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Wolfenstein II Part 4: Empire State

By Shamus
on Thursday Feb 22, 2018
Filed under:
Retrospectives

 
 

Our Villain Frau Engel has captured Caroline, leader of the resistance. Caroline is paralyzed from the waist down, but in New Order she got a power suit that allows her to walk. It telescopes out to envelop her body like the Iron Man suit of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Frau Engel has captured both her and Wyatt, and removed Caroline from the suit.

Eleven Minutes

From left-to-right: Disposable Mook #1, Mook #2, Volkswagon Guy holding the captured Caroline, General Engel, her daughter Sigrun, Mook #3, Mook #4. That's Wyatt curled up on the deck just behind the last mook.
From left-to-right: Disposable Mook #1, Mook #2, Volkswagon Guy holding the captured Caroline, General Engel, her daughter Sigrun, Mook #3, Mook #4. That's Wyatt curled up on the deck just behind the last mook.

So now it’s time for our character to surrender. The writer has a lot of things they need to accomplish in this scene:

  • BJ surrenders.
  • Introduce the character of Sigrun Engel and establish her as the daughter of our main villain.
  • Establish the conflict between the two, showing how General Engel humiliates and abuses her daughter, setting up her betrayal.
  • Have Engel decapitate Caroline with a fire axe, and then wave the head around and use it to further humiliate her daughter.
  • Have Sigrun betray the Nazis.
  • Have Engel disfigure Wyatt without killing him.
  • Get BJ into Caroline’s suit.
  • Somehow resolve this standoff in a way that doesn’t kill our villain or any additional characters.

That’s a lot to do. Like I said earlier, this sequence takes 11 minutes. That’s a reasonable span of time to accomplish all of these story beats, but it’s still a really long time in terms of first person shooters. And like I keep saying, this one doesn’t break up its cutscenes with little bits of gameplay. Even worse, this sequence breaks the rules the writer previously adhered to. Instead of sticking to BJ’s viewpoint, the director cuts over to do a “Meanwhile, at the enemy base” scene for a conversation that BJ couldn’t possibly be privy to.

Could this scene possibly take place in a more boring, nondescript room?

Could this scene possibly take place in a more boring, nondescript room?

Longer cutscenes. Less immersive cutscenes. Less interactive cutscenes. We’re making a lot of concessions here in service of the story, and we’re not really getting anything out of it. The most concise description I can give of this scene is “self-indulgent”. The graphics are nice and they certainly spent a lot of money on motion capture and voice actors to make them look good, but none of this pays off in terms of making a better videogame for the player. It also doesn’t make for a smarter or more enjoyable story.

The cutscene doesn’t even make a lot of sense. When Sigrun betrays her Nazi friends, she gives her pistol to Wyatt. Then – despite his massive woundIf you’re got Fergus instead of Wyatt, then Fergus is missing an arm, making his aimbot behavior even more implausible. he spins around in a circle, perfectly headshotting all three of the heavily armored soldiers. For their part, the guards stand by and do absolutely nothing as Sigrun gives her weapon and Wyatt performs his miraculous shooting.

Wyatt then gets pinned by a soldier in a huge suit of armor that probably weighs as much as a Volkswagen. Volkswagen Guy and Wyatt are then somehow in a stalemate (as are Sigrun and General Engel) while BJ puts on Caroline’s power armor. Engel and Volkwagen then flee the scene, even though Volkswagen should be able to end the fight in two seconds by pulverizing Wyatt and then killing the still-unarmed BJ. The writer put our characters in an impossible situation, broke all rules of physics and common sense to enable them to escape, and depicted it using a camera position that highlights just how implausible the whole thing is.

You're doing great, Wyatt! Somehow.

You're doing great, Wyatt! Somehow.

