how chunky and physical the shooting in TNO was, I’m pretty certain I’ll like it here as well.

  11. lancelot says:

    it’s the quieter scenes that I reckon are the boldest. A black woman leading a resistance group through hell and breastfeeding her baby daughter while she’s plotting the downfall of the Nazi regime and deconstructing the use of ‘balls’ as a synonym for bravery

    I can see how it’s hilarious in its lumping together of politically correct stereotypes, but how is it bold?

    • Tholesund says:

      It’s bold, because just like the game as a whole, with its mere existence, has apparently managed to piss off a great many alt-right goons everywhere (who perhaps feel the idea of shooting at Nazis for fun to be uncomfortably close to the idea of somebody shooting at them for fun), the somewhat over-the-top combination of stereotypes you find “hilarious” is guaranteed to annoy and even anger certain kinds of malignant and potentially dangerous people against whom—as Adam Smith notes—a battle has been raging for centuries (or perhaps much, much longer).

      • tnzk says:

        It’s like the worst mud slinging match between the two sides, seriously.

        Firstly, I find it absolutely hilarious that there’s a black female rebel breastfeeding a kid during some sort of rebellious plotting. It further impresses upon me that video game storytelling just plain fucking sucks.

        I also find it even more hilarious that a certain group of people will actually find this legitimately infuriating.

        As for me, I don’t know whether to be angry or amused that people think this is some sort of artistry worthy of critique.

      • lancelot says:

        The game is doing something perfectly acceptable, even mainstream, and is proclaimed to be bold. This is what I don’t agree with. If “bold” was supposed to mean “not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring”, then what actual perils does it face? Is there any influential media outlet, any prominent reviewer, any influential group that’s going to make life more difficult for the developers because of this? Come on.

        If it’s bold because it’s going to anger some “goons” and “certain kinds” of people somewhere, then we’re all so bold here leaving comments in the forums. That totally devalues the meaning of the word.

        There is another meaning of “bold”, which is “beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action; imaginative”. That is even less defensible. What Adam describes is the opposite of original and creative.

  12. Laurentius says:

    “A black woman leading a resistance group through hell and breastfeeding her baby daughter while she’s plotting the downfall of the Nazi regime and deconstructing the use of ‘balls’ as a synonym for bravery.” This is perefect dictionary definition of “trying to hard” imo, right next to organizning ice skating reley at your own wedding for guests to get a piece of a cake.

    Also how’s the performance?

    • MultiVaC says:

      I find it a little odd that people seem to be latching on to this one aspect as the point where the game just crosses the line into trying too hard or being over the top. I mean, the main protagonist is a muscle-bound white American soldier guy with a buzz cut who single-handedly takes down legions of Nazis and their massive robotic war machines in absolutely absurd feats of badassery. But a black woman who is raising a child while leading a resistance while delivering some mild feminist critique is the one who is a stereotype, and the point where the game becomes unsubtle? We have some skewed ideas of “normal” in the game community, I think.

      • Laurentius says:

        Your little summary is illustarting why game is “over the top” but add BJ quoting lines from Arendt’s “On Violence” while blowing up nazi robots and also nurturing little squirrel and I will concur that they are indeed “trying to hard”.

        • MultiVaC says:

          Uhh, doesn’t BJ regularly have monologues about the senselessness and horrors of war? And get into political conversations with his allies about things like Jim Crow laws? I know it’s not quite what you were saying, but my point is that the game is nothing if not heavy-handed in it’s presentation, and that goes for its sentimentality and political statements as well as its stereotypical characters.

          Look, I don’t wanna pile on you and make this about calling out closet racists in the comments section. Seems like somebody else has already got that covered anyway. Nobody wants to have a character that is just bullshit tokenism, which I’m guessing is what you are concerned about. That would be fair enough, we’ll just have to wait and see the actual game.

          It seems to me that this character is totally in line with what this iteration of Wolfenstein is about. What could be a better “fuck you Nazis” than them being taken down by a group led by a black woman? I just think it’s kind of telling that this in particular sticks out as a potential issue in gaming circles, considering how insular and homogeneous this industry has usually been. This is kind of why the game might end up being pretty significant at this moment, and I appreciate it for that.

