Killing Nazis and making America great again, “Wolfenstein II” lets you do both

Charles Rankin

2017 was a year full of protests, political turmoil and a heavy prevalence of social issues. It was the perfect time for the release of “Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.”

The Wolfenstein video game series has really been about one thing, killing Nazis, and “New Colossus” is no different. Developed by MachineGames and published by Bethesda, “Wolfenstein II” sends the player into an alternate history, where the Axis powers have won World War II, and the Third Reich of the Nazi regime has taken control of the United States. The game follows William “B.J.” Blazkowicz in 1961, as he fights this Nazi regime, and with the help of some fellow resistance members, tries to take back America from the Reich.

Bethesda, while mostly known for its large, open world, role-playing games such as the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series, has released a fairly linear, first-person shooter game with everything you would expect from a one like “New Colossus.” It has a variety of weapons, enemies and even some bionic upgrades to the player’s body, all of which help you navigate your way through various maps, killing as many Nazis as you can along the way.

At the end of each of these maps is a cutscene or a series of cutscenes, which are the best part of this game. The story of “New Colossus” is absolutely one of the best cinematic adventures ever taken in recent video game history. The characters, a variety of nationalities, ethnicities, genders and personalities, are really what makes the story great. Besides Blazkowicz, there are characters such as Grace Walker, a charismatic African-American woman reminiscent of real-life leaders of the Black Panther movement, Anya, the pregnant love interest of Blazkowicz who can fight right alongside her lover and Sigrun, the overweight, former Nazi who joins the resistance after witnessing the brutality of the Nazis firsthand and after being pushed away from her mother, the main antagonist of the game, who berates Sigrun for her deviant thoughts and dreams.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the storyline is the presence of themes and issues, intentionally or otherwise, facing our society today such as extreme poverty, the suppression of minorities and the rise of white supremacist and Neo-Nazi movements in America.

The gameplay itself in “New Colossus” is one of the biggest issues I had with the game. The play is fairly smooth and the technical issues are minimal, however, the few issues I encountered while playing on my Xbox One were significant. In one map, after firing a specific dual-wielded weapon, much of the sound cut out, making the game difficult to play. In another instance, my game completely crashed and I lost about 10 minutes of difficult progression in playing time. Bethesda is notorious for such crashes with their games, and I was quite pleased that it didn’t occur in my play-through until just under 10 hours of playing time.

The difficulty and repetition of the play was also an issue I had. I played at the second to lowest difficulty throughout the game to get to the story and cutscenes as quickly as possible. Even though I did this, there were many times I had to play through a section of the game over and over again after being killed. It got to point near the end of the game that I had to stop, turn off the game and come back to it hours later for fear that I would throw my controller through my TV screen. This happened on three separate occasions in the same level. Also, with the exception of two or three, most of the levels felt pretty much the same as far as shooting and fighting went.

All in all, this game, especially the storyline, is fantastic. The monotony combined with the difficulty of the levels made the breaks to storyline cutscenes feel like a big reward at times. The fact that the story is so good made the reward really pay off. If you plan to play this game, and I would absolutely recommend you do, do yourself and favor; unless you really want to challenge yourself or feel comfortable in first person shooters, play at a lower difficulty and really enjoy the story that takes place in these cutscenes.

Score: 4.5/5