Let me begin this review by saying the following: I play video games in order to be entertained (well…it’s also my job, but anyway). I don’t care about politics, agendas, races, sexes or whatever else that has nothing to do with gaming. Gaming is my hobby, and I am happy I can do this professionally. Having said that, my goal is to let you know whether a game is worth your hard-earned money or not. With this out of the way, let’s continue.
Discussing Wolfenstein Games
My last video review was on Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, back in 2015. While The New Order along with The Old Blood amused me, I wasn’t really a fan of The New Colossus. The game had very lengthy cutscenes, which felt unnecessary in a game where you should be shooting Nazis from start to finish. The New Colossus also wandered away from the more serious tone of the prior two games and tried to be funny but sometimes failed.
In case you don’t know, these rebooted Wolfenstein games have had rather serious tones, especially when compared to other FPS titles like DOOM, Serious Sam, or of course Duke Nukem. So with Youngblood they’ve greatly expanded the humor, which can be both bad and good. They’ve also went to great lengths to make this game feel almost completely different, which is also bad and good and makes me both happy and sad.
From the development side, it’s very noticeable that Arkane Studios (Dishonored, Prey) also worked on this game, along with MachineGames (the creators of the previous three Wolfenstein games). At first I thought the inclusion of a studio like Arkane could be awesome, but I became concerned when watching some gameplay videos. It turns out my fears were right. Maybe the two studios couldn’t mesh their different styles, or maybe something else happened, but Youngblood is a big mess.
Story Time & The ‘Terror Twins’
You play as one of the twin daughters of William Joseph (BJ) and Anya Oliwa Blazkowicz, named Jessie (Jes) and Zofia (Soph). It’s been twenty years since BJ killed Hitler and liberated the world from Nazis. Now, in the 1980s, for unknown reasons BJ has disappeared and the twins embark on an allegedly epic adventure to find ‘papa’ Blazkowicz, leading you to Nazi occupied Paris.
The story mostly makes no sense and has little depth or sophistication. However, since this is a brainless first person shooter, I really don’t mind. It’s clear from the start the game is not trying to be serious, anyway.
I will confess I didn’t expect to like the new protagonists after playing so many times as BJ. For me, though, they are awesome. They’re fearless like papa but also funny, dorky, and sort of nuts. For instance, there’s an early cutscene where the twins attempt to kill a Nazi for the first time, which is hilarious and disgusting at the same time. Most of the dialogues between them are pretty funny, even if the writing is not that great overall, which is a plus for me.
“We were born to kill Nazis.”
–Jes trying to convince the resistance leader to help them.
Now don’t get me wrong with my praise for the twins. I still love playing as BJ and I really like him, but he’s a very grim guy. So if I have to choose between serious or fun, I will always choose fun, even if I am not used to playing as female characters in first person games. I’m pretty sure that even the Doomguy agrees with me since we are talking about his “aunts.” At least these twins are way better than the Far Cry: New Dawn twins.
Graphics, Performance, & Controls
Youngblood looks good, and the game engine (id Tech 6) works like a charm. The performance is remarkable, and I had basically zero problems with the game. I had some minor random stutters, but I am not completely sure it was the game’s fault. Either way it’s nothing to be concerned about. I only wish you could disable motion blur and weapons effects completely. I hate motion blur and some of the weapon effects fogged my vision. For more details on the subject you can read John’s performance analysis.
“We ain’t killed no Nazis .”
–Soph reminding her sister that they haven’t killed any Nazis.
The game controls just fine. I didn’t notice any kind of forced acceleration or smoothing. You can change the FOV (field of view), but unfortunately you cannot disable or even lower the atrocious head bobbing. I usually don’t mind it, but in this case it gave me headaches and the strong need of a good dose of Dramamine. The UI and menus are fine, even if the menus are totally designed for consoles.
Sound & Voice Acting
I love the short elevator cut-scenes and the 80’s music in the elevators. During gameplay the sounds are fine, but I couldn’t fall in love with the gun sounds. The voice acting is pretty good overall, with the twins voice acting being great. So the audio design is acceptable but nothing special.
Shooting Nazis In The Jugular
So let’s get down to business: gameplay. Sorry guys, but the game doesn’t play well. I know they tried to mix it up with new ideas, but they failed. After the introduction you reach the Paris catacombs, where the base of operations is located. From there you can restock ammunition, health, and armor.
“I only hunt Nazis Jes, not animals.”
Also in the base of operations you can talk to different NPCs (non player characters) and receive new side missions. Paris is divided into different areas you can fast travel to once you’ve unlocked the areas. Keep in mind that the game does not tell you which missions are main or side ones, which is weird.
All areas are crawling with enemies, and you can engage them stealthily or go full-frontal. Of course you can also avoid them, though some areas are harder to sneak by unnoticed. Most obnoxiously, whether you clear out an area of enemies or not, all the enemies will respawn when you return, Far Cry 2 style. What a bullshit.
It’s especially terrible because you will be forced to return to many of the same areas in various missions, so you will have to redo everything from the beginning. Thankfully there are several different paths, which allow you to avoid most enemies. The world building is very familiar to Dishonored 2, likely because Arkane Studios was involved in the development.
“How the fuck should I know?”
–Jes after being asked if they can make it, right before they jump without a parachute from an enemy zeppelin.