          • Laurentius says:

            Well, so maybe give me your definition of “trying to hard” then. Or maybe that simply doesn’t happen in video games? Which is bs. Or maybe you want to see an extended and filmed version of “trying to hard” definition? Be my guest and watch “Only God Forgives”.

          • Nibbles says:

            MulTivac “What could be a better “fuck you Nazis” than them being taken down by a group led by a black woman?”

            Why the Nazis where generally apathetic towards black people,black people in general where the least involved ethnicity in WW2.i.e 50 million odd white people died,20 million east asian and around a couple of 1000 black people.
            So again a black women wasnt simply relevant in this period.

            PS i know this after ww2

          • TeeJay says:

            @Nibbles: Re. “black people in general where the least involved ethnicity in WW2”

            The allies had 1.4 million African troops and 2.5 Indian troops fighting for them.

            Up to 50,000 African troops were killed and 87,000 Indian troops.

            Other significant total (ie military + civilian) fatality figures outside Europe and East Asia include; Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia)(3-4 million), French Indochina (now Cambodia/Laos/Vietnam)(1-1.5 million), India (1.5-2.5 million) and the Philippines (up to 1 million).

            The heaviest total losses in Africa were in Ruanda-Urundi (Rwanda/Burundi)(300,000 (war-related famine)) and Ethopia (100,000).

            Its worth noting Ruanda-Urundi lost c.8% of its 1939 population which is similar to the level for Germany.

          • battles_atlas says:

            Excellently put MultiVac.

            Laurentius you’re missing the point, perhaps unsurprisingly. The point is, everything in this and the game before is over the top. It’s its calling card. What is telling about your comment is that in a world of *mecha-nazis* and moonbases you take issue with a black woman in a position of power feeding a baby. It’s quite telling.

            Nibbles – jesus christ man, read a book. If you’re too lazy, here is a short webpage for you link to ushmm.org

    • mmandthetat says:

      I’m happy to see only this one racist/sexist comment here. I know the 4chan white supremacist misogynists are going to be all over this game.

      And yeah, you can accuse me of name-calling, but if you accepted and defended several decades of bland white machismo as silly escapist fun and are now playing the “try hard” card because there’s an imaginary black woman partaking in absurd badassery, you are racist and sexist. Black people and women aren’t gimmicks and you’re not required to be extremely subtle when you include them, lest some lonely nerd think your game is too political.

      • Laurentius says:

        FU to you buddy.
        Frankly you are a massive shithead but I’ll answer this once before blocking you. I’ve “never accepted and defended several decades of bland white machismo as silly escapist fun” so you are just talking out of your ass. Massive amount of games are “trying to hard” at one point or the other and I am not shying from calling them on it and pretend it is a game’s high point.

        Now go and crawl back to the hole you came out of.

        • popej says:

          To be honest it’s a bit suspicious that you’re here making these comments. If you’re genuinely not here to start some Trumpian social commentary then i) I apologise, but ii) read what you typed back to yourself before committing to the post.

          Let’s face it, these arguments are so familiar to ‘everyone’ on the internet now, it all seems a bit thinly veiled. You must have known it would almost certainly provoke MultiVac and mmandthetat’s comments.

          • Laurentius says:

            And what did I write? Is “trying to hard” an absolute criticism these days? Like I said tons of games want to bring diffrent points about love, death, war etc. home and vast amount of them fails. Popular reason why is because of “trying to hard”. That also happens in movies and tv series. These quoted part of a WIT is my definition of “trying to hard”, it struck me as being highlighted as game high point, otherwise I wouldn’t even bother commenting as this game is probably full “over the top moments” trodding from silly to stupid very quickly.

          • RichUncleSkeleton says:

            Yes, one wouldn’t want to inflame anyone else’s tender sensibilities by expressing mild skepticism for the latest demonstration of contrived left-wing grandstanding in a video game.

          • Laurentius says:

            @RichUncleSkeleton
            I don’t need your defense, gtfo.

          • Ericusson says:

            Good news about wannabes is the block function in comments.

          • battles_atlas says:

            As with Trump himself, the best thing about douchebags is not even they like each other.

