Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is (much like the predecessor) a game that instils emotion, fear and joy from the moment you pick up the pad. It’s a well rounded and simply fantastic sequel that will have your heart pounding and blood racing from beginning to end. There’s more guns, more action and more Nazis to blast apart as you once again take on the roll of hero B.J. Blazkowicz – aka ‘Terror Billy’ – a bad ass protagonist that’s out to put an end to the evil tyrants once and for all. The New Colossus takes place straight after the events of The New Order and sees main man B.J. recovering from his fight with General Deathshead. It’s immediately clear that B.J. isn’t in the best of shape, but with so much left to accomplish he manages to compose himself and once again drag his own weight into the horrific fray that lies in wait.
There’s no requirement to play The New Order (though I highly recommend doing so if you haven’t) to understand what’s going on in The New Colossus. In fact you’re given a brief recap of the first game and are even able to select from a decision that you could make in the predecessor. This decision will indeed somewhat alter the course of your play-through and although it wont affect the arc of the story too much, the incentive to play the game again to see the different cut-scenes and utilise the decision-specific weaponry is strong. When you’ve made your decision and have witnessed the impressively robust and emotional opening cut-scene, The New Colossus firmly reminds you that you’re in deep shit and you need to do anything you can to climb out of it, and if anyone is fit for the job it’s Terror Billy. This is made instantly apparent as you ruthlessly dispose of the Nazis that are invading your U-boat, all from the comfort of your wheelchair.
It’s a brilliant opening that manages to relay so many emotions in one heavy handed serving, giving your the basics of play whilst not holding your hand too much. To get you up to speed with the story, the Nazis have won the war through taking advantage of stolen technology. Everyday life and your bog standard civilians seem to have chewed the proverbial bullet and have accepted the new leadership, but you and your crew are not quite as accommodating and plan to kick start a revolution in an attempt to fight back. Armed with an ever growing collection of wild and powerful weaponry as well as a manual save feature – should you need it – it’s from this point onward that you sit back and soak up one of the most action-packed games available on Xbox One. Not only that, but it’s surprisingly well written and incredibly well voiced by the vast cast of interesting characters within, ensuring that it’s equally as intriguing as it is explosive.
First person shooters rarely house a story that can be considered outstanding, but The New Colossus is undoubtedly one of the few exceptions to that notion. There are far too many instances within the plot that will thoroughly immerse and captivate you, but to avoid spilling any spoilers I’ll leave it at that. Take my word for it this first person shooter has personality and soul, if indeed silly at times. The same can be said about the excellent gameplay too, which is just as well crafted and refined as the first game. Each and every weapon that you can lay your hands on feels magnificently efficient, despite which of the seven difficulty tiers you select from. The fact that you can dual wield any weapon combination that takes your fancy is exhilarating and proves to be more than handy throughout the course of the 10 – 14 hour campaign.
You’re also able to upgrade your weapons too which can dramatically change the way that you play the game. You can go from a trigger happy adrenaline-fuelled romp to a stealthy but equally as deadly hatchet equipped silent assassin. The New Colossus typically allows you to carve your own path to your current objective, always ensuring that you can choose how you play. Health and armour pick ups will be dotted around each of the intricately designed maps, but nothing really prepares you for the encounters that you’re subject to. It’s a game that has you relying on precision and tact just as much as it has you depending on reflex and awareness. It’s not an overly difficult game, but you can easily be overpowered if you let your guard down. With that in mind there’s several collectables that you can pick up, ranging from gold bars, star cards, concept art and more. This adds another layer of replay value to the mix, which sits nicely on top of the option to play the game again when taking the alternate choice at the beginning of the experience.
It’s the sheer amount of collectables that leads me to my one and only gripe about the game. The larger maps in the game can become overly complex and confusion, which really doesn’t help when you’re trying to seek out each of the collectables within. Whilst the design and the visuals – on all fronts – are well detailed and thoroughly engaging, there’s nothing more irritating than getting lost time and time again. With that to the side there’s very little to complain about when it comes to the gameplay. Gameplay is further bolstered by the inclusion of upgradeable perks which gifts you with the ability to improve you stats across a range of traits such as improved movement when crouched or increased maximum ammo capacity. There’s more than enough to benefit you on your way through and make the game marginally easier on the tougher difficulty settings. When you’re not mowing down Nazis you’ll be spending time in your base of operations (the U Boat mentioned above), in which you can engage with other characters and take on some side missions, which fleshes out the already impressive amount of content.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is an excellently crafted first person shooter that brings a near perfect blend of cinematic sequences and thrilling gameplay. It’s visually stunning, it feels great to play, it runs magnificently well and there’s a decent amount of content within which is further heightened by the generous serving of replay value. This is all tied together by some stellar voice acting across the entirety of the cast. The varying weapons, perks and freedom to play is outstanding and despite my slight issue with larger maps being too complex and confusing, there’s no denying that this stands as one of the best shooters of the year so far. 1960’s Nazi America is compelling, unique and entertaining. This is how you make a sequel and I implore everyone to try this out.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.