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Wolfenstein II Part 9: Mister Hitler

By Shamus
on Thursday Mar 29, 2018
Filed under:
Retrospectives

 
 

To liberate the United States, BJ needs to hijack the Ausmerzer. To do that, he needs the control codes. To get them, he needs to go to VenusWait, so NOBODY on Earth has the control codes? Doesn’t anyone on Earth need the control codes to, you know, control it?. To get to Venus, he needs to disguise himself as an actor.

See, the Nazis are making a propaganda movie about the capture and execution of Terror Billy and the auditions for the title role are being held on Venus. So BJ poses as an actor and goes to Venus to audition to play himself. While there, he can steal the MacGuffin codes. This means we have to meet the film producer, who turns out to be Der Führer himself, Adolf Hitler.

Mr. Hitler

Die, allied schweinehund!

Die, allied schweinehund!

The Wolfenstein games have always had a weird relationship with Hitler. This is an action story, and action stories are generally a build-up to some final showdown between our hero and the ultimate embodiment of evil. This works really well in a story like Star Wars where the villain isn’t just the mastermind, but also a formidable foe for the protagonist to face off against. We can take the entire conflict of the two sides and boil it down to a fight between two people. This can take a large, abstract conflict and make it deeply personal. The problem is that this doesn’t work nearly as well when you’re making a story based on historical events, because the most powerful leader is rarely the most fearsome warrior.

Having BJ kill Hitler wouldn’t be particularly cathartic because in combat he’s just an old politician with a dumb mustache. On the other hand, it feels really strange to leave him out. Everyone’s first question will be, “So what about Adolf Hitler?” He might not be a good boss fight, but this series is built around the desire for lowbrow wish fulfillment / power fantasy, and bringing justice to one of the most hated figures of the 20th century fits right in with that sort of thing. On the other, other hand, we want to kill our villain at the end of the story for maximum emotional and thematic payoff, but the audience already understands that killing Hitler doesn’t magically stop the Nazi war machine or end the slaughter. Basically, the audience will naturally desire – and perhaps even expect – something which is going to be both implausible and unfulfilling as an end to the story.

Wolfenstein 3D handled this by putting Hitler inside a Mecha-suit to make him a more interesting threat, and his fight appeared at the end of the third chapter in a six-part story. The Hitler confrontation was a climax, but not the climax.

Die, allied schweinehund!

Die, allied schweinehund!

Wolfenstein II is a pretty silly game, but it’s not quite cartoonish enough to pull off Mecha-Hitler without dissolving into comedy. So instead of making him a physical threat, the writer makes him an object of audience ridicule. We see Hitler as an old manHe’d be 72 by this point.. He’s a disgusting senile beast who shuffles around in his bathrobe and pukes and pisses all over the room. He spits when he talks, his mood oscillates all over the place, and he casually executes people for trivial slights, real or imagined. Normally I dislike taking historical figures and turning them into grotesque caricatures for ridicule, but I figure once you’ve perpetrated a Holocaust you’re fair game.

People like to pretend Hitler was some sort of mutant instead of just a regular human being with very bad ideas because it helps us feel better about ourselves, and maybe this sort of mockery isn’t always the most nuanced or mature way to engage with this topic. But screw it. If there’s anywhere it’s appropriate to trade in slanderously exaggerated depictions of Hitler, it’s in a Wolfenstein game. This might not be the best place to learn about the complexities of historical figures or the fragility of human nature, but that’s not why we’re here.

Having said that, I really do have a problem with this scene.

A Pointless Scene

Hang on a second, holocaust-boy. You're telling me you idiots have a base on Venus but you still haven't gotten around to inventing color movies?

Hang on a second, holocaust-boy. You're telling me you idiots have a base on Venus but you still haven't gotten around to inventing color movies?

While I agree that this is a great idea for a scene in a Wolfenstein game, you still need to integrate the scene with the rest of the story. We introduce five new characters in this scene: The casting director, three other actors, and Hitler himself. These characters exist only in this scene. Nothing that happens here has any bearing on the rest of the game. BJ doesn’t attain his goal or even move any closer to it. This isn’t a lead-up to a confrontation with Hitler, who we never see again. This scene is thirteen and a half minutes long, and you could excise the entire thing from the game and the player wouldn’t even know there was anything missing. You could cut from the moment BJ gets off the ship to the moment he unpacks his bags in his room and it would feel completely seamless.

There’s no real gameplay, so this doesn’t work as part of a videogame. And the plot doesn’t move forward so it doesn’t work as part of a movie. Again, this is just self-indulgent on the part of the writer.

To be fair, there’s actually a tiny bit of gameplay and a bit of tension in the scene. There’s a gag where you have to memorize your lines and recite them accurately using a Telltale-style dialog selector. I think this would work better if there was more fear of being outed. BJ feels like such a force of nature at this point that it’s hard to be scared of the guards in the room, even if they’re armed and BJ isn’t. If you were here with some allies and you needed to keep from raising any alarms while they were sneaking around the station doing their part, then you might have something to be uneasy about. Also, this scenario could involve some of the people we’ve been recruiting, thus making them more obviously useful.

Once the audition is over, BJ goes back to his room, gets his gun, and goes on a massive murder-spree across the base to get the control codes of the Ausmerzer.