          • mmandthetat says:

            It’s always fun to watch the racist backpedal into insisting they were simply making a completely objective observation on a case-by-case basis.

    • Jeremy says:

      What would be an example of “try just hard enough”? I mean this in all sincerity. If a pregnant black woman is “too much” then what sort of character would be appropriate? The fact that you are asking means you accept that “white male” is the baseline, and the sliding scale begins just outside of that accepted reality.

      • RichUncleSkeleton says:

        “White male” is the baseline and if it wasn’t, reviewers wouldn’t go out of their way to mention something like a pregnant black woman in the first place. This is not a normative argument, it’s an observation of the demographics of the people who make and play video games.

        • Jeremy says:

          Cool. Do you feel like you won this conversation then? Do you have an answer to the question?

          • RichUncleSkeleton says:

            How about drawing the line here: does a character’s “diverse” characteristics serve the story? Is it just window dressing to get a few brownie points from the usual suspects in the games media? Obviously I haven’t played TNC yet, so I can’t say whether a particular supporting character enhances or at least fits in with the story or not.

          • Jeremy says:

            You’re still buying into “white men are normative.” Can we both agree that there are pregnant black women in American society? Does including them have to be an agenda?

          • RichUncleSkeleton says:

            “Black woman… breastfeeding her baby daughter… and deconstructing the use of ‘balls’ as a synonym for bravery” is a little more elaborate and intentional than simply “black woman member of the resistance”. I’m pretty sure they didn’t randomly pick that particular combination of attributes out of a hat. Why should I pretend such a character doesn’t exist to service some underlying political or social agenda? It clearly does. The writer(s) clearly want us to take notice.

          • battles_atlas says:

            “does a character’s “diverse” characteristics serve the story?”

            Mate, its a game about resistance to Nazis taking over America. How in the fuck could ethnicity and gender not be relevant to the story?

      • Laurentius says:

        What would be an example of “try just hard enough”?

        It seems that simple reading is just “hard enough” for you. I quoted this WIT so all your examples are invalid, as is me asking to accept white male as a baseline. You just pulled that out of your ass. Anyway I will answer you anyway. Yes, black woman leading the resistance is perfectly fine as is pregnant black women.

        @RichUncleSkeleton
        I told you to gtfo, I don’t want your stupid shit to be aligind with my comments. I don’t share your sentiments. My comments are my own so are my answers.

        • Jeremy says:

          You literally wrote “try too hard”, I didn’t make that up. Maybe I’m misunderstanding your point?

          • Laurentius says:

            Do you know what quotation marks are? Well I used them in my initial comment and you simply stoped reading after five words. So this complete quote is definition of trying to hard, not pieces pulled separtely. That’s how “trying to hard” works, when you piles too much stuff to make things works but you should actually stoped one good step earlier.

    • datreus says:

      Meanwhile, typing ‘trying to hard’ is the precise definition of ‘not trying hard enough’.

  13. Michael Fogg says:

    I’m puzzled about the remark about enemy barks in HL2. The Combine troops, as far as I remember, had voices so distorted they were practically unintelligible.

    Regarding the action, it seems Wolf has the typical problem of games relying on hitscan weapons. Blazko in a Nazi’s LoS means Blazko gets hit. This forces the player into patient Jack-in-a-box tactics. Gets old.

    • Stijn says:

      You may not have been able to hear what exactly the Combine were saying, but I don’t agree that they were unintelligible – I quickly figured out which grunt corresponded to which situation, and often took cues from the barks to know whether there were any enemies left, et cetera. Which is the point of “enemy barks”, I’d argue – and they were very effective in that regard.

    • MrUnimport says:

      I think that’s a problem with reaction time really. Most corridor shooters that use semi-realistic guns are going to have hitscan weapons, or something close enough to them to count anyway. The key is to allow the player to stunlock enemies with bullets, or to catch them off guard and then break contact, so that the player can avoid damage in ways that don’t feel like DPS racing the mooks to death.

  14. Zenicetus says:

    The complaint about corridor/arena design sounds similar to the last game, where you could stealth the approach to a big fight, sometimes choosing a slightly different approach. But it was basically pre-determined that there would be a big fight with gonzo dual-wielding assault rifles or something at the end of the sequence.

