Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus Review

Above all else, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus takes a very hard stance on the righteousness of killing Nazis. It never falters, not once asking whether violent resistance is the wrong way to fight back against oppression–and the game is stronger for it. The series’ tongue-in-cheek attitude provides a respite from both the horrors of the Reich and the frustration of throwing yourself against its all-powerful war machine. And despite some heavy-handed moments that feel like missteps in its message, satisfying Nazi-killing action bolsters its completely bonkers storyline in a way that only Wolfenstein can achieve.

The New Colossus picks up right after the events of The New Order, and unsurprisingly, our hero Blazkowicz is in bad shape. Following the explosion during the fight with Deathshead, BJ’s insides are falling out, and the crew of the Kreisau Circle does their best to put him back together again. General Engel tracks them down five months later, and as her troops storm the resistance’s stolen U-boat (the Evas Hammer and your base of operations), Blazkowicz wakes up to shoot more Nazis.

This first mission sets the tone for the rest of The New Colossus. Bound to a wheelchair, his organs failing, Blazkowicz feels oddly vulnerable. You shoot with one hand and slowly wheel yourself through the Evas Hammer’s corridors with the other. The odds seem impossible. But overcoming them is gratifying in a way that simply killing all the Nazis can’t match. Even after the Da’at Yichud armor from The New Order gives Blazkowicz his mobility back, his labored breathing reveals a man who is running out of fuel–and time.

On top of that, the game is just generally difficult. You’ll probably die often. Defeating a giant fire-breathing robot dog doesn’t seem feasible at first, but it is with the right combination of weapons, strafing, taking cover, and scrounging for health and ammo while on the run. Part of that struggle is finding a combat style that works for you and sticking with it, whether it’s a guns-blazing or more tactical approach. Some particularly punishing fights or an disadvantageous autosave can be frustrating, but most levels end just before that frustration can turn to anger.

Most missions are broken up into rooms with one or two commanders who are capable of calling for reinforcements. You can choose to just shoot your way through waves of enemies, or you can try to take out the commanders quietly before addressing the rest of the room. Things escalate quickly when heavy enemies show up, since it’s difficult to take them out quietly. Enemy variety and multiple paths through any given area mean you’ll be rewarded with a thrilling fight regardless of how you decide to tackle it.

You’ll also be rewarded with more power. Successfully executing a certain number of stealth takedowns, for example, unlocks a perk that increases your movement speed while crouched. And using upgrade parts you can occasionally find lying around to, say, put a silencer on your pistol will further improve your stealth ability. But you’re afforded the flexibility to decide mid-mission that stealth is not going to work and change tactics. As a result, every encounter is incredibly tense, since you never know when you’re going to need to take it slow or book it to safety as bullets fly by.

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The far-future technology of the Nazi regime is both exhilarating to partake in and a grotesque display of their ruthless subjugation of all corners of the world. High-powered laser weapons are exciting to use, but the armored machine-men who drop them are a reminder of human experimentation during and after the war. Anything is possible in Wolfenstein, and that’s a direct result of immense human suffering.

Most environments in The New Colossus showcase the brutal, industrial truth of the Reich, like the twisted remains of a post-nuke New York City. But there are also appearances to be kept up, and the Roswell level in particular provides the rest of the picture. You arrive in Roswell during a parade, and the sunny, idyllic streets are peppered with Nazi officers and Klansmen in their full regalia. Well-dressed citizens speak in German as they celebrate–or pretend to celebrate–the Nazi takeover, propaganda books and posters in view. It’s unnerving and threatening to see the way the occupied, but not destroyed, cities operate under Nazi rule, as well as to see and overhear people willfully ignoring the atrocities around them.

Aside from being a much-needed break from fighting, the story cutscenes are beautifully directed and take advantage of the game’s fantastic cast of characters. The Roswell parade section, for example, ends with an Inglorious Basterds-esque interaction with a commandant that is at once funny and upsetting, a careful balance that The New Colossus strikes throughout. Some gameplay-to-cutscene-to-gameplay transitions are a little jarring, but it’s easy to get swept back up in the combat or the story right away.