This means it’s a good time to talk about:

Level Design

I appreciate the level designer numbering these platforms so I can tell these otherwise indistinguishable catwalk mazes apart.

I appreciate the level designer numbering these platforms so I can tell these otherwise indistinguishable catwalk mazes apart.

The level design in this game does not flow. I can’t tell you how many times I wound up in the middle of a battle with music swelling and Nazis shouting in the distance while I wandered around trying to figure out where the next batch of murders were. The shouting makes me think I need to go east, but the east passage is a dead end, but if I go north and crawl through a random vent it will take me to the next bit.

It’s true that not all games need to hold your hand through the levels. Exploration-focused games like Deus Ex, Thief, and System Shock often expect you to look around and find your own route through the environment. The thing is, this isn’t that kind of game. This is supposedly a fast paced shooter that has confusing layouts that kill the pacing and flow.

As I’ve belabored in the past, Half-Life 2 is the gold standard for this sort of thing. The level designers have an entire language they use to help you understand the world around you. At a glance you can tell a real door from a fake one. Item pickups are placed on the other side of obstacles as a way of getting the player’s attention and letting them know they’re supposed to find a way around. Lights are used to draw your eye so you know where to go next. Dead ends are left dim so you don’t blunder into them and get confused. Interactive features like switches and levers have distinctive colors that pop against the background so you can see them from far away. The areas are lit to facilitate play rather than frustrate or confuse.

This is not because players are dum-dums. It’s because in an action game you want to preserve the sense of urgency, and confused backtracking kills the pacing. It’s easy to get turned around or confused in a hectic firefight, and sucks the fun out of the experience if the player realizes they just spent two minutes backtracking and now need to turn around and walk for two more minutes to get back to the action.

There's a mechanic where you have to keep filling up your space suit to keep from burning alive. It's a good way to keep the pace up and keep the player moving. But it makes me wonder why they bother posting these hundreds of guards outside if they can't be more than thirty seconds from a coolant station. And then I wonder why they bothered building a base on Venus at all. I realize I'm overthinking this. Sorry. I'm just getting bored here.
There's a mechanic where you have to keep filling up your space suit to keep from burning alive. It's a good way to keep the pace up and keep the player moving. But it makes me wonder why they bother posting these hundreds of guards outside if they can't be more than thirty seconds from a coolant station. And then I wonder why they bothered building a base on Venus at all. I realize I'm overthinking this. Sorry. I'm just getting bored here.

A good environment does the Half-Life 2 thing and leads you down one clear path while tricking you into thinking you’re choosing one of many. A lesser environment is obviously linear, but still leads you from one area to the next. The worst environment is both completely linear but also completely muddled so that you have no sense of where you’re going, how to get there, or how the place fits together. This is how the levels of New Colossus work. I had the same problem with Batman: Arkham Origins.

I lost track of the number of times I arrived at a room and had no idea where I was supposed to go next. Where am I headed? Which direction? Am I looking for a switch? A vent? Is this big control room just a detour and my real goal was a side-door in the last hallway? There are lots of large rooms that are symmetrical on both axes, so that once you put down the Nazis you can’t tell which of the four doors you entered through and which one is the way forward.

This is exacerbated by the occasional copy / paste rooms. Sometimes you’ll enter a room that’s an identical copy of a room you went through ten minutes ago. Have I come full circle, or is this an identical room in a different location? Did I get turned around and backtrack? Yes, in the real world it’s pretty common to have repeating patterns. Change floors in a school, hotel, hospital, or apartment building and you’ll find the same layout used again and again. But since we’re on the planet Venus fighting space Nazis, I don’t think you can defend this sort of thing with the excuse of “realism”. And even in the real world, there are often decorative features to differentiate places. Move the furniture aroundRight after you add furniture. Do Nazis not sit down?. Change the lighting color. Put some posters up. Make one area greasy and cluttered and another area tidy and clean.

Did I get turned around, or is this platform just similar to where I was thirty seconds ago? Also, who do I need to kill to get more than one color in the scene?

Did I get turned around, or is this platform just similar to where I was thirty seconds ago? Also, who do I need to kill to get more than one color in the scene?

Yes, there’s a waypoint system to help guide you through the level. It has the following problems:

  1. This is a brute-force solution. The fact that this is needed at all indicates the level design has a problem. Most corridor shooters get along just fine without this.
  2. The markers are actually hard to see. It’s a tiny white square that appears for a few seconds when you hit a button. If you’re in a bright room the little bugger is almost invisible against all the bloom lighting.
  3. Sometimes the marker makes the problem worse! I’ve had it lead me astray. In the very first level during the wheelchair tutorial section, I had the waypoint telling me to go upstairs, where I just came from. You can’t even climb stairs in the wheelchair. Other times it will show your goal as far off, but you won’t have any idea how to get there. You walk towards it and find yourself at a dead end.

“Shamus, maybe you’re just dumb and bad at videogames?”

Maybe. But it’s funny how I’m only dumb and bad when I’m playing Wolfenstein II. I don’t seem to have any of these problems with other shooters.

