Flush Review – Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

William “B.J.” Blazkowicz is the wheel deal, folks. Literally. Our two-hour hands-on with Wolfenstein II slid us into the arse-less nightie of a recovering patient, and plopped our hero into a wheelchair. Being half man, half car in a videogame might sound pretty drab at this point, but that’s because we haven’t factored in three things: high ROF Maschinenpistoles, microwave deathtraps for Nazis, and slapstick humour that’s darker that the Führer’s soul.

This medical frigate we wake up on is rigged, you see. Our friend, an extremely talented (possibly mad) Jewish scientist has strung up quite the array of welcome decorations for the invading Germans. There’s a hilarious moment when the good doctor is getting his exposition on as we watch Nazi after Nazi get vaporised in a room behind us.

One absent-minded git wanders into range: Zzzzap! Toast. A squad tries to charge through en masse: Bzzzt! Ash browns. One cheeky bugger even tries to tiptoe past: Tztttzzz! Fried, sour kraut. We honestly didn’t think watching Nazis die could ever be made more entertaining. MachineGames has managed it.

These microwave traps, and an complete lack of what I’m going to call “OH&SS standards” are essential ways to level the playing field in your favour. This is especially true for us, given we’re playing on the difficulty known as “Call Me Terror-Billy” (the Reich’s new nickname for the near mythical B.J.).

Squads of shoot-first-und-ask-for-papers-never Jerries roam the tight corridors of this ship. Spraying them to hell with bullets is fun and perfectly feasible — even in our impaired state — though our real enemy here is stairs. Fortunately, this little Terror-Billy is terribly resourceful when in an environment full of platforms moved by large pistons.

The first half of our demo wraps in a cliffhanger cutscene. Frau Engel, the nemesis from last time, is back. Not only is she unfairly holding a grudge — for performing earhole brain surgery on her toy-boy lover, and giving the old bag some mech-assisted dental work — Engel has also decided to bring the family in on her revenge.

As we lay helpless at this wannabe Führer’s feet, she tries to harass her own meek and portly daughter to kill one of our two comrades with an axe. Sounds like a throwback to the dual timeline decision of the first game. Neither situation ended well. This one faded to black before the final chop could fall.

Later still, we were dropped into a section set an indeterminate amount of hours into the campaign. Machinegames treated our eyeballs and curiosity by allowing us to walk around a German-occupied town of Roswell. Think: an obsessive amount of detail in the world, plus some time and latitude to snatch up neat NPC conversation moments.

Some are hilarious (developmentally-challenged Klan members getting schooled on German phrases) and others made us shiver (housewives totally ok with selling slaves to one another, and receiving their very own ‘wedding licenses’).

Much like BioShock Infinite’s bizarre floating-city streets, stopping to smell all of the roses is going to be irresistible here. To be honest, we were more impressed with MachineGames’ narrative chops in our demo than we were with the gunplay. Aside from some new gats, new enemy types, and a refined dual-wielding system that allows for slightly more creativity, Wolfenstein II felt lacking in meaningful, boundary-pushing tricks. It felt like more of the same.

Familiarity isn’t a bad thing, mind you. Personally speaking, we thought the original was more than all Reich in our book. That said, we do know a few mates who weren’t impressed by The New Order and its DLC, The Old Blood. If that’s you too, maybe wait and see. A goose-step around this might be in order.

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