You could probably make these scene work in a movie where you can use camera cuts to hide your cheating from the audience. If you point the camera at Sigrun and Engel and then at BJ, then the audience might not think too hard about what Wyatt and Volkswagen are up to. Or they might think the events are all happening at the same time and the entire sequence only lasted a couple of seconds. But we’re in a videogame where every single character is visible at the same time, and the whole thing looks absurd. The Nazis became suddenly and inexplicably impotent and then quit the battle so the plot could happen.

You might expect some heroic cheating like this at the end of a story, but here at the start? It feels like the writer is openly saying that the rules don’t matter and anything can happen in the cutscenes. Yes, this is a big dumb shooter and they’re known for big dumb action scenes. But I feel like if you’re going to spend all this time and deprive us of any interactivity, then you need to do better than this. If you’re not up to the job then just keep the cutscenes short and simple out of respect for the player’s time.

Funeral

I like the psychedelic paint job they use to personalize their stolen Nazi equipment. Nice touch.

I like the psychedelic paint job they use to personalize their stolen Nazi equipment. Nice touch.

Once BJ is wearing the suit, the game can begin for real. Your max health is reduced to 50 to reflect BJ’s compromised physical condition, while his max armor is raised to 200 to reflect his increased durability due to the power armor.

BJ fights his way through the airship, releases the submarine, and flees back to the sub with Wyatt and Sigrun. He also has to run around the sub and clear out a few dozen extra Nazis who’ve been hiding in the secret areas of the boat. Once it’s over he delivers the following po-faced monologue for Caroline’s funeral:

INTERIOR – SUBMARINE

The resistance has gathered in the torpedo room. The body of Caroline Becker has been loaded into a torpedo, which Max Hass has painted with vibrant psychedelic patterns. A candle burns beside a portrait of Caroline. The crew is grieving. Some are sobbing.

BJ Blazkowicz: (Voice over)
Like that. A life. All they’ve known. All they’ve felt. All the shit they’ve gone through.

All of it gone. In one moment.

BJ punches the button to fire the torpedo, and Caroline speeds off into the darkness.

BJ Blazkowicz: (Voice over)
Like water.

Like it never was.

You know, his speech might be a little less hilariously dissonant if he hadn’t just gunned down a couple hundred dudes. But it’s fine. I think BJ’s overwrought monologues are actually part of the charm of the series. The absurd juxtaposition might even be intentional.

After escaping the airship, our main characters meet and set up the plot for our game. The good guys are going to America to ignite a revolution, hoping to liberate the United States and use that as a base for fighting the Nazis around the world.

Normally I’d gripe about having a focus on the US in such a global conflict, but this actually works for me. So far the series has spent all of its time in Europe. Plus, the US is located in one of those annoying hard-to-reach areas for European conquerors, forcing them to cross an inconvenient ocean before they can do any conquering. The US originally surrendered after NY was nuked. Which means a lot of the US infrastructure is probably in decent shape. Which means the US is a strong country that can’t be easily re-conquered. Our heroes don’t seem to have a way to prevent more atomic bomb attacks, but assuming they come up with something then the US seems like a good place to start.

Having said that, I’m kind of curious about the Pacific Theater. I’d love if one of these games showed us what’s going on in the Philippines, Japan, China, and Australia in this alternate timelineMaybe some of the found lore objects in the game explore this. I sort of stopped reading the lore items after I got the impression they were all about explaining the events of the previous game or providing context for our current adventures..

Empire State

The concept art / loading screen for New York. Sadly, there's nothing like this view in the game. The environment is designed like a corridor shooter and you never get expansive views like this.
The concept art / loading screen for New York. Sadly, there's nothing like this view in the game. The environment is designed like a corridor shooter and you never get expansive views like this.

The first step to reclaiming the US is – for some reason – to make contact with a resistance group based in the Empire State Building. For once, I am not the first person to wonder what these people eat. Or more importantly: Why are they here at all? This little group is stationed at the top of the building, surrounded by a vast sea of wreckage, radiation, and Nazis. There are no civilians for the resistance to hide among. There are no useful military targets to attack. No way to get supplies. Since they’re surrounded, you can’t even argue it makes for a good secret hideout.

