Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (PlayStation 4) Review

By Wes Maulsby 16.01.2019

Review for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus on PlayStation 4

The sequel to 2014's Wolfenstein: The New Order, The New Colossus continues the new continuity of the series as William "B.J." Blazkowicz fights to free the U.S. from Nazi control. This alternate reality not only has the Axis powers winning the war, but also uncovering advanced technology that pits our hero against titanic mechanical fascists. Coming off the heels of Doom from 2016, this has quite a bit to live up to, and while it is most certainly able to deliver many rousing moments, it is weighed down by conventions within the genre as well as some baffling tonal inconsistencies.

While they share a publisher in Bethesda, as well as many aesthetic qualities, The New Colossus differs greatly from Doom when it comes to the most important aspect of any game: the gameplay. Doom came in as an exhilarating breath of fresh air in a genre that has been trying to break away from some sticky genre conventions. Like a few other games released in the past few years, it focused heavily on movement and the physical flow of combat; Wolfenstein II takes a far more traditional route in the gameplay opting for a feel that should be very familiar to anyone who has played a first-person shooter at any point in the past decade.

Screenshot for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus on PlayStation 4

The gameplay is still very tight, rewarding and fun save for a small handful of sharp difficulty spikes. The only issue comes from the fact that it is too familiar. Much of this gameplay would fit right into shooters that were coming out almost a decade ago. With so many of its contemporaries electing to take certain aspects of the genre into new directions, The New Colossus' decision to keep things traditional and safe is disappointing.

The other major element at play in here is the narrative, and boy oh boy, is it a trip. The early hours of this see it attempting to strike a balance between being an outlandish-alternate-history-military-shooter, and a piece of fiction that deals with modern issues that plague the world. There is one segment of the game where you quite literally go straight from blasting Nazi's with their own Nazi Super Laser before blowing up a facility with a nuclear bomb, to winding back down and heading to Blazkowicz's old family farm to deal with his mounting father issues, as well as taking a brief look at racial inequality in America.

Screenshot for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus on PlayStation 4

A tonal shift this radical and fast will give any player whiplash. There are other moments throughout the game which set up the potential to leave folks shouting at the screen asking what the heck is going on as the clashing tones converge throughout the first few hours of the adventure. These larger tonal inconsistencies are accompanied by many smaller ones, which see our sadistic protagonist chunkily transition from being the semi-charismatic leader of a gang of misfits, hell-bent on starting a revolution, to a solemn soldier who is constantly dealing with the death of one of his allies, as well as his previously stated familial issues.

Both of these become a burdensome millstone around his neck, of which players are constantly reminded of. For much the first half of the experience, it cannot seem to decide what it wants to be: does it want to be an outrageous alternate take on World War II, or does it want to tell a more serious story about a character carrying great weight upon his shoulders?

Screenshot for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus on PlayStation 4

Fortunately, The New Colossus finally decides what it wants to be for the latter half of the game. With some of the intersecting storylines being wrapped up part-way through the campaign, we can finally drop some of the seriousness which had been dragging down the first half in favor of more outrageous and outlandish sequences, and the final stretch is much better off for it. Once players round the bend heading for the final conflict with the vicious Frau Engel, the tone settles in, and subsequently, the pacing picks up as well.

We are now left with only a bunch of energetic and eccentric characters, many of which are oozing with personality, which spice up every scene and sequence they are a part of. Joining these excellent characters is a musical score that can stand with any other contemporary shooter. A mixture of the hardcore music from the aforementioned Doom and some of the spacey sounds from the Metroid Prime series, creates a very potent soundtrack which drives the player forward through the missions creating a nearly perfect rhythm.

Screenshot for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is an FPS that makes a ton of good to great decisions, but also a handful of poor ones. Tightly crafted gameplay is marred by adherence to genre conventions, and the narrative gets off to a slow start as the game decides what it wants to be. However, neither of those are enough to drag this down too much, as it is simply too well put together and has more than enough personality and fun to poke through the layer of seriousness draped over the first parts of the campaign. What is left is a game that can stand as a very fine example of its genre, if not quite a groundbreaking one.

Developer

MachineGames

Publisher

Bethesda Softworks

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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