The story cutscenes are beautifully directed and take advantage of the game’s fantastic cast of characters.

Proper cutscenes as well as idle chitchat on the Evas Hammer reveal intimate details about even minor characters. Each person on the U-boat has their own story of oppression and marginalization, from the Black Panthers to General Engel’s anti-Nazi daughter, Sigrun. But they’re also just people; some are depressed, some are angry, some are horny, and nearly all of them will have their own conversations on the U-boat that you can listen in on whenever you want. You can watch as everyone shuns Sigrun at lunch (perhaps rightfully so) and listen as New York resistance fighters discuss the nuclear tragedy. Even when the story goes completely off the rails–in an absolutely jaw-dropping way–there’s still room to explore their individual dynamics. It’s a small thing, but it keeps you invested in the crew and their cause.

There are times when The New Colossus overreaches for poignancy, and as a result it states its themes too overtly instead of letting them stand alone. Shows of American patriotism, like a particular monologue about liberty and freedom, feel misguided after flashbacks that show the rampant racism in the America of BJ’s childhood. The idea that America had problems before the Nazis showed up is there, and it’s powerful, but it’s obscured by seemingly conflicting ideas.

And while arguments over the purpose of the war and inspirational speeches about fighting against impossible odds show the breadth and depth of the resistance movement, for the most part these are things you can discern just from playing normally. Of course you should keep fighting against the Nazis, even when it seems pointless; after all, overcoming their unstoppable might mission after mission is satisfying enough on its own to keep you going.

The New Colossus never lets you forget who and why you’re fighting. Nazi brutality is on full display, from the blown-out, irradiated remains of Manhattan to each of the resistance members, who all carry mental scars if not physical ones. You’re never given a chance between cutscenes, missions, and even downtime on the U-boat to lose sight of the Reich’s cruelty. Wolfenstein’s tense gameplay elevates this further by giving you the power to truly resist–and come out of each battle ready for another fight.

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Arrow: “Next of Kin” Review

Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.

Sometimes, a great ending can make all the difference. That’s really the big takeaway from this week’s “Arrow.” “Next of Kin” didn’t quite sell me on the idea of John Diggle becoming the new Green Arrow. It delivered a fairly formulaic story of one hero trying his best to rise to the challenge and fill another’s shoes (or hood, rather). But with the final scene casting everything in a significantly different light, maybe there’s hope for Diggle’s superhero phase yet.

I’ve had major concerns about the idea of passing the Green Arrow mantle onto Diggle for any significant length of time, as well as reservations about how his post-Lian Yu status quo is being handled. “Next of Kin” seemed to bear out those concerns for a good 95% of its run-time. It followed a very predictable path, with Diggle trying his best to live up to this impossible responsibility, failing hard and then digging deep and overcoming all obstacles to lead his team to victory. Most annoying was the way his struggle seemed to wrap up so neatly and painlessly by the end. Apparently all Diggle needed to overcome his chronic nerve damage and severe psychological issues was a good pep talk and more focus in the battlefield.

Continue reading…

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Nintendo Switch SD Cards Giveaway

We teamed up with SanDisk to give away new official Nintendo®-licensed SanDisk microSDXC cards for Nintendo Switch:

  • 2x 64 GB microSDXC
  • 2x 128 GB microSDXC

Four (4) winners will be chosen after the competition ends Sunday, November 5th, 2017 at 5:00PM PT. Entry is open to US residents only, void where prohibited.

