Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is the follow-up to Wolfenstein: The New Order, the Machine Games reboot of the popular franchise.
You take on the role of soldier B.J. Blazkowicz in an alternate past where the world has been taken over by Nazis, who have reigned since winning World War II. Think Philip K Dick’s Man in the High Castle. In an American setting, you will be fighting side by side with members of the resistance as you prepare to kill Nazis in all manners of gruesome ways, in a bid to free the US of Nazi rule.
While the game is essentially a corridor shooter, a straight line from A to B with little opportunity to wander, the game has a lot more going for it than that.
At first glance, it may appear that it lacks in storytelling and narrative, not unlike a big screen explosion-fest from Hollywood, but there is more on offer in this alternate history. For instance, it humanises Nazis, with the aim of proving that they are nothing more than pure evil. The action juggle chainsaws with how much it tries to do, ultimately taking on too much, and the stealth isn’t quite as powerful as it was in the previous instalment of the franchise.
The game isn’t simply about death, murder, and the catharsis that comes from shooting Nazis. There is a treasure trove of stories here. The downside, however, is that there simply aren’t enough opportunities to explore them.
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus doesn’t shy away from topical but controversial issues, such as feminism, racism and white privilege, with darker scenes that portray Klu Klux Klan and Nazis working together, for instance. It does, however, handle these darker themes well, with a sufficient amount of emotional depth and drama. It also refuses to provide easy answers to questions that pervade the hearts of the characters.
A number of critics have described the game as an attack on religion and conservative political movements. The game's creators responded by saying that they began working on the script in 2014, well before the current political climate emerged.
While the message of the game is interesting, it may not be the game for those not politically-minded. There are plenty of fun games around, whether video games or online. The best shoot 'em ups in 2017 include Jamestown and Beat Hazard, both available through Steam. Online, there are no shortage of lighter games out there with in online casinos, with promotions to be claimed for games such as Greedy Goblins or Satoshi's Secret. Indeed, gamers' time may well be better spent elsewhere.
For those who can't wait to get stick into the Nazis, however, there are unfortunately clearly issues with regards to how it handles combat, and the game's failed attempt to pack in as much as possible leaves a lot to be desired. Where the game thrives is in its ability to get its ‘social’ message across. It’s that rarest of shoot ‘em ups, where the first-person shooter is comfortable tapping into his primal nature while feeling just how good it is to drop a Nazi. Whether that’s the right social message or not is a whole other debate.