The Infinite Zenith

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Tom Clancy’s The Division: Returning to take back New York

“The good old days are now.” –Tom Clancy

The Division‘s premise is well-known by this point in time: during Black Friday, a smallpox epidemic caused by contaminated bank notes brings New York to its knees, forcing the activation of the stay-behind units, known as the Division, to help law enforcement and emergency responders, the Joint Task Force, restore order. After arriving in Brooklyn, players assist the Joint Task Force (JTF) in securing supplies and a precinct station before meeting with another agent, Faye Lau. Players make their way to Manhattan Island and arrive at the James A. Farley Post Office Building, which has been repurposed as a make-shift command center. Severely understaffed and under-equipped, players retrieve medical expert Jessica Kandel, engineer Paul Rhodes and Captain Roy Benitez by fighting through the Madison Square Garden, subway tunnels and Lincoln Tunnel entrance, respectively. With the base of operations slowly restored, players can begin exploring other parts of Manhattan to help Kandel work out how the smallpox epidemic started, keep the facilities operational for Rhodes and aid Benitez in security-related details. I am, in short, back to where I was when The Division‘s open beta ended last February. In my original discussion, I remarked that my decision to buy The Division would be determined by whether or not there was sufficient content in the game once it launched; post-launch, it was shown that The Division has a solid narrative that creates a highly immersive, compelling background for the game. While The Division is a loot-based shooter, the amount of minor details that went into explaining how the smallpox epidemic came to be is nothing short of impressive, and so, once the price point became suitable, I decided to pick the game up a year and a half after its launch.

My current plan is to play through The Division as a solo player – my interests in The Division was largely in its atmosphere and setting, rather than the Dark Zone and any endgame content. There’s a substantial campaign to The Division, and this can be completed alone, allowing me to explore the empty streets of Manhattan at my own leisure. It is in solo play that the enormity of what’s hit Manhattan becomes apparent: taking on missions on my own means being forced to rely on my wit to assess a situation and determine how to best handle it. Escaping pinches boils down to reflexes and good use of gear. It’s a thrilling solitary experience, giving players the sense of just how challenging the process of dealing with the aftermath of a large-scale epidemic in a first-world nation is. Solo play through the campaign offers a more authentic experience, and I’ve experienced only moderate difficulty in making my way though things thus far – after readjusting to The Division‘s unique control scheme, things have progressed relatively smoothly, and I’ve finished off all of the major missions available during the open beta. This sets me up for continuing the process of upgrading all of the wings in the base of operations to access all of the different talents and abilities available, all the while diving deeper into Manhattan and uncovering the cause for the smallpox epidemic seen in The Division, as well as what caused the first group of Division agents to disappear.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • During the open beta, I spawned in at level four and was already on Manhattan. However, in the completed game, players start out with an MP5 and a pistol on Brooklyn. After ISAC, the player’s AI assistant, walks them through the tutorial for the basics, players can meet up with JTF forces at a local safehouse and undertake their first few missions. The streets of Manhattan are rather monotonous to traverse, and safehouses allow for quick travel across the island.

  • The first few missions of The Division introduce players to the different types of missions available in the game. They aren’t very diverse with respect to what they entail: main missions will involve entering a subterranean or closed off area to clear off hordes of enemies before defeating a boss. Side missions and encounters will involve completing tasks in a set amount of time, defending supplies or a JTF commander, rescuing hostages or investigating missing persons. Enemies are similarly limited in variety. This is a longstanding shortcoming in The Division, but I’m okay with this aspect, since the game makes up for this with its world-building elements.

  • Unlike first person shooters, where health is easily acquired as pick-ups or regenerates automatically, The Division is a cover-based shooter, where players must hide behind cover and strategically use it to win firefights. Careful, controlled bursts of automatic weapon fire and retreating behind cover to reload, or moving from cover to cover improves survivability. Here, I begin the precinct siege mission, which involves clearing out a police installation and taking it back so the JTF can use it as a headquarters.

  • The skyline of Manhattan is visible in the distance, as is the Brooklyn Bridge. Once the boss to the precinct siege mission is beaten, players will travel over to Manhattan, where the game proper begins. Bosses in The Division are characterised by their yellow health bars and an additional layer of armour on top, which must be stripped away before any damage can be dealt to them. I’ve found that engaging bosses at longer ranges with a modicum of patience is ideal – once the armour is gone, bosses go down with almost the same ease as standard opponents.

  • As I make my way to the base of operations, Christmas lights and decorations can be seen everywhere. The Division is set in the months following Black Friday; this is usually the Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States, leading into the Christmas season, and as a result, one of the things that I was looking to do was play The Division during Christmas, when folks have set up all of their Christmas decorations.