Enter below (the additional entries are optional to increase your chances of winning):

SanDisk® microSDXC™ memory card for Nintendo Switch™ Video Game System

With the new officially Nintendo®-licensed SanDisk microSDXC card for Nintendo Switch, gamers can count on reliable storage to download more digital games and content, and take it all on the go. Available in either 64GB or 128GB options, the cards offer quick and easy expanded memory to keep players’ favorite digital games in one place so they are ready for game time anytime. The new licensed cards are certified to work with Nintendo Switch system, and deliver transfer rates of up to 100MB/s, to load games quickly for consistent, high-performance game play. The SanDisk microSDXC card for Nintendo Switch is backed by a lifetime limited warranty so games always have a dependable space to call home.

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Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus – Beginners Guide

How To Be A Nazi-Killing Machine

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a no-nonsense narrative-driven first-person shooter focusing on mowing down as many Nazis as possible. Between stealth, perks, dual wielding, and ax throwing, there’s a lot to think about when entering a hostile environment. There’s also plenty of collectables and activities to accomplish between missions aboard the Evas Hammer Resistance, the main base of the Resistance. To help you better your chances of survival in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus for PS4, Xbox One, and PC, we’ve compiled 10 essential beginner’s tips to follow.

For more info on Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, be sure to check out our guide on everything you need to know about the game, and also our video on the History of Wolfenstein.

How Do Health And Armor Work?

The Health and Armor pickups that Blazkowicz finds in the heat of battle are the only things keeping him from death’s door. After an intense battle, you’ll pretty much want to spam the pickup button when clearing through the aftermath of the carnage. Armor protects you from enemy fire and will tick down as you take damage. Armored enemies will always drop pieces of armor and scrap, which add to your counter. So be sure to loot them after defeating them.

Along with restoring your base health, restoration items also have an “Overcharge” mechanic. Any health pickups that put Blazkowicz’s health above 50 puts him in an Overcharged state. His health can eventually get to 200, but will continuously tick down until it reaches 50. The best strategy to use is to pick up health and get in the action and put that extra health to good use before it’s gone.

How To Remain Stealthy

It’s always a good idea to start an area with stealth, especially in an area with a commander. You can always tell if there’s a commander nearby with an icon that appears at the top of the screen, indicating your distance from a commander. If that icon turns red, get ready for a fight because you’ve been spotted.

There are different ways to stay out of sight. You can sneak up behind enemies and execute a stealth takedown, silence your Pistole with a weapon upgrade and get a few quiet shots in, you can throw hatchets to take down enemies with a well aimed throw. If you choose the latter, be sure to go retrieve your ax if you can while staying hidden. Be sure to take advantage of the lean maneuver to keep yourself hidden. If you want to see what is waiting around a corner, lean instead of walking out and exposing yourself.

Don’t worry about the dead bodies you find along the way. Other enemies will notice them, but they won’t sound the alarm. A good strategy to use is to silently take down an enemy with a stealth takedown or a silenced weapon, and then sit back and silently snipe the other enemies who approach the dead body to investigate.

Using The Map

If you’re obsessed with collecting stuff, Wolfenstein II has you covered. There are nearly 400 different items to collect throughout the game from the different levels and the main hub aboard the Evas Hamer. Fortunately, you don’t have to check every nook and cranny to find them all. The handy map in the mission menu reveals where everything is hidden. This makes finding the game’s many collectables much easier for completionists.

Additional maps are also scattered around the levels, offering additional intel on item locations. While these items can still be found without the maps, it’s always best to stay up on item locations, especially if you think you may have left one behind.

Choosing Weapons To Dual Wield

Taking cues from Wolfenstein II, B.J. can dual-wield almost every weapon he gets his hands on. That means you can hold two of the same weapon type or mix and match them–such as holding a shotgun and machine gun at once. There are a couple good strategies to use when dual wielding your weapons.

It’s never a bad idea to choose one ranged weapon and a second weapon for close quarters. That way, you can eliminate enemies who are right in your face, and others who are charging in. There really isn’t a “one size fits all” approach to dual wielding, and you’ll have to assess the situation and plan accordingly. For instance, if you’re up against a Panzerhund, you’re going to want range. The shotgun, as powerful as it is, isn’t going to do much for you. Equip two Sturmgewehrs and start pelting it from long range.