Even ignoring the navigation problems, the level design is pretty disappointing. Often I’d find myself shooting at guys in black armor who were standing in front of a black background. Levels have a lot of vertical travel, but for some reason not a lot of vertical combat. Even in multi-level rooms, most of the fight took place at eye level. Guys rarely ambushed from above. A lot of the spaces look very generic. Yes, there’s tons of texture detail and high-resolution shadows, but the game is rendering a box hallway with some crates in it that leads to a generic open room with Nazi flags and more crates. I’d gladly sacrifice a generation or two of graphical fidelity in exchange for some details to make this space look useful and lived-in.

The layouts are also frequently nonsensical. Here on Venus we have this spot:

At least the waypoints tell me what to do, since this is not an obvious or even sensible course of action.

At least the waypoints tell me what to do, since this is not an obvious or even sensible course of action.

We’re supposed to get to the “control room”. You might think this big circular central room is the control room. But no, the control room is a smaller room beside this one. There’s a door on both sides of it. So you’ll walk around to one door and see it’s locked. Then you navigate all the way around to the other side and try the other one, but that’s locked too. Are you looking for a switch? A key? A vent in the wall? Next you’ll try shooting the glass, but of course that doesn’t work because all the environments in this game are completely static.

Finally you give up and ask the game to show you the waypoint so you know where to go. It turns out you’re supposed to blow up that giant planet display in the middle of the not-the-control-room, and underneath that is a vent that leads into the control room.

Just… what?

WHAT?!?

Suggestion: Since this door is the player's goal in this section, why not make it a DIFFERENT COLOR than the rest of the environment? That way it will catch the player's eye and they'll be drawn towards it.

Suggestion: Since this door is the player's goal in this section, why not make it a DIFFERENT COLOR than the rest of the environment? That way it will catch the player's eye and they'll be drawn towards it.

Yes, New Order had one or two spots where I got turned around and I thought the way forward seemed a little obtuse. But here in New Colossus the level design is less interesting and the flow is much worse.

No, these moments don’t ruin New Colossus. These are just occasional annoyances along the way and they usually last less than a minute. But my point is that once again, New Order did it so much better.

Space Taxi

At what point during his 12-year coma did BJ learn to pilot an interplanetary spacecraft?

At what point during his 12-year coma did BJ learn to pilot an interplanetary spacecraft?

Once BJ gets the access codes from the Venus base he jumps in a little ship and zips back to Earth like he’s taking a taxi. No worrying about timing or launch windows or guidance. No need for a copilot. He doesn’t even need a booster to get off the planet. The ship just takes off from the surface of Venus and carries him all the way to the surface of Earth. Apparently you can make the entire Venusian round-trip in just a couple of days. (We know it can’t be longer than that since BJ’s hair and beard don’t grow out and when we get back Anya’s pregnancy hasn’t advanced.)

I’m not saying Wolfenstein needs to be based on hard science. I’m just warning you that if you’ve ever played Kerbal Space Program then this cutscene will probably make you a little crazy. You might need to bite down on something to get through it. On the other hand if you think the trip from Venus can be done in a couple of hours then don’t worry about it. It’s all good.

Footnotes:

[1] Wait, so NOBODY on Earth has the control codes? Doesn’t anyone on Earth need the control codes to, you know, control it?

[2] He’d be 72 by this point.

[3] Right after you add furniture. Do Nazis not sit down?


 
 
Comments (97)

  1. Blue_Pie_Ninja says:

    The post is all on the front page again :P

  2. KarmaTheAlligator says:

    Wolfenstein II is a pretty silly game, but it’s not quite cartoonish enough to pull off Mecha-Hitler without dissolving into comedy.

    See, after that bit:

    See, the Nazis are making a propaganda movie about the capture and execution of Terror Billy and the auditions for the title role are being held on Venus.

    to me, the game already has dissolved into the stupidest comedy possible. They are holding auditions. On Venus (you know, the SECRET BASE). Where they seemingly expect civilians to audition. Yeah, no way I’m taking this stuff seriously. Mecha-Hitler would have been a highlight at that point.

    • ccesarano says:

      Now, I haven’t played the game and haven’t watched cut-scenes beyond what’s been in marketing. However, reading through this series continues to make me more and more flabbergasted. The New Order was silly, certainly, but it felt consistent.

      This feels like the writer was under the impression he was making something like Sharknado or Army of Darkness. “Y’know what? I’m going to approach this as Uwe Boll would making a Wolfenstein movie, only intentionally funny.”

      But then the cut-scene director doesn’t realize it’s a joke, and unlike Uwe Boll is competent on a technical level. So he inserts the obvious humor like Marvel would, but otherwise plays it straight-faced.

      Imagine Army of Darkness if it were directed by someone like …I dunno… Christopher Nolan, since it’s tough to think of a director these days that’s competent in just the right way without somehow saving the script. That’s the impression I’m getting from this game.

      I know I said it already, but I’ve been convinced I’d be better off either replaying The New Order and finding a better appreciation for it, or just replaying DOOM again.

    • BlueHorus says:

      Quite.

      I’ve just watched some of TNC’s Hitler scene on Youtube, and you know what?
      Mecha-Hitler is just hands-down better.

      Mecha-Hitler could be self-aware, irreverant, absurd, it could mock one of history’s least favorite people, it could be a fun, inventive fight with neat mechanics.
      Or – even if it’s none of the above – it still provides a boss fight, which computer games tend to have.

