WOLFENSTEIN II: THE NEW COLOS­SUS

De­vel­oper MachineGames Pub­lisher Bethesda For­mat PC, PS4, Xbox One Re­lease Oc­to­ber 27

EDGE - - MULTIFORMAT+PC@E3 -

The empty wheel­chair – a ma­ligned hor­ror cliché cameoed in ev­ery­thing from BioShock to Alien Iso­la­tion. You know the drill: creep into a room and a light flick­ers; a va­cant chair sits life­less; a blood­ied hand mark on the floor, its owner hav­ing been dragged un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously into the shad­ows.

Things are dif­fer­ent in Wolfenstein II. There’s a wheel­chair, but it’s not for in­ci­den­tal en­vi­ron­men­tal flour­ish. In­stead, MachineGames uses it to trans­form re­turn­ing pro­tag­o­nist Wil­liam ‘BJ’ Blazkow­icz into a mo­bile weapon. Set five months af­ter the first game, The New Colos­sus’ open­ing sees Blazkow­icz newly awo­ken from a coma and in a vul­ner­a­ble state. Wheel­ing around with noth­ing but a sub­ma­chine gun, you have to nav­i­gate the tight cor­ri­dors of a stolen Nazi U-boat. But it’s dif­fer­ent to how you’re used to mov­ing through a shooter – come across a lad­der and you’re un­able to as­cend, forced in­stead to ma­noeu­vre through a sys­tem of con­veyor belts. Keep watch, too, as you roll through its cor­ri­dors so a pa­trolling Nazi doesn’t get the jump on you.

MachineGames proved its craft with The New Or­der, a fresh take on an old name that jug­gled pure ab­sur­dity and gen­uine poignancy, and the stu­dio seems set to do once again with The New Colos­sus. But it’s a fa­mil­iar re-run. Blazkow­icz is still a dour nar­ra­tor; the Nazis are a re­lent­less car­i­ca­ture of evil; scenes dart be­tween gra­tu­itous tor­ture-porn, comedic gore and ro­man­tic wartime sen­si­bil­ity. The nos­tal­gic rat-tat-tat of gun­fire is es­sen­tially un­changed from three years ago, too. On this ev­i­dence, the most sig­nif­i­cant me­chan­i­cal change seems to be the ad­di­tion of au­to­matic ammo pick-up.

Just like in 2014, the magic lies in the game’s di­rec­tion. Wolfenstein’s world is one of sheer mad­ness, and yet MachineGames finds a way to squeeze com­pas­sion and hu­mour in be­tween the goose-step­ping. The

New Colos­sus prom­ises to up the ante on the crazy – Pete Hines de­scribed it as “fuck­ing bananas” – but a scene where Blazkow­icz is re­united with his wife, now preg­nant with twins, is truly touching. Later, as he gets a post-coma re­cap from re­sis­tance father fig­ure Set Roth, the cam­era pans in close on our pro­tag­o­nist as wave upon wave of Nazi sol­diers try to get past an elec­tri­fied wall in the back­ground. Barely in fo­cus, some tip-toe, some wall-hug – it’s an off­hand comedic master­stroke.

The most sen­si­tive ad­di­tion is Si­grun, the podgy daugh­ter of Frau En­gel, the in­sane ma­tri­arch an­tag­o­nist from the first game. Dis­gusted by her obese de­pen­dent, En­gel bul­lies and tor­tures Si­grun to the amuse­ment of her fas­cist goons, but what should be jar­ring view­ing is pitched per­fectly to ac­cen­tu­ate the cru­elty of its vil­lain and shine a light on the game’s purer heart. It’s the per­fect sum­ma­tion of new-era Wolfenstein – com­pletely off the wall, but ab­so­lutely on the money.

The game’s Oc­to­ber re­lease date may yet change – it’s cur­rently up against As­sas­sin’s Creed Ori­gins, Su­per Mario Odyssey and the PC port of Destiny2

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