The problem isn’t that their setup makes no sense. The problem is that these nonsensical things are the only things we know about them.

Why should we care about these folks? Have they executed any successful attacks against the Nazis? Do they have useful sources and agents inside the regime? Do they have a stockpile of weapons and supplies that will be useful to us? Secret technology that will help in the fight? Intel on vulnerable Nazi assets? Personnel with unique skills? Access to the last cache of prewar Twinkie snack cakes?

Damn it, where's that vista the loading screen promised me? This feels like Fallout 3 but with a lower draw distance.

Damn it, where's that vista the loading screen promised me? This feels like Fallout 3 but with a lower draw distance.

I’m not asking for the writer to create some Tolkienesque world of exhaustively detailed societies. I’m just asking that they give the player some small carrot to chase after so these guys don’t come off like a bunch of impotent losers, pointlessly holding onto an irradiated ruin with no strategic value.

In New Order, BJ had to infiltrate a concentration camp to make contact with Set Roth and find out about the Da’at Yichud. The game presented us with a mystery and then sent us after the character that could explain it to us. Sure, the mystery was goofball nonsense about someone sabotaging Nazi concrete to make it moldy(??) but it was something. It’s not like Wolfenstein is a stranger to goofball nonsense.

But here in New Colossus we don’t get even that tiny bit of motivation. We’re sent into a nuclear wasteland to make contact with people who (as far as we can tell at this point in the story) have nothing to offer us. I’m not saying this is a plot hole. I’m saying it’s not interesting or motivating enough to make us eager or curious. Again, we have longer cutscenes that are worse about driving the story, If our only motivation is “just keep walking forward and shooting dudes until the NPCs solve the problem” then why are we wasting time on these cutscenes?

To be fair, there are a few fun character beats in the setup to this mission. Still, I think we could spend ten seconds of screen time to making these guys look valuable or interesting before we throw ourselves face-first into a storm of radiation and Nazis.

And then we come to this friggin’ guy…

This Friggin’ Guy

Oh boy, an exciting boss battle! I can't wait to see what surprises the game has in store for me!

Oh boy, an exciting boss battle! I can't wait to see what surprises the game has in store for me!

We run into this two-story robot patrolling downtown. He just sort of shows up. You can beat him effortlessly by standing in the doorway of one of these buildings and playing peek-a-boo. Jump out, unload on him, then duck back inside while he retaliates. Repeat until dead.

I’m now going to nitpick this guy by comparing this to various boss fights in the Half-Life series…

Remember in Half-Life 2 when you fought the helicopter? It hounded you for an entire section of the game, building up a grudge that ended in a cathartic showdown at the dam. Imagine how much less interesting it would have been if you defeated it in the same scene where it showed up, and you did so using your standard collection of small arms.

Remember how we saw striders at the opening chapter of Half-Life 2, teasing the eventual confrontation? That created an impression, which led to a payoff when it was finally time to fight one.

Remember in Half-Life 2 Episode 1, when you faced the strider at the END of the journey so it felt like a climax to the action? It wasn’t sandwiched between low-key mook fights.

Remember the strider fight in Half-Life 2 where it would constantly move around, duck down, and change position to dig you out of cover so that you couldn’t hide in any one spot for too long?

Remember the gunship fight in Half-Life 2 Episode 1 where the gunship gradually demolished the walls around you, leaving you more exposed as the fight went on?

The scenery lets me shoot him with impunity while his attacks hit the debris. If I somehow get hurt, I can run inside the building and he won't be able to reach me. Your average low-level mook is more dangerous than this guy. The only thing he has going for him is that he takes ages to kill.

