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Kicking Even More Nazi Butt In The Crazy World Of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

The second revolution.

You’d think that after all the heroics throughout the Wolfenstein series, both old and new, the Nazis would be defeated, but they manage to keep on winning the war despite losing the battles. After the cliffhanger ending of The New Order, their dominion over the world has continued almost unabated, but the underground resistance continues to fight back, now taking the fight to America. Who can step up to try and turn the tide? Well thankfully, BJ “Terror Billy” Blazkowicz is back once more to fight for the land of the (formerly) free.

Of course, he’s not fully fighting fit and as you, the resistance, and their huge submarine is discovered and boarded by Nazi soldiers, he’s forced to pick up a gun and fight… from a wheelchair. It’s a fun, arcade-like and somewhat silly romp through tight corridors full of conveyor belts, microwave booby traps and enemy goons recklessly dashing around, while BJ pushes himself forward with one hand and fires an SMG with the other. It naturally serves as a tutorial or refresher course in how the game works, but does so while showing off something a little bit different at the same time.

With a little assistance from advanced technology, BJ gets back out on his own two feet soon enough. Though not explicitly shown to us, the ending and opening cutscenes of the two levels we got to play more than hint at where his Da’at Yichud suit comes from. MachineGames takes its cutscenes to new heights in The New Colossus, amplifying what made many of the characters and interactions from The New Order so enjoyable.

There’s something so overly saturated about these characters, like they’re bursting at the seams with cruel and unusual personalities. There’s an underlying lunacy on both sides that seems to be so in vogue with a number of developers over the last few years and it’s being embraced here. The milkshake scene in the classic American diner is not far behind the first meeting with Frau Engel in The New Order in terms of tension.

And so the resistance come up with a plan to strike at the heart of the Oberkommando as they gather to witness what’s rumoured to be extraterrestrial technology at Area 52 – don’t worry, MachineGames aren’t actually jumping that particular shark. The plan might, however, involve heading to Roswell, hiding away on a rocket powered underground train, and something to do with a nuke…

Breaking into this facility exhibits much of the same gameplay as in The New Order, with a healthy dose of stealth mixed in with most of the combat encounters. It pays to be wary, trying to spot the various threats before you strike, and aiming to off the officers as soon as possible, so that they can’t call in for reinforcements. The way that areas are designed always gives you multiple ways through, whether it’s as simple as going left or right, or finding hidden routes and vents, and it makes exploring the world to find your route through a big part of the fun, even if you do sometimes end up at a dead end. You are actively encouraged to explore instead of go in guns blazing, because BJ is still weakened from another stay in a vegetative state.

When the game does kick into high gear, there’s more than a few fun and interesting weapons at your disposal. There’s your standard pistol, SMG, assault rifle, as well as some of the laser weapons from before, but there’s also new additions. The hatchets you find are great throwable axes, if a little tricky to aim, and there’s things like the triple barrelled gatling shotgun that can just churn out a deadly spray of bullet fragments and is ideal for when you’re on the back foot, hunkered in the corner as the enemies try to rush you. Sometimes it works out well for them, sometimes not, and it really depends on the arena in which you battle. Oh, and you can mix and match weapons when dual wielding, now.

If it’s in the tight confines of a submarine or a high speed train, then their tendency to rush in doesn’t work so well – this will partly be down to playing on a lower difficulty after being advised the game is yet to be balanced. In more open parts of the Roswell underground facility, there’s more freedom for them to flank you and attack in different patterns. Soldiers are easy enough to deal with, but human sized robots that dash from side to side are a pain, cybernetic attack dogs will happily chomp on your leg, and larger mechs had me scurrying away to hide as they stomped around with their great big laser cannons. Thankfully, the dieselkraftwerk chucks diesel bombs, and can be upgraded so its diesel bombs explode on impact, making short work of most enemies, and then grabbing the lasergewehr that they dropped lets you turn your enemies into ashes.

What it really boils down to is that this is the next chapter in MachineGames’ twisted take on the Wolfenstein series. It’s not trying to rewrite the book because it doesn’t need to, it’s just amping everything up even further with an even greater love lavished on the cutscenes. The New Colossus: come for the Nazi killing, but stay for the crazy characters and story.

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