Wolfenstein The New Order was an amazing game. Despite not playing on my PS4 much anymore, it was always one of those games that I refused to get rid of for that system. I was blown away by the story, the gun play and I loved the old school, hard as nails shooting action that was combined with modern streamlined mechanics. But can Wolfenstein 2 on the Switch hold up to its predecessor?
Wolfenstein 2 was one of the main reasons I bought a Switch last year. It was a game I’ve always looked forward to playing on the go, and when it finally came out in June, I was ecstatic. However, after playing through the game twice on Do or Die difficulty, and experimenting with other difficulties and end game content as well, I must say that it’s not as great as I hoped it would be. While it is a fantastic first time experience that I’ll always remember, the more I replayed it, the more problems I started to find with the game-play, and cranking up the difficulty just made those problems worse.
The game-play mechanics on the surface don’t feel too different from The New Order. There are many sections where you can dispatch enemies stealthily, and the game encourages you to prioritize killing the commanders in the area, so you can prevent them from calling in reinforcements if shit were to hit the fan. The problem is that if you break stealth, every enemy within a football field of you will charge in like hungry hordes of zombies. So if you didn’t kill everyone along the way in your stealth attempt, and instead chose to avoid confrontation, prepare to get gang raped from all sides. If you want to kill everyone in your stealth attempt, it’s still ridiculously hard to pull off sometimes. There are heavy soldiers that cannot be silently killed. In later levels, metal robot dogs with the health pool of a tank will charge you at even the slightest hint of something suspicious.
If you choose to go loud, it is often best to find a corner to hunker down. The enemies are not very smart, so if you set up a fatal funnel, they will keep charging at you while their friends’ dead bodies pile up around them. Alerted commanders will send many waves of enemies at you, but eventually they stop coming. After the gunfire stops, you can head to the enemy commander without a worry, as no one will be left to stop you on the way there. This is basically what combat boils down to throughout the entire game. The enemy AI might not have been much smarter in New Order, but at least they spawned in a controlled and sensible manner, coming through certain hallways and doors depending on where you were at.
This time around, some end game content and side missions were added in an attempt to increased the game’s longevity. But they didn’t do a very good job here either. Your main end game activities include assassinating up to sixteen Oberkommanders in recycled story mission areas, finishing side quests, and finding all the collectibles. However, none of these activities reward you with anything besides a sense of pride and accomplishment, and a means to unlocking more upgrades and perks. This sounds decent, except by the time you unlock all these things, there will be nothing left to do. You can’t replay story missions and there is no arcade mode like in Doom. So if you worked hard to improve your deadliness and survivability, well then congratulations, you are now beast mode BJ for no reason. Half the time your quest givers don’t even acknowledge it when you’ve completed your assigned tasks. They often just disappear or stand there repeating filler lines.
Game performance is great with a few exceptions. I’m not a framerate scientist, but to my eyes, the framerate of game-play is smooth throughout the entire main campaign. However, there are three areas within New Orleans in the Oberkommander assassination bonus missions that are incredibly laggy due to this thick fog that was added for no discernible reason. In the campaign mode version of those areas, there was no fog, and the framerate was smooth as a result. I wish it was kept that way for the assassination missions too.
Of course with smooth framerate also comes a few negatives. Remember how Doom for the Switch looked mostly excellent, aside from some rare moments when the visuals were quite a bit blurrier? Here, the visuals look like Doom when Doom is at its worst, almost all of the time. It is jarring how someone can stand five feet away from you, and you can’t even make out his or her facial features, because of how blurry it gets.
The cut scenes are all in HD though, which makes transitioning to in game graphics very unnatural. The best way I can describe the feeling is, imagine being a visually impaired person walking around with no glasses on. At first things look real blurry, but eventually you get use to it. But then you put your glasses back on and things suddenly become so much clearer it almost surprises you. That’s what it feels like transitioning between cut scenes and in-game visuals here. The cut scenes themselves aren’t perfect either. There are several of them that have micro frame skips, making the cut scene look like it’s pulsating. It’s not distracting enough to fully take me out of the immersion, but it came dangerously close.
The main saving grace here is the excellent story, writing and cinematography. There aren’t any drawn out story bits to keep you from the action for too long, but they manage to convey so much emotion and personality in such short scenes. All the characters are well acted and become instantly likable even if they don’t get featured very much. I will say I enjoyed Fergus’s timeline much more than Wyatt’s, because Fergus actually added to the story, whereas Wyatt just sort of existed. Your mileage might vary, but I found Fergus to be much more charismatic and funny.
Overall, Wolfenstein II is a great one time roller coaster ride that oozes with personality. Unfortunately, the actual game-play was a bit average and repetitive compared to that of Wolfenstein New Order. Wolfenstein II gets a score of 7/10.