The scenery lets me shoot him with impunity while his attacks hit the debris. If I somehow get hurt, I can run inside the building and he won't be able to reach me. Your average low-level mook is more dangerous than this guy. The only thing he has going for him is that he takes ages to kill.

Again, they spent all this money on motion capture, voice actors, and pushing this new graphics engine, and yet the gameplay is so rudimentary and uninspired. This monstrosity is so interesting in appearance and so imposing in its design, and yet you kill it using the exact same peek-a-boo strategy to use on the Nazi mooks.

How about teasing him ahead of time? We could see its head peeking at us over the building in the distance. Or maybe make him immune to our small weaponsBecause WHY WOULD THIS THING BE VULNERABLE TO PISTOL BULLETS? and force us to scramble from one mounted gun to the next. Or have him destroy our cover. Maybe have him harass us by knocking down buildings in our path, forcing us to take the “long way” through the ruins.

Just, something. Anything. Instead we fight a brain-dead AI in a static environment. Boo.

The New Order had a fight against the London Monitor. That fight was foreshadowed and featured unique mechanics. Again, we’re three games into this series now and this is supposedly the best of the bunch, but it seems like a regression.

Next time we’ll meet up with this NYC resistance group and talk about their introduction.

Footnotes:

[1] If you’re got Fergus instead of Wyatt, then Fergus is missing an arm, making his aimbot behavior even more implausible.

[2] Maybe some of the found lore objects in the game explore this. I sort of stopped reading the lore items after I got the impression they were all about explaining the events of the previous game or providing context for our current adventures.

[3] Because WHY WOULD THIS THING BE VULNERABLE TO PISTOL BULLETS?


 
 
Comments (61)

  1. Methermeneus says:

    Whole article is above the fold again. I realize control over what appears on the front page is important, but maybe you should look into a default word count, two paragraphs, or something like that.

    • Matt van Riel says:

      WordPress has that functionality built-in, trouble is it cuts things off at a specific word count, which can look messy and unprofessional. The manual way Shamus uses allows you to place the break where it makes sense for your content and is always preferable for this type of content.

      • DWeird says:

        “Always” is a strong word.

        A lot of the time, I’m interested in some follow-up comments on an earlier topic, or I’m coming back to the blog after a week, scrolling through to see if something piques my interest.

        Which is to say, and I mean this in neutral terms as possible, that on this as on any other article-based website, you spend a portion of your time ignoring things. If you make it hard for me to ignore things (even, say, an article that I’m interested in, but am still scrolling through to see what else is on offer), I’ll consider it messy and unprofessional.

        This sort of problem happens often enough (once a month? once in two?) that some sort of failsafe default option certainly wouldn’t go amiss.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wait,is that engel with a full face?Wasnt she left jawless previously?

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Also,the whole blog is on the front page of the article.

  4. Grudgeal says:

    Why are they here at all? This little group is stationed at the top of the building, surrounded by a vast sea of wreckage, radiation, and Nazis. There are no civilians for the resistance to hide among. There are no useful military targets to attack. No way to get supplies. Since they’re surrounded, you can’t even argue it makes for a good secret hideout.

    Haven’t you read any WW2 history? It’s a well-known fact* that the French Resistance did all their secret resisting from inside a Resistance HQ they built inside the shell of a burned-out tank wreck on the Maginot Line. They survived eating nuts and bolts and empty shell casings and diesel fumes.

    That’s what caused the Quebec Libre incident, you know. DeGaulle was so used from drinking old tank diesel from WW2 that he had to have it daily even in civilian life. He got cranky when the Canadians forgot to bring any.

    * = It’s a fact that I just made that up at any rate.

  5. Redrock says:

    To be fair, I don’t think that this fight is supposed to be on part with the London Monitor. But, that being said, TNC’s boss battles all suck. The final fight is so bland I couldn’t believe that was all there is to it. I get the feeling that for TNC they went with set-pieces instead. The train, the flying house, all that. Less Wolfenstein, more Uncharted, essentially.

