Everything that made Wolfenstein: The New Order an excellent single-player experience back in 2014 is dialed up here. With a cast of likable heroes and an excellent bone-chilling villain giving emotional and funny context to it’s uprising against the Germans, Wolfenstein II dials it up.
The story takes place a year after the end of the New Order and the story really works in this alternate take of 1961 and the tone shifts from mission to mission. One moment it’s serious and the next you’re laughing your ass off before the game puts you in a serious scene again and the game pivots you to BJ dealing with his own morality as he slowly dies from the wounds he received at the end of the New Order.
Wolfenstein II pulls this off fantastically thanks to the characters who are well-acted and outstandingly well-written. From BJ and his internal monologue, Grace who’s determined but sad, and Super Spesh who’s the comedic dude in the story are all great and delivered with confidence, making you believe that the characters can be real and are believable, also that you know them. All of them are given enough backstory for you to get to know them on a personal level, they’re flawed and they’ve seen alot of things under German occupation.
But it’s General Frau Engel who steals the show with her sadism, sickening, and hilarious personality whenever you see her. She’s single-handily one of the best villains I’ve ever seen in a videogame, she’s treated with the same treatment as our main heroes: You feel like she’s real and believable. She’s unpredictable, one step ahead of our main heroes, and complete with no mercy and no sympathy, often toying with BJ just for the enjoyment and sake of it. On top of that, the game gives an outlook perspective on BJ’s past and what made him who he is, he grows up in the 1920’s and 1930’s with what was part of the era: Racism. His father is believably a racist and happens to be abusive, all of this tries to be unsettling but not really, it’s just part of the story and it’s part of what makes the story a masterpiece.
Gruesomely murdering the Waffen SS / Wehrmacht is extremely satisfying, but it’s made more satisfying by the smooth combat that you’re engaged in and the rewarding performance when you kill the enemy, their death animations are hilarious and it’s quite a show. There are alot of them to kill, so you’re encouraged to take the stealth approach and take out the officers first or go in gun’s blazing. Like the original game, TNC isn’t stealth game like Thief or Dishonored is but the game tries to force it down your throat which isn’t fun but it’s entirely optional. If you want to go in guns blazing, all means do but you’re get killed alot more quickly.
Wolfenstein II makes the most of it’s standard FPS weaponry by letting you upgrade, mix and match, and customize to your heart’s content. Customization isn’t out of this world crazy but it’s believable: For example, you can turn the SMG into a freaking nail gun with a suppressor and extended mags but the upgrade kits are scattered around each level and isn’t like Call of Duty where you go into a menu and put a scope there or whatever, plus you can also duel-wield different weapons now.
My problem with duel-wielding is that once you get into the later parts of the game, you can’t really pause to switch weapons without an upgrade and that’s kinda clumsy when you’re in a firefight with a mech dog or a mech soldier.
The missions are also well-done, all of them are what you expect from a German-occupied America and plus all of them are dreary with the occasional FPS standard facility thrown in there. The missions and the environments also come off as real and believable, from the nuked out New York City to the small-town of Roswell, New Mexico and a New Orleans that’s become a walled-in ghetto. The non-combat areas really distinguish themselves as in the one in Roswell when you’re walking down main street when a German parade is passing by and listening to Waffen SS and Wehrmacht soldiers talk with the KKK members is funny but also dark as well, mostly funny though.
Also on a graphical note: Wolfenstein II is absolutely gorgeous running in 4K, with excellent performance and stability and on PC, in 1080p + 1440p is also absolutely gorgeous as well although I did encounter some hiccups with the game crashing on me a few times although I sorted it out.
Wolfenstein II is a complete masterpiece of a game, a game that comes only once under a blue moon and it is a fantastic single-player shooter. The well-written characters and well-written story got me invested into the game along with BJ and his friends are full of personality alongside Frau Engel who is one of those memorable villains who only appears in a handful of games like in BioShock or Far Cry 3. Wolfenstein II is Doom with Nazis and Machine Games once again hit it out of the ballpark.