  • Christmas is a busy season, and can be quite stressful, as well, especially for folks who are preparing for the arrival of relatives. However, in my family, Christmas has always been a highly relaxing time of year: we’ve never gone overboard with preparations and have placed greater emphasis on togetherness over how grandiose the events are. This Christmas, we have no plans for travelling, having already visited Japan and Hong Kong during May, and so, I look forwards to a quiet Christmas that I will likely spend reading, gaming and if the weather is favourable, taking a bit of a walk in the nearby hills.

  • On the topic of weather, one of the best features of The Division is the dynamic time of day and weather systems: snowfall and fog can change the atmosphere, as well as forcing players to modify their play-style to accommodate shifting weather patterns, while lighting differences between day and night give locales a completely different feel.

  • We’re now a mere fifteen days from Christmas, and therefore, Christmas festivities have become much more visible. Yesterday morning, I visited the Edelweiß Village, a speciality market selling German, Dutch, Polish and Scandinavian foods, as well as crafts. I’ve long been interested in aspects of German culture and took all of the German language courses during my time in high school, visiting the Edelweisß village on a field trip, where one of the requirements was to order a complete lunch auf Deutsch.

  • During the evening, I had dinner at a newly renovated Chinese restaurant; there was a special five course meal that was superbly prepared, featuring pumpkin-and-salmon soup, lobster salad, triple-A Alberta Beef with a black pepper sauce, white-cut chicken and sweet and sour pork. This restaurant’s cooking was superb, bringing to mind the sort of quality I recall enjoying at an upper-scale restaurant at a hotel in Shanghai some years back. I’ve heard that in Cantonese cooking, the freshness of ingredients can be inferred by how much spice and seasoning is used in a dish; last night’s ingredients were definitely fresh given the minimal (but well-adjusted) use of spices and seasonings.

  • I spent most of today doing my Christmas shopping and are finished for the year; this is perhaps one of the advantages of being a free agent, in that I don’t have to buy something for a significant other. A South Street Burger also opened at the local mall, so we had a chance to try their grill burgers: they’re definitely larger and more flavourful than conventional fast food burgers, with fresher ingredients. I ended up combining maple syrup with jalapeño peppers to create a uniquely-tasking burger, and once lunch ended, I proceeded to finish my shopping.

  • The malls were not particularly crowded today, despite it being quite close to Christmas, making the shopping process rather straightforwards. Back in The Division, I’ve returned to the Madison Square Garden to rescue Jessica Kandel. I think I was equipped with the M4 rifle and MP5 on my first play through during the open beta, but here, I’ve swapped out the MP5 for the RPK light machine gun. I would have preferred to have a good marksman weapon on hand, as well, as this would have made taking on the boss a bit more straightforwards.

  • Admittedly, one of the reasons why I initially was not keen on The Division (besides that price tag), was that I would need to go back through and do all of these missions again. However, playing through them again proved to be a different experience. Inspection of my HUD shows that here, I’ve got the ballistic shield ability equipped with proximity scan. During my original play-through during the open beta, I had only the proximity scan slot open. Despite being the first ability available, proximity scan remains immensely useful well into the late game, being able to pick out the location of different threats.

  • The other ability I have equipped here is a ballistic shield that blocks incoming damage, while limiting players to their sidearms. I’ve personally only found limited use for it, but the ability is fantastic for situations where there is not much cover, and players who improve their sidearm performance can perform very well with a ballistic shield.

  • Being armed with an LMG is actually quite useful for a boss fight. I normally run with assault rifles in The Division for their general versatility; LMGs can hit quite hard and have a good firing rate, becoming more accurate as they are fired, while marksman rifles can deal bonus headshot damage. Shotguns are capable of one-shot killing enemies at close ranges, and PDWs have the highest probability of dealing critical damage to enemies, but are similarly limited to close ranges.

  • After rescuing Kandel, the next mission I did was the subway morgue, where the goal was to find Rhodes. I’ve featured a fair number of screenshots during my talk on The Division‘s open beta, so there won’t be too many more screenshots of this level here. With this being said, the level hasn’t changed too much since the beta, and one of the other elements of The Division that stands out is that interiors of buildings, tunnels sewers and other areas are incredibly detailed.

  • Cleaners are quite entertaining to fight, since they carry large, flammable tanks on their backs that can be ignited for massive damage. Here, I deal with Benchley a second time: he’s armed with a flamethrower that has more range than those of the other Cleaners, but keeping him at bay and returning fire made this mission a straightforwards one to beat. At this point in the beta, I already had a marksman rifle, but lacking one, I improvised with an LMG.

