A Tale of Woe
There are moments in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus that had me so shocked that I had to force myself to keep watching. There were other moments that had me touched me so much that it made me feel hopeful. Then there were moments that had me enjoying all of the wanton destruction.
It’s this juggling of different moments and setpieces that make Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus stand out from other first-person shooters. Being another Bethesda game ported to the Nintendo Switch by Panic Button, is it a competent release or should you get other versions instead?
Fight the Power
I’m going to come right out and say it. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is the best story-based shooter I’ve played in years. From the get-go, the game forces you to watch some unsettling moments that define the main character, William Joseph Blaskowicz. There are a lot of scenes where we see how his past has affected his future, and they go a long way to ensure that he doesn’t become an “avatar” for the player. William is a character that you’re compelled to follow and one that you can’t help but root for.
The best part is that he’s not the only compelling character. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus introduces the player to several characters that all have their own stories that are worth getting invested in. Whether you’re listening to the inventor Set’s babbling about technology or the pregnant-but-tough-as-nails Anya about killing Nazis, there’s something about each character that makes them interesting.
Oh yeah, in case you didn’t know, Wolfenstein II takes place in a world where the Nazis won World War II. The Reich has access to all sorts of retro-looking yet futuristic technology that allowed them to maintain control. It’s already a unique premise that sets the game apart from most “Nazis won the war” stories, but it goes above and beyond with its execution. It’s the little details in Wolfenstein II that really stand out. Whether it’s Nazi soldiers finding commonalities with the Ku Klux Klan or everyone using the “Hail Hitler” greeting, it feels like a living, breathing reality. The game sells the concept so well that I was all the more determined to bring down the Reich.
However, the game doesn’t just expose you to moments revolving around the war. In between battles, we get to see the various heroes interacting, falling in love, having hobbies, and living lives outside of fighting. It makes the entire game feel like a real story that hits home in more ways than I thought it would.
Shooting with a Purpose
All of those story details provide context and motivation for shooting Nazis without mercy. It’s still an excuse to shoot things, but it’s a darn good one. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is very similar to 2016’s DOOM in this style. It’s all about never standing still and hitting your foes with the biggest gun possible.
Blaskowicz carries all of his arsenal with him at all times and can dual-wield any gun he has, making the game all the more intense. Being able to switch between these weapons on the fly, it encourages you to adapt with each room and challenge you face.
There is an addition to Wolfenstein II‘s combat that DOOM didn’t have, and that’s the stealth mechanic. You have the option of sneaking around a room and taking out each enemy silently or running in like a maniac and blasting them all to kingdom come. Honestly, the stealth breaks the fast pace of the game and doesn’t feel all that fleshed out, so I would normally bust in with my guns blazing. It’s more enjoyable and keeps the game moving.
Wolfenstein II also gives you the option of melee kills and gaining upgrades that give you a special attribute. It brings an element of choice to the equation that goes a long way. It also encourages you to play through the game multiple times to experiment with different enchancements and play styles.
Proof in the Port
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a massive, graphically-intensive game. The fact that Panic Button was able to bring it to the Nintendo Switch at all is downright impressive. That being said, understand that there are noticeable drawbacks to make this happen. The resolution and frame rate are dynamic, so there are moments where you’ll notice both of them dropping (though the latter mostly maintained 30fps). The textures, much like DOOM, also take a significant hit.
These downgrades aren’t too noticeable on handheld version, but it’s docked mode where they become really apparent. The game is still enjoyable and I was able to ignore it, but I still noticed it frequently. If you prioritize visuals or will solely play it in docked mode, I would suggest looking into other consoles instead.
However, it’s not all sacrifices that Wolfenstein II made to come to the Switch. DOOM was updated with gyro controls after it released, but this game launched with them. As gimmicky as gyro controls may sound, they provide an excellent enhancement to the game. I would even go as far to say that these control setup needs to be in just about every shooter that comes to the console. It isn’t quite as good as keyboard and mouse, but it’s much more accurate than just using a joystick.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was provided by Bethesda.