Tag Archives: wolfenstein

Wolfenstein’s Best Hidden Feature Is All The Facist-Friendly Pop Songs

Image: Bethesda Softworks

It’s kind of funny that video games still have collectibles. As their worlds become more detailed and awe-inspiring, it can seem tedious to still be reminded to turn around so you can gather more digital widgets. But the Wolfenstein series does collectibles well, using them to flesh out the game’s worlds in deft ways.

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, the games take place in an alternate history where Nazi Germany won World War II and achieved world domination. That domination largely happens off-screen—The New Order begins in 1946 and then places protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz in a coma for 14 years—so players slowly discover, alongside the games’ protagonist, just how completely the Nazis control everything.

A lot of this is delivered the way most games deliver ancillary lore: newspaper articles that chronicle how America surrendered, journal entries from resistance fighters, and audio diaries of characters recounting significant experiences. But Wolfenstein’s collectibles also reimagine what pop culture in the Nazi-controlled world would look like, going so far as to record extremely corny German propaganda versions of rock hits.

These are my favorite kind of collectible. They’re wholly unnecessary for any kind of plot, but they develop a part of the world that the game is otherwise unconcerned with. Instead of simply mocking up a record cover, developer MachineGames actually recorded the songs. When you listen to them from the game’s collectibles menu, familiar tunes are rendered ridiculous with allusions to the new authoritarian state. Love songs talk about being home by curfew; a version of The Beatles sings about blue U-boats instead of yellow submarines.

The latest Wolfenstein game,Youngblood, is set in the ‘80s. It changes the medium of the series’ musical collectibles from vinyl to cassette tapes and adds a few artists contemporary to its setting—one of the first tracks you might hear is reminiscent of David Bowie. Youngblood also includes loads of mock-up VHS (or, in the fiction of Youngblood, UVK) tapes for German movies that parody other famous films, like Das Luftschiff, a zeppelin-fueled take on Das Boot.

I love how corny these bits of pop culture can be. I mentioned this in my review, but one of the recurring themes in MachineGames’ Wolfenstein series is facism’s lack of substance. It’s the ideology of losers, perpetuating itself by stoking existing fears and ginning up new ones when they run out of mileage.

The Nazi-approved versions of pop songs we recognize in these games—they aren’t really covers, since the songs we know technically don’t exist in Wolfenstein’s world—try to make an oppressive regime seem fun and human. It’s a slap-dash paint job on a rotten surface, and it’s ultimately unsuccessful. If you pay attention to the in-game lore (or browse a good wiki), , you’ll know that by the end of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Neumond Records, the fictional record company producing this music, is forced to shutter its business and abandon America as the Second American Revolution takes place and the country tires of facist propaganda (and catches on to subversive artists also recording at the same time).

Wolfenstein’s collectibles capture some of the corniness of real-life propaganda—frog memes and snowflake jokes are not deft expressions of humor—but there are people who find them seductive. The Wolfenstein games are, by necessity, primarily concerned with ideological struggles waged through violence, but these recordings hint at the cultural side of the struggle. You spend the entirety of the Wolfenstein games staring down the barrel of a gun, but you’re fighting for a world full of people, and that world is teeming with ideological struggles in art, at work, and people’s daily lives—things you’d only know if you stopped and poked at a few collectibles.

Source: Kotaku.com

I Finally Understand The Appeal Of Escaping Into A Video Game To Cope With Stress

Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

For most of my life, I never quite understood escapism. I knew how powerful video games could be, how seductive and wonderful their worlds were, but I never quite understood the idea of wanting to melt through the screen and leave the real world behind. After I’ve had string of rotten luck and high stress, among the most intense in my life, that has changed. I get it now. I get why folks want to fade away into the digital and why it can be so tempting to lose yourself elsewhere.

For example, I recently got very sick, and during that time, I buoyed myself with Final Fantasy XIV’s latest expansion, “Shadowbringers.” My reward was an RPG campaign that was one of the best I’ve played in a long time. That was my first real taste of how powerful it was to push real-life worries away with a game.

Sure, at previous times in my life, I’ve done this type of thing in small bursts. Played Counter-Strike when I was mad. Played Total War or strategy games when I needed to think a little. Then, this past weekend, during one of the hottest heat waves in New York City history, my apartment became unlivable. Temperatures rose to heights of 97 and 98 degrees, and I had to stay elsewhere. When I arrived in temporary homes, there were games. Fire Emblem: Three Houses, with its tangled tactical webs and charming characters, greeted me side by side with the friends who took me in. And I felt it, truly felt it for the first time: that desire to melt into the screen and leave everything behind. Goodbye Brooklyn. Hello, Eorzea. Hello, Fódlan.

I’ve always thought of escapism as a dirty thing, even irresponsible, and in some ways, I still do. It’s a temporary band-aid on a problem. A way to ignore, to mitigate, and arguably defer responsible action. One more match, one more level. Anything to avoid reality. Yet, as my body truly and genuinely failed me, as I traveled from doctor to doctor and fled my home due to the high heat, escapism made more sense. Sometimes, things just fall apart, and one of the ways that people can deal with that is to put buffers between us and the bullshit. Fight a boss and actually achieve victory, command an army and actually have some sense of control. Video games can offer us a very particular solace when everything is crumbling: they make us feel like we have power again.

