Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus has been a game that has been mired in controversy. From its marketing slogans to its marketing strategy, this alternate-history epic was politicized by a lot of people. Regardless of any of that though, at the game’s heart, it’s something else entirely. It’s not some commentary on current events, although the fact that we can compare and contrast the two is scary in its own right. The game does take a few things to the extreme, but its narrative and its heart are the two things that are always at the forefront, not “killing fascists.” This is how every great story is told and Wolfenstein II is no different.

With that out of the way, it is very graphic, and killing Nazis is incredibly satisfying. Wolfenstein II’s gameplay and narrative shine, even though sometimes its dialogue is a bit over the top, to create a thrilling experience.

A Nazi America

Wolfenstein II Review

A chilling vision of fascist America..

In the 1940s, instead of defeating the Nazi’s, the United States of America surrendered to them. Enter William Blazkowicz, our hero. Left mangled and crippled from the events of the previous game, he has been recovered by the Nazis and has miraculously survived, though the cost is high. Even with the “power-up” he receives early in the game which allows him to regain his strength, he still doesn’t have much time left. This leaves his relationship with Anya strained, as he is afraid to get close to her because of his imminent death along with the impending birth of his children. It’s a very emotional tale and William narrates his point of view, always letting the player know what he is both thinking and feeling.

Wolfenstein II Review

The game’s true heart.

The look at a future Nazi occupation of America is chilling though. While it’s a great backdrop for the story of the game, filled with memorable characters and plenty of Nazi killing, it’s not what the game is about. The game is about a ragtag team of survivors from all walks of life simply trying to survive, which is what every great story is about (Star Wars anyone!?). The marketing was genius, but this small but simple fact is what makes the game so incredibly powerful.

A Guilty Pleasure

Wolfenstein II Review

Let’s be honest: going around slaughtering Nazi’s in horrific fashion is a lot of fun. Maybe even a little too much fun. Facing off against Nazi’s and their superpowered mechs, William Blazkowicz has plenty of tools at his disposal, be it dual-wielding SMGs, utilizing an ax, or using other guns or even grenades.

One thing I appreciated most about this game is the fact that it’s not your typical first-person shooter; each level is massive in scale and encourages exploration. You can find plenty of collectibles and even upgrade points for your weapons (these are not handed to you through XP). Perks aren’t unlocked by spending XP points either; they are unlocked by utilizing a certain said action so many times. So, for example, with stealth kills: if you get so many stealth kills, you unlock a level of that perk. Then you can continue to max it out the more times you utilize that action. The system works very well and feels much more rewarding compared to today’s first-person shooter games.

Wolfenstein II Review

Wolfenstein II Review

One thing you can find throughout the game is beautiful concept art, like this piece, which encourages exploration.

This could have something to do with the fact that there is no multiplayer in Wolfenstein II; it is a completely single-player experience. Anything less would have taken away from the game, and I applaud Machine Games for their commitment to excellence here. They didn’t compromise their vision, and the end result was a splendid game.

Fun and Difficulty Factor

Wolfenstein II Review

Riding on a Nazi Pazerhund is probably the most enjoyable mission in the entire game, and most satisfying.

While its tone can be rather grim at times, Wolfenstein II is a really fun game. That being said, it can also be a very difficult game depending on how you decide to play it. Even the medium difficulty gave me trouble at times. If you simply go into every area guns-blazing and alert the Nazi commanders who sound the alarms, you’re in for a world of trouble. The best way to go about it, at least in the early going, is to stealthily find the Nazi commanders and kill them before they can alert their subordinates to your presence. A silenced pistol or an ax to the back should do the trick, but the areas are so large it’s very easy to become detected. That’s all part of the fun though, isn’t it?

Even when the story is grim, there are some light moments which will make you laugh. It really is a story about family; all the Nazi killing is simply an incredibly interesting backdrop in order to showcase these characters. They work in tandem splendidly. William Blazkowicz’s finest moments don’t even occur when he’s killing Nazis, but you’ll have to discover that moment for yourself.

Technically, the game runs great (and looks great) on the PlayStation 4, but we did find one hiccup: the sound cut out in one level a few times. Thankfully this is the only technical issue we ran into though.

A Fun, Albeit Over-the-Top Adventure

Wolfenstein II is a fantastic game filled with memorable characters and superb gameplay. That being said, it can be rather over-the-top at times with its dialogue, Grace can be really annoying, and the missions on Eva’s Hammer can be rather tedious. It is a fascinating narrative though with a likable protagonist, William Blazkowicz, who strives to do what’s right. These characters are merely fighting for their survival, and in a way, that’s what every great story is about: people who are fighting constantly in order to move forward.

The game can be difficult, but with two different paths to be taken by the initial choice in the game, along with so many collectibles and sidequests to be found, the game has so much replayability compared to most first-person shooters. This is probably because it is only single player, which one has to applaud Machine Games for. They didn’t use multiplayer as a cash-in, which would have detracted from the experience. They stayed true to their vision of excellence

Wolfenstein II is also a lot of fun, which is really what matters most. It may have some faults, but that doesn’t detract from its wonderful narrative or superb level design.

William Blazkowicz is one of the greatest protagonists in modern-day video game history.

Wolfenstein II Review (PlayStation 4)
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a beautifully crafted narrative set in the backdrop of 1960s Nazi-occupied America. While it can be a bit over the top with its dialogue and Nazi killing, the game is a ton of fun and very satisfying filled with a memorable cast of characters and excellent level design and gameplay. It's a must-play for anyone who loves single-player FPS campaigns.
Overall Score8.5
Pros
  • It tells a compelling narrative filled with interesting characters and a fantastic protagonist in William Blazkowicz
  • Nazi killing has never felt so satisfying. The gameplay is superb with so many ways to play the game.
  • The levels are rife with depth and exploration, creating a lot of replay value. Also: it's only single player.
Cons
  • Dialogue can be a bit too over the top at times
  • Sometimes it can be a little too difficult, which can get frustrating
  • A technical sound glitch, encountered twice in one stage
8.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
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About The Author

Founder/Editor-in-Chief

Morgan Lewis is a Video Game Journalist and Founder and Editor-in-Chief of VG Culture HQ. He has been writing about games for over four years and has written over 900 articles during that timespan. He first fell in love with gaming when he received A Link to the Past for Christmas when he was six. He also loves anime and anything that has to do with gaming culture.

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