    Huh. Come to think of it, some unhealthy envy towards Naughty Dog on the developers’ part would explain quite a lot of TNC’s problems.

  6. Redrock says:

    Thought about it some more, and it’s not like we aren’t given any motivation to contact the Resistance. It’s twofold, actually. One – getting intel, the lay of the land, etc, since our guys know next to nothing about what’s going on in the USA. Two – getting a new leader to replace Caroline – it’s pretty clearly articulated that neither BJ nor Wyatt are fit for that role. That’s actually consistent with The New Order. BJ’s modus operandi wherever he goes is basically finding the local resistance and following their orders. I think that’s the idea – that he is a soldier through and through, lost without leadership. Sure, he can keep killing Nazis, but it helps if there is someone to direct his killing streaks. So it’s not like there is no explanation at all as to why BJ goes to find the Resistance. Why their HQ is so goddamn stupid – that’s another issue.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      You know what would have been really great? BJ makes it to the Empire State building, and the place is empty. And he’s all “Good thing I arrived, the resistance looks like they’re in a bad spot.” and climbs all the way to the top and when he gets there, it’s a trap! The top of the tower explodes, taking you down to half health or whatever, and it turns out that the building is just chock full of Nazis that have been waiting there, and BJ has to fight his way through a hundred and two floors of lovingly reconstructed Art Deco architecture. And when he kills all the Nazis and gets to the bottom of the tower, one of the resistance fighters shows up and is like “Congratulations, you’ve killed all the Nazis in New York!” And BJ is all “I thought you were at the top of the tower.” and resistance guy is all “Why would we do that? That’s a terrible idea!” And then BJ shrugs and asks “So what do we do now?” and the resistanator responds “I’ll take you back to our secret base, which is not in a landmark building.”

  7. trevalyan says:

    The Nazis became suddenly and inexplicably impotent and then quit the battle so the plot could happen?

    Not too often that you see a thesis statement this early in a review.

  8. Nathan says:

    Shamus, what is your system like? You’ve had to reduce the graphics quality for smooth performance. I have an old i5 2500 and a R9 380. I’m assuming the game would run like poo on my computer as well?

  9. BlueHorus says:

    It feels like the writer is openly saying that the rules don’t matter and anything can happen in the cutscenes. Yes, this is a big dumb shooter and they’re known for big dumb action scenes. But I feel like if you’re going to spend all this time and deprive us of any interactivity, then you need to do better than this.

    Ah a perfect segway onto my rant about the ‘story’ of the Metal Gear Solid games.
    Regarding cutscenes: Silly is fine. Nonsense is fine. Long is…fine, in theory, but somewhat undermined by ‘silly’ and ‘nonsense’.

    What’s not fine: Contradicting yourself, often in the same cutscene. Undermining the player’s actions in cutscenes. Redundant dialog. Taking your nonsense seriously/and or expecting the player to do so.
    And to make all the above so much worse …TAKING SO DAMN LONG DOING IT ALL.

    • Kylroy says:

      I remember playing Metal Gear Solid 2, and completely giving up on the plot; after the fifth time the previous cutscene’s revelations were superseded by the current cutscene, I realized there was no point in following stuff that would be almost immediately revealed to be false or incomplete or moot.

    • PhoenixUltima says:

      If you play through Metal Gear Solid 4 and watch all the cutscenes, it takes around 20 hours to finish. Know how fast you can beat it if you skip all the cutscenes? UNDER 4 HOURS.

      Hideo Kojima may have a number of talents, but brevity is not one of them.

      • KarmaTheAlligator says:

        He even says so in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, in his bio (because he appears as a recruit-able soldier): his life is 70% movies, and it’s up to the player to tell him what happens in the 30% left. Or in other words, his games are 70% cutscene, 30% gameplay.

      • Hal says:

        This is why a lot of interactive novel games make no sense to me. They’re not really a game; all you do is advance the text as they tell the story to you.

