Bethesda’s sequel to the rebooted Wolfenstein franchise comes at a time when the political climate in the U.S. means that the extreme right has a much more visible presence than they have in many decades. So I wonder if MachineGames who started developing this title in 2014, look at the current state of U.S. politics and scratch their heads in baffled wonderment.
This title see’s us pick up where the first title concluded, and there are serious consequences for our hero, William “BJ” Blazkowicz having sustained serious injuries, sustained in the defeat of “Deathshead”. There is no time to heal, or even die with some dignity, as your forced to defend you and your friends on your recently captured Nazi U-Boat, the “Eva’s Hammer” from a horde of invading Nazi’s under the command of frau Irene Engel, from the confines of a wheel chair. While this seems like a problem at first, it does put you at the perfect height to shoot at Nazi’s in the groin.
I did wonder how I was going to get about, after all this is a 1960’s Nazi U-boat…its big…damn big and I apologise of this seems like I’m assigning stereotypes, but Nazi’s don’t strike me as people who are big on accessibility for the disabled. I shouldn’t have worried I was able to navigate my away around, Nazi’s falling in my wake. During this these opening missions, I was wondering…. I am I stuck in a wheelchair the whole game?? That shows some real guts from the developer…but soon you are captured and have access to a piece ancient power armour which your motley crew discovered in the first game.
There’s not a lot that’s new in this game in terms of in terms of physics, combat mechanics. There are plenty of in game items to find, like pieces of gold or star cards (which seem to be celeb trading card in a Nazi controlled US). It’s worth exploring all levels in this game because aside from all these little in game discovers, there are upgrades kits hidden around which allow you to upgrade your weapons in useful ways (suppressors, for example, which allow to more easily sneak around and eliminate targets without drawing to much attention to yourself).
Please note the videos in this post contain strong language and may not be suitable for all readers.
The premise of this game is a dark and serious one, BJ is dealing with his own mortality as he fights to the protect his family and the people he loves, and at the same time trying to reclaim the world he knew. But in the midst of the seriousness and dark absurdity of the world which MachineGames has created, there are some moments of genuine moment of humour.
There are also some truly disturbing movements which I hope will remain a fiction. In this new expanded world, the U.S.A. has fallen and is under control of the Third Reich, the Nazi’s have given control of the southern states to the Ku Klux Klan. There is a moment the early part of a mission where 2 clansmen in full costume are being lectured on their poor German by a German solider on the main street of Roswell New Mexico. (Again, it makes me wonder what the developers are thinking about the current state of politics in the U.S. and if they have freaked themselves out by creating this narrative.)
Overall, I have enjoyed the game, while there isn’t anything new in terms of in-game mechanics, the continuation of this alternative history’s narrative has been done really well, and I am enjoying it. The cut scenes are a combination of the resolve of people to stand up for the freedoms which all people have a right to, and some truly funny and touching moments.
Also make sure you play the arcade game in the bar on the Eva’s Hammer as it’s classic Wolfenstein for those of you old enough to remember the original in all its 8-bit graphic glory.
When I played the first Wolfenstein, I played it on a hard setting, mainly up my street cred with my in-house personal gaming trainers, and gave me a “Solid” rating. I don’t know if they had watched me play over the weekend that I’m not sure if I would still maintain that rating, but I’d like to think so.