      But this?
      Gross, dumb, self-indulgent, pretentious shlock. And worse, 13 minutes of it.
      Watching the Engel scenes for an earlier article in this series, I was struck by how incompetent she and the other all Nazis seemed. And now Hitler himself is a crazy old man who barely knows what’s going on, shoots people at random, and the writer goes out of their way to make him do gross things?

      Okay, maybe its a deliberate attempt to mock Nazism. But still – incompetence is just not threatening. These clowns don’t seem fit to run a popsicle stand, let alone an army that took over the world. You’re not fighting a credible threat in TNC’s Nazis; you’re mowing down straw-man charicatures who are only in power by writer fiat.

      • Matt van Riel says:

        “Okay, maybe its a deliberate attempt to mock Nazism. But still – incompetence is just not threatening. These clowns don’t seem fit to run a popsicle stand”

        Cerberus: “We’re the most incompetent and useless group you’ve ever met.”
        New Colossus Nazis: “Hold my beer.”

  3. Joshua says:

    Minor nitpick: “I think this would work better if there was more fear of being outed. BJ feels like such a force of nature at this point that it’s hard to be scared of the guards in the room, even if they’re armed and BJ isn’t. I think this would work better if you were here with some allies, and you needed to keep from raising any alarms while they were sneaking around the station doing their part. ”

    I got lost in this paragraph and reset to the first sentence because of the repeated “I think this would work better”. Doesn’t seem to be an intended rhetorical device because that would usually require at least three examples. Maybe just say “I also think” for the second one?

    As far as level design, despite some people not liking the “Water Hazard” level in Half-Life 2, I think it’s pure genius for how to design fast-paced sections that make you think you’re in a semi-sandbox while using subtle visual cues to get you to go to the interesting areas while piloting your boat at max speed since you’re under fire.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    who turns out to be Der Führer himself

    And do you get a chance to heil right into his face?

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    As I’ve belabored in the past, Half-Life 2 is the gold standard for this sort of thing.

    Unless you are gordon freeman himself.

    • Olivier FAURE says:

      I feel sorry for the level designers at Valve when I watch Freeman’s Mind. Like, sometimes you want to shake Freeman by the shoulders and yell “You’re a video game character! Stop trying to open every indestructible door and go find other people to shoot already!”

      (I wonder how much of Black Mesa: Source’s level design was inspired by Freeman’s Mind)

      (yes, I know that’s not the actual name of the game; shut up, it’s called clear communication)

  6. Redrock says:

    I figure once you’ve perpetrated a holocaust you’re fair game

    I know I’ve complained about this before, but I just can’t help it, I’m sorry: I really don’t like it when the term “a holocaust” is used as a generic synonym for “genocide”. “A holocaust” is a burnt sacrifice, or, recently, mass destruction by fire (hence, “nuclear holocaust”). But what Hitler did was “the Holocaust”, definite article, capital H, the whole shebang. I know a lot of people started retroactively using it for the Armenian Genocide and it’s a historically correct translation of the two sikh massacres of the 18th century. But using at as a generic replacement for genocide just rubs me the wrong way, especially when we’re talking about Hitler. I feel like it should either be “a genocide” or “the Holocaust” in that phrase.

    I realise I might be in the minority on that count and it’s not like I’m sharpening my pitchfork here. To be clear: I’m not in any way insinuating that people who use the word as a generic term do it to diminish the importance of the Holocaust. This is just me being annoyed by a widespread case of linguistic imprecision. I like to have a precise vocabularly when it comes to history, politics, social phenomena, etc. Again, sorry if this comes off as a rant.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The whole “in the real world” defense cant be applied to video games.Because in the real world you have all of your senses to help you navigate,and you have a very wide field of view,and the stuff around you are much more detailed.Until we reach full immersion in a video game,we cant construct levels like in the real world.

    • Xeorm says:

      Not to mention that when I’m playing a game there’s the real world to contend with. If I put the game down I expect to later be able to go back and keep moving forward without getting too lost. Or if I have bad memory I want to still be able to move forward. Especially if the game is a glorified power fantasy, not getting lost is one of those powers I’d prefer to have.

  8. Christopher Wolf says:

    Actually as we progressed through World War 2 Hitler became a total drug addict with a lot of prescription cocaine and opiates. Now this is an alternate reality where maybe he didn’t get so stressed during the War, but acting like a total nutter is actually in character for late stage Hitler. Here is an NPR article that highlights his drug addition.

    https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/03/07/518986612/author-says-hitler-was-blitzed-on-cocaine-and-opiates-during-the-war

    • Redrock says:

      The accuracy of Ohler’s book is a hotly debated subject, to say the least. The guy is a fiction writer and a journalist, not a historian. So everything in the book should be taken with a spoonful of salt. That said, it’s not like it’s completely impossible for Hitler to take drugs while in the bunker.

  9. Hal says:

    I’ll repost my comment from last time, because why not?

    According to Space.com, the distance between Venus and Earth will vary (roughly) between 25 and 162 million miles, depending on their orbits. That 25 million mark occurs about once every 584 days; for reference, that’s about 100x the distance from the Earth to the Moon (238,000 miles.) In other words, this is a long journey.

    Spacecraft sent there in 60s took about 4 months to reach Venus.

