Wolfen­stein II: The New Colos­sus PC, PS4, Xbox One

BJ Blazkow­icz re­turns to his home­land, and is in for a Nazi sur­prise

EDGE - - GAMES - De­vel­oper Pub­lisher For­mat Ori­gin Re­lease Ma­chine-Games Bethesda Soft­works PC, PS4, Xbox One Swe­den Oc­to­ber 27

The New Colos­sus takes its name from the son­net en­graved at the base of the Statue Of Lib­erty. But now that the Nazis have oc­cu­pied Amer­ica, the line about the hud­dled masses yearn­ing to breathe free has taken on a dark new mean­ing. It’s a bit­ter home­com­ing for BJ Blazkow­icz, whose beloved coun­try is now draped in swastikas and pa­trolled by jack­booted stormtroop­ers. Un­de­terred, he joins a rag­tag re­sis­tance group and em­barks upon a se­ries of guer­rilla mis­sions to bring down the Nazi war ma­chine, be­gin­ning in the desert town of Roswell, New Mex­ico.

Swedish de­vel­oper Ma­chine Games win­ningly de­scribes The New Colos­sus’ vi­brant aes­thetic as ‘Ger­mer­i­cana’ – a ro­man­tic vi­sion of ’60s Amer­ica per­verted by the Nazis. As we walk through the town on our way to meet a fel­low re­sis­tance mem­ber, the ex­tent of the oc­cu­pa­tion be­comes clear. A pa­rade is tak­ing place, and thou­sands of Nazi sol­diers are goose-step­ping through the sunny, idyl­lic streets. The marriage of dreamy Amer­i­cana and Nazi pro­pa­ganda is strik­ing, like a fas­cist reimag­in­ing of Dis­ney’s Main Street, USA.

Wolfen­stein II is a lav­ish pro­duc­tion, and there’s a re­mark­able amount of hand-crafted de­tail squeezed into en­vi­ron­ments that we’re free to ex­plore at our leisure. Our jour­ney through Roswell ends in a diner, where Blazkow­icz has a tense run-in with a milk­shake-slurp­ing Nazi who seems to recog­nise him – prob­a­bly be­cause of the enor­mous wanted posters pasted up all over town. But he’s called away by his su­pe­ri­ors sec­onds be­fore our cover is blown, a close call that will be fa­mil­iar to any­one who played The

New Or­der. The diner’s owner, who hap­pens to be our re­sis­tance con­tact, whisks us away to safety be­fore we can get in any more trou­ble.

Blazkow­icz is mak­ing his way to Area 52, an un­der­ground weapons fa­cil­ity which in hap­pier times was op­er­ated by the Amer­i­cans, with a nuclear bomb strapped to his back. He’s go­ing to blow it up, nat­u­rally, but first has to make his way through a horde of stormtroop­ers, hulk­ing Nazi mechs, and vi­cious Ger­man Shep­herds first. The level will be fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory for Wolfen­stein vets, an in­dus­trial maze of cat­walks, crawlspaces and cor­ri­dors that gives you the op­tion to sneak past some en­e­mies. But it’s when the guns come out that Wolfen­stein is at its best. Gun­play is weighty and re­fined, with dra­matic weaponry and a chaotic, break­neck pace. But you could say the same for The New

Or­der. Set­ting and artis­tic di­rec­tion aside, this se­quel isn’t a dra­matic rein­ven­tion, but rather a re­fine­ment of the game we played in 2014. There’s a dis­tinct tinge of fa­mil­iar­ity as we dual-wield and sprint-slide our way around Area 52. The level ends with Blazkow­icz suc­cess­fully plant­ing the bomb and es­cap­ing by train. The nar­row car­riages, stuffed as they are with stormtroop­ers and Ter­mi­na­tor-like Nazi ro­bots, make this level a grue­somely sat­is­fy­ing meat grinder, with stacks of bod­ies and spent bul­lets pil­ing up in our hero’s wake.

As a re­sult of in­juries sus­tained in the pre­vi­ous game, Blazkow­icz’s health never goes above 50 in this level. You can briefly over­charge it, but it’ll al­ways trickle back down. To make up for this he’s equipped with a high-tech ex­o­suit that lets him sprint at an in­cred­i­ble speeds – which comes in handy in a game where run­ning out of am­mu­ni­tion is a reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence. We spend much of our demo break­ing away from gun­fights to scoop up ammo, al­though Bethesda as­sures us that the build we play is still be­ing bal­anced.

The imag­i­na­tive, ex­ag­ger­ated al­ter­nate his­tory es­tab­lished in The New Or­der is even more out­landish in the se­quel, and it’s ar­guably the most ex­cit­ing thing about the game. MachineGames’ knack for grotesque char­ac­ters, overblown ac­tion, nov­elty set­pieces and en­gag­ing sto­ry­telling should hope­fully make up for the feel­ing that

Wolfen­stein II is, in some re­spects, re­tread­ing old ground. The 2014 re­boot was a bold turn for a se­ries most peo­ple had for­got­ten about; per­haps inevitably, its se­quel comes stripped of that sense of fresh­ness, and the new set­ting can only do so much to rem­edy that. Yet while it may not sur­prise us like its pre­de­ces­sor, The

New Colos­sus is all but guar­an­teed to de­light.

Wheels of steel

The open­ing level of

The New Colos­sus sees Blazkow­icz – who is still recovering from the events of The New

Or­der – rolling around in a wheel­chair. One arm is used to push him­self along, while the other cra­dles a ma­chine pis­tol. It’s lu­di­crous, cer­tainly, but dis­patch­ing hordes of Nazis as you trun­dle through the claus­tro­pho­bic sub­ma­rine is hugely en­ter­tain­ing. The level is lit­tered with en­ergy fields, sim­i­lar to Dis­hon­ored’s walls of light, that cause any­one who passes through them to hor­ri­bly ex­plode. And you can use these to your ad­van­tage, switch­ing them on and off, and lur­ing en­e­mies into them. It’s a pre­pos­ter­ous in­tro­duc­tion, but sets the tone per­fectly and il­lus­trates the su­per­hu­man re­silience of our square-jawed hero.

Bring­ing Blazkow­icz to a warped, Nazi-ruled United States is an in­spired idea

In Area 52 you’ll fight hordes of Nazi sol­diers and swastika-stamped ro­bots with glar­ing red eyes. It’s a dif­fi­cult game, and charg­ing blindly into a fire­fight will re­sult in lit­tle more than a quick death

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