The mere fact that we get Wolfenstein II-The New Colossus on Nintendo Switch is surprising and such a novelty. I would have never expected something as technically impressive and as mature as Wolf II to release on the Switch, but here we are. Mowing down hordes of Nazis is enough fun on a home console, but even more fun on the go. Still, the technical hurdles of the limitations of the console are apparent and bog down this otherwise excellent shooter.
The prequel, Wolfenstein: The New Order, had no business being as good as it was. In 2014 we probably didn’t expect this reboot of the classic series to be good, let alone warrant getting a sequel. In Wolf II, you play as the protagonist from the first game, BJ (William) Blazkowicz. Much of the story is told in the form of flashbacks, giving us perspective on BJ’s childhood as well as showing past relationships with different characters.
The plot picks up right where the first game left off, with a critically injured BJ recovering from a coma and enduring an attack by Nazi commander, Frau Engel. This lady is CRAZY. Developer, Machine Games, focuses on making you hate Frau and after playing through this, she has become one of my top favorite villains in all of gaming. Think Vaas from Far Cry 3; just utterly insane for the sake of it.
The reason Wolf II is one of the best shooters of the generation is because of the top-notch writing and characters. It takes a lot for a story to grab me, but with this, I would look forward to watching the cutscenes just as much as the gameplay. The interactions between characters had me smiling so much, I would almost be disappointed when I’d be forced to start playing again. I would laugh out loud at certain cutscenes, like the ones with Super Spesh, a former lawyer and member of the American resistance. Being a passionate alien conspiracy theorist, Super Spesh goes a bit overboard with his dialogue and it’s entertaining to watch. These characters are written as if they were for a big-budget Hollywood movie and not a video game. Fortunately, as more games like these pop up, the comparison to movies will dwindle and we will just say, “Yeah, the game has fantastically written characters.”
The imagery and themes in Wolf II stand out against ones found in standard military first person shooters. It’s hard to stand out, but Wolf II excels at this and is one of the most memorable games I’ve played in a while. Those Nazi helmets, the giant machines, dual wielding assault rifles; all of these things make Wolf II what it is and I love the precedent set by it to make compelling single-player experiences.
Despite the heavy the subject matter, there are moments when Wolf II doesn’t take itself too seriously and I love it for that. For every heart-felt, emotional moment, there’s a silly over-the-top one, that balances everything out. No one wants to be bummed out the whole time, which is why I’m glad we can laugh and cry within the same game.
If all of that doesn’t do it for you, at least you can look forward to some superb shooting and gameplay. The guttural sound and feeling of each weapon makes shooting so satisfying, especially when murdering Nazis. There are various weapon-types to choose from like a shotgun, sub-machine gun, pistols, and assault rifles. What’s even better is the level of depth in place with the weapons, as they can all be upgraded with different attachments to suit your play-style. These upgrades are found scattered throughout the levels, encouraging you to get out there and explore. Wolf II is linear, but the levels are large and have tons of hidden secrets and collectibles to find.
Additionally, there are challenges and perks to unlock, like getting headshots, stealth kills, and environmental kills. Completing these challenges result in bonuses; For example, killing 20 enemies with a hatchet will increase your hatchet capacity. Looking for hidden items and doing weird things to achieve perks diversify the gameplay, making Wolf II feel like a more complete, varied package.
Yes, it’s clear that I’m wild about this game, but it does have its flaws, specifically with the Nintendo Switch version. We all know the Switch isn’t the most powerful system on the market and it’s miraculous that we get this game at all, but the limitations are noticeable. The resolution dips below 720p at times and textures look muddy, especially with lots of enemies on-screen. As much as I’d love to give this the benefit of the doubt, the visuals are distractingly bad at times.
Maybe this generation has me spoiled with so many beautiful looking games, but Wolf II on Switch is borderline-ugly, which pains me to say. Of course, visuals don’t 100% make or break this for me, but the difference is hard to ignore. I’m sure Panic Button, the developers who worked on porting this to Switch did their best, though.
If you can get past the visuals, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus for Switch is one of the best shooters on the system. What a time to be alive that we get mature games like these on a Nintendo platform. The shooting is satisfying, the story is absurd and engaging, and the writing is probably in my top five favorite games of all time. Please support these mature ports to show publishers and developers that there is an audience for them so we get more. Otherwise, if you can’t get past the visuals and don’t care about the portability factor, there are a ton of other platforms to play Wolfenstein II. Whichever you pick, make sure to stay savvy!