You can still dual-wield if you’re trying to be stealthy. Equip dual silenced Pistoles to quickly and silently eliminate Nazis without making a sound. However, there is a tradeoff to using two weapons at once. Keep in mind that dual-wielding isn’t as accurate as just holding one weapon and aiming down sight.

Weapon Upgrades

Weapon upgrade kits are scattered around the game world and are for one-time use. While you may be eager to put these kits to use and boost your gear, there are a couple things to consider before committing.. Each gun has three possible upgrades to unlock. Those upgrades can be turned off at will from the weapon menu, and can all be equipped at the same time. Once you apply an upgrade, it cannot be undone.

Take careful consideration in how you use these kits, as they’re put to better use matching your particular playstyle. If you want to stick with a stealthy approach to battles, unlock that silencer for the Pistole first. Since there isn’t a sniper rifle in the game, unlocking the ranged scope for the Sturmgewehr isn’t a bad choice. Each of the weapon upgrades have their uses, so there is never really a bad choice.

Getting The Most Out Of Your Perks

After spending some time taking out the Nazi hordes, be sure to take a look at your progress on the perks page. While in action, you’ll occasionally see prompts about various milestones, such as the number of heavy weapon kills and headshots you’ve landed. Head into the perks page to view your current progress across the Stealth, Mayhem, and Tactical trees. Once you accomplish a milestone, you can take advantage of the new boost to B.J’s performance. If you see a perk you like, switch up your playstyle to make some progress towards unlocking it. Always keep an eye on the perk page, and put in the work to unlock the best skills that fit your Nazi-killing playstyle.

Juggling Heavy Weapons

As you’re mowing down Nazis en masse, you’ll eventually encounter tougher variants that need extra effort to put down, but the heavy weapons they drop. These guns come in either the Lasergewehr or Dieselgewehr. While they pack a serious punch, they can slow you down significantly. Plus, the heavy weapons need to warm-up before letting loose with their power.

It’s best to assess the situation and see if it’s a good time to use one of these power weapons. If you’re surrounded by a bunch of Nazi foot soldiers who have you pinned down, then it may be better to hold off on using them. The heavy weapons, while powerful, can turn you into an easy target, which is undeniably true on harder difficulties. If you’re up against a huge enemy tank, then definitely pick up a heavy weapon and use it. That’s when these weapons work best.

These heavy weapons are also a good way to conserve energy. Like the Laserkraftwerk and Dieselkraftwerk smaller arms, these heavy weapons run on electricity or fuel, which can be found in dispensers scattered around most levels. If you’re low on ammo for the guns in your inventory, heavy weapons can bail you out in a pinch.

Navigating The Evas Hammer

The enormous U-boat known as the Evas Hammer is the base of the American Resistance, and can be daunting to explore when finding your way around it between missions. The ship has long hallways, and dozens of different rooms where the crew holds meetings and just hangs out. As the story progresses, the ship’s crew will expand, opening more areas to explore.

It’s a good idea to explore the ship early and then check out the new areas once the crew expands. If collectables are your thing, the Hammer is littered with them, but don’t go crazy trying to collect them all from the beginning. Many of these collectables are behind locked doors and can only be found later in the game when those areas unlock.

The hammer isn’t only reserved for getting to know your crew. It can also be used for getting to know your weapons. Set put together a shooting range in the lower levels of the ship. You can check out any guns you’ve unlocked and take them for a spin. There’s even a leaderboard so you can see who’s the best marksman on the crew. Don’t get your hopes up though. There’s no reward for coming in first.

What To Do With Enigma Codes

While searching the bodies of fallen commanders, you’ll collect an Enigma Code. While they don’t seem useful initially, collecting these code will increase the perk that extends the length of time between when B.J. is spotted and the commander alarm sounds. Later in the game, you’ll use these codes to unlock the location of other commanders scattered across the country. You’ll then be able to charter a course to find and eliminate them in Deathcard missions.

