Wolfenstein II: The New Colos­sus

Blazkow­icz re­turns home to find Amer­ica ruled by Nazis

PC GAMER (UK) - - CONTENTS - Andy Kelly

“It feels like Wolfenstein, but there’s tons of new stuff hap­pen­ing” played it

Set im­me­di­ately after TheNewOrder, this se­quel sees an in­jured BJ Blazkow­icz re­turn­ing to the United States to find his home­land oc­cu­pied by the Nazis. Join­ing forces with a rag­tag re­sis­tance, he em­barks on a se­ries of guer­rilla mis­sions to bring the Ger­man war ma­chine down from the inside. “The first game was about build­ing a re­sis­tance, or plant­ing the seed of one,” says cre­ative di­rec­tor Jens Matthies. “And in the new game these re­sis­tance groups are form­ing al­liances to ig­nite a rev­o­lu­tion and take back Amer­ica. Then they want to use the United States as a plat­form to lib­er­ate the world.”

It’s a bit­ter home­com­ing for Blazkow­icz, who’ll have even more rea­sons (as if he needed any) to want to kill ev­ery Nazi he sees goos­es­tep­ping over his coun­try. “We’ve al­ways wanted to bring Blazkow­icz to the US from the be­gin­ning, but we needed a lot of time to ex­plore it,” says Matthies. “It’s his home­land and he has a con­nec­tion to it, and that’s in­ter­est­ing to ex­plore.”

I play a level set in the desert town of Roswell, New Mex­ico. I’m in dis­guise and free to ex­plore the streets, but if I get to close to any pa­trolling Nazis I’ll be recog­nised. There are huge wanted posters all over town. I over­hear an of­fi­cer be­rat­ing a pair of Ku Klux Klan mem­bers for their poor Ger­man, and the im­age of swastikas draped over the idyl­lic, ro­man­tic im­age of Main Street, USA, is quite strik­ing. It’s like a fas­cist Dis­ney­land.

“We thought a lot about how the Nazis would sub­vert the ’60s cul­ture that we know. There was civil rights, Wood­stock, The Bea­tles, the space race. It was a very rich time in terms of Western cul­ture. So we won­dered what this iconic time pe­riod would be like if per­verted by the Nazis.” The col­li­sion of fas­cist pro­pa­ganda and dreamy Amer­i­cana is a pow­er­ful one, and ev­i­dence of the Nazis’ ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy is seen all around, in­clud­ing a ro­bot busy clean­ing ta­bles in a diner.

I’m in Roswell to meet a re­sis­tance con­tact. After a tense run-in with a sus­pi­cious milk­shake-slurp­ing Nazi of­fi­cer, I meet the con­tact and he guides me to a rail­way lead­ing to Area 52, an un­der­ground Nazi weapons fa­cil­ity. This is where things get re­ally Wolfenstein as I creep around an in­dus­trial maze of cor­ri­dors and cat­walks knif­ing Nazis and, when my cover is blown, shoot­ing them. It isn’t much of a leap from the last game, but the com­bat still has the same ex­ag­ger­ated, cathar­tic, weighty feel to it.

FRESH START

“We were in­cred­i­bly happy with how the first game felt. But we switched en­gines, so we re­built ev­ery sys­tem, in­clud­ing AI, player move­ment and so on,” says Matthies. “It still feels like Wolfenstein, but there’s tons of new stuff hap­pen­ing. If a grenade goes off near you, you’ll fall to the ground but can still keep shoot­ing. Things like this make the com­bat feel more im­mer­sive, but we still want to re­tain the feel­ing of the orig­i­nal game. We’re just evolv­ing, pol­ish­ing and re­fin­ing it.”

When TheNewOrder was re­leased it was a bold reimag­in­ing of the Wolfenstein se­ries. So, per­haps pre­dictably, this new game doesn’t have quite the same feel­ing of fresh­ness. But that aside, the shift to an Amer­i­can set­ting, the in­creased fo­cus on strong char­ac­ters and dra­matic sto­ry­telling, and an ar­ray of pre­pos­ter­ous new weapons to wield makes Blazkow­icz’s re­turn an ex­cit­ing prospect. And if the open­ing level, in which our hero charges around in a wheel­chair shoot­ing Nazis with one hand and pulling him­self along with the other, is any­thing to go by, MachineGames hasn’t lost any of its sense of hu­mour.

Do these dogs even know they’re Nazis?

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