  • The Division‘s open beta did not feature the Lincoln Tunnel checkpoint mission, which unlocks the security wing at the base of operations when completed: I visited this site for the first time and found a sea of abandoned vehicles. In reality, the Lincoln Tunnels are one of the most busy traffic links from Manhattan to New Jersey and was opened in 1937. It is considered to be a high risk target for terrorists owing to how much traffic moves through it, and in The Division, it is how the JTF have managed to ferry supplies into Manhattan to help recovery efforts.

  • The medical wing provides players with abilities and talents that improve survivability, while the tech wing offers upgrades for their skills. The security wing provides players access to better weapons. All of the wings require a total of 4000 supply points to unlock, and these can be accrued by playing main missions, as well as finishing encounters. In general, main missions and side missions are the best way to gain experience points for levelling up, while encounters offer much less experience. I’ll only do encounters if they’re en route to a main or side mission to save time.

  • At high settings, The Division doesn’t look too different than on medium, which is what I was playing on during the open beta. An upgraded GPU has allowed me to push the game a little and gain more frame rates: my old GPU could only run the game at 40 FPS, but I’ve had no trouble maintaining a steady 60 FPS at 1080p with my current GPU. I make my way through the tunnel here, admiring the water effects on the road surface as I push closer to the floodgate.

  • Finch is equipped with a sniper rifle here, and despite being two levels lower than myself, proved to be a challenge to fight because I did not have my own long-range solution. I eventually closed the distance using the RPK to suppress him and managed to best him. For The Division, I will likely write about the game every ten levels and at other interesting milestones, and with this comment, the post comes to an end. Upcoming posts will include a talk on Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter! now that we’re past the three-quarters mark, and a pair of posts on some additional content in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. In addition, Battlefield 1‘s Turning Tides DLC is releasing the first two of its new maps tomorrow, so I’m looking forwards to seeing how the new maps and weapons play out.

With the journey projected to last quite a few hours, I look forwards to seeing what The Division‘s campaign has to offer most: at the end game, I may swing by the Dark Zone to try my hand at procuring better gear for kicks, but at the end of the day, I’m largely here to dive into a world that is simultaneously intriguing and terrifying, working towards uncovering the mystery and exploring what is probably the most detailed incarnation of Manhattan in gaming. Coupled with the game’s unique UI and AR-like elements, The Division‘s campaign and atmospherics are easily its strongest points. The game is presently still being expanded upon and patched; one of the recent things I’ve heard is that some of the end-game events and activities have been modified to be more accessible for solo players, and if this proves to be true, it would be quite entertaining to come back once I’ve hit level thirty and see how I do on my own against the enemies of the Dark Zone, as well as some of the more involved challenge missions. In the meantime, it’s time to continue the campaign in The Division: it’s been great to continue on the journey that I started during the open beta.

Enter The Matrix Review and Reflection

“All I’ve ever asked from this world is that when it’s my time, let it be for something, and not of something.” –Ghost

Released in May 2003, Enter The Matrix was developed by Shiny Entertainment and intended to line up with the release of The Matrix Reloaded, providing further exposition for the events of the film. After Ghost and Niobe retrieve a package containing a message from Zion that provides information about an impending Machine attack. They coordinate a meeting, but first, stop the Agents from moving Axel at the airport. The captains of each Zion ship meet to discuss the best course of action in the Matrix’s sewers, but when Agents interrupt the meeting, the rebels escape into the sewers. Niobe and Ghost move through the sewers and manage to escape, assisting other rebels along the way. They encounter the Keymaker, who saves them from an Agent and reveals that Neo must be given a special key. However, Cain and Abel make off with the key; Ghost and Niobe pursue the two into the Merovingian’s Chateau and recover the key. They later join in on the Freeway chase to assist Morpheus, and agree to destroy the power plant after the Keymaker reveals Neo’s path. Niobe and Ghost later receive a request from the Oracle, and after their conversation, must fight off the hordes of Agent Smiths, making their way down a half-constructed office tower and through Chinatown. Escaping back into the real world, Niobe pilots the Logos through the tunnels of the real while Ghost holds off the sentinels long enough for the Logos to use its EMP against them. Long considered to be an incomplete game and an attempt to cash in on the Matrix brand, Enter The Matrix nonetheless remains a fantastic game in my books for being able to augment on The Matrix Reloaded‘s events.