        I just don’t get the appeal.

        • BlueHorus says:

          If the story is interesting, then it’s just another way to tell it, whic is fine. Hence ‘Interactive Novel’ as a desciption rather than ‘Game’ (though yes, sometimes they have both).

          That said, I fell out with Hatoful Boyfriend HARD when it did this. That game started out as a silly, engaging, bird-dating simulator* where you – the player – chose which character you wanted to go out with. A playthrough took about 15-20 minutes, there were multiple endings to see…

          …and then I made the mistake of clicking on a special option that was going to ‘tell the whole story’ or something.
          TWO FRICKING HOURS later, my only input to the ‘game’ had been clicking my way through the nonsensical, dumb-as-shit story and getting angry.
          I really should have just quit. Or got drunk (drink everytime someone says ‘everybirdie’ etc). Or ideally, just quit the ‘game’ and got drunk.

          *Don’t judge me!

        • John says:

          I suspect that the appeal of visual novels–at least those that allow the reader-player to make choices rather than merely advance the text–is that they combine the appeal of reading a novel with the appeal of player agency. It’s a bit like reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book. I spent a lot of time re-playing Long Live the Queen a few years back, making different choices just to see how it would affect the narrative. Long Live the Queen probably isn’t representative of the genre, but it’s very responsive to player choice. (Which is good, because the writing is only so-so.)

        • Daimbert says:

          I think they work if they add something to the novel that you couldn’t do without the interaction. For example, XBlaze: Code Embryo makes it so that what you read — supplementary articles and the like — determines the ending and the affection levels, which is an interesting twist that you obviously couldn’t do in a regular novel. However, since I’m a fairly fast and obsessive reader, I always read everything, which meant that I got the standard ending, which makes it a VERY bad VN for me …

        • Naota says:

          It’s a book with branching choices, dynamic pictures, and a soundtrack. Simple as that.

          If boring old just text books still have the market share they do, surely it can’t be too hard to see what people enjoy in books with flashier presentation.

  10. Syal says:

    Few typos: “Then despite his massive wound and he spins”, “to to the sub”. Maybe put the setting in italics so it doesn’t look like BJ is announcing the funeral will involve vibrant psychedelic patterns.

    The Half-Life helicopter made me quit the game, I never made it to the dam. Please don’t do that with enemies. I’d rather kill them the first time I see them than have to try to hide from an invincible enemy in an action game.

  11. Isaac says:

    I’ve never fought that giant guy in the New York ruins. I always run right past him and fight the rest of the Nazis in the interior of the building.

    • BlueHorus says:

      Sounds like more fun than the devs intended…

      But that would be a good encounter. You can’t hurt the giant robot – you need a bigger gun – so you have a chase setpiece where it’s destroying your cover as you flee. Or you have to distract it while other people escape.
      This sets up the robot as a threat, makes it act as a symbol of the Nazi’s power and gets the player pumped up for a cathartic ‘revenge’ boss fight later on, once you’ve got the big gun that can take it down.

    • John says:

      I love it when games let you avoid enemies like that. I sort of suspect it was unintentional on the developer’s part, seeing as Wolfenstein is a shooter and the point of shooters is to shoot things, but it warms my heart nonetheless. Unless . . . Wolfenstein has stealth mechanics, right? Can you use them anywhere or only in Designated Stealth Situations? Maybe it was intentional.

  12. Joshua says:

    Read the article, then decided to go watch the scene on YouTube (I had to skip forward a few times). It absolutely does go on forever and the sudden flurry of activity where the tables are turned is pretty ridiculous.

  13. John says:

    Sometimes I long for the days when memory and especially storage constraints meant that long cutscenes were all but impossible. I wouldn’t go so far as to call them the good old days, but back when I was a whippersnapper a cutscene–even a short one–was a rare treat. The original Prince of Persia, for example, had a handful of in-engine cutscenes. (The Apple II would like to know “What is this pre-rendered video you speak of?”) They were awesome, unexpected little silent-movie gems. But there were only a few of them and they were all quite short because the game had to fit on one double-sided 5.25 inch floppy.

