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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (486)

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Dead Island 2 3.5/5
Saints Row IV 3.5/5
The Last of Us Part II 4.5/5
Torchlight III 3/5
Wolfenstein II: The New... 4/5
Ghost of Tsushima 4.5/5
Battletoads (2020) 2/5
Danganronpa: Trigger Ha... 4/5
Override: Mech City Bra... 3/5
Maneater 3/5
Door Kickers: Action Sq... 4/5
Spider-Man (2018) 4.5/5
Red Dead Redemption 2 4.5/5
Boot Hill Heroes 3.5/5
Control 4/5
Victor Vran 3/5
Katamari Damacy REROLL 4/5
SIMULACRA 3/5
Hitman: Absolution 3.5/5
Alternativa 2.5/5
Stardew Valley 4/5
Undertale 4/5
Cyberpunk 2077 3/5
Fable Anniversary 3/5
Strange Brigade 4/5

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Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus   PC (Steam) 

You Can't Keep a Good BJ Down    4/5 stars

When Bethesda decided to reinvent Wolfenstein after acquiring it from Activision, they gave us The New Order - which posits an alternate-history where the Nazis won WWII thanks to their futuristic tech derived, in part, from the mystic Jewish order of Da'at Yichud. It was also a pretty big hit and there was little surprise when a sequel was announced. The New Colossus is a direct continuation of The New Order and once again follows BJ Blazkowicz and his resistance group as they bounce around a war-torn former America looking for recruits to help bring down Frau Engel and inspire those willing to rise up.

Looks and Stuff: Better looking and more impressive in scope, New Colossus takes you to a bombed-out, irradiated Manhattan, Area 51, small-town America, massive ghetto New Orleans and even to Venus. While levels are linear in nature, they do a good job of mixing more open areas with near-claustrophobic spaces. Sometimes you'll be sniping enemies from afar, other times you'll be crawling through ducts hoping to get the drop. While stealth is always the best option - most likely you'll eventually find yourself in a prolonged gun fight. Luckily the game is not shy about handing out plenty of weaponry along the way. Enemies are varied from monstrous, lumbering mechs to your typical grunt Nazi soldiers. Still, never take any for granted as even with prolific health and armor scattered about, it is very easy to die. Brian Bloom returns as the voice of Blazkowicz as does most of the cast from New Order including Alicja Bachleda as BJ's love interest Anya, Nina Franoszek as Frau Engle, Gideon Emery as Fergus or A.J. Trauth as Probst Wyatt III (depending on who you let live in the previous game) and Mark Ivanir as Jewish scientist/mystic Set Roth. Plenty of others join the cast: Debra Wilson as fiery resistance leader Grace Walker, Don McManus as conspiracy nut Norman 'Super Spesh' Caldwell, Alyssa Preston as Sigrun, ostracized daughter of Engel who joins the group and Glenn Morshower as BJ's father, Rip (not a good guy). The music is good - with, once again, German versions of the likes of The Beatles and The Beach Boys presented as collectible records you can find. The game is also teeming with lore in the forms of newspapers, letters and such that really paint a grim picture of how propaganda and prejudice play out. While I did have a few crashes - I blame my computer and not the game.

Story: After barely surviving his battle with Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse, William "B.J." Blazkowicz clings to life in a coma aboard the resistance's new captured U-boat, Eva's Hammer. But now-promoted SS-Obergruppenf├╝hrer Irene Engel - with a new, massive command ship the Ausmerzer in her command - captures the U-boat and takes Caroline and Fergus hostage. BJ gets himself captured as well, but only so he can mount a rescue and escape. But his wounds get the better of him and Caroline is executed and only because Engel's own daughter, Sigrun, turns on her do any of them manage to escape.

Despite the loss, the group does what Caroline would have wanted - begin to form their resistance. This means recruiting the survivors of the Manhattan atomic bomb, taking down the Nazi leadership and ultimately taking over the Ausmerzer and bringing down Engel. Though the early game, BJ is barely keeping alive - using Caroline's suit to literally hold his guts in place and, ultimately, BJ dies - but then is brought back in a most ridiculous fashion but, in keeping with the futuristic mysticism of the game, still makes perfect sense. At one point you even meet the aged and somewhat sad (but still violent) Hitler himself (you even get an achievement if you kick the guy while he's down) - by pretending to be an actor who is auditioning for the part of... BJ Blazkowicz (on Venus no less). But what the game does best is portraying a post-Nazi America with scary results - some of which seem to accurately predict the rise of the far-right movement and fake news that have become increasingly prevalent in the wake of former-president Trump. While you won't see people walking around in KKK gear or talking openly about owning slaves - it's still not too far off from Proud Boys skulking about. It's disconcerting at points but it's these touches that make the game stand out.

Gameplay: As a first-person shooter, most of the game involves you taking down Nazis with extreme prejudice. From pistols to rifles to shotguns - you have your basic weapons, given an upgraded twist. Then you have your melting laser, your mini-rocket gun, even the game's version of a BFG - it's all here. Most levels are designed so you can stealth your way though - taking down the commanders before the alarm is raised - but it's also annoyingly easy to be spotted and have everything devolve into a gun fight where you're scrambling to kill everyone in sight while going after health and armor at the same time. The game also has an annoying mechanic that degrades your health over time and while this is eventually fixed late in the game due to upgrades and such - early on, it's a huge burden and the early game is by far much more frustrating because you don't have any upgraded weapons or anything yet and it's very easy to die.

Still, if you can ride out those early missions, the game gets better at balancing things out. Upgrades to guns make things easier - including a silencer for the pistol that makes being stealthy slightly easier. You also gain some specific armor mods that let you slither into tight spaces or jump to greater heights or simply ram through obstacles (and enemies) - eventually you'll get all three. The game has plenty of collectibles scattered about from records to gold to toys to mountains of lore. The game also isn't stingy about providing health and armor or ammo - and while some levels are certainly more annoying than others, none were ever insurmountable, at least on the difficulty I played (hard - enough challenge without making me want to rage quit - well, not too many times anyway).

Replay value: Even after you finish the main story, New Colossus offers plenty of content. You can hunt down the remaining officers, you can do the score-attack challenges and, if you're feeling generous, even tackle the DLC or go after the more elusive collectibles. All in all - there's plenty to do.

Final Verdict: If you liked the return of Wolfenstein in The New Order - this is more of the same, only better.

Presentation: 4/5
Story: 4/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Replay: 4/5
Overall (not an average): 4/5

 

 


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