    The devs seem to think this is a signature feature of the series, and I’m okay with that, as long as there is at least a little stealthing here and there. Like taking out the officers to prevent reinforcements. I hope that haven’t made that more difficult, because the difficulty seemed spot-on in the last game.

    My only real complaint with the previous game was a couple of boss fights that were too heavily scripted. You have to do THIS, and then THAT before the kill, instead of a freeform player agency to complete the fight. That’s endemic with most AAA shooters and action/RPG’s though. Good boss fights without heavy scripting and forced actions are rare.

  15. goodpoints says:

    So does the sequel drop the whole Elders of Zion thing with the Worldwide Secret Network of Jewish Intellectuals that ended up legitimizing a good bit of Nazi ideology?

    Though apparently this one has BJ’s father as a rabid anti-semite who needs a loan and marries a Jew because she’s the daughter of a wealthy banker. Which err…rubs me a tad wrong. It’s the same sort of cluelessness from the writers I previously mentioned. Do they not know about Jewish matrilineality? Why would a wealthy Jewish family marry off their daughter to a broke anti-semite?

    • Horg says:

      ”So does the sequel drop the whole Elders of Zion thing with the Worldwide Secret Network of Jewish Intellectuals that ended up legitimizing a good bit of Nazi ideology?”

      I can’t address any of your concern about TNC without having played it, but the techo-magical secretive Jewish inventors from game 1 did not ”legitimise a good bit of nazi ideology”. It was such a blatantly absurd fiction that no one should have taken it seriously or metaphorically. The whole concept of the secret society was to invent for the joy of creation and only release inventions that would positively impact the world. There was nothing political or relevant to contemporary history about that fiction.

      • Monggerel says:

        The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a popular nazi text, is a conspiracist screed about a secret Jewish Illuminati. The New Order includes a secret Jewish Illuminati. The Jewish Illuminati is benevolent, but the association is clear and present.
        I don’t think what is being claimed here is that Machine Games are anti-semitic. (that would be… somewhat absurd)
        The problem is that they’re tasteless.

        • MultiVaC says:

          I think it actually makes sense as a subversion of Nazi conspiracy theories. All of the technology that “made Germany great again” in this timeline was actually stolen from a secret group of Jewish intellectuals. And it turns out the secret Jewish society is actually pretty benign with no desire to control anyone else, while the Nazis are actually the ones who are lying, thieving parasites that hide behind the achievements of others. It’s ironic, and makes fascism and racial superiority look even more stupid and insecurely hypocritical.

          • Horg says:

            That’s basically what I got out of the Da’at Yichud. Comparing them to ‘jewish illuminati’ is stretching the comparison too far as they are not a political or economic entity, and the relevant part of nazi ideology was the existence of a jewish cabal heavily influencing the government and financial systems. The only relevant comparisons are being secretive, and jewish, and that’s hardly enough to drop the fiction into the category of poor taste.

          • Synesthesia says:

            This was my take on the Daat Yichud too, yeah. It’s another insult to nazi ideologies, another straw on their weak, weak collective backs. I liked it.

        • aldo_14 says:

          To be honest, I think the whole Da’at Yichud thing was the best possible way of overcoming the whole ‘Nazi’s have super-tech’ problem and of delegitimizing their victory in the games timeline. Plus (IIRC – been a while) it’s not equivalent to a Jewish illuminati, as they’re not shown, stated nor indicated to ever run anything (which is a core part of of the whole Illuminati mythology).

          • goodpoints says:

            Sure, Set says that Da’at Yichud never intended to use any of their laser weapons or mega-golems (The Monstrosity in TOB), but why would anyone believe them? I bet they were planning to resurrect Rosa Luxembourg and Kurt Eisner, then use their vast weapon stashes to arm the next Judeo-Bolshevik uprising. An Ancient Secret Society that’s dedicated to creating tons of super-weapons to stash in vaults all over the world is a worrying prospect, regardless of what ethno-religious group the members belong to. Even if their intentions were quite harmless, with all their knowledge they still somehow were unable to come up with a security system decent enough to keep a bunch of SS looters out. And really, isn’t it so typical that the Jews would hoard all their goodies in vaults and rarely use it.

