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03/01 - The Last Campfire
05/01 - Splatoon 3
17/01 - Wolfenstein
This game has long been in the periphery of my thoughts, its existence always seeming rather odd. I remember thinking it seemed strange for a new Wolfenstein game to be released at the time this was. It felt rather out of place. Sometimes I had considered maybe I should give it a go. Finally did. It’s pretty decent, a solid fun shooter, but it’s nothing exceptional.
It has a few interesting quirks though, which were the things that made me want to try it out, since they sounded somewhat reminiscent of The Darkness. This game isn’t really a patch on that one though, but they’re still worth something. The game is structured around a semi-open world that takes place in a besieged German village, so between the main linear missions you can explore around and sometimes come across secondary objectives. I did like that, and it did help the game feel like it had a bit more of a believable world to it than just linear hallways full of enemies. But there isn’t really much to do in the village itself, and there’s hardly any of those optional missions.
The game also has a supernatural twist, giving you a magic amulet that lets you see in to another dimension that gives you special powers. It gives the gameplay an extra layer other than just shooting, but it feels like the absolute minimum possible to achieve that. All the powers are really basic, and are simply buffs to your normal abilities. Nothing particularly creative. Turning on your amulet powers also highlights enemies and lets you run faster, which is far better than the painfully slow standard speed. It also adds a ghoulish looking green filter over the screen, with other effects to give the world a spooky feel as you see in to the other dimension. I don’t dislike how the game looks through that lens, but it’s a bit disappointing that doing so is basically objectively the best choice in all situations, as the normal world visuals actually look pretty nice and clearly have a lot of care put in to them. But you don’t get much reason to take it in.
The actual combat is pretty good, but again feels like it needed much more to it to be genuinely impressive. Guns feel nice, and there are a reasonable range of enemy types to go up against, but the variety of your arsenal is pretty limited, yet still manages to have a lot of overlap. You get two automatic rifles, but no shotgun or pistol. There’s a range of sci-fi power weapons, which are a lot of fun, but there’s a few that feel like lesser versions of ones you get earlier. This also happens to be an ADS shooter, so once again suffers from the problem of gun models blocking most of the screen whenever you’re trying to aim at anything. Hip fire is at least viable at close range though, which you can do in certain situations thanks to the magic powers.
The story is a bit strange, and feels pretty perfunctory. I guess if you were being very generous you would say it’s a retro throwback inspired by the series’ legacy. Basically every beat of the story is the same, and they all boil down to “The Nazis are up to something at [location], go blast them to bits!” It starts with a very hurried intro cutscene of some mission unrelated to the game where BJ stumbles on one of these magic amulets, but it gets destroyed near instantly. Then he immediately gets dropped down in this town to help the local resistance, where he just happens to dig up another amulet. A researcher from one of the factions you’re helping at this points asks to have it, and BJ just says no and they carry on as is. Predictably the Nazis are also investigating the magical realm and these amulets, so everything else is just filler until you blow up their portal to the other dimension where they got them from, and then the game ends. What’s weirder is that the more recent Wolfenstein games seem to treat this as canon, since certain characters return from this game for some reason. It’s not like any of them are compelling in this iteration.
Nothing about the game was especially egregious though, except maybe a few bad boss encounters. Generally I enjoyed it. It’s a competent shooter with a couple of interesting elements that save it from being too bland. But it doesn’t exceed at much, and feels a bit undercooked in certain areas too.