Monday, November 20, 2017

At least shooting bad guys is still a good time

Wolfenstein The New Colossus has problems, one of which is not necessarily its own fault, but they have, at the halfway point, added up to a game that is not as good as The New Order. Don't get me wrong, it is a good game and the fact that it riles up fascist apologists tickles me to no end (BJ has been killing Nazis since before a good chunk of you were born, you clueless motherfuckers), but that is not enough.

It took my hands a good hour or two to finally understand that I was not playing last year's Doom. The combat in Doom was designed to keep the player moving forward, to encourage the glory kills as they were the best way of replenishing health and ammo. Playing that way in The New Colossus will get you killed, full stop. Cover is a thing in this game, as is the lean mechanic. BJ is a tough dude (eventually) but running headlong into robotic Nazis dual wielding auto-shotguns will reduce him to a fine paste. Not the necessarily the game's fault but it still tainted the first hour or so.

If taking cover is important than being able to tell from which direction you are being shot from is required information. The New Colossus offers the standard flashes of red at the edges of the screen but there is very little audio feedback when taking hits. Getting shot should be loud, it should elicit a good, bassy thump, and it does not. The visual cues feel slow and BJ is squishy enough that this tiny delay is the difference between life and death. And there is a lot of death. I died more times in the courthouse escape section than I did in all of Doom, mostly because I could not tell when flanking enemies were shooting me until it was too late. Thank goodness for save scumming.

The New Colossus is trying to one up The New Order is both comedy and seriousness. Sometimes it works, when Super Sesh exits the toilet with a flourish, interrupting a tense, tender moment between BJ and Anja, and sometimes is really doesn't. Getting BJ's tragic backstory is not necessary. He is not quite the Doom marine but he's close in that BJ is more of the player's avatar than a character in the game. The New Order injected personality, which is fine, but The New Colossus resorts to child abuse, racism and the murder of pets and it just feels very heavy handed.

And the twist that I am not going to spoil? The twist that is given away much earlier, that everyone will see coming a mile away? It was elicits little more than a groan, and that is quite a feat in a game featuring anti-gravity technology that was hidden away millenia by a super secret Jewish cabal.

It's not a bad game, it's just trying way too hard. Maybe the second half will improve. I should finish the game just in time to fight with Chance about it on Wednesday.

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