            I understand the writers intention was to subvert Nazi racialism, but it essentially just recasts a vile anti-semitic trope in a sympathetic light. It also minimizes the intractability of Nazi racialism.he entire premise of the NSDAP leadership, research institutions, and the Welteislehre-endorsing SS being willing to use “Jewish science” is extremely implausible.

            Science in the Third Reich was inherently racial. Einstein and others were not merely persecuted for themselves being Jewish, but their ideas were Jewish Science and thus had to be purged from Deutsche Physik. Relativity reflected the Jewish proclivity for esoteric mathematics and the imponderable; contrary to the Nordic spirit of naturalism and empiric observation. Planck, Sommerfeld, and particularly Heisenberg (all gentiles who largely stayed out of politics) were personally attacked in an anonymous 1937 article called White Jews in Sciencein Das Schwarze Korps (the SS newspaper) as “puppets of Jewry in German intellectual life and must disappear as the Jews themselves.” Heisenberg had to get his mother to entreat her friend Anna Maria Himmler to plead his case to her son, Heinrich. Himmler wrote to Heydrich (who opposed Heis.) in mid ’38, “I likewise believe Heisenberg is decent; and we cannot afford to lose this man or have him killed, since he is relatively young and can bring up the next generation. (…) and we may be able to get this man, who is a good scientist, to cooperate with our people on the cosmic-ice theory [Welteislehre].”

            Though the ideological mission of Deutsche Physik faded from prominence faced with the practicalities of total war, it contributed to the endemic scientific dysfunction of the Third Reich. Purges and false informing were rife, Party connections were essential, and Reich Ministries, military branches, universities, and corporate R&D’s all frequently had competing projects with separate budgets. Total German patent applications fell from ~79k in 1930 to ~43k in 1940. Long-term military R&D planning was farcical with things like radar and fission research being neglected while the endless succession of costly and strategically negligible, Wunderwaffeprojects like the V-rockets, heavy tanks, long range subs, and jet aircraft continued to the end.

            Without even getting into oil, production or financial numbers; it should be plainly obvious that the German aim of imperializing either the Francosphere or the Slavosphere, let alone both, was doomed from the start. The only war goal Germany ever had the capability to be remotely successful in was the campaign of genocide against the Untermenschen of the occupied territories, it was the goal it came closest to achieving.

            And it’s for this reason that I take serious issue with how The New Wolfenstein fashions a Jewish conspiracy as the deus ex machina of Nazi victory. Instead of Jewish genocide being the ultimate culmination of centuries of oppression, ghettoization, Racial Science, imperialism, widespread conspiracy theories, and innumerable instances of moral cowardice; it becomes pragmatically justifiable. Da’at Yichud had secret technology that could win the war, Germany had to take it and had to eliminate any potential members of Da’at Yichud (difficult with a secret society, easier to just eliminate all Jews) so no enemy Nation or Race could learn to develop similar tech.

            I admire what the Wolfenstein series has always done (well, at least post-W3D) by attempting to be a sort of ridiculous action game version of The Great Dictator or Boys From Brazil. That is, portraying Nazism as both a particularily charismatic form of reactionary trends that neither originated nor died with Hitler; as well combating post-war mystique by ridiculing Nazi leadership as the circus of incompetent batshit scatophilic Bond villains they actually were. It’s always been a good antidote to the usual video game/movie Nazis who are always united in purpose, technologically superior (by their own merits), rational, and efficient. But when it comes to lambasting Aryanism, NewWolf doesn’t even compare to the brilliance of RtCW, or even the far lesser Wolfenstein ’09. Truly, the scene of Himmler’s reaction after BJ defeats King Heinrich is the most hilarious and cathartic video game Nazi moment. But more importantly, ascribing the historically divergent success of the Nazis to supernatural forces is both far more plausible than about any other explanation, and a hilarious mockery of actual Nazi/Volkisch occultism and pseudo-science that was most prevalent in the SS.