  14. ThaneofFife says:

    Shamus, the boss is nearly immune to bullets. The laser weapon is armor-piercing, though (at least in the Fergus timeline), and takes fewer than ten hits to kill him, if you shoot him in the eye, iirc. I died the first time I met this guy, but I honestly didn’t realize it was supposed to be a boss battle.

  15. Pretty sure it should be “po-faced” not “poe-faced” – unless you were making some kind of sly reference to the nuSW character! (IIRC, dude does good face, but probably not the specific one you were thinking of.)

  16. Smejki says:

    I lost all interest after the 11 mins cutscene. I’ve heard many people losing interest as well at that point because of the pointless brutality but I didn’t mind it that much. I mind 2 things much more.
    a) How the writers introduced their central themes of daddy/mommy issues/parental abuse and societal exclusion of “freaks”.
    b) How the writers turned the over the top but menacing Nazis of the previous game into incompetent and poorly realized cartoon villains.

    ad a
    The theme is introduced completely backwards in a very contrived way. First we have a delirious BJ replaying things form his childhood where we discover and explore the dark side of his father. In short we discover BJ has some daddy issues. A few minutes later we see this cutscene. In it we see the brutal and supposedly competent general Engel as she takes and her own daughter on a supposedly secret and critical mission to hunt down the BJ band (what a coincidence!). The daughter is shown to also be abused (what a coincidence!). Through this heavy handed move we are expected to relate to her and to hate her mother. The daughter is shown to be an outsider to the Nazi society because she’s fat and gay. We should doubly relate to her. Them just a few minutes into this scene she’s introduced for the first time she betrays her mother and helps us. So should we triply relate to her? Are the themes supposed to be reinforced and well established by this. Surely you can see how contrived all that is. My main gripe is about the order of introduction to the theme(s). BJ dreams about his daddy. Minutes later, coincidentally, a new twist to an old and well established character is introduced so the author could draw parallels between daddy-BJ and daughter-Engel relationships. That’s not how you fucking do that. That’s below “We are not so different, you and I” trope. And this hamfistery could be fixed so easily so that the theme would arise in a more natural way by just flipping the order. BJ should first meet Engel with her daughter and discover the secrets of their relationship (it’s still weird the way it’s ontroduced and portrayed but ok). Experiencing this and explicitly due to this experience only then should BJ recall the memories of his father. Then the thing would click. Then we might feel something for the young Engel girl.

    ad b
    I’ll repeat myself a bit. The supposedly competent general Engel takes her own daughter on a supposedly secret and critical mission to hunt down the BJ band. Engel’s daughter is an army officer despite her impotence within the values of Nazi machinery and despite her hatred for everything the Nazis and her general mother represent (all of which is obviusly well known to her mother). (Considering the mindset of a Nazi believing in purity and in superiority of her own nation and race) General Engel belittles herself in front of her greatest enemy by showing off her freak daughter at the most critical moment. Wtf, general Engel?! Also Nazis don’t gain ranks through family ties and if they do now it only doubles down on showing how stupid she is. And then she lets her daughter fuck everything up through and extremely unbelievable set of subscenarios described by Shamus. Jesus!

    And yes, then there’s the use of cheap sadism and extremely graphical violence just for the sake of it. Does Engel come off as a threat in Wolfy 2? To me she’s a clown, and a very poorly written one. She felt much more threatening when I met her on the train in the previous game where she was merely holding a gun while asking me, a total stranger to her, some confusing and uncomfortable questions just to show her authority and control of the situation. Cutting off a head, showing it to my face and then air fucking it? Nah, fuck off. You are trying too hard here, Mr. Writer.

