“Come and f**king get me, you white ass fascist Nazi pigs.”
Don’t worry, that wasn’t a political stance -though it should hardly be one- that’s a quality quote from a certain Mr. B.J. Blazkowicz in the latest Wolfenstein 2, which thanks to the commitment by Bethesda and the geniuses at Panic Button, has now made its way to the Switch. The question lands, should you play the game on the Switch, or give its more mobile version a miss. The very short answer is, Nazi killing on your commute with massive guns, the long answer is as follows.
The short backstory is that B.J. Blazkowicz, an American soldier woke from a coma to find that the Axis powers won World War 2. After kicking ass in Wolfenstein: The New Order, he finds himself setting of a nuke, which appeared to be him sacrificing his life. Wolfenstein picks up here, with Blazkowicz dying, but being picked up with little time left.
After surgery, their boat is attacked, and on comes a relatively long level where Blazkowicz is pushing himself around in a wheelchair, killing the invading Nazis. This scene epitomises the Wolfenstein 2 experience. The Blazkowicz in his wheel chair feels limiting and makes the scene immediately feel tense but blasting Nazis away in the situation feels ridiculous. It’s a game that balances feeling grounded and real, with off the wall ridiculousness.
Blazkowicz finds himself with a tech suit that allows him to walk, and the craziness that is Wolfenstein 2 unfolds. I won’t get any further into the story because if you are looking at playing the game for the first time, you deserve to enjoy the story as you go.
One moment, which in in stark contrast to the rest of the game, are an early series of scenes you play through some of Blazkowicz’s childhood, facing a terrible father. He treats you and his wife like crap and puts you in some unfavourable positions. Fortunately, you are given the opportunity to avoid the one that I was too uncomfortable with, but the game doesn’t tell you that. Then you go back to blasting Nazi’s with laser guns.
As expected from a Bethesda game, the gameplay is top notch. Everything from shooting, to exploring consistently feels great, and the varied enemies and guns, which both have realistic grounded types, through to the ridiculous, means he game keeps throwing surprises your way.
Level design is op notch as well. Wolfenstein 2, like its predecessors, is a very linear game. You are there to enjoy the story, but levels contain plenty of empty corridors to get lost in, enough to add exploration elements but not so much you’ll get lost for hours. Throw in a healthy helping of nooks and crannies with collectibles, and there is plenty of reasons to revisit, and thoroughly search these levels.
Replay value is also added via assassination missions. Throughout the game you will kill Nazi officers, if you pick up items off them, eventually you get to unlock an assassination mission, which will have you hunt down and kill your target. I wont touch on this anymore either because you should enjoy these fresh but know there is replay value galore in this game.
The quality of the Switch port is the big lingering question. How can such a big, high budget, good looking game like Wolfenstein possibly run on the Switch. Well in some ways, like Doom did, and in others, better.
The first addition to the game is the motion controls, which like in other Switch games means that you can move your Switches angle to aim more precisely. Using the small thumb sticks on the Switch does lose some of the responsiveness, but this feature, if you turn it on, fixes a lot of that. You continue to use your thumb sticks as normal, but when you are trying to hit a small or distant target, then slight movements of your Switch comes in very handy.
Doom suffered from frame rate issues as the visuals were kept to a very high level. It made the game far form unplayable, but it was noticeable in many locations. For Wolfenstein they have done the opposite, downgraded the visuals a little, and the result is a FPS that runs smooth as butter. Some cut scenes were especially noticeable as faces can look a bit like a PS3 game, but when you are running it in handheld mode, it’s pretty hard to care about that.
That said I did notice some jank in some cutscenes, but that doesn’t affect gameplay, and most of the time that was caused by me resuming the Switch from sleep mode. The biggest issue that has carried over from the DOOM port is the tiny subtitles. Sure, they look good on the big screen, but in handheld mode you have to strain your eyes to see them, and at 6:30 on a commuter train, that’s a challenge. In Wolfenstein this is even more important, because many of us don’t speak German.
Every tiny flaw is easy to overlook in this glorious FPS on the go. Sure, the game is a little downgraded, and it doesn’t come with the DLC as many hoped, but if you wanted the Wolfenstein experience, without the commitment of a console at home, you have it, and my daily commute was infinitely better off with it.
Can Panic Button please port every Triple A game to Switch? Please?
8.5/10 - Kickin' ass on the commute
Blair received a code for Wolfenstein II for review