The biggest strength in Enter The Matrix is the game’s ability to capture the atmosphere of The Matrix, allowing players to fight inside The Matrix to very nearly the same extent that was seen in the movies. In doing so, players would become immersed in a fully-fledged experience that gave the same sense of exhilaration that Neo first experienced upon understanding what the Matrix is – the gameplay in Enter The Matrix is surprisingly sophisticated, giving players plenty of martial arts options against their opponents. Using a context-based system, Enter The Matrix captures the intricacies of fighting in the movies to give the sense that players have entered the Matrix. Supplementing the complex and fully-fledged fighting system is a diverse arsenal of weapons, ranging from sidearms to anti-materiel rifles that, in conjunction with bullet time, enables players to survive even the most unfavourable situations. Featuring complete cutscenes directed by the Wachowski brothers, Enter The Matrix adds over an hour of new live-action footage that augments the experience conferred by The Matrix Reloaded. The sum of these elements together make Enter The Matrix a superb game that is the perfect companion to The Matrix Reloaded; while the mechanics and visuals have not withstood the test of time, the game still handles quite well and is a thrill to play. Enter The Matrix is about the closest one can get to emulating the badass feats seen within the Matrix films, and this is a game that does a remarkably good job of bringing this experience to life.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The first thing to note is that screenshots from Enter The Matrix will appear much darker than those from other games. Most of the events in Enter The Matrix are set at night or in large interiors, with the exception of a few missions. The first mission involves visiting a central post office to recover a package from the Osiris. Enemies in this mission are lightly armed, with only the .380 Colt Mustang, the weakest sidearm in the game. By default, Ghost is equipped with a pair of P229 Sig Sauer pistols.

  • Most of the enemies in the post office are weak enough so that they can be dealt with using martial arts alone; this is the perfect time to become familiarised with the fighting system in Enter the Matrix: standard attacks consist of kicks and punches, as well as throws. However, additional commands and contexts allow Ghost and Niobe to execute more complex moves, while the use of Focus allow them to hit harder and move faster than normal.

  • Focus is a limited and powerful asset: the consequence of being aware of the truth, its effects in Enter The Matrix are to slow time down, allowing players to dodge bullets, run on walls, and jump greater distances. Here, I’ve managed to find the package and are engaging in Enter The Matrix‘s equivalent of The Matrix‘s lobby shootout. I may not have the M-16 or 870 MCS, but the MP5 and Colt RO635 9mm SMG, in conjunction with focus, are more than enough to deal with the cops that come into the lobby. A subtle but clever touch is that shooting at the columns will cause their marble cladding to become damage and come off, as seen in The Matrix.

  • The music in Enter the Matrix is solid, conveying a sense of urgency as players make their way across the city rooftops to the hard line, the way out of the Matrix. Despite the game’s low texture resolution and primitive lighting, there’s a charm about the graphics that make Enter the Matrix a distinct instalment in The Matrix.

  • The airport mission is one of my favourites in the game for the level design and set pieces. Police SWAT units become introduced here, and they’re more powerful adversaries than the cops seen in the previous missions, being armed with superior equipment and armour. The best tactic for dealing with them is to close the distance using Focus and disarming them, then beating the tar out of them using martial arts. Notice the Pentium IV advertisement on the wall to the left: computer processors have advanced to the point where the i5 inside my MacBook Pro is upwards of 300 percent more powerful than the fastest Pentium IV processors of the day.

  • The fight against the SWAT helicopter represents the first boss fight of the game, occasionally dropping SWAT units to fight players. The best trick for beating it is to use Focus and aim slightly above the SWAT helicopter using the MP5. MP5 ammunition can be replenished from attacking SWAT units. Once the helicopter is downed, players enter the monorail tunnels and will encounter the armoured military SWAT, the second-most lethal enemies in the games only to the Agents. Attacking them with weapons is usually a waste of ammunition, but martial arts will work well against them.

  • The revolving restaurant section of the airport requires a bit of patience, and once all enemies are cleared, the goal is to climb on top a piano and wait for the ladder to swing around. I’ve been to several revolving restaurants in my time, including the one in the Calgary Tower and CN Tower (brunch at the former, and a spaghetti dinner at the latter); they’re usually placed in towers so patrons have a nice view of their surroundings as they enjoy their meals, but the location at an airport is less likely to provide good scenery.

  • The Barrett M82A1 .50-calibre anti-materiel rifle is the single most powerful weapon in Enter the Matrix, being able to neutralise any enemy with one headshot. It is used for an incredibly long-range shot against the private jet that’s carrying Axel to take the tire out and prevent it from taking off. Unlike its real-world equivalent, the M82A1 in Enter the Matrix is mislabeled as the M95 and has an eighteen-round magazine, which doesn’t make much sense considering the size of each bullet; the real M95 is a bullpup rifle.

  • One of the SWAt will drop an SG-552 rifle, which is probably the best all-around gun in Enter the Matrix. Blessed with a high firing rate, pinpoint accuracy, high damage and a large magazine, the weapon is completely inaccurate against its real-world counterpart – the SG-552 is the carbine form of the SG-550 assault rifle and is chambered for the 5.56 mm NATO round. However, in Enter the Matrix, it is so powerful it can blow the Agent helicopter apart on very short order. The PC controls are a bit stiff, so it took me a bit longer to move into position and open fire.

