Happy Weekend TAY!
Safe travels to all those who are returning to school this weekend and I hope those of you who are already back to the grind are settling in well. My son still has one more week off and we are hopefully going to make the best of his remaining time with some gaming.
I didn’t play a lot last week as I was prepping for houseguests arriving this weekend but I did manage to finish off the campaign in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. I still might go back and pick off the Uberkommandant assassination side-missions as they are cool scenarios which allow you to revisit old levels with new goals and enemy placements. However, you have to grind for collectables to unlock these missions, and I don’t know if I’m too into that. I wish they had simply unlocked all the side-missions once the campaign was complete.
I’m not sure what to think of The New Colossus. It was a heck of a lot of fun and I guess that’s the most important aspect of any game. I was happy to do lots of it, even though there is a fair bit of repetitive action and the story didn’t work for me.
The enemy variety and interesting environments keep the repetitiveness at bay and the id Tech 6 engine makes everything so pleasant that you are happy to just explore the visual feast of every level. The combat works well for the most part (though the enemy AI could be better) and higher difficulties demand a heavy emphasis on stealth. As I said, it was a lot of fun to play.
My problem with The New Colossus is the story. It never felt like a cohesive narrative and often seemed like a series of skits that were loosely strung together. This leads to my real issue with the narrative, the game can’t seem to decide on a tone.
The New Colossus begins with a disturbingly dark intro which shows us a glimpse into the origins of William J. Blazkowicz. This had me excited and I hoped we were going to take a journey through Blazkowicz’s mind and see how the monster grew inside him that enables him to do the things he does for the rebellion.
(*Spoiler warning* for the next paragraph which outlines the story arc in very broad strokes.)
Instead, after the dark mood set by the opening, the story quickly devolves into something like Tarantino makes Metal Gear. It isn’t a bad presentation, but it clashes badly with the opening tone of the game. This then changes into a brief exploration of how willing society is to completely abandon their ideals before the topic is dropped with no meaningful examination. We then return to the dark themes of the opening, then more Metal Gear silliness, quickly switch to a bizarre Hitler skit, again more TarantinoGear, and then the game culminates in a grindhouse fashion.
None of these bits are bad on their own, though the wacky skits were never that funny and often fell flat. It was the whiplash of emotions the game presents that made the story never come together for me.
Another problem with the continuity was the number of non-interactive cutscenes which increased in number as the game progressed and I was subjected to watching a lot of The New Colossus TV show. It gets pretty bad at points, hell, there is even an entire level that is just a collection of waypoints that trigger a bunch of cutscenes. It is almost as if the devs wanted to shoehorn certain story elements into the project and didn’t know how to make a game around it. I wonder if there were two competing themes at the beginning of the game’s development and instead of making a choice between them, someone decided just to mash the two unrelated ideas together.
Again, I never found any of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus bad, per se, but I did leave a little unsatisfied with the story they told me. If you like first-person shooters though, I don’t think you can’t have fun with it.
Since I was busy all week, I didn’t want to get started with Spider-Man on the PS4 (which is where my current gaming-mood is taking me next) so I decided to finally check out Into The Breach on Xbox PC Game Pass. It is an enjoyable game to play in tiny chunks and I bet it is a perfect fit for the Switch. Into The Breach is initially addicting but I’m already beginning to grow a little tired of the bite-sized strategy game. I don’t think it has the staying power of Subset’s other roguelike masterpiece: FTL: Faster Than Light.
I have my folks visiting this weekend, so there won’t be any gaming instore. However, they are returning my kid from his time with them and I’m hoping we can finally finish of Breath of the Wild next week before he returns to school. I imagine I’ll still feel like starting up Spider-Man on the PS4 once my parents have departed, though I did just pick up The Persistence for PSVR and I have been eagerly awaiting for that one to go on sale again.
So, what are you playing this weekend?