Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus - Brutal Backlog
Brutal Backlog is a semi-regular feature where the JDR team play through some of the unplayed games on their shelves (both digital and physical), disregarding their age or the technical limitations of their era. Only the very best titles will stand up to scrutiny today.
Look, I’ll be honest, I don’t have a good reason for waiting 5 years to play Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. The title has been on my radar since I beat Wolfenstein: The New Order in 2014, and if I was less…whatever adjective you want to use, I would’ve written about it when I started reviewing games here at Jump Dash Roll in 2020. But for some reason that’s already been lost to history, I didn’t, and instead opted to wait until the game was $7 (about the price of 1 gallon of petrol) during the Steam Summer Sale to buy it. And now that I have, I’m desperately curious to see if the sequel to my favourite boomer shooter is any good.
One Hour In
I’ve barely beaten the first couple of levels of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and my curiosity has already been satisfied in a bad way. While I’m certainly entranced with the game’s graphics, and the gunplay feels a lot smoother than it was in its predecessor, everything else in the title just doesn’t seem all that good.
When I say everything else, I of course mean its narrative and characters, both of which appear to be entirely forgettable. It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly why that is, but my best guess is because there simply aren’t any stakes this time around. Blowjob Blazkowicz and his rag-tag team of resistance fighters have barely started their journey, and despite that, they have access to a Superman suit, a nuclear submarine, the power of an ancient civilization and a cache of nuclear weapons. The team’s goal —to retake the United States from the Nazis— will probably require more than that, but I’m still finding it hard to get invested in a story where my character is attempting be just a rebel with a cause when he also has the entirety of the NRA’s gun cabinet in his underwater base.
I’m interested to see how the story progresses, but I also can’t remember the last time when I was so unenthused about a title less than an hour into it.
Four Hours In
I’m a bit further in the game’s story (about halfway, if I had to guess), and I’m now officially hyper-unenthused about it. After playing through another handful of missions, I’ve decided that’s mainly because the game’s writing is utter dogshit; the main plot has so many holes that it looks like one of BJ’s targets, and the characters are one-dimensional and forgettable. If you asked me to recount any of the details of what I’ve played over the past four hours, I honestly couldn’t tell you because, well, it just wasn’t interesting.
I think it has something to do with the resistance trying to retake the United States by acquiring a superweapon or something, but at this point I could just be thinking of the plot of Wolfenstein: The New Order. I also couldn’t tell you anything about the characters, because it just seems like they’re all stereotypes that were clearly written to be something more than that by an 11-year-old who doesn’t know how to write.
But I could forgive that, and often do when it comes time to review Call of Duty every year, if the gameplay wasn’t so bland. I can’t believe that I’m about to criticise a Bethesda title for its shooting, however I need to get this off my chest: bullets are weirdly limited, and the enemies who soak them up like a sponge aren’t, which is the exact opposite of what should happen in shooters. I’m just straight up not having a good time right now because of this, and unless something drastic changes as I enter the game’s final act…well, I guess I’ve played worse games at least.
Six Hours In
I’ve played Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus for two more hours, and I can say definitively that everything I’ve talked about previously is still true. The plot hasn’t done anything interesting, the characters are all terribly written and the gameplay still feels an awful lot like a first-person Division (the original, The Division 2 is a bloody masterpiece).
But, seeing as I need to fill my word count somehow, I want to give an example of what I’m talking about by spoiling a specific mission that occurs towards the end of the game. Scroll down ~150 words if you don’t want some vague details of a five-year-old game ruined for you.
The mission in question involves Señor B.J. needing to acquire the codes to some sort of doomsday device. The catch is, however, that the codes are kept on the Nazi’s base on Venus (and no, I don’t know when they built that or where it was in the first game either), so B.J. essentially fast-travels to Venus, and after a quick bit of exposition, kills his way through a horde of Nazis and then returns home.
I’m not trying to make this mission sound boring; that’s literally how it’s presented in the game, and I think that’s the problem with Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. It’s almost impossible for the story to ramp up from what happened in Wolfenstein: The New Order, so now everything just seems kind of mediocre. Except the shooting, that feels weirdly terrible.
It’s possible that this mission, and all the other ones like it (including the one where you ride a robot dog through a ghetto which takes the place of the mission that let you ride a robot robot through a concentration camp in Wolfenstein: The New Order) are just flukes that’ll lead to an amazing final sequence, but somehow I doubt it. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.
It is absurd to me how absolutely forgettable my time with Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was. The oft-mentioned Wolfenstein: The New Order was such a great title that defined the boomer shooter genre, but this one just feels like a word-for-word rehash of it with way worse gunplay. The story has almost the exact same stakes, the characters all undergo the same exact arcs, and hell even half the missions are little more than reskins of missions from it. I’m hesitant to say that the game is bad (again, except its gunplay, which is entirely too bullet sponge-y), but I’m also incredibly hesitant to recommend it when Wolfenstein: The New Order is cheaper and is properly unique. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus’ graphics are nice, but outside of that, I’ve already forgotten everything about the title that I didn’t write down, which should tell you everything you need to know about it.
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