As for navigating the world using a map, the game doesn’t have a classic map. Instead you get an overview map just like in Dishonored 2, thus making path-finding really hard most of the time. The mini-map doesn’t really help either. Sometimes it took me five minutes to clear an area and twice that to find my way out. Thankfully you can fast travel from anywhere back to the base of operations, but everything will respawn, as noted already.
Weapons, Leveling Up & Some Other RPG Crap
Even though the shooting mechanics are pretty solid and most weapons feel unique with upgrades and attachments, I didn’t enjoy the weapons (even with all the upgrades and attachments). That’s probably because all enemies including the playable characters have levels. You read that right. Youngblood is yet another FPS to include RPG elements, just like Far Cry: New Dawn did recently.
Why is this leveling stuff in here? I really don’t get it, seriously. Making all human enemies bullet sponges only works in specific games. Even The Division 2 realized the problem with this type of design. I get they want to make the game lengthier and grindier, but it’s a god damn lazy and stupid game design.
There are also two kinds of ammunition and some guns will do less damage to specific enemies. So you always have to check the enemy health bar to see what kind of ammunition is needed in order to achieve maximum damage. It feels like a chore, plain and simple. I find it completely unnecessary, particularly in a game where there are no limitations on how many guns you can carry.
“Just like daddy taught us.”
–Jes after she and her sister wipe a whole enemy squad.
Since there is a level up system you also have skills available for purchase. None of these skills are anything original or even interesting. They even included lame skills like ‘extra health’ and ‘extra armor.’ Jesus… what the hell happened? You can unlock some melee skills that will make the game a joke. It’s way faster and easier to go and stab everyone in the face instead of shooting them, seriously.
Micro-transactions & Greed
To make things even worse, you can also buy stuff with real money. Yes, microtransactions are part of the game, with payable upgrades, skins, and boosters. Can you finish the game without paying for anything? Definitely, but that’s not the point. Even if these are “cosmetic” only, the whole practice is unethical, scummy and greedy as fuck. Screw microtransactions and shame on all publishers who push tactics as such. Also who cares for skins in a first person shooter?
Other Weird Game Issues
The game has weird blood effect logic relating to your armor suit. This is the same armor BJ used to wear, and it made sense when no bullets would penetrate it until the last shots, which then produced blood effects. In Youngblood when you get shot, you see blood squirts all the time, as if you’re armor suit doesn’t even work. It’s like some developer forgot to toggle off the effect.
“Yeah, that was a trip to creep city.”
–Soph after being asked by Jes if
she had “the talk” with their mom.
The dismemberment and gore system is also messed up, being almost completely random. Sometimes you can unload a whole clip into an enemy without damaging his body. Other times you shoot just once and open a hole in his chest. It really gets on my nerves when selling points of a game don’t work as intended, like RAGE 2 (another Bethesda-published game) having problems with blood and bullet decals. At least two months later they fixed it (in reality they fucked it even more). Thank you Bethesda…
AI & Stealth
The enemy AI is horrible, just awful. Enemies walk past you while you are in ‘cloak’ mode, but they can still tilt their heads and look straight at you while they keep on walking in a different direction. It’s hilarious and creepy, especially the first time you see it. Stealth is toned down compared to the previous games, even if you have the ‘cloak’ ability available from the beginning.
“Slick as a whistle, as daddy used to say.”
–One of the twins right after they complete their mission objective.
The AI of your sister is actually not bad and she rarely blows your cover. Of course you will still do most of the killing, but she will assist when she can. One thing she doesn’t seem able to do is to use cover and melee. Actually, the cover system is awesome, ripped straight out of Medal of Honor (2010), where you can lean to every direction instead of being limited to left or right.
I used to enjoy finishers in the Wolfenstein games but not anymore. The animations are far too few and many don’t connect properly. They feel floaty. Sometimes the combat finishers don’t even work. When they do work and you manage to disarm the enemy, there is some fun to to be had with choosing to automatically play out the finisher or rapidly shoot to empty a whole magazine into an enemy. The later choice can be extremely satisfying, but it’s still not enough to make much of a difference in this disaster of a game, which brings us to our conclusion.
Even if the game has some small parts that are actually good, the rest of it is just dreadful. This game might actually be the death of the series and no twin badass sisters can save it from doom. Honestly don’t even bother, especially if you are planning to play solo. Now if you like FPS games with RPG elements and you don’t care about the things I mentioned, then you will probably enjoy this game. I obviously didn’t.
“To capitaine Blazkowicz, cheers!”
-Juju, just Juju, enough said.
I didn’t even finish the game because the last boss is actually SpongeBob himself. Seriously, the last fight lasts for ages, only because you have to shoot the boss a crap ton of times. If you don’t care about spoilers you can watch this video (FYI the video starts at the final phase), or any video as a matter of fact and see for yourselves. The amount of time you need to spend to take him down it’s absurd and plain dull, which can honestly summarize the whole game experience.
- The Blazkowicz twins
- Great performance
- Cover System
- Level design
- Forgettable side characters
- Absence of regular map
- Bullet spongy enemies
- Uninspired boss fights
- Dull fetch side quests
- Enemy respawn
- Boring skills
- Terrible AI
- No pause
Computer Specs: CPU: i5 4440, GPU: Palit 1660Ti OC 6GB, RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws X 16GB HDD: Crucial 275GB MX300, OS: Win7, 1080p
Playtime: 10+ hours total.