  • Aside from the airport, the sewers were also a fun set of missions, giving a sense of just how labyrinthine the sewers of the Matrix are. The close quarters environments in the sewer tunnels make the Mossberg 590 (known as the Entry Shotgun in-game) a viable option: the high damage makes it well-suited for encounters with Sewer SWAT, which are second only to the armoured military SWAT in lethality.

  • The sewers are relatively linear, but there are a few places where some ancient machinery must be destroyed to allow progress, or else similarities in the scenery make it easy to get lost. There are some sections in the sewer that have impressive design: the sub-section of the level “Breathing Room” takes players through a room filled with large fans on a platform over a deep passageway. The fans can be shot at and destroyed.

  • Enter the Matrix was the first game I played that involved a large sewer system possibly surpassing Tokyo’s G-Cans system (known formally as the “Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel”). Since then, games like Metro and Wolfenstein II have come close to replicating the experience, but there’s no substitute for the original.

  • This is one of the few places in Enter the Matrix where it’s possible to use the M16A2 rifle, a good all-around weapon that hits harder than the MP5. There is the option to dual-wield weapons, as well: doubling the firepower of weaker weapons, it’s called “two fisting” in Enter the Matrix, and while I referred to the simultaneous use of two weapons as such after playing Enter the MatrixHalo would lead me to call the process “dual wielding” – “two fisting” apparently refers to the practise of holding an alcoholic beverage in each hand, and in gaming, quickly fell out of usage in favour of “dual wielding”.

  • During the trek through the sewers, players must defend fellow Rebels against hostile forces, and allowing any of them to die will result in an instant game over. The mission itself doesn’t depict the foggy caverns of the sewers seen in the preview image for Malachi and Bane, a sniper mission where players are provided with the HK33, an assault rifle fitted with a heavy barrel, bipod and sniper optics to act as a marksman rifle. Using Focus makes it much easier to hit difficult targets before they can damage the rebels.

  • If one were to click on these screenshots and look at the dates, they would find that most of them actually date back to 2015: at this point in time, I was entering my second year of graduate school and during the autumn term, had no classes, allowing me to focus entirely on my thesis paper (I’d already finished off most of the implementation to my project during the summer). As such, I had a bit more free time than previously, and spent some of that time gaming. Of course, procrastination is why I did not write about Enter the Matrix earlier.

  • The Chateau mission entails a new gameplay style: inhabited by the Merovingian’s vampires and dobermen, enemies here can only be killed by driving a wooden stake through them after melee combat. Players will also find a crossbow for launching wooden bolts, but these are quite rare, making it imperative to save them for boss fights. Firearms in this mission are ineffectual for permanently stopping vampires and dobermen, but they can be used to buy some space.

  • The stairwell where Enter the Matrix‘s infamous Chateau fight happens has been replicated in full and in fantastic detail, but unlike the film, there’s no fighting here. Instead, players will enter the Chateau’s basement for a fight with Cujo, head of the dobermen. Once beaten, players move towards finding the Keymaker and also encounter Cain and Abel, two exiles who will continue to malign players unless kicked against the prison cells, where prisoners will hold on to them and buy players enough time to make their way out of the level. A vehicle chase involving the Twins soon follows: I’ve chosen not to depict any of the vehicular levels in this post: while immensely fun (Ghost has an MP5 that can turn any vehicle into a pile of flaming wreckage in seconds), the PC version has a few graphical bugs.

  • If Enter the Matrix was to be redone in a modern game engine like Frostbite 3 or even The Division‘s Snowdrop engine, it would definitely bring the Matrix to life. Such a game would keep the narrative and two campaigns as in the original, but levels could be redesigned to be even more immersive, making full use of modern rendering and visuals to really capture environments within the Matrix. If such a game did come out, I would buy it in a heartbeat. Of course, they’d have to fix the weapons so they’re more faithful to their real-world counterparts and add better bonus arena modes, but other than that, it’d be a title worth playing through again.

  • Apparently, the transformer field was the toughest level in Enter the Matrix; the close quarters maze and swarms of SWAT units made it easy to make a wrong turn and die. However, players also are provided with a halo-alkane launcher, which fires canisters of oxygen-depriving gases that are ostensibly used for firefighting but also asphyxiates anyone who breathes the gas in. It’s highly effective, and in conjunction with the Striker shotgun (called the Street Sweeper in-game), allows careful players to pick their way through this labyrinth. Following the goal tracker is essential, as is backing up if lost.

