Wolfenstein. The series that seems to never die. A bit like the main protagonist BJ Blazkowicz throughout the many iterations of the series. There are many people who would confess to be ‘gamers’ and not know the significance and importance of the Wolfenstein franchise in modern day gaming especially to FPS and stealth genre games. It was the first ever real stealth based game going back to its original release as Castle Wolfenstein in 1981 developed by Muse Software for the Apple 2. It also spawned the first significant FPS game Wolfenstein 3D in 1992 developed by ID Software, it paved the way for the more commonly known FPS games like Doom which was also developed by ID Software. But due to the popularity of Doom, ID Software would decide to shelve the Wolfenstein franchise until 2001. It was nearly a decade before there was another substantial release and could so easily have never seen the light of day again.
However during the late 90s and early 00s World War 2 movies and games were becoming a part of pop culture with the release of films like Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line to name a few and with success in World War 2 game releases such as the Medal of Honour franchise, ID Software with the help of Activision and a number of other game developers would develop a new release for Wolfenstein. In 2001 Return to Castle Wolfenstein was released and had become the third reimagining of the original game. There were subsequent spin off releases due to the popularity of this, most importantly was Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory in 2003. This was hailed for its amazing multiplayer mode that had features and game modes that are still seen in modern FPS multiplayer games and surprisingly it is still played today. Then in 2009 Raven Software along with Activision released the sequel to Return to Castle Wolfenstein, this was simply called Wolfenstein. The game was a relative failure with poor reviews and sales were never particularly great. This lead to the franchise being shelved again and subsequently being acquired by Zenimax Studios, who at the time also had heavyweight franchises such as the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series.
It would take a pitch by a small Swedish game developer by the name of MachineGames to bring the franchise back into the mainstream and boy did they do just that. I mentioned they gave the series a much needed adrenaline boost and they really did. Following the release of the first game in the current Wolfenstein series, Wolfenstein: The New Order in 2014. MachineGames have developed a fast paced and captivating FPS shooter that once again stands out for all the right reasons it also continues with the use of BJ Blazkowicz as the main protagonist. The game was nominated for various industry awards and rightly so. This new series is high octane with elements of stealth that hark back to the franchises original game and the developers decision to weave such a captivating story makes all the fantastic gunplay intoxicating and enjoyable and really wants you to delve further into this world.
Then in 2015 the release Wolfenstein: The Old Blood which is a prequel to The New Order which shows the events that led up to the start of the first game. Then in 2017 they released Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus which continued on from The New Order and was set in the 1960s. It again continued to weave a captivating story that at times became a little farfetched but when the world that has been created is based on the idea of the Nazis winning the Second World War and did so using technology like augmented soldiers and high tech weaponry and machinery then it sets a platform which gives the writers a freedom to really explore endless possibilities. It also apparently allows for some comedy gold too.
This then leads to the new release that is out today. Wolfenstein: Youngblood. The game is set 20 years after the end of The New Colossus. And without giving too much away from the previous games you don’t play as BJ Blazkowicz in this game but as his twin daughters who are out investigating his disappearance. The game is set in 1980s Paris which is currently occupied by the Nazis. The game is very similar mechanically and in style to the previous games by MachineGames with there being a strong importance given to storytelling and intense gunplay. I hope that the soundtrack features more of the amazing music that features in the trailers. It is amazing and worth watching the trailer for alone. We at Flickering Pixelz love a bit of 80s nostalgia (just look at all our graphics and Youtube links). The high energy Synthwave music works well against the high octane gameplay and again is tying into current pop culture like previous games in the series before by referencing classic 80s tropes and styling (the popularity of shows such as Stranger Things and games like Hotline Miami have shown the impact of using 80s styling). The story takes on a more jovial temperament this time around following on from the sometimes darker elements around BJ Blazkowicz childhood memories in the previous but the biggest change to the game dynamics from Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is the introduction of a co-op multiplayer. You can either play it solo with an AI controlling the second sister or play with a friend. All in all this game looks like it will be a whole lot of fun to play and if the story is anywhere near as captivating as the previous games in this series were then it will absolutely get you hooked however I do fear, a little bit like Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, it isn’t going to have the same impact on the series and will fail to live up to the high standards that have been set by Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus. I do hope I am wrong in this instance because the world that MachineGames have created now with the Wolfenstein franchise is amazing and I would say anyone who hasn’t yet to go back and start from the beginning and play these games.