    • Alex says:

      I lost all interest after the 11 mins cutscene. I’ve heard many people losing interest as well at that point because of the pointless brutality but I didn’t mind it that much.

      I’m one of them. Not that I’d bought the game – there are too many sci-fi games that end with the creator ruining the ending for me to go in blind – but killing off Catherine like that ensured that I wasn’t going to give them the benefit of the doubt.

  17. RJT says:

    Hi Shamus Young,

    When I finished reading this post, I noticed again something that made me pause in shock the first time I saw it. In the post recommendations, you have a link to your blog plot entitled, “Twelve Years,” which has the description, “Even allegedly smart people can make life-changing blunders that seem very, very obvious in retrospect,” and that’s fine. The problem is the accompanying thumb-nail is of your twelve-year-old-daughter (that’s an estimate, but that’s the impression the caption gives). The first time I saw this, I thought the daughter was the life-changing blunder. I still kinda do a double-take every time it comes up in the rotation, even after I’ve read the article. It may be worth considering using a different thumbnail?

    Regards!

  18. WarLadle says:

    I’m amused you even killed the giant robot, I just assumed you had to run away from it and just ran to the exit door. There was no consequence at all so I just assumed it was what I had to do.

  19. camycamera says:

    You know, I actually quite liked TNC, even though it was probably my most disappointing game of that year.

    But I never noticed that point about that robot until now. Aside from the HL2 examples, TNO had some similar build-up with the giant robot dogs. Those things were immune to bullets IIRC, so a lot of your encounters involved out-running them or outsmarting them. One particular moment I remember is going along a catwalk, and then hearing that damn thing run after me below and try and jump up and get me. I couldn’t do anything about it. TNO did a great job at mixing up gameplay compared to TNC.

    Because meanwhile in TNC, for some reason the giant robot dogs now breath fire which is cool… but they don’t run around like, you know, dogs (except for that one you ride in that one mission), they don’t leap at you, there is no outsmarting them or anything because they’re immune to normal weapons, they just walk slowly towards you and breath fire. Very disappointing.

    TNO wasn’t a masterpiece in enemy design either (god those Uber soldiers were a pain to deal with, being massive bullet-sponges), but TNO was far more memorable in just about every way, from level-design to enemy encounters. It’s a real shame.

    I think a lot of the game’s problems had to do with the team just downright not having enough time to finish the game (from moving ID engines?), and so this is what we got.

  20. Jabrwock says:

    Because WHY WOULD THIS THING BE VULNERABLE TO PISTOL BULLETS?

    Lol, reminds me of a WWII MMO I beta tested around 2001. Biggest outrage in the forum was people venting that they “unloaded all their clips at a tank and it wouldn’t explode??!?!?”

    Um, yeah… that was the whole original point of a tank… :D

  21. ccesarano says:

    I can’t find anything using my awful Googling skills, but I’m curious if there was a shift in positions over at MachineGames between New Order and New Colossus. It sounds to me like the Mission Designer got left out of the writer’s room or perhaps left, and the guy in charge of writing cut-scenes and general story direction was given even more freedom.

    Ideally these guys are one in the same, or at least can work in tandem really well, but it seems here there’s some cool ideas for missions (like shooting guys while wheelchair bound) without a proper mission-designer to make sure everything has a logic to it or follows a sequence.

    Unfortunately nothing is coming to mind, but I know there’ve been non-Half-Life games where you’ve had to deal with big monstrosities chasing you the whole time. I mean, the Scarab in the second level of Halo 2 comes to mind, as does the Songbird throughout all of Bioshock Infinite.

  22. poiumty says:

    Well, I called it. The cutscene was in fact the first major thing that really pissed me off about this game.

    They’re not interested in setting up the characters properly. They’re interested in painting the nazis as incompetent, cowardly and pathetic as possible.

    Which might not phase you if you’ve got a raging hate-boner for nazis, but… I don’t.

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