Ignoring the current political things that are trying to push onto the game. Wolfenstien 2 is one of those games in which you can sit down, vent your frustration at one of the most standard evil enemies in games and feel like a super solider doing it. It may have some technical issues on PC which NEED to be addressed which limited how much I could play by a significant degree, but the actual gameplay is something that should be highlighted and talked about more.
Picking up from where the previous game left off. Blazkowitz is back killing Nazis and trying to strap every helmet he finds to himself to create a suit of armour of a tower of helmets to hide inside and that’s pretty much it as a pitch. You get more guns which are takes on the original armoury of Germany during world war 2 and then bring them forward in time and then fight normal soldiers, giant soldiers, robot dogs, robots and anything that sounds even slightly German but that is what a game like this should be.
The previous game and DOOM both did this well. You were given a gun and told to go do a thing. DOOM made it that the main character didn’t really care about anything apart from killing but BJ has been given the personality of a grizzled war veteran who just wants the nightmares to stop but has to keep fighting. In wolf 2 however he carries himself as someone who’s only just hanging on and will probably go over the edge if he was left alone for too long. He’s a broken man but he knows he can’t stop until the Nazis are gone or until his body just caves in on him and the story is just reflecting that struggle.
The colourful characters around him are doing what they can to keep the fight going and making sure that BJ is alive and well but the dynamic between BJ and the rest of the characters is BJ putting on a brave face and the other characters accepting that they can’t get into his head but trying anyway. It makes this Nazi killing montage more human and I can applaud the writers and especially the voice actors for a great job.
Gameplay wise, the game is split into two halves (Kind of). The first half is BJ before a specific point in the story wearing the power suit found in the previous game and following the set story path with the choice of how you want to murder people been given while playing. The sneak vs shoot dilemma and at least for me I did a bit of both to keep the game interesting. The stealth is a little funny as it feels that if you put a hat on and hid in a corner then everyone would assume you were just hat stand. You can stealth your way through most sections, but you can always just start opening fire on everyone around you. The gunplay is as satisfying as you’d hope with a game like this. Every gun has clear feedback when fired, the shotguns have a very audible oomph when fired and the animations are all fluid and really well done. The guns are fun to use and so much so that I keep swapping between them in firefights but end up going back to the laser cannon as it makes nearly all enemies disintegrate and that is never a bad thing.
Additions to this formula come with how you get around in and out of combat. Part of the way through the game you are given contraptions, you get one to start but you can find the other two in game. One of them allows you to fit into small pipes and vents which is a bit grotesque to think about, but it allows you to sneak around levels and even execute enemies from small spaces which is awesome and very unique as a powerup. You’ve got a set of shoulder pads which allows you to run through some walls and run into soldiers which turn them into a fine red pace and then the last one are extendable stilts that boost you to hard to reach places to move around and also you can kill things with them which is always fun. I feel that these kinds of additions are always needed in sequels in order to get things fresh, but they aren’t overloading the player with loads of mechanics like the jump from modern shooters to sci fi shooters (Call of duty black ops to advanced warfare for example) but those additions are baked into the core experience when you get them and are never not satisfying to use.
The current downside of the game is that it’s plagued with technical issues on PC and for once I’ve taken the brunt of these issues which have caused my PC to crash a lot and all of my saves have been corrupted so at the time of writing I’ve been unable to actually finish the game to my disappointment. I tried to get in contact with the support, but they haven’t really done much to help as I seem to have a version of the game with missing options, so we’ll see where that goes in due time. These issues need to be addressed and should be mentioned and noted but the main game and the experiences it’s presenting are only clouded slightly by these technical issues. If you got the game on a console I doubt you’d have these issues.
The main downside apart from the technical aspect is the lack of depth with some parts of the game. Story reasons get you in far enough but it’s easy to get lost in some levels especially when you go back to bunkers and areas you’ve been to before in the story to carry out the assassination side missions. The contraptions make it fun to get around and to fight with, but I feel that they could have done more with the free pass to mess with Nazi controlled America. New York was nuked but we knew that from the previous game as it was mentioned then. The Roswell level does the best at showing what America is like under the regime but then then it just becomes areas that are bombed out with only hints of what was there before and not strong hints. I knew that New Orleans became a ghetto, but you don’t get to see much of what New Orleans was apart from the occasional building with the French style architecture and an alligator. That may just be me but at the very least I hoped for a bit more to compliment the gameplay.
Wolfenstien 2 is not a bad game. It’s a great game but there are a couple of things that are bringing it down at least for me. The gunplay is fast, fun and satisfying. Visually the game can be stunning but doesn’t take it where I feel it should go and makes more things drab over colourful but that may change for later sections of the game if and when I get there. The story was a bit slow to start and didn’t give me much hope in the main character but did kick it up a notch when it needed to keep me going along complimented by the fantastic acting and writing and once those technical issues have been sorted and I don’t have to keep losing my saves and to stop worrying about my PC lighting on fire then I will happily finish and probably replay a couple times. If you’re a console gamer who wants to shoot everything that moves, then go for it. If you’re on PC and don’t work for the developers, then I’d say wait a while until these issues are ironed out. The Vulkan API seems to be the root cause, but we’ll see what happens.