Review: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus – Switching it up

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Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus released just last year for the PC, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Now, the developer Panic Button has once again made it possible to play one of Bethesda’s smash-hit titles while on the go through the power of the Nintendo Switch. Find out what we thought with our review.


Editor’s Note: Due to our previous review of the PC/PS4 version of the game (which can be viewed here) this review is more of an analytical take regarding performance, gameplay, and duration of the Switch while on the go.


Pros:
+
Highly responsive controls
+Panic Button preserved both audio and scenic values while making necessary cuts to the overall game
+Framerate stays reasonable solid while on the go and doesn’t drop much in performance
+Audio can sometimes jitter during extremely intense moments

Cons:
-Does not present itself very well while playing in docked mode.
-Some of the games most notable cutscenes are hard to enjoy while in docked mode but work quite well while in hand-held mode
-Battery duration lasts around 3-4 hours at most


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When it comes to third-party support in the world of video games and ensuring that they can show off what the Nintendo Switch is capable of, Bethesda isn’t one you would think would be apart of it, but instead, here we are and now they are three games deep on Nintendo’s odd, but incredibly enjoyable hand-held turned console hybrid.

But here we are having smashed through the forces of hell in the poetic ultraviolence that is DOOM, swung through the majestic and snowy realm of Skyrim with The Elder Scrolls v: Skyrim, and now, we’re punching the living Hell out of Nazi’s and making America Nazi Free Again with the help of B.J Blazkowicz and his motley crew of rebels fighting back Hitler’s forces.

After almost a year with DOOM, it’s almost hard to imagine that the masters of porting at Panic Button could try once again with their work on Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus less than eight months since the release of the game on current-gen consoles and PC itself. However, there’s a question we were begging to ask ourselves once again after the release of DOOM – can these porting masters do it once again and if so, how well?

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Graphics, Performance, and Sound – What was cut and how badly?

When you want to know just how well someone does, you need to know if the graphics and performance of the games remain intact and if not – what kind of blow was dealt and how badly. Unfortunately, graphics and performance both took massive hits, but in ways that work in favor of the Nintendo Switch when playing in handheld mode.

Just like with their port of DOOM, there was quite a bit of blurring in place during some of the games most pivotal moments and even when exploring the realms of Hell – the same happens here when blasting your way through Nazi forces in Wolfenstein II. Sadly, there are moments where Wolfenstein II‘s struggles are more prominent than others.

In the opening moments, it’s very clear that Wolfenstein II took some graphical cuts across the board. From the opening moment of Blazkowics’ dad beating his mother or the scene where you the Nuke detonates at the end of Wolfenstein: The New Order as the intro moments for the game, it’s beyond apparent where the cuts were made.

During your fight on your groups u-boat, you’ll notice that textures sometimes blur, the draw distance is smaller than that of its console and PC siblings. Character models lack the depth we’ve seen before and even in cutscenes where you see Obergruppenführer Frau Irene Engel taunting Blazkowics and Caroline before hearing the orders given to Engel’s daughter to kill both Caroline and Blazkowics himself.

Another area that graphics saw a major cut was the removal of both volumetric and dynamic lighting, features that helped bring the game to life thanks to the particle effects they offered, but when you consider the Switch isn’t a powerhouse like the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X or gaming PCs. This is where the biggest and most drastic cut comes into place.

 

But also consider the Switch is only using a souped-up Nvidia Tegra X1 processor that was designed for smartphones, tablets such as the Shield K1 and mobile gaming, it’s hard to really scoff at Panic Button for the design decisions they’ve made in order to offer a more stable experiences compared to 2017’s DOOM port for the Nintendo Switch.

Compared to DOOM, however, the game does seem to have a more active adaptive resolution feature which drops the number of pixels on-screen more-often than not due to the rendering that constantly takes place on the Nintendo Switch. The only difference here? Some of the levels have been segregated from other parts of themselves or have been cut off due to load-times, which again, is a major feat for the Nintendo Switch.

One of the best parts? Load times are almost non-existent taking only about 15-20 seconds each. But the final result of the corners cut means that the game isn’t enjoyed while playing in the docked mode. This is where the blurriness and all come to light and it also means that the game itself is hard to enjoy due to just how prominent the blurriness becomes. So again, the game is best enjoyed while in handheld mode, which seems to have been the end-game goal for Panic Button when porting Wolfenstein II over to the Nintendo Switch.

For those audiophiles out there, surprisingly enough, nothing has been cut far as sound design goes. It seems that this part of the game managed to escape fully unscathed and still offers that theatrical experience the Wolfenstein fan in you will crave.

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Portability and Battery Life – is it bad?

Surprisingly enough, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is one of those games that is best experienced while in handheld mode compared to other Nintendo Switch titles such as Splatoon 2 or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Edition, both of which fair quite well while in the Switch’s handheld mode or docked.

Because of this, keeping your eye on your battery levels is extremely important, but this also means performance is going to be a massive concern. Luckily, the game is consistent in how it performs while in handheld mode only hiccuping here and there as far as frame rates are concerned. Even the games blurriness seems to go away due to how small the blurry pixels actually are.

But battery life is another story. During our time with Wolfenstein II, battery life compared to other games was significantly less due to the demand that the game has on processing power. Our battery life averaged between 3-5 hours during some of the games most action-packed scenes, often leading us to charge our Switch while plowing our way through the game for the umpteenth time.

For those looking to take the game on a flight, in the car or on a train, you may want to consider taking your charger or a portable charger with you. Unfortunately, you will need it while playing Wolfenstein II as it does have a bit more demand than say DOOM or Skyrim.

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JoyCon’s and their HD Rumble – What a charm

One of the best features of this version is the use of HD rumble for the Nintendo Switch. Reloading your guns, shooting, being shot, and even the controls responding to events around you is spectacular, giving you one of the most immersive experiences to date with the game.

Luckily, this is where this version of the game is a step ahead of everyone else. While some may be wondering just what is going on as the HD rumble takes effect, others will be rallying to their cause, running about while punching a few Nazi’s in their face or waiting for that massive unit such as the Zitadelle (Citadel in German) to pass on by before sneaking past it.

The HD rumble is one of the best features to have when playing this game and leaves a lot to be desired from both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus – Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Developer(s): 
Panic Button, Machine Games
Publisher: Bethesda
Release Date: Now Available
Cost: $59.99

The Verdict – is it worth the money or should you pass?

When you imagine buying a game that’s been out for the last eight months on PC and current-gen consoles, you almost have to ask yourself the most important question of the day with some regard to having already bought it once – is it worth it?

The short answer? Yes, it certainly is, especially for those of you who want to play Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus on the go and eventually show your friends what they’ve been missing out on all these months. While the visual downgrade could grind their gears a bit, the game still fails to not impress us, but rather gives us a lot of hope for the FPS genre on the Nintendo Switch.

Whether it’s the B-movie nastiness of its story, the lewd moments of Nazi’s being the scum they are, or even Anya showing off her nude pregnant upper half off to the world with guns blazing about, we can’t help but absolutely love this game on the Nintendo Switch.

So there you have it. Once again, Panic Button succeeds where others might have failed and gives us one of the best looking shooters on the Nintendo Switch and has earned themselves as the poster child for Switch porting done right.


Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game.  For information about our ethics policy please click here.


 Final Score: 9 out of 10


About the Writer:

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.

 

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