  • The nuclear waste sector was one of my favourite parts of Enter the Matrix, being filled with bottomless chasms and massive fuel tanks that go off with a large explosion when shot. Here, I’m wielding the G36 with a beta-C drum magazine. The weapon is rare, but quite effective: it’s second only to the SG-552 in terms of effectiveness and the strategy guide suggests that its lower rate of fire allows it to be more efficient with ammunition. The cover system in Enter the Matrix was a bit tricky to use, so I ended up making extensive use of Focus to get through most parts; if Enter the Matrix were ever to be remastered, the cover system should also be improved slightly.

  • Ghost will need to provide covering fire for Niobe once he reaches the control room, fighting off waves of SWAT units. This mission is quite demanding, forcing players to switch from the role of being a precise sniper to a close-quarters brawler, and the UMP-45, which was near-useless in the Chateau mission, is actually quite good for dealing with SWAT units here. Eventually, Niobe will reach the top of the reactor and prepare the bomb that will blow the nuclear power plant to pieces to facilitate Neo’s meeting with the Architect.

  • I’ve seen a lot of complaints from contemporary reviewers and conformists from Tango-Victor-Tango that the game is really an unfinished beta. Interviews with the staff reveal that the game was indeed rushed into deployment in order to coincide with The Matrix Reloaded‘s theatrical première, and while I concede that textures in some part of the game are plainly placeholders, such as the muzzle on the HK33. However, I’ve never gotten stuck on walls or run into any collision detection issues on my end despite having completed the game on at least five different occasions.

  • Even if the game was rushed, it’s evident that a great deal of effort was directed towards making the game as authentic to the Matrix as possible: interviews with the developers and Anthony Wong, who plays Ghost, shows this effort, which I definitely appreciate. Here, I fight an Agent and are tasked with killing him in order to buy enough time to escape – Agents can only be killed in special circumstances, and here, the Agent is defeated by kicking him into a server cluster, electrocuting him. Agents normally cannot be defeated and will make short work of Ghost and Niobe, but in the City Rooftops level, I’ve managed to kill an agent by kicking him off the side of a ledge.

  • Like Neo, who must fight Seraph to gain an audience with the Oracle, players must also prove their worth by defeating Seraph. This fight represents a turning point in the game: if players succeed, they will meet the Oracle and learn more about what’s to come, while failing that will send them back to the Logos. Of course, I wasn’t content to miss out on a few missions, so I sparred Seraph with a high intensity and managed to beat him.

  • The last two missions of Enter the Matrix have players escaping from Agent Smith after speaking with the Oracle. Ghost narrowly manages to escape the Industrial Hallway and into a half-built skyscraper: Agent Smith presented a challenge even to Neo in The Matrix Reloaded, so there’s not a ghost of a chance that Ghost can fight Agent Smith on even footing. The only focus is to keep running, following the goal tracker until the end of the level is reached.

  • The last mission is set in Chinatown, and there’s a siu aap (roast duck) shop visible on the left. Chinatowns, or districts with a high population of Han Chinese are located around the world; the oldest Chinatown is located in Manila in the Philippines, and the Chinatown back home is largest in the province, featuring the continent’s largest Cultural Centre. I visit every weekend, since my dojo is here, and there are some specialty shops in the area. While folks I know go to Chinatown for the dim sum, the best places are actually located outside of Chinatown.

  • Besides police officiers, the other enemy in this level as Agent Smith. Players will pick up the Milkor MGL, a 40mm grenade launcher that deals massive damage. It only appears here, can kill players if they’re careless and appears a bit too late to be useful against the armoured military SWAT seen earlier. However, against the hordes of Agent Smiths relentlessly pursuing players, it can be used to buy some breathing room.

  • My first desktop computer had a 600 MHz AMD Model 3 Spitfire processor with 64 MB of RAM and 15 GB of hard drive space. Enter the Matrix required a minimum 800 MHz processor, 128 MB of RAM and 4.3 GB of storage, recommending at least a 1.2 GHz processor and 256 MB of RAM in conjunction with 64 MB of dedicated graphics memory. As such, I stuck with the GameCube version of Enter the Matrix initially, but since then, I’ve upgraded computers several times, allowing me to go through the PC version.

  • Of course, uninstalling the game would allow me to save 4.3 GB of space, but on today’s hard drive, 4.3 GB isn’t too much to worry about, and as time permits, I should go back and beat the Niobe campaign, as well. The end goal of the Chinatown mission is to reach the church in the distance, where the hard line is located. This allows red-pills to exit the Matrix, and while rebels will disappear once out, the game doesn’t depict this process.

  • The last mission for Ghost involves shooting at Sentinels while Niobe pilots the Logos deep into the tunnels of the real. It’s actually quite dull, and before long, the Sentinels will spawn a tow bomb. Keeping it at bay with the Logos’ guns will end the mission and the campaign. While I would love to recommend Enter the Matrix, chances are that the game’s going to be quite difficult to find now. I’ve heard rumours of a Matrix film is in the works, and while there’s been very little information on the project since rumours began circulating in March this year, if it results in a new game being made, players may finally have a Matrix game made with modern-era technology. For now, though, this brings my reflections of Enter the Matrix to a close.

