Wolfenstein


Grr.

I’ve always been a fan of the Wolfenstein series – Wolf3D was my first FPS, Return to Castle Wolfenstein is one of my favourite games of all times and has the most solid multiplayer component ever to grace a shooter – but I was pretty dumbstruck when they announced a sequel. It’s been a while since the last game, gaming has changed quite a bit, and so have the mechanics and expectations; I’ll try and judge this on its own merit.


You’ll be interacting with Resistance groups quite often.

Being a sequel, you once again strap on the manly boots on Agent B.J. “I might as well not have a name for all the personality I get” Blazkowicz, who now has a face like a sand brick and a matching voice. And again, you will have to infiltrate the Third Reich and stop Heinrich Himmler’s SS Paranormal Division from conquering the world with their supernatural superscience superduo.


Whoosh.


You can choose from various objectives in the main sandbox area.

To its credit, the gameplay is fluid, the controls are nice and responsive, and it sets a nice pace of action, giving you time to scrounge and check for loot in between the action. What Wolfenstein really feels like is RtCW, but more: more ways to play, more weapons, more ways to play the weapons…


Mauser carbine with silencer and scope. Yes.


Upgrading weapons is not just an aesthetic, but essential for giving you the edge in battle.


Lights out + fireaxe = mine is an evil laugh

And it certainly takes the craziness up another notch. Killing the giant sword-wielding spell-casting dark knight with a chaingun and tesla cannon at the end of RtCW was epic enough, but Wolf goes head-over-cliff and brings invisible assassins, power-armored supersoldiers, jetpack troopers (naturally), otherworldly demons, force fields and teleportators and disintegrators, on top of all the regular and elite Nazi soldiers around. And I haven’t even started on what B.J. can get his mitts on.


The fact that your first experimental weapon is the tesla gun is probably indicative of the escalation.


Sit behind a force field, Empower your bullets, and yours too will be an evil laugh.


Use Mire against the dual-wielding assassins to save yourself the pain and humiliation of repeated failure.

The game boils down to a more-or-less linear progression of increasingly intense gunfights – and it works. The game does not make things easy. When you face a new enemy or obstacle, you will have one chance to see it in action from a safe distance, and then you’ll be thrown against it time and again. There is a surprising amount of satisfaction coming from exploiting the weaknesses of foes that were terrifyingly impervious earlier, and gunning them in droves later in the game. If nothing else, you will feel like a badass.


When your screen goes gray, a generator is nearby preventing you from using your powers.


I probably should’ve mentioned this earlier, but the game is very green.

Of course, there are faults. The central sandbox areas are a good idea, but they missed the train by not implementing a territory system – helping the Resistance groups take over the city (thus ensuring yourself safe passage through the streets) would have been great fun and an effective time sink. Another annoyance is the full-screen ‘warping’ effect when you use the Medallion’s mystical powers. It looks great the first few times, but it’s very obstructive in the heat of combat. Considering that 90% of the time you will be using it to react to the sudden appearance of tough enemies (who have a tendency to two-hit-kill you) you’d think the playtesters would have caught onto that.


Now repeat that every time someone comes along swinging energy blades or more dakka or just an inconveniently-placed MG42.


Another death by electroball-flinging psychics.

At the end of the day, though, it’s certainly a worthy addition to the Wolfenstein series, rivaling RtCW in satisfying gameplay… the singleplayer portion, that is. The treasure-hunting and weapon customisation add some unexpected (albeit shallow) depth to the game, but regardless, it is one of the more engaging shooters of recent years.


As usual, you will be stopping every five minutes to read every memo you rip off the walls.


Yesss.

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