    Could it take a few hours to move between Earth and Venus? I suppose that if we have the technology to build a space station on Venus, we have the tech to move a ship 5 million miles per hour (speed of light is ~670 million mph).

    I know the real answer is probably “Stop overthinking this, it’s a game about shooting Nazis.”

    • Dev Null says:

      I was going to jump in and do a back-of-the-napkin Fermi calculation to prove that it wasn’t even in the right ballpark, but it didn’t _quite_ work:

      12.5 million miles, accelerating constantly at 1g would take about 18 hours, and then another 18 to slow down again while going the other 12.5 million, for 36 hours total if you:

      1) Assume closest point between the two.
      2) Have magic fuelless technology that lets you accelerate at 1g constantly.(!)
      3) Ignore orbital dynamics entirely.(!!)

      So clearly that estimate is _very_ wrong _and_ requires space magic propulsion, but it doesn’t actually require artificial gravity to be within an order of magnitude of the realm of possibility…

      • Dan Efran says:

        Why not at 2G? Looks like he’s sitting down, so it shouldn’t be too arduous for a heroguy. Wouldn’t that compound significantly and give you more breathing room on points 1) and 3)? You still need magic fuel of course; more of it, in fact, but who cares?

      • Decius says:

        Accelerating at 1g gets you into Earth orbit at sea level. It’s how much the ground accelerates you while standing. You have to accelerate faster to get off of the ground.
        If we’re going to talk about magic propulsion but not throw all of inertia towards the window, 3 or 4 g of acceleration is what I’d say is the actual limit.

      • Dev Null says:

        The point of a Fermi calc is to get the answer right within an order of magnitude or two. You don’t get the answer; you get a rough guess at the scale of the answer. So you calculate everything in orders of magnitude; it’s either 1G, or 10G, or 100G. So yeah, I could use 2G, or 4G (though I have some doubts about sustaining 4G for time periods on the scale of a whole day…) but that’s not what we’re going for here. The point is – and my original intention was – to say “no look; at 1G it would take 1000 days – clearly nothing that takes less than 2 days is remotely feasible.” But I was wrong about the magnitude of the answer (which is, after all, why Fermi calcs are useful), and it turns out that it _is_ in the realm of possibility (given various magic assumptions*, of course). If it’s in the ballpark at 1G, then clearly it’s in there at 2G as well…

        I could, I suppose, have simply not posted anything, once I realized that my original assumptions were wrong. But that would negate the other point of the Fermi calc – dispelling the myths of your own assumptions. (Plus, that would be Bad Science, and I was raised better than that…)

        * Yes, I am aware of the essential absurdity of ignoring the magic space drive necessary to accelerate at 1G indefinitely, but still worrying about restricting ourselves to accelerations that a human could stand. We’ve already got magic, why not more magic? All I can say is that there are more and less plausible “magics” in my own personal pantheon, and free energy seems more believable to me than violating Newton’s laws?

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          I think you messed up the calculation somewhere,because I get 7,25 days if its only constant acceleration,without stopping.10,25 days if you actually decelerate on approach.Did you forget to convert g into miles per second or the distance into meters/feet?

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Damn!Here I messed up and took your calculations to mean 12,5 million miles total.Its actually 15,5 days for accelerating half the way and decelerating the other half.

            • Dev Null says:

              More Bad Science from me: I should show my work.

              25 million miles = 40233600 km = 40 233 600 000 meters.
              Accelerate halfway there, then turn around and repeat, so distance to halfway point = 20 116 800 000 m.
              1G = 9.8 m/s^2
              formula for distance from acceleration = 1/2at^2
              1/2(9.8)t^2 = 20116800000
              t^2 =~ 4105469388
              t =~ 64074 seconds =~ 17.8 hours to midpoint; same to stop.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                I failed in using the calculator.Multiple times.As I tend to do.Yes,you are correct,it is just 17 hours.So fast.

                • Dev Null says:

                  As I said; much less than I had guessed as well. Constant acceleration would do neat things to space travel, if it were in any way plausible according to known science…

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Technically,it is.When in space,you are constantly being influenced by celestial bodies.Its just that they are so far away that that acceleration is minuscule.

                    As for having a tangible acceleration powered by a machine,the laser propulsion thing is promising.Its only downside is the lack of a way to slow down.

                  • Paul Spooner says:

                    It’s plenty plausible with nuclear power. Just need to whip up a Zubrin engine!

                    • Ravens Cry says:

                      I’m all for humans becoming a space faring species, and if we need to use atomic rockets to do it, so be it, but I was reading about that one, and all I could think was ‘Oh my freaking God!’
                      As Richard Courant said about Project Orion, ‘Zis is not nuts! Zis is super nuts!’

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      I doubt that engine would ever see use.Not because its nuts to be propelled by nukes,but because that fuel would be too heavy.Especially when the alternatives are engines so light you wouldnt even feel them getting empty or engines that arent even on the ship itself.

    • BlueHorus says:

      I know the real answer is probably “Stop overthinking this, it’s a game about shooting Nazis.”

      Problem is, what else are you supposed to do while you’re watching a dumb, unnecessary, 13-minute long cutscene, or when you’re lost in a confusing maze of yellow-tinted walkways?

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Yup.If the writer did not want us to care and just shoot some nazis,then all of these cutscenes shouldve been left out.If they wanted us to watch them with enjoyment,they shouldve made them better.