The biggest draw about Enter The Matrix was its ability to really immerse players in the Matrix universe. Whether it be the gun-fu, bullet-time combat or setpieces, the game has definitely recreated the atmosphere and tenour seen within the Matrix. The game has no shortage of content, featuring two full campaign missions, in conjunction with a hacking game that lets players learn more about the Matrix universe and even modify the way the game itself plays. I first played through Enter The Matrix on a GameCube during summer break years back; I initially had the PC version, but lacked a PC with the requirements to run the game. The title impressed me, and I developed a stronger interest in the Matrix, as well as its philosophical underpinnings about reality, existence, and yin and yang. Few works have since succeeded in leading me to contemplate these things, and subsequently, when I built a more powerful PC, the time had come to give the game another go. It’s definitely aged from a mechanical and technical perspective, but besides itself, there are only two other games: The Matrix Online, and The Path Of Neo. Of these games, The Matrix Online is no longer playable since the servers shut down, and The Path of Neo lacks the same finesse and polish from what I’ve seen. That leaves Enter The Matrix, and from a personal perspective, it’s the definitive Matrix game to experience.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus- Capturing the Ausmerzer, Final Impressions and Reflections

“Lady…that the best you got? Then your best won’t do. You’re among wolves now, and these are our woods.” —William “B.J.” Blazkowicz

After returning to Eva’s Hammer, Blazkowicz is treated to a surprise birthday party, and Wyatt subsequently goes missing. Blazkowicz finds him hidden in the shooting range, and after talking him out, the Resistance prepares to mount an assault on the Ausmerzer. During the preparations, Sigrun reprimands Grace when the latter calls her a Nazi one time too many, earning Grace’s respect, and after boarding the Ausmerzer, the Resistance disables its automated defense system. After reaching the upper levels, Blazkowicz destroys a pair of Zerstörer robots defending the bridge, and reunited with Anya, the Resistance succeed in capturing the Ausmerzer. Later, they travel to the studio doing a live broadcoast of General Engel’s interview for television, and Blazkowicz executes her with a hatchet, avenging Caroline. Wyatt gives a speech about the Resistance’s plans to liberate the world from Nazi rule, and Blazkowicz recovers his mother’s ring from Engel, proposing to Anya. This brings The New Colossus‘ campaign to an end after a sixteen hour long journey; it’s been a while ride whose gameplay mechanics and set-pieces have evidently improved upon those of its predecessor. The game simply looks and feels great, from the shooting to the settings. On the other hand, The New Colossus‘ narrative and pacing exude a different feel than those of The New Order: humour is present to a much greater degree to convey a sense of hope that was absent in earlier games, and this seems to mirror that, as Blazkowic works towards rallying the world against Nazi rule, the possibility of returning liberty and freedom to the world merits a few more smiles and laughs. The ending suggests the possibility of a sequel, where Blazkowicz finally realises his wish to live an ordinary life in a world free of Nazi rule.

The New Colossus‘ return to America opened the floor for exploring what things might’ve been like under Nazi rule, illustrating the core element that the United States was built on and its importance in the American identity. Political commentary and so-called attempts to promote a particular perspective aside, The New Colossus shows that America is defined by its freedoms and liberties: America under Nazi rule prima facie seems unchanged, save the fact that flags with the Swastika are flying everywhere, and culture seems to have only diverged somewhat. However, as players explore the game further, hints of the oppressive Nazi regime become increasingly apparent. Mandatory language laws, imprisonment and execution of racial minorities and the constant lack of personal privacy are rampant. Individual liberty is the single most critical aspect of the American identity. This entails the right to express oneself, choose their own leaders, following their own beliefs or the right to be treated equally – under Nazi rule, liberty is nonexistent. This is what Blazkowicz and his resistance are fighting so hard to bring back: it is not customs, pastimes, culture or cuisine, but a firm belief in freedom that defines America. So, the suggestion that The New Colossus is a political commentary on how modern-day America and the Third Reich are no different is untrue, and individuals who would contend otherwise are evidently unable to grasp the bigger picture that The New Colossus conveys in its narrative.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Sigrun’s knowledge of evading the ODIN system allows the Resistance to bring Blazkowicz and Anya close enough to board it, high above the city below. When I first started this mission, my initial inclination was to run for the boarding platform, which was rapidly closing, but this led me to fall to my death. So, I ended up waiting for Anya to open the platform. Because this post deals with the Ausmerzer mission alone, I’ve chosen to go with twenty screenshots rather than thirty.

