Much like last year’s port of DOOM, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus on Switch sees an ambitious first-person shooter dialed down and ported to Nintendo’s hybrid console. Many of the things that were true of DOOM’s Switch version, such as muddy textures and a lower frame rate, are also true here; likewise, Wolfenstein II excels in the same areas as DOOM, such as in its move to portability, and the game shines narratively in its own right. At the end of the day, while it’s not the definitive way to experience the game, Wolfenstein II on Nintendo Switch is a more-than-competent port of one of last year’s best titles.
For those who either didn’t play the 2014 Wolfenstein reboot or need a refresher, the game opens up with a cinematic mashup of the original’s story to catch the player up to the present day where BJ Blazkowicz’s team is scattered and must be reunited. Before launching into the game proper, there are some particularly moving opening segments that give some insight into BJ’s childhood, which invariably set the morose tone of the game and the time period in which BJ finds himself.
Evident from the start is that Wolfenstein II relies heavily on narrative by way of pre-rendered cutscenes, and to the game’s credit, the narrative of Wolfenstein II is one of its strongest points. In most shooters, I just want to jump straight into the action, but here I found myself more invested in the story and the game’s divergent cast of characters than I’ve felt with any other game in the genre. Some of BJ’s brooding monologue during some stretches of combat-free traversal felt a bit cheesy next to the game’s otherwise excellent storytelling, but these moments were seldom enough that it didn’t feel overly distracting.
One thing worth drawing particular attention to is how rounded of a character BJ is. In other shooters such as DOOM or Halo, we see a strong-yet-silent protagonist who mows down enemies without much or any reaction. Here—though BJ is an invariable badass—I’ve never felt more drawn to and connected with a protagonist in a first-person shooter. Seeing BJ struggle with his past in tandem with his present-day tragedies makes for a heartfelt narrative, and the story’s gut-punch of a mid-game twist left me in speechless awe.
In terms of gameplay, Wolfenstein II feels like its original release on PC and consoles in 2017 in nearly every way. Movement is just as fluid and gunplay is as fun and satisfying as it ever was, and once you’ve unlocked your full arsenal of weaponry, you’ll be a Nazi-killing machine in short order. One leg up that Wolfenstein II has at its Switch launch that DOOM missed out on is the addition of motion aiming. Though I didn’t find the option as useful when using the Switch Pro controller, motion aiming was integral to my experience playing in handheld mode. Being able to tilt my Switch to fine-tune my sniper shots or maniacally spray Nazis with machine gun fire feels right at home on Switch and enhances the experience where it is otherwise slightly lacking.
Where Wolfenstein II on Switch falls short in comparison to its Xbox One, PS4, and PC counterparts is in its visual fidelity. To be able to run on Switch, the game’s crisp 1080p graphics had to be dialed back a bit to run on the hardware. It’s still at 1080p, but textures are noticeably lacking in detail. Fortunately, the game’s cutscenes still look great, especially in handheld, and the action of Wolfenstein II is generally paced so quickly that the game’s lack of detail is mostly a non-issue. The game runs at 30 frames per second, but even that tends to slightly dip during more intense combat. Even so, to have one of 2017’s best shooters on Switch less than a year after its original release—and to have it hold up as well as it does—should be lauded.
When all is said and done, Wolfenstein II is a great port of one of the best games this generation. Like DOOM before it, some sacrifices had to be made for the game to run on Switch, but those sacrifices are well worth the end result. Despite some of its visual drawbacks, Wolfenstein II on Nintendo Switch holds some of the best first-person shooter action available anywhere, and added motion controls along with portability make this a tough port to ignore.
Disclaimer: A review code for Wolfenstein II was provided by the game’s publisher.