In becoming a teacher at the Garreg Mach monastery in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, I regained some sense of agency. Even in a simulated space, in a far distant and fake world, that is intoxicating. And that’s what escapism is: an affirmation that you can have control, that you do matter, and that with some effort and trust, there is a path forward.

Of course, you can go in too deep. You can lock yourself in your room, play games and never turn around from your monitor to get back to solving the real-world issues that inspired your retreat into games. You can wade through dialog trees with fake people instead of having necessary conversations with real folks. There is always such a thing as too much. That’s why I didn’t see the value of escapism before. But I think now I can understand the ways that it can be healthy, at least in the short term. Sometimes, shit goes bad. Sometimes your body breaks down, your house isn’t safe, your mood dips low, and everything seems murky. Fuck it, go run your farm in Stardew Valley. Beat up Nazis in Wolfenstein.

Just make sure to come back again, I guess. Complete the quest, slay the whatever, solve the puzzle. Then come back and solve what you gotta do here.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Week In Games: Once Again, It’s Time To Kill Some Nazis

It feels like only yesterday that I played through the last Wolfenstein game and now a new one is almost here. Wolfenstein: Youngblood is a smaller spin-off starring BJ’s two daughters. I can’t wait to kill some Nazis during the 80s.

I’m still impressed that this game, like the last Wolfenstein title, is coming to Switch. I’ll never play those games on Switch, the performance is just too rocky for me, but it is still incredible those games run at all on what is basically a tablet.

Beyond Wolfenstein, a few big ports and new games are dropping this week. A new Fire Emblem is coming to Switch, Beyond: Two Souls is hitting the PC and Tetris Effect jumps from the PS4 to your computer. And for folks wanting to play Wargroove on their PS4, this is a good week for you. Sadly, no crossplay though. Come on, Sony. Quit being dumb.

Other stuff is coming out this week! Check out the list below:

Monday, July 22

  • Rise: Race The Future | Switch
  • Flutter Bombs | PC
  • Life ed | PC
  • Elsinore | PC, Mac
  • Beyond: Two Souls | PC

Tuesday, July 23

  • Must Dash Amigos | PC
  • Wargroove | PS4
  • Automachef | Switch, PC
  • Date A Live: Rio Reincarnation | PS4, PC
  • Tetris Effect | PC
  • Vane | PC
  • Run The Fan | Switch
  • High Noon Revolver | Switch
  • Flaky Bakery | PC, Mac
  • Gravity Ball | PC
  • Poly Soldiers | PC
  • Super Demon Boy | PC
  • Rising Kingdoms | PC

Wednesday, July 24

  • Pawarumi | Xbox One, Switch
  • Battleship | Switch
  • Rise: The Vieneo Province | PC
  • Champions | PC
  • Dark Data | PC, Mac
  • Ancient Battle: Alexander | PC, Mac
  • Break My Body | PC, Mac

Thursday, July 25

  • Mighty Switch Force! Collection | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
  • Fantasy Strike | PS4, Switch, PC, Mac
  • Furwind | Xbox One
  • Zombie Driver Ultimate Edition | Switch
  • Elea – Episode 1 | PS4
  • Raiden V | Switch
  • Songbird Symphony | PS4, Switch, PC
  • Monster Boy And The Cursed Kingdom | PC
  • Caged Garden Cock Robin | Switch
  • Picross Lord Of The Nazarick | Switch
  • Collide-a-Ball 2 | Switch
  • Super Mega Baseball 2: Ultimate Edition | Switch
  • Gunpowder On The Teeth: Arcade | Switch
  • Smoots Summer Games | Switch
  • 60 Seconds: Reatomized | PC, Mac

Friday, July 26

  • Kill la Kill The Game | PS4, Switch, PC
  • Decay | Xbox One
  • Remothered: Tormented Fathers | Switch
  • Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot | PSVR, PC (VR)
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses | Switch
  • Tetsumo Party | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
  • Titans Pinball | Switch
  • Garage Mechanic Simulator | Switch
  • Sheep In Hell | Switch
  • Seeders Puzzle Reboot | Switch
  • Dark Bestiary | PC, Mac
  • Storm Tale | PC, Mac
  • Post Soviet Zombies | PC
  • Bandits | PC
  • Knightin’ + | PC

Source: Kotaku.com

An Eye-Popping Neon Throwback To Classic Shooters

Bad Vibes is a colorful first person shooter that is a feast for the senses. Sometimes all you want to do is shoot some baddies and work through some negative feelings. What better way to do that then with some magic orbs and trippy sights?

Bad Vibes, created by pfail, has been out since 2017 and has received a few updates since then. The concept is simple: you’re in a maze and need to survive. That means avoiding aliens and acid pits while looking for a few colorful stickers that will chase away your bad vibes. Bad Vibes describes itself as “pure shooter madness, the way it was intended to be,” and it does a good job capturing the straightforward experience of early first person games. Why are there monsters? Why am I so engrossed in this? All I know is, I really want to have a high score.

Shooters are a dime a dozen these days, so Bad Vibes compensates for that with a bright style that is somewhere between MS-DOS and someone’s nightmare scribblings. The result is that Bad Vibes works incredibly well as a sensory experience. Its mixture of chirpy bloops and techno beats with its alternative hot and cold colors makes it easy to immerse yourself in the raw experience. I recommend booting Bad Vibes up for a ten minute shootfest to let off some steam.

Source: Kotaku.com