  10. Olivier FAURE says:

    I saw the Hitler scene on youtube, and it kind of bothered me how *weird* it was. I know the game isn’t taking itself seriously… but it kind of is?

    I think what bothers me is, the game uses a lot of serious, dramatic cinematographic techniques to depict a scene that’s incredibly silly. The “Hitler pukes and pisses” stuff, him shooting the actors (especially the last guy who didn’t even have time to say or do anything), BJ being a complete dumbass incapable of maintaining his cover, etc.

    It’s like the scene is trying to sell you the humor of Rick & Morty, with the cinematography of Half Life 2.

    • Tizzy says:

      You can watch the German version of the scene on YouTube as well and I guess they censored… his mustache???

      Censorship is weird.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      I wonder if Hitler is a subconsious self-portrait by the writer of the writer, giving a nod to their own incompetence even as they display it.

    • Volvagia says:

      Which is basically what Doctor Strangelove did. Serious cinematography and editing, for moments like “you’re gonna have to answer to The Coca-Cola Company.”And I’d absolutely argue, in terms of “sense of humour”, this scene is trying to sell you Dr. Strangelove humour, not Rick & Morty humour.

      • J says:

        Sure, but Dr. Strangelove is a satire. It derives its humor from attacking people the audience is supposed to respect, as a way of arguing that they aren’t respectable. A contrast between serious circumstances and absurd behavior makes a lot of sense there.

        This contrast is a lot weirder when applied to an antagonist, who A) we already agree is awful, and B) needs to be intimidating for the story to work.

  11. Oscar says:

    I actually just finished the game a few days ago, so it’s fresh in my mind. I agree with all the points about level design here, and would add there were two or three spots in particular where they really affected the gunplay (i.e. I died a lot….)

    I found the Hitler scene really disturbing but also amazing and I appreciated it as a little bizarre intermission. Agreed that it was pointless in terms of our story.

    How many of you took the opportunity to take out Hitler??

  12. Dev Null says:

    Suggestion: Since this door is the player’s goal

    I realize that I’m making your point for you, but… there’s a door in that picture?

  13. Viktor says:

    I do like the “crazed nutter” version of Hitler that’s become popular recently. A lot of media likes making the Nazis these incredibly badass villains with cool uniforms and awesome weapons so that our protagonists look even better for beating them, which is reasonable from a writing perspective but ends up with dudes wandering around cons in Nazi uniforms and a lot of fanfic that tries to redeem Baron Von Badguy, prison warden. I much prefer the Hogan’s Heroes take of making them petty, incompetent, jerks.

    “This is an action story, and action stories are generally a build-up to some final showdown between our hero and the ultimate embodiment of evil. This works really well in a story like Star Wars where the villain isn’t just the mastermind, but also a formidable foe for the protagonist to face off against. We can take the entire conflict of the two sides and boil it down to a fight between two people. This can take a large, abstract conflict and make it deeply personal. The problem is that this doesn’t work nearly as well when you’re making a story based on historical events, because the most powerful leader is rarely the most fearsome warrior.”
    I’d take a cue from Morrowind here. You have a final, fearsome challenge, and you have a capstone to the story. Those 2 should happen close to each other, but they don’t have to be the same thing. Hero gets captured and debates with the enemy leader, then breaks free and fights the praetorian guard. Hero takes down the enemy giant robot, then drags the guy controlling it back in chains. You can do the separate climaxes, you just have to be very good at setting them up properly and pacing the whole thing.

    • Decius says:

      I prefer the idea of having the Hitler hide behind a Dragon- you have the Big Boss Fight, where you use your melee combat strength to defeat the Mastermind’s ability to convince people to fight for them, after which the villain is defeated and you can bring them back in handcuffs, a body bag, and/or several smaller bags, depending on the nature of the game and the agency it allots to players.

    • BlueHorus says:

      Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines did this really well. There was a boss fight, but it was with the main bad guy’s pet muscle, not him.
      Your character just walks in and disables him in a cutscene, then you make the final choice in the game. It ends up more satisfying than killing him yourself in gameplay, and definitely more satifying than killing a sick, crazy old man (which I assume you can do in TNC?).

      it may be even more satisfying than killing Mecha-Hitler.

      • Syal says:

        See, I didn’t like Masquerade’s ending bossfight, because that muscle didn’t seem like he mattered to anybody’s schemes. No one really talks about the muscle apart from the main bad guy, he’s only got one scene where he does anything besides stand around, and the main bad guy himself is built up as pretty dangerous in his own right (you even fought him through a proxy earlier). It feels like you have a penultimate boss fight, and then just skip the final boss.

        I think if the final boss is someone other than the main antagonist, they need to be very well established as The Guy Who Makes Things Happen. At least three appearances of them carrying through on the Big Bad’s plans. And not just A Guy; he’s got to be the fallback plan.

        • BlueHorus says:

          The bug guy was there to provide a boss fight, which he did…games’ve gotta have them apparently.
          Yes that was the entirety of his role, but the combat wasn’t really the best thing about VTM:B…did you really want more after slogging through the third act?

