It so transpires when escaping from a heavily guarded enemy fortress it’s essential to carry a piece of metal pipe. In the hands of chisel-jawed war hero B.J. Blazkowicz such a simple object becomes an invaluable tool of many uses, from prying open doors and breaking down broken walls to knocking unaware enemy soldiers off their feet, ready for a swift and silent final blow to the head.
The first part of this standalone prequel entails BJ and his comrade disguising themselves as Nazi soldiers to sneak intel out of a large cliff-based stronghold. Things don’t quite go to plan, however, prompting a daring escape against great odds. Before making a hasty retreat, exploring the Nazi’s prison cells, unkempt kennels and other such delightful places provides an unearthly and harrowing experience.
Like before, stealth is optional and handled well – BJ will automatically arm himself with a silenced pistol when patrolling guards are near, while a rough estimate of their whereabouts appears on the HUD. Trial and error is rare; once their location has been discovered they can then either be dispatched or avoided with ease. Shooting your way out of trouble is possible too, but a far more challenging method – even when dual-wielding a pair of shotguns that perforate eardrums as well as vital organs.
Set in a once picturesque village divided by a canal, part two mixes things up to the point where it’s hard not to let any spoilers slip. It’s more of a ‘grindhouse’ experience, complete with crimson red skies and plenty of claret being spilt. Enemies are far greater in number, but worry not – by this point BJ comes clutching a handy, pistol-sized, grenade launcher that’s highly satisfying to use. Proficient shooting – such killing certain amounts of enemies while in cover or dual-welding weapons – unlocks perks that assist in combat too, including the ability to add a hulking “portable” mini-gun to weapon wheel.
Both chapters have their own villain, each leaving a lasting impression. Tall, blonde and muscular, Rudi Jager is a curiously polite and well-mannered psychopath known for feeding prisoners to his beloved dog. Helga von Shabbs meanwhile is more of your typical egomaniac with a thirst for power, involved with excavating antiques with unknown and mystical properties. Confrontations with these two are tense, backed by well-written dialogue. Being in enemy territory and all, allies are few in number but those BJ is fortunate to meet up with are likewise memorable, including a British nurse who plies our hero with some much needed tea and biscuits.