Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is not exactly the type of game that springs to mind when someone says Nintendo. Even though Nintendo’s censorship has gotten much more relaxed since the mid ‘90s, they’re still viewed as the family-friendly console, a mold this 2017 Bethesda game doesn’t exactly fit. The theme of killing Nazis and political climate at the time of the game’s initial launch led to expanding the controversy beyond the graphic violent content, but ignoring all that, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a fun game with an interesting story. In keeping up with the trend of Bethesda games, Wolfenstein II is now available on the Switch, though the question is should it be given the Switch’s relatively underpowered hardware.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus picks up immediately after the events of its predecessor, putting the players into the wheelchair that BJ “Terror Billy” Blazkowicz begins the game. Using some emotionally-draining flashback sequence, we get a refresher on some of the events that led up to the current situation as well as creating an uneasy feeling of powerlessness, which seems to be designed to give Blazkowicz the motivation he needs to fight through the medical unit until he can ditch the wheelchair for an apparatus that is much more suitable for the one man army he is meant to be. A more detailed synopsis of Wolfenstein II can be found in last year’s review.
In order for Wolfenstein II to function on the Switch certain concessions needed to be made. Whenever this is the case panic sets in because players start to wonder how the team handling the port will manage to wreck the game since history has no shortage of poorly-done ports. In this particular case the team made the proper concessions, sacrificing some of the fancier looking textures and visuals in order to preserve a constant framerate and enjoyable gameplay. Wolfenstein II plays just about as well as it does on other consoles without undergoing too many visual hiccups, but this is not the version to get if you want to take full advantage of an impressive 4K setup. While this may sound critical, Wolfenstein II runs at a steady thirty frames per second with lower resolution and texture detail on Switch, but does so with almost no slowdown or gameplay issues, which was the right concession to make.
The real reason to get Wolfenstein II on the Switch is portability. The small screen size and 720P resolution does a better job of hiding the decrease in graphics quality and the Joy-Cons surrounding the screen works well for a control configuration, which kind of feels like a throwback to when 16-bit games were ported to the Game Boy Advance, though this tablet console is substantially larger than the handheld of the early aughts. As this is a port to a Nintendo console, there has to be some sort of motion control gimmick implemented as is the requirement since the Wii and gyro based motion controls have been added. This feature actually does assist with the aiming and is a nice addition to the portability factor to help make up for the diminished visuals. The added motion controls are something not everyone will care about, but they are at least implemented in a way where people who would care about them can actually make use of them.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a solid first-person shooter, but the alternate history-driven storyline and artistic direction are what really make it a unique and worthwhile experience. It’s a game that should be played but the question comes down to what platform and that really comes down to gaming habits. For people who are going to get most of their Wolfenstein II time on the big screen from the comfort of the couch, the Switch version is not the way to go. Even though the developers did an admirable job of preserving a solid gaming experience, the sacrifices they made to the visuals are noticeable. For gamers that enjoy the handheld experience, being able to play Wolfenstein II on the go is great. The small screen is more forgiving of the visual concessions and having a game like this in the palm of your hand is something we could only dream of back when the monochromatic Game Boy was the latest and greatest. If laying down in bed and shooting no good Nazis until the wee hours of the morning is what’s desired, Wolfenstein II on Switch is a dream come true.