In the Trump-era, white supremacy has been experiencing a hellish comeback. People waving around Nazi and Confederate flags while screaming “Jews will not replace us” as the “president” race-baits relentlessly has been one of the most sickening spectacles of 2017. It bears repeating that white supremacy as a concept does not belong in civil discourse at all. If ya see a Nazi, ya punch a Nazi.
It’s in this climate that Bethesda and Machine Games have released Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus with a marketing campaign that has effectively made use of current events. While the game proper couldn’t address the fact that we’d have white supremacists running around by the time it released, as it started development in 2014, it did manage to add at least a few Trump-era easter eggs.
The game proper picks up right after The New Order, where William Joseph “BJ” Blazkowitz is grievously wounded following his fight with General Deathshead. He is forced out of his recovery when the new de facto leader of the Reich, General Frau Engel from The New Order, attacks their headquarters. This accelerates the resistance’s plans to free America from Nazi rule. In this universe, Nazi Germany won the war and rules the world with an iron fist.
One thing the game’s story gets right is contrast. The Nazis that you spend the game murdering en masse are deeply despicable human beings as a rule. Their inhumanity serves as a contrast to the grand humanity on display with the resistance characters, including BJ himself. Loads of time is spent on character work, in both dialogue and in the environment, and you find yourself caring deeply about them and their goals.
This game also carries with it the sharpest sense of humor I’ve seen since Tales From The Borderlands, with a flair for both dark humor at the expense of the Nazi horde and more general fare, which I won’t spoil for you.
The gameplay here is almost unchanged from The New Order — a first person shooter with light stealth elements, a focus on high damage for both BJ and the Nazis. Holding down both triggers to unleash a dual-wielded barrage until all Nazis have been made into paste is just as fun as ever. On normal difficulty, however, the Nazi’s tend to do a bit more damage than you’d expect. While your movement speed has been upped from the last game, for a good bit of this game you’re working with half your normal health cap for plot reasons. How players are expected to beat the max difficulty, one life mode for the platinum trophy is beyond me.
Halfway through, the game opens up a bit more, and you’re handed the ability to undertake assassination side missions and one of a series of contraptions that give you the ability to ram enemies, make yourself fit into small spaces, and super stilts. Why Machine Games held off on the contraptions for most of the game is beyond me, as they feel like something the game should have been giving you from the start.
The game’s visuals, realized using the id Tech 6 you saw in DOOM (2016), are uniformly excellent, and the game runs at a reasonably high frame rate on the base PS4 I used, even if the game causes that PS4 to sound like a jet engine. The sound design is also excellent, with punch gun sound effects, great voice work and a killer soundtrack. Like DOOM, the game is also headed to Nintendo Switch next year, which will let you punch Nazis anywhere you want without facing assault charges.
If you wanted a compelling, linear, single-player game where you can murder hundreds of Nazis in order to deal with the strain of having to put up with them in real life, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is the game for you.
Logan Graham is a senior studying media arts with a focus in games and animation at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Are you playing the new Wolfenstein? Let Logan know by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.