            Return to Castle Wolfenstein is the closest a video game has gotten to Gravity’s Rainbow; The New Order is more akin to Robert Harris’ Fatherland. What The New Wolfenstein needed was more Welteislehre, undead Teutonic Knights, some Nordic gods appearing (with Wagnerian costumes treated as historical ofc), and wacky Aryan archaeology (looting); not so much the tonedeaf propagation of anti-semitic conspiracies. The Old Blood sort of attempted this, but fell flat by being bound to TNO’s retconing.

  16. duns4t says:

    Does this one carry over the maddening unmarked level transitions where the next door you go through may permanently close behind you before you’ve sought out all the secret items? I hated how they encouraged exploration and collecting, yet regularly prevented you from collecting because the vent you explored turned out to force a scene transition and saved your progress past it.

    • Dugular says:

      You can replay levels in the first game, so you were never blocked from getting all collectibles. Same with the new DOOM. And therefore safe to bet that the same applies to this game.

  17. Faxanadu says:

    I just came here for the funny comments about the political agenda of the game. (Not something I would have expected to be a thing ten years ago…) Was not disappointed.

    • tnzk says:

      It’s becoming a thing in almost every medium now. Everything is politicised.

      I remember when I enjoyed Mad Max: Fury Road on the opening night for what it was: just a really freaking good action movie.

      That was before everyone jumped in and talked about its contribution to the feminist agenda.

      It’s getting really annoying now, all of it. Doubly so for the video game community, where to be perfectly honest, most opinions in this area are ill-informed.

      • battles_atlas says:

        It’s what happens when the world is falling apart due to economic inequality, and the 4th estate can’t talk about it. All that seething anger instead gets diverted into other (legitimate) concerns, rendering them completely toxic. See also Brexit, Trump.

      • jman420 says:

        I agree its getting old. its been old. why can’t the game just be entertainment? maybe, just maybe, thats what its primary purpose is? Maybe there isn’t an underlaying political meaning to all of it. And even if there is, who cares? I came here because I wanted to find out if the reviews on steam were accurate about the many performance issues…all I”ve seen is mud slinging bs

      • goodpoints says:

        Yeah, how shocking that people might discuss the politics of a game about Nazis occupying the USA and finding eager collaborators in the Klan. The developers even did their darndest to stay out of current politics.

  18. Hao-Sen Lin says:

    I hope if they make another wolf game it will be set in retro-futuristic Imperial Japan, I feel like that would lend itself to a really cool aesthetic. The story in this game seems nice if you’re interested in story based games but I feel like I would just find it a bit disruptive and annoying, that’s part of why I never got around to playing TNO, I really dislike the thing modern shooters do where they constantly put really long non-combat sections where you just listen to exposition or walk really slowly. I don’t mind sitting through it once but it makes playing through multiple times really annoying because if I’m playing really quickly I end up having to spend almost as much time in unskippable story sections as I do in the gameplay sections.

    The sense of humour seems kind of strange, I don’t know if I like it or not, it’s a cool choice though. It seems like almost everything is both serious and playful at the same time, over-the-top but still grounded a bit.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Interesting idea, because I was also wondering whether the same idea could be used for an alternate history with Japan winning the war in the Pacific. Maybe the USA split east-west with the Nazis holding the East Coast and Imperial Japan holding the West Coast. I can’t recall reading anything in the last game’s newspapers about whether Japan was still involved in an alliance with Germany?

      Probably a tougher subject to do with a sensitivity to modern Japan, while retaining the over-the-top comic elements. The Nazis were ridiculed (Charlie Chan, Marx Brothers, etc.), but the Japanese were de-humanized to a much greater extent in US wartime propaganda.

      Given the way the surrender was negotiated, with Hirohito still allowed to remain as nominal emperor, it might be harder to pull off without major controversy and political backlash. On the other hand, the Chinese market for the game would be massive, especially with a Chinese superhero stud instead of ‘ol BJ.

  19. baud001 says:

    Even as a white supremacist, racist and MRA, I’ll play this game since I don’t care about its political agenda. And I can play as an Übermensch, so that’s even better.

  20. PuttyGod says:

    Just wanted to hop in here and say that reading this comments section is making me ill. All of it, not one side or another. So much forced sincerity and self-righteous claims to morality. So many people parroting the words of their favorite news media sources presuming personal experience with the topic.
    Not what I expect, nor want, to see in a video game discussion.

    How’s the game play?