          The denoument was – to me, anyway – about the story: solving the mystery, choosing your faction, deciding who you can trust. Which it did well.
          It fit the setting perfectly that the final antagonist – the guy you’ve been taking orders/crap from all game – was all talk. Devoid of his pet gorilla, he had nothing but bullshit.
          So much of the game’s society was based on mystery, rumour, smoke and mirrors.

          • guy says:

            Never got to act 3 myself, but even pretty much right out the gate you’re told that the Prince is basically a lightweight who only has his nominal authority and a giant scary foreign bodyguard going for him.

    • stratigo says:

      Hitler was a crazed nutter, and not just in the “oh he went and ordered the genocide of an entire people, but otherwise he seemed quite personable”.

      His mental faculties by the end of the war had clearly deteriorated, combined with injuries from the assassination attempt, would paint the picture of an escapee from a mental institute far more than the leader of a state. Taking Hitler as he was towards the end of his life and running with it would end up with a character not too dissimilar from what you see in Wolfenstein, albeit a victorious nazi regime and no assassination attempt would obviously leave him in an entirely different state of mind and health in reality.

  14. Lame Duck says:

    See, the Nazis are making a propaganda movie about the capture and execution of Terror Billy and the auditions for the title role are being held on Venus.

    OK, fuck this story.

  15. Nick Powell says:

    To do that, he needs the control codes. To get them, he needs to go to Venus

    So it’s exactly the same as in the New Order? Do they at least acknowledge that they’re re-using the exact same plot point?

  16. Jabberwok says:

    Why couldn’t we just fly to Venus to kill Hitler? That’s one sentence, and it’s already a better story than this garbage. It’s like they wanted to make a mindless action game without understanding why people like mindless action games.

    • tremor3258 says:

      Having to fly to Venus to kill Hitler strikes me as the exact right level of craziness for Wolfenstein.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      I think one of the central reasons for the Hitler scene is precisely to show us why the game isn’t about going to a place and killing Hitler. Which sort of makes sense because on the one hand he sort of needs to be addressed but on the other he’s a pretty awkward character to use… for several reasons. I’d actually say that it’s an interesting choice to go realistic in that it’s not one Evil Overlord who runs things and everything immediately collapses once he’s taken out, which is something that games typically get away with because Climactic Battle.

      • Jabberwok says:

        Sure, but this is Wolfenstein. We don’t really need subtlety, and they clearly weren’t going for it. They didn’t at any point aim for realism on any level. Or maybe they were aiming for it, but they’re just awful writers, dunno. But if what they wanted was nonsense, they should’ve gone for focused nonsense. It’s an action game.

        Anyway, the go to Venus and kill Hitler story doesn’t need to imply that it solves everything. But it still would have been a more suitable goal for resistance fighters than answering a Nazi casting call. And whatever would have taken place after Hitler’s death would make a good setup for the next game in the series. Maybe there’s an even more scheistery villain that takes his place next time around?

  17. Agamamon@gmail.com says:

    No worrying about timing or launch windows or guidance. No need for a copilot. He doesn’t even need a booster to get off the planet. The ship just takes off from the surface of Venus and carries him all the way to the surface of Earth. Apparently you can make the entire Venusian round-trip in just a couple of days.

    Interesting. So, basically, this confirms that the Nazis have fusion torch drives – capable of peaking at 1g acceleration and able to maintain .1g average accelerations.

    So, its not completely crazy that BJ can fly it to earth – you just sort of point it a little ahead of earth and boost.

    ‘Course, like I said in the other thread, this simply means the Nazis had access to energy sources more powerful than anything we’ll have for at least another decade back in the 1960’s and materials science beyond anything we have today so there was no need for the war anyway. They were the dominant socio-political organization on the planet – so much so that everyone else would have been de-facto vassal states. Not even the modern US has such a power-lead over the real-life second place power as the Nazis in 1940 would have had. It simply would have been a roflstomp for every nation they wanted to annex.

    If they had invaded France, no one else would have made more than a peep. Heck, the League of Nations would have likely issued a statement saying it was completely justified.

  18. Arstan says:

    I’ve come to read this post waiting for the mecha-hitler from w3d, and I’ve got it. Kudos for that)))

  19. Zaxares says:

    The interesting thing about this portrayal of Hitler is that it’s actually not far off the mark for how Hitler behaved in his final few years. Granted, real life old Hitler was suffering from several different ailments and he was on a cocktail of drugs (some of which are no longer in use today because they turned out to be toxic or have far too dangerous side-effects), which might explain his behaviour, but he was exactly as irascible, unpredictable and out of touch with reality as his depiction in this game. According to documentary sources, during the final few months before Berlin fell, Hitler spent most of his time in his fortified bunker watching Westerns and still dreaming that he was the commander of a glorious, unstoppable Reich when all of his generals and aides could see the writing on the wall.

    • BlueHorus says:

      Sure, but to me at least that’s part of the problem.
      Circa 1945, Hitler’s aides and generals were kind of distracted by the war they were losing; their glorious leader going crazy in a bunker was pretty low in their list of problems.

      But in TNC’s post-war, post-nazi-victory world, crazy-old-man-pissing-in-a champagne-bucket Hitler would have been quietly bumped off ages ago. He’s an embarrasment. Certainly any (competent) regime that wanted to be taken seriously wouldn’t let civilians see how far he’s degenerated.