The Enigma Codes themselves come up while exploring the Evas Hammer, which will lead to cutscenes with members of the crew.

Save Often

Wolfenstein II has a pretty good checkpoint system that autosaves your progress whenever you complete a task, kill a target or enter a new area, but you can also save and load your game whenever you wish. If you don’t trust the autosave system, be sure to take advantage of the game’s manual saves. Manual saves can especially be useful during Deathcard missions.

There aren’t any checkpoints in the Deathcard missions. So, if you die in the middle of one and didn’t save your game, you’re headed all the way back to the beginning of the mission. Some of these missions can be lengthy with a bunch of enemies, so be sure to save your progress before you go charging into an area with a Panzerhund and other armored Nazis.

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Gotham: “Hog Day Afternoon” Review

Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.

On this week’s Gotham, we got Professor Pyg – the demented butcher-slash-surgeon created by Grant Morrison a decade ago who has  since broken through as one of the most disturbed Batman’s baddies ever, quickly joining the pantheon of the Caped Crusader’s most malicious villains.

Like Scarecrow, Pyg’s getting a two-parter. Also, like Scarecrow, this isn’t quite the Pyg we’ve come to know. No, this isn’t a teenage version of Pyg like Jonathan Crane’s burgeoning fear-monger, this is simply a differently motivated Pyg. The Pyg we know as the evil, lobotomizing plastic surgeon obsessed with turning innocent victims into “perfect” Dollotrons may be coming – or the show may impart Pyg with that desire when Jim finally busts him – but the Pyg we’re getting right now is one who’s determined to, um, kill dirty cops and place pig heads over their faces. Meh.

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Destiny 2: Bungie Details Updates on the Horizon

Bungie has outlined what players can expect from forthcoming updates for Destiny 2.

According to a post on the Bungie’s official website, the studio plans to make adjustments to the spawning rules and Supremacy scoring in the Crucible, add private matches for competitive play, and more.

Game director Christopher Barrett provided the following list of forthcoming updates, noting the studio is working on more improvements as well.

  • New systems and rewards to give our most engaged players additional, optional pursuits.
  • Better incentives for players who complete challenging Prestige activities.
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New LA Noire Trailer Shows The Game Off In 4K

Rockstar is bringing its 2011 crime drama LA Noire to a host of new platforms this fall. Today, the publisher shared a new trailer that shows off the visual improvements players can expect from the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions.

The new trailer, which you can watch below, showcases the game running in 4K, which will be possible on both PS4 Pro and Xbox One X; the game will output at native 1080p on the standard PS4 and Xbox One. To get the full effect from the trailer, you’ll need to watch it on a 4K display.

Along with a host of visual improvements, the upcoming re-release of LA Noire will include all of the game’s DLC expansions. A modified version called LA Noire: The VR Case Files will also be released for HTC Vive. That package will include “seven select cases rebuilt for VR.”

LA Noire releases on November 14 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, making it Rockstar’s first game for Nintendo’s console. It arrives on Switch within a week of two other mature titles, Doom and Skyrim. The Switch version includes some exclusive gesture-based controls; however, a physical copy will retail for $10 more than on other consoles.

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NVC: Why Mario is a 10

Welcooooooome back to Nintendo Voice Chat! We bring you NVC a day early this week in an effort to help ease the wait for Super Mario Odyssey.

This week, Ryan McCaffrey joins Zach Ryan, Brian Altano, and Peer Schneider to talk about his play experience with Super Mario Odyssey and expand on his glowing review. But before we get to our 30 minutes of spoiler-safe Mario talk, we also fill you in on the newly revealed Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Poi (worst release timing, ever!), and an indie that many might overlook simply based on its license: The Mummy Demastered. Plus, there’s news about Shin Megami Tensei V and the New Nintendo 3DS XL SNES Edition (say that three times in a row).

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