    • CheeseFarts says:

      It plays just fine.
      Just kick everyone out of your room.

    • Buggery says:

      Ah, just what was missing. A video games centrist to claim moral authority.

      • CheeseFarts says:

        WOT? You cant play this with some fucks criticising left and right.
        So throw them outta the room. Game is a blast.
        Wouldnt want to watch Hateful Eight with Statler and Waldorf commenting, would you? On the other hand……

    • Synesthesia says:

      This has to be some sort of satire. It just has to.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      So sad the moral equivalence broflake is made uncomfortable by people discussing the themes and ideas contained in a game. How is the gameplay indeed.

    • battles_atlas says:

      This man wants a number of out ten. PLEASE GOD SOMEONE GET THIS MAN A NUMBER!

    • JohnnyJustice91 says:

      Hi. It’s actually my job to talk to workers, I was a blue collar worker since I was a teenager for a decade (to help support my household), and I have formal political education through a fine university.

      Nazis are bad, people carrying the tiki-torches in North Carolina are espousing National-Populist views (the cultural source of fascist governments), and the ideology is inherently predatory.

      Sometimes it is fun to pretend to shoot these people in a video game, even if the video game is probably funded by Wall-Street money and feels a bit insincere at times.

      How’s that for sincerity? Did I just regurgitate a talking point that rubbed you the wrong way?

  21. CheeseFarts says:

    CatMonkey? Proper!

  22. Premium User Badge

    Thulsa Hex says:

    First of all, I was pleasantly surprised to see a review before launch, y’know, coz of Bethesda’s crappy “no advance copies” policy…

    Anyway, I’m digging Adam’s thoughts! I like hearing that they’ve doubled down on characterisation, etc, as I’ve missed the narrative stuff that came with late-90s/early-00s FPS games. Some of the gameplay complaints definitely seem like hold-overs from the New Order, but there have been so many “choose-your-approach” stealth games in the past 5 years and I’m kinda looking forward to just shooting shitheads. That said, I would have absolutely been down for a Mass Effect-like structure around said shooting. I’m also totally ok with the game making a big, bombastic, unsubtle attack an all things shit about today’s politics. Catharsis is good for the soul, so bring it on!

    OH SHIT! The game is unpacking on Steam as I type this, and it’s only 9pm-ish in California (this is my first new Steam release on this side of the continent). YUSSSSS.

    • Premium User Badge

      Thulsa Hex says:

      Oof… ended-up going at it for four hours. Would’ve kept going but for sleepiness. Quick thoughts…

      The intro exposition is pretty intense! If you’ve played TNO, you know what to expect for the most part. I’m really enjoying the shooty-stuff. Definitely of the same vein as the previous Wolfie, but with a couple of nice tweaks. I like how it looks, too, and I’m excited to see what lies beyond the opening areas (aforementioned sleepiness became a hurdle to progress).

      Not many negatives, so far. As Adam’s review mentions, there isn’t a whole lot of intuitive feedback as to how much damage BJ is taking. I would say that this has been my main gameplay frustration. Otherwise, the Steam overlay doesn’t work (thus no Steam screenshots), and there doesn’t seem to be a quick save key, despite being able to save at any time from pause screen.

      FWIW, it runs buttery-smooth with everything maxed at 1080p on i7-4790K, GTX 1070, and 16 GB RAM. I don’t see a jump to 1440p taxing things too much.

      Now to bed, so that I can pick up Mario in the morning. What a bloody amazing AAA game weekend!

      • CheeseFarts says:

        F5 for quickest saves.

      • CheeseFarts says:

        Also your health maximum is 50 (units, percent, things)and you die damn fast, armor is crucial. Everything over 50 health will vanish over time.

        • Premium User Badge

          Thulsa Hex says:

          Knew I had to be wrong about the quicksave. I just didn’t see it in the keybindings!

          (Edit: realising that you might not actually be misunderstanding me about the “damage feel”, but just adding a point. If so, my bad!)

          With the health, yeah, I mean I can obviously see the numbers on the screen when I look down, but I’m talking about (as I think Adam was, too) how when you get hit, the feedback cues—visual, aural, or otherwise—are not good at conveying impact. This means you’re often getting slugged with something that decimates your health/armour much more drastically than it feels. If I felt more of an impact from a heavier weapon, I would be more likely to instinctively run to cover, avoiding a lot of semi-unexpected deaths.