      Sure, you could argue that they sent him all the way to Venus to get him out of the public eye, but like a lot of the story that’s just needlessly convoluted compared to (say) using body doubles to fake his public appearences or just declaring his death, holding a state funeral and moving on with running the world nazi-style.

      • trevalyan says:

        Mmm. I’m not sure. A character with few redeeming uses can still be a valuable puppet for those beneath him, if there are brewing rivalries. In Fallout: New Vegas, I suspect that the only reason Vulpes Inculta leaves Caesar alive (or fails to sabotage your medical treatment) is because he lacks the pure martial ability to defeat Lanius, and can’t kill him without crippling the Legion military. And Nazi Germany had a much more complex system of rivalries.

        If I was a Nazi without delusions of grandeur, keeping Hitler alive and out of the way (preferably on other planets) would be my priority too. Making the planet habitable would not be, but then medium-term thinking and a conscience would be a hindrance to my chosen career as a war criminal.

        • Sunshine says:

          On contrary, I thought that Caeser’s cult of personality is what keeps the Legion unified, and if the Courier kills him, it will fracture under the infighting of Vulpes, Lanius and others rushing to fill the power vacuum.

          • Jabberwok says:

            The cult of personality is important to a totalitarian government, most especially one like Hitler’s. He wasn’t just important to prevent infighting. The supposed infallibility of their leader gave the movement and government power. Though you could argue that the actual person of Hitler wouldn’t matter as much as the fictional concept of the leader, as in 1984. Though in the case of the Nazis, that probably WOULD have broken apart the higher ranks of the party.

            In the case of New Vegas, I think Caesar was definitely a stabilizing influence and a cult of personality, but I also remember hearing that the Legion would likely be unified under Lanius without Caesar. But only long enough for him to cut a bloody swath to the West, probably destroying the Legion in the process.

        • BlueHorus says:

          I can’t see anyone using crazy-old-man Hitler for anything…even a movie script!
          (Surely the Nazis want the Terror Billy film to be watchable/not the paranoid rambling of a crazy person who pees blood?)
          Usually a figurehead or puppet is someone you’d actually be willing to show/use in public.
          Of course, the ‘auditions’ on Venus might just be a way to keep the old man quiet/happy, and they have a competent film crew working on the real film back on Earth…

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Well he is sent to a different planet while the others rule the earth.That seems pretty bumped off to me.

    • BlueHorus says:

      Actually, talking about body doubles give me a great idea for a level. The player, as part of a mission, goes to a press conference being held by Hitler – and kills him.
      Yay, you killed Hitler! But then, later on in the level, you see him again. And again. And then again.

      Yep, you’re in the Hitler-cloning factory.

      Eventually the level is full of nothing BUT Hitlers, mowing down a literal army of clones while trying to work out where they keep the REAL one. And, even after you do that, clones still turns up in later levels because now we have a game asset to re-use.
      It turns ‘your goal is to kill Hitler’ into a running gag/a way to mix up the gameplay.

      Seriously, a tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top comedy Wolfenstein would be awesome. Surely it’s been done before now.

  20. The Rocketeer says:

    Mister Hitler

    He chuckles. “Shamus, Mister Hitler was my father’s name! Please, call me Adolf.” He smiles and pats the cushion next to him on the loveseat.

  21. GoStu says:

    The moment I heard “Venus” I completely checked out. There’s nothing interesting about Venus. Mars sorta-kind makes sense because it’s within the realm of possibility that some kind of colony & terraforming effort there becomes possible. Venus is not a place you could conceive of doing such a thing.

    Even in the “interplanetary and interstellar travel is easy” world of Mass Effect, Venus barely gets a science station. In the “we have to use all the resources of the Solar System” world of The Expanse, Venus is notable mostly for its impossibility of human habitation.

    If an author wants to show the slightest shred of scientific literacy, they go somewhere else. Maybe it’s a Moon base, maybe it’s a Mars Colony, maybe it’s something in the asteroid belt or in the rings of a Gas Giant… but it’s never Venus because Venus is an awful place.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Thats because when someone mentions colonization,everyone immediately thinks of the ground.But the clouds of venus are easier to colonize than the ground of mars.But the same question remains:Other than achievement and (some) science,why would you colonize either of them?If we want resources,automated factories are preferable,and there are much better places in the asteroid belt.If we want space to live,theres plenty of ways to improve our own surface,and also use our own orbit.Our orbit is also a better place for launching further space ships,and telescopes.

      Basically,most stellar bodies are worth having humans on them only in a way that we have humans on the south pole:As semi permanent researchers.

      • GoStu says:

        Floating cloud city is an option, but doesn’t circumvent the ever-important BUT WHAT DO THEY EAT?

        Keeping on with that Antarctic Research Station comparison, that’s the kind of thing that can only be established by today’s biggest countries – it’s hard to keep people alive in Antarctica, and that’s just a boat ride and warm clothes away. No constant hurricane-force winds, no rains of sulfuric acid, no deadly high-pressure cooker under your feet if you fall off the ship, and so on.

        The very presence of a Venus Base, the likes of which we can’t even seriously think about establishing today, kinda means the resistance is hopeless. Forget their flamethrowing dog-mechs or their powered armour, they’re an entirely league ahead. They have interplanetary colonization, you have… a sewn-on head and a submarine?

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