Wolfenstein II : The New Colossus Review
First released in October of last year, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is the newest addition to the Switch library. Published by Bethesda and ported by the studio Panic Button, this transition to the handheld will satisfy all of your Nazi bloodthirst on the go!
Set in the 60’s in an alternate universe where the Nazis have won World War II and are now ruling over America, this first-player shooter puts you once again in the shoes of William J. Blazkowicz, an American spy whose mission is to have a “blast” taking out the Nazi regime.
If you have not played Wolfenstein: The New Order, this sequel offers you a good “Previously on” recap so you’re not completely thrown to the wolves when the game picks up where it left off. Then, right off the bat, you must yet again choose to sacrifice one of your friends, Wyatt or Fergus. Each choice affects the ending and some dialogues. You also acquire a different weapon based on your choice.
The adventure unfolds in a succession of chapters and is very narrative-driven for a shooter of this genre. The story does not hesitate to balance seriousness and humor and these shifts in tone allow for a colorful and multifaceted story.
The palette of characters is colorful and varied. B.J.’s squad feels alive, each bringing their unique personality to the group dynamic. You get recurring characters such as Max Hess and Bombate and also newcomers like the rebel leader Grace Walker. As for General Frau Engel, she is one ruthless villain. This vicious psychopath gives Vaas from Far Cry 3 a run for his money, often giving a show while showing sadistic mercilessness.
Here, the Switch pushes its limits to offer the traditional Wolfenstein experience of decimating the Nazi ranks through high-action guns-blazing combat.
In order to port this big title to the handheld, the resolution and framerate had to be sacrificed in part. For instance, the studio used dynamic scaling, making the graphics somewhat blurry from afar but appear better as you get close. However, since most of the environments were dark and gloomy, this problem was not too apparent unless maybe you have a very high resolution TV.
On handheld, there was some texture pop-in at times, especially when opening and closing the in-game menu and the FPS dropped occasionally but mostly when there were swarms of enemies filling up the screen. It is also worth noting that I encountered a glitch when starting the game that did not let me choose the menu settings but I solved it by simply restarting the Switch. While these details can prove to be annoying, they were never frustrating enough to affect the overall experience. And credits should always be given to the fact that we are playing a triple A title on handheld.
Apart from that, the visual style looks great, from the badass Nazi armors to the world’s details and Nazi aesthetics. Some set pieces like Roswell in New Mexico are stunning while areas like New York look desolate and gloomy. Other times are spent in underground bunkers and tunnels, which are very dark and gritty.
As for the sounds and voice acting, the cast delivers a solid performance. The dialogues are believable and engaging, which is good because cinematics are frequent and lengthy throughout the campaign. While they are well-crafted and play like a movie, they may sometimes stop you in your tracks, forcing you to settle the controller for a few minutes. This sometimes disrupted the flow of the experience.
There are 7 difficulty levels to choose from, ranging from “Can I Play, Daddy” to “I Am Death Incarnate”. There is also a bonus mode called “Mein Leben” for the most thick-skinned players seeking a real challenge.
“One life only – game over if you die.”
The controls are very responsive and smooth. The combat is brutal, fast-paced and it flows well although sometimes, handling B.J. is a bit choppy and awkward, especially when jumping over cover. Other than that, the enemies are varied and the bulletproof soldiers in power suits make for thrilling encounters. It is also empowering to strategically take out officers first, before they get a chance to call for reinforcements. Even though the levels are linear, they are convoluted enough to feel fresh and unique.
As for gunplay, the game encourages you to vary your artillery and types of attacks. For instance, you can dual wield weapons, gaining gun power but sacrificing accuracy. Melee is always an option and very useful if you go for a more stealthy approach. They also incorporated a weapon upgrade mechanic. These upgrades are found in the world and are rather scarce, so they must be used wisely. Each upgrade has a different effect and it is a welcome addition to an otherwise pretty standard arsenal. Furthermore, perks are awarded depending on the type of kill (environmental, stealth, overcharged, headshot) and they can be spent on three categories: Stealth, Mayhem or Tactical.
Note that ammo and health bonuses scattered in the levels are limited and on harder difficulty, they require strategic management.
Throughout the adventure, there are no bosses, which was a disappointment as combat became repetitive at times. Thankfully, the set pieces in-between combat are interesting and make up for it, such as walking around the submarine headquarters and talking to everyone or the Nazi Parade in New Mexico.
Also, this game has no multiplayer and really focuses on the single-player experience, which is refreshing this day and age.
The Switch incorporates the motion controls and can be fun for aiming from a distance. They provide a nice alternative to the PS4 and Xbox One versions. HD rumble is also incorporated, although not groundbreaking by any means.
A first playthrough lasts for around 12 to 15 hours, which is decent by today’s standards. There are many collectibles and secrets in each level, whether they are newspaper, photos or reports, and they provide a nice backdrop to the story. If you intend to collect them all, you may add a few hours to your campaign.
There is also always the option to choose to sacrifice your other friend at the start and see what weapon you get this time around. Or you can try the harder difficulty levels and even the hardest, which will probably have you breaking a sweat.
However, unless you are a completionist, there may not be much incentive to replay.
All in all, I had a good time with Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. I am not a huge FPS fan but surprisingly, this title was rather enjoyable. Evidently, in order to play on handheld, you have to expect some compromise in performance, but they never broke immersion.
Combat was fun and played smoothly. One moment, I found myself silently taking down enemies from around corners and the other, blasting them to oblivion with the laser gun. I loved how the world felt alive and dangerous. The cast of characters were great and made you care about them even though the story may feel a bit empty by the end of the game. It really feels like they are setting up for a sequel.
Bottom line, if you already own a PS4 or Xbox One, you could pick up the Collector’s Edition and enjoy high-quality graphics on these powerful consoles. However, if you solely own a Switch and are looking for a more adult action-oriented title with an interesting story that has you care for the characters all the while destroying any Nazi mechs that stands in your way, Wolfenstein II is this adventure is for you.
- Great cast and engaging story
- Smooth and varied combat
- Weapon upgrades and perk system
- Graphics and performance hiccups
- Switch motion controls are not groundbreaking
- Lasting Appeal7
- Fun Factor9