          This might be less of an issue when playing with a game pad w/vibration, but for M&KB it’s important to have some other sort of sensory indicator of such things.

          • CheeseFarts says:

            Dont worry u will get more health but!
            Simple facts here : Shoot them, run around, dont do standoffs and when in doubt, throw the axe. Its way more Doomish than The New Order. Also : Don`t loose your Head.

          • ryanrockit says:

            Agree with Thulsa .. the weak visual cues that I’m taking damage are my only complaint.. quibble, really.
            I just can’t get over how well the game engine performs.. the environments are stunning. The ruins of NYC make me long for the next Fallout game !

  23. TeeJay says:

    I want to know if the ‘minimum specs’ are true.

    I’ve got a mildly overclocked 2500k and a gtx 970 which have been fine for most games at 1440p with decent settings.

    Anyone seen any benchmarks yet?

  24. zauberkraut says:

    This should be called “Quentin Tarantino’s Wolfenstein”. I did not find the game funny nor entertaining.

    • CheeseFarts says:

      Lord Quentin would.

    • E_FD says:

      I assume you mean because it’s got cartoonishly grotesque violence in a WWII setting, but I don’t think the comparison is fair to Tarantino. Say what you want about the overall quality of the movie, Inglorious Basterds is an intentional, self-aware melange of contradictory genre troupes that’ve sprung out of different strains of WWII-based narrative fiction.

      New Wolfenstein (at least TNO, can’t speak for the sequel yet) wants us to accept a single, tonally-consistent narrative, one that treats shooting robot Nazis on the moon with the same emotional weight as a trudge through a concentration camp a level earlier.

      • CheeseFarts says:

        Are u guys crazy? This is Tarantino deluxe.
        Mad love, mixed with mad violence and some comic relieve way beyond shitty attempts as seen in Star Wars episode One`?
        For me its like Tarantino and Rodriguez conspired to make a video game to show em all how its done. FUCK YOU.
        BTW. ITS A DAMN GOOD GAME.

  25. grrrz says:

    I played the first one because I found the story and “universe” appealing, not necessarily for the gameplay, and wasn’t disapointed on the story front. I’m not this much fond of run-and-gunning, but the stealth sections made it fun to play (like any game of this type, If I get detected, I consider it a game over, instant reload). I usually find fighting big robots and mecha dogs really tedious, but whatever makes the story move forward. Looking forward to this anyway, specially since the developers and marketing took an extra-dedication in trying to piss off the kind of people who are offended about a game where you kill nazis (plus they’re apparently rising actual political issues in a meaningful way). just tell me when they’ve ironed it out enough so it can run smoothly on a regular configuration.

  26. ryanrockit says:

    Machine and Id really have given us an amazing game and your review is insightful and chock-full of intelligent observations. Keep them coming, sir !

  27. Marclev says:

    Huh, you review a Wolfenstein game and complain of stealth being difficult to pull off.

    Are you perhaps confusing this with a different game? The joy comes from getting knee deep into the action and killing the bad guys in as spectacular bullet hell fashion as possible!

    Any pretence of stealth simply exists to frame the inevitable action and perhaps whittle down their numbers a bit before a big shoot out.

    • grrrz says:

      well, some people enjoy gutting their nazis from behind, what’s wrong with it?

      • Marclev says:

        Nothing at all, but this is a series noted for all-out action where you can dual-wield assault shotguns. Expecting to be able to stealth through levels and then complaining when the game doesn’t want to be played like that seems … somewhat misplaced!

        Although I’m playing it now and the stealth seems about right. You can sneak around, but if someone spots you and raises the alarm (note you can kill them before they do so if you’re quick), all hell breaks lose and the only way you have of quietening things down is by killing everyone.

  28. CitizenX3639 says:

    I used to LOVE WW2 games but currently playing the previous title I just don’t feel the same. The enemies of our current state, the Antifa and alt left, has weakened what was easily the enemy. Now the enemy is a neighbor, friend and all because they are morons.

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