Blimey, this is a strikingly different experience to the wheelchair mission we played at E3. This time, as we sit down to play Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, we’re all trussed up in a Da’at Yichud Power Suit, able to cover ground with terrifying speed, bearing down on Nazis and executing them with gory melee takedowns.
Here’s our guide to all the Wolfenstein II weapons we’ve used so far.
We can soak up the impact from some pretty sizeable falls, too, leaping from gangways a couple of storeys high with no fear of a twisted ankle, let alone broken bones. It’s a moreish, corrupting kind of power that eggs us on to a number of bad decisions as we keep giving in to the desire to rush cover-ensconced Nazis rather than move up methodically. But repeatedly dying is a small price to pay when we’re having this much fun.
To be fair, we were encouraged to tackle the area more stealthily from the start. The ruckus in which we’re embroiled is taking place in a cavernous underground bunker where a rocket-powered train sits waiting to depart to Area 52, our eventual objective. To reach this location, we crawled through a tunnel dug from the basement of a diner owned by Speshie – a fellow member of the resistance – and endured a close encounter with a sadistic Nazi officer who has a penchant for strawberry milkshakes.
The silencer we equipped our pistole with should have given us the upper hand, but the first guard’s helmet foiled our plans; our commendably-quiet bullet ricocheted off his helmet in some random direction, allowing the startled soldier to raise the alarm. Oh well.
Our hastily-revised plan is to kill everyone as quickly as possible. Most pressing is the officer calling in reinforcements, but we’ll have to fight our way through the guards, human and robotic, that he’s invited to the fray. This noisy reacquainting with Wolfenstein’s robust gunplay confirms the series’ weapons feel just as thunderous in use this time around, and the ability to dual wield different types of guns means you can engineer enormously satisfying combinations: our current favourite is the rapid fire of the Sturmgewehr with the slow-but-forceful blasts of the Schockhammer. As a setup it’s as loud as it is effective.
Later, we get the train in motion and fight our way to the front. More robots and guards follow, but also elite armoured troops armed with the terrifying, yet hilarious, Lasergewehr. Once killed, you can liberate this two-handed weapon from their bodies and plod your way to whichever unlucky enemies you locate first. It takes a couple of seconds to spool up before spitting a thin beam of energy that makes everyone it touches explode into a shower of shimmering particle effects – firing it down a busy corridor is one of the demo’s purest pleasures.
Beyond that, we infiltrate Area 52. Amusingly, once you take control of the train, you can decide whether to pull up sensibly and sneak out, or crash the thing into the station and come out fighting. We elect to do the latter, and then kill lots more Nazis, plant a bomb then escape in style on a motorcycle before detonating the device. It’s raucous, deranged fun, even if the level design here doesn’t deliver any particularly memorable locations.
That said, the section prior to all this shooting sees us wander around Roswell, disguised as a fireman, while a Nazi parade takes place. There’s no combat here, and we’re free to explore back alleys and listen to the numerous NPCs which populate the space.
It’s an enjoyable change of pace that sticks in the mind far better than the functional-but-bland corridors of underground bases, submarines, and rocket trains. With any luck, this lively spirit will find its way into more of the combat levels, too, but Machine Games has confirmed that there will be more spaces like Roswell to explore, free from the inconvenience of being shot at.
Whatever the architectural merits of Wolfenstein II’s world, however, it’s already clear that the sequel has lost none of its forebear’s focus when it comes to flowing-but-weighty combat. The expanded dual-wielding options and increased mobility afforded by the Power Suit keep everything feeling fresh without tossing out the first game’s remarkably stable foundations. And the shift to America casts a newly-horrifying light on the Nazi’s occupation in this alternative timeline.
Now, where did we put that Power Suit?
We’ll be stepping back into BJ Blazkowicz’s shoes when the game releases on October 27.