Game Title: Wolfenstein II The New Colossus
Company: Panic Button, Machinegame Studios, Bethesda
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Retail | Digital
Battery Life: 2.5 – 3 hours
Download: 23 GB
Last year, Panic Button made the impossible possible when they brought the new reboot of DOOM to a handheld in a viable, playable format. That also started Bethesda’s willingness to bring Mature AAA games to Nintendo’s new handheld, and also bringing one of the the most highly-rated sci-fi shooters in recent history to this DOOM Fan’s handheld adventures.
Since then, Panic Button has been spending a lot of time with bringing more experiences to the Switch, including a more recent and far more resource-heavy shooting game. The most recent entry in the Wolfenstein franchise, here is my review of Wolfenstein II: The New Collossus for the Nintendo Switch!
Wolfenstein 2 picks up right at the end of Wolfenstein: The New Order. As such, if you haven’t played TNO, I highly suggest you do so or research it before touching this game. 2 has a recap in its intro, but it’s a recap that isn’t done very well.
If you haven’t played it, here’s a summary of TNO:
In the world of Wolfenstein, Nazi Germany won World War II by dropping a nuke on New York City, easily getting the USA to surrender to them and fall under their rule. Two decades later, Billy Joseph Blazkowicz wakes up from a coma from fighting the war and joins a Resistance Group with the Nurse he’s fallen in love with to fight back against the still-in-power Nazi Forces.
At the very end of the game, he is critically wounded in the abdomen and issues an order for his allies to drop a nuclear bomb on the fortress he infiltrated.
In Wolfenstein 2, we find the still-wounded BJ rescued from that very facility and into a stolen U-Boat. He awakens months later, as the U-Boat is under attack and has to join his allies in his wounded state to fight back and seek out other Resistance Leaders to liberate America from Nazi Control.
The overall storyline of Wolfenstein 2 has a lot of really dark and well-written character and overall development. The world under Nazi control is a dark and grim one where heavy racist, sexist, and other ways of thinking did not slowly die out and be deemed immoral.
This has lead Wolfenstein 2 to be a very political-heavy game. Within the first hour I played, I’d already seen Racism, Sexism, Animal Abuse, Child Abuse, Fat Shaming, and a lot more thrown in my face in ways that seemed unnecessary. They do fit with the world the story shows and do help the dark feel, but I felt very uncomfortable whenever those story scenes would come up. It’s certainly not a story for everyone.
Wolfenstein 2 is a first-person shooting game with a lot of stealth elements. Across the game’s various levels, you’re going to be running and sneaking through Nazi-filled environments as you hunt down items as well as targets to acquire and take out.
First, let’s just be frank. This is Wolfenstein 2 vanilla. None of the DLC expansions are here, and we have no word of if/when we will be getting them. I pretty much view this as Borderlands 2 on the Vita. Game released, they said DLC might be on the way, and it never happened, so I don’t think we will see the DLC Expansions here at all.
As a shooter, the game has a pretty typical way in comparison with Military Shooters, like Call of Duty. You go on missions, and when you complete missions, you are returned to your U-Boat Home Base. In terms of linearity, all of the game’s levels are very linear in progression, not offering many side areas while the hub is pretty open, with lots of mini-games to play and side-quests to get from the NPCs.
The biggest part of the hub, though, is Wolfstone 3D. There’s an Arcade Cabinet that allows you to play a full and complete port of Wolfenstein 3D but slightly altered to be you as the Nazi’s hunting down BJ instead of BJ hunting down them. However, there is an issue here that I’ll explain in the Presentation section.
When you go out into the game’s levels, you’ll be navigating pretty large areas, filled with enemies. The way it’s set up is with you having clear location markers on where to go and having you traverse platforming areas and getting past enemies. The nice thing here is that this is a game that encourages stealth, but doesn’t require it.
In each area, there are patrols and commanders. When you’re noticed, Commanders will set off an alarm, bringing in reinforcements. This is very similar to how the Alert system works in Metal Gear, and is tied to the stealth elements. On the other hand, you can run and gun if your weapon has a silencer or you just don’t care and want to kill as many Nazis as possible. Ever since the difficulty got balanced, the game isn’t overly difficult, even during these alert combat situations.
The combat, itself, is very good and very satisfying. The weapons can be used in single or dual-weilding fashion, and all of the melee kills are very easy to pull off and as satisfying as Doom’s Glory Kills. Whether you’re a stealth killer or a Dual-Shotgun Nut, the gameplay is fun, intense, and satisfying, from start to finish.
The way enemies are presented to you is a bit odd, though. As I played through the game, I thought “Where are the boss fights? I’m just fighting enemy waves over and over”. Even at the end of the game, I went through waves of these enemies, big and small, got a cutscene and suddenly the Epilogue started. I thought “That’s it? Where’s the Final Boss? Wait, that fight WAS the final boss?”
That’s not to say that part of the game is bad, but there are a bunch of little things about that just seems “off”, like the game having very little indication of you losing health until you actually die, the objective marker needing a button held down to consistently see, among other things.
Now, as far as content is concerned, the Main Campaign will take you around 15 hours or so to finish. On top of that, the post-game has a bunch of side missions that are used to unlock the Secret Final Level that will likely take you another 4-6 hours to complete. So, even with the DLC taken out, you’ve got a little over 20 hours of content to go through. You can also repeat the campaign for the separate timeline that alters some scenes throughout the game.
As far as controls go, the setup here is the same as the setup you get on the PS4. One nice thing is that they decided to add Gyro/Motion Aiming which helps accuracy out a ton. I didn’t use it much in Doom on Switch, but I found it significantly better than strict analog aiming in Wolfenstein 2.
The Left Analog is used for moving around while the Right is used for moving the camera. The Arrow Buttons / D-Pad are used for upgrades, Dual Weilding, and viewing your objective marker. The four triggers are also used. ZL is used for aiming down the sights, and ZR for firing your weapon. L is used for leaning out of cover while R is used for throwing grenades.
Finally, the action buttons. A is for crouching and B for jumping. X switches weapons and Y lets you interact for QTEs. Also, Clicking the Left Stick lets you sprint while clicking the Right lets you do melee kills.
Graphically, I think Panic Button improved upon what they did with Doom. When you’ve got the game docked, most of the time, there is a blur effect, but a far milder one. To the point where you won’t have any problems reading any of the text on screen.
In Handheld Mode, though, it’s far worse than Doom’s blurring. I didn’t play any time in handheld mode that didn’t make the game look really blurry and almost too hard on the eyes to concentrate on what I was doing. In essence, they improved with Docked Mode, not so much in handheld mode.
Performance is much better, though. It stays at that smooth 30 fps outside of one small area of the game. Thankfully, said area has no enemies in it, so once you get back to combat, it’s back to that smooth 30 fps.
However, Wolfstone 3D presents a problem here. I don’t know if it’s because the fps of the main game was halved on the Switch, but the Wolfenstein 3D “port” runs at a very slow frame-rate, feeling like the whole experience is presented in slow motion. It is playable in its current form, but not very comfortably.
I didn’t expect much Battery Life, especially knowing what Doom had. Here are my times, from 100% to 0%
Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 28 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 39 minutes
Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 58 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 06 minutes
A little less than Doom, but still not too bad.