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Game Review

Some 36 years ago, a little game called Castle Wolfenstein became one of the first really popular video games to play on your very own handy-dandy home computer—such as the Apple II or the Commodore 64. That game offered a birds-eye-view perspective that challenged gamers to guide a blocky 8-bit soldier through a massive German castle called Wolfenstein. The goal? To uncover secrets, bloodlessly eliminate Nazi enemies and help the good ol' U.S.A. emerge victorious in WWII.

Castle Wolfenstein was a simple-but-engaging title that might still prompt a nostalgic smile today for those of us who played it back then. But if that is what you think of when you hear the title Wolfenstein tossed around these days as a possible gift idea for your video game-loving tyke, well, you need a bit of an update.

Wolves in Wolves' Clothing

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus has very little in common with those early games of military heroics, save for a protagonist by the name of William "B.J." Blazkowicz—who was introduced to the series in the early '90s—and a whole lot of Nazi killing. In fact, since there's no castle to be found anywhere here, the Wolfenstein in the title doesn't even really apply.

The M-rated New Colossus envisions a bombastic alternate reality in which Nazi Germany came out on top. Hitler is a doddering old nutjob who resides in a space base on Venus while the world continues to be squeezed tightly in his regime's totalitarian grip. Blazkowicz is no longer an American soldier, but a member of a small underground group of freedom fighters who use atomic-bomb terror, televised assassinations and insurgent attacks to try to spur a popular uprising against Nazi rule in the dystopian United States.

The resulting narrative often plays out like something of a far-left progressive fever dream. America's white population is depicted as a group that readily welcomed Nazi rule and now walks the streets of small-town America proudly dressed in their Ku Klux Klan sheets. It's up to a U-boat full of self-described "black radicals" and other populist revolutionaries to fight the good fight and kill all those racist oppressors.

B is for Blazkowicz … and Butchery

Political statements aside, though, killing Nazis in the most bloody and gruesome ways possible is the prevailing goal here. And Blazkowicz is the guy to do it. Even in the game's early stages—when the hero is so badly wounded that he can barely keep his insides from spilling outside—Blazkowicz still crawls into a wheelchair and starts blasting nearby baddies.

Hatchets, pistols, shotguns, grenades, sniper rifles, kerosene bomb launchers, laser cannons—you name it, and Blazkowicz is likely to get his hands on it. These weapons can also be upgraded along the way for even more efficient death-dealing. And Blazkowicz himself can earn ability boosts, too. Successfully executing a certain number of stealth takedowns, for instance, unlocks an upgrade that increases the hero's movement speed while crouched. Oh, and once his head gets lopped off and attached to a new powered-up body, well, then the slaughter can really get going.

And when I say slaughter, I mean it. We're not talking about occasional-small-splashes-of-goop killing. No, the graphic carnage here flows like a bloody tsunami. Heads are caved in by bullets or blunt force. You'll be tripping over corpses and bloody body parts that have been hacked or blown clean off. Some of the more powerful weapons cause enemies to erupt in a splashing geyser of gore. And the Nazis, of course, have devastating weaponry that delivers similarly gushing kills, too.

Up-close, high-def cutscenes can be particularly gruesome as well. One wince-inducing scene, for instance, pictures Blazkowicz slamming his hatchet into a woman's face and then slowly wrenching the blade to crack her skull open.

Occasionally, you might be tempted to think that having this arsenal strapped to your back gives you an overpowering advantage over your myriad Nazi foes. But most of the time, the explosive onslaught of rampaging armored soldiers, missile-spewing robots and fire-belching mechanical dogs feels nearly impossible to survive.

Cruelty All Around

Profanity flows about as freely as plasma here. Characters regularly blaspheme God's name, as well as tossing f-words, s-words, n-words and a lexicon of other crudities into the dialog like verbal grenades. Racism is obviously rampant in the new Nazi order, but we also see flashbacks to racist characters in Blazkowicz's childhood, too. Allusions to child abuse also pop up several times in The New Colossus narrative.

Sexual content includes a clothed couple we see in the midst of exuberant lovemaking. We also see a couple of women with their breasts exposed—including a blood-covered pregnant woman who's stripped naked from the waist up in the heat of battle.

This game is ostensibly about crushing all the horrid things of our world, fascist enemies who comprise a cruel and viciously alternate-reality regime. But frankly, just making your way through the latest Wolfenstein iteration can feel like a form of cruelty of its own.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

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Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range







Record Label


Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC


Bethesda Softworks


October 27, 2017

On Video

Year Published



Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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