  • With every weapon upgrade available and each of the contraptions upgraded, I finally felt ready to take on the Ausmerzer; the mission starts in the same area that Blazkowicz traversed while trying to disable the electromagnet holding Eva’s Hammer in place during the second mission. I’ve long become familiar with the enemies at this point in time, and I’ve found that the Sturmgewehr, when fully upgraded, is the best weapon in the entire game for its versatility. The jungle-style magazine boosts ammunition capacity, the marksman optics facilitate long-range combat and the armour-piercing rounds makes it possible to eliminate heavy opponents quickly. Combined with a high rate of fire and reasonable hip-fire accuracy, dual-wielding the Sturmgewehr is probably the most useful for dealing with unexpected situations.

  • Here, I reach the first of the ODIN terminals, sweeping and clearing anything that moved. The old areas of the Ausmerzer are familiar, but after Blazkowicz reaches the first terminal and enters the password to deactivate half of the weapons, Anya prepares two elevator pods so that they can reach the next control room, set in a new area of the Ausmerzer.

  • In German, ausmerzen is a verb for “to weed out” or “eradicate”; “Ausmerzer”, then, is probably taken to mean “Eradicator”, befitting of the airship’s purpose. Once the first terminal was found, I found myself facing a horde of soldiers and switched over the the Kampfpistols, emptying nearly my entire stock of ammunition on them. Similar to The Old Blood, there are few occasions in The New Colossus where these explosive launchers are really able to shine: the damage makes the Kampfpistoles best suited for crowd control and damaging heavier opponents, but ammunition is scarce. For their power, Kampfpistole rounds are wasted on most soldiers.

  • A Supersoldaten begins attacking the pods and rips the top off the one that Blazkowicz is riding, but I came prepared. In TheRadBrad’s playthough, he used the Dieselgewehr to kill it, but the blast damage whittled at his armour. Conversely, I struck with the Sturmgewehr: its armour-piercing rounds made quick work of the Supersoldaten and dealt no splash damage to me. After reaching this point, it’s a massive firefight to clear the area of Nazi soldiers.

  • The ram shackles are powerful enough to reduce victims into a pile of meat and blood: after locating the second ODIN control center, I sprinted in and ran towards a soldier in here, who met the same fate as Corpse Party‘s Mayu Suzumoto. While both similarly feature their share of blood and gore, the separation between the two titles is that in The New Colossus, players are responsible for turning folks into bloody chunks, while in Corpse Party, players usually find classmates reduced to the same and must evade the supernatural forces responsible. Consequently, if Blazkowicz were introduced into Blood Corpse with his superior arsenal, the game would necessarily be reclassified as an action adventure – even the likes of Sachiko would be no match against the Dieselkraftwerk.

  • Will I play Corpse Party, one asks? The game normally retails for 17 CAD and reaches a minimum price of 11.04 CAD on a discount. It is not compatible with a Mac and has low system requirements, while reviews are exceedingly positive. Being an RPG with multiple endings that require some thought to get right, rather than a steady aim and quick reflexes, my bet is that I’ll end up with every bad ending conceivable if I play Corpse Party because my gaming skillset is making headshots, not working out optimal decisions in games with branching storylines.

  • It took me a little while to work out where to go after the ODIN systems were disabled, and in the end, I noticed a crane reaching towards the centre of this room, allowing Blazkowicz to access a pod. Climbing up a ladder here will finally take Blazkowicz to the Ausmerzer’s upper deck, and it is here that the final level begins to shine, matching the spectacle seen in The New Order‘s final mission to assault Deathshead’s compound. In The New Colossus, the visuals are even more impressive.

  • While presented as a terrifying flying fortress, it is here that players see for themselves the Ausmerzer’s arsenal: large guns are mounted on the deck for bombardment, and the airship has a distinct feeling similar to that of a ocean-faring battleship. With the open skies above and a large city below, the scale in this level is truly breathtaking. Of course, there’s no time to admire the scenery: the entire airship remains to be captured at this point.

  • The Zittadel robots no longer intimidate me, and while I could have destroyed it using conventional weapons, it seemed so much more fun to pick up the Lasergewehr and annihilate it in a head-on attack. Here, I focus fire on the missile launcher to deprive it of a long range assault: AP rounds from the Sturmgewehr are effective, but having a Lasergewehr makes this battle trivially straightforwards. Because they were so entertaining to use, I have an excess of 300 kills with heavy weapons in The New Colossus, whereas in The New Order, I stuck with standard weapons.

  • One of the perks available only in The Old Blood was the fact that players could carry the MG46 machine gun in their inventory, had they accumulated enough kills with it in the game. The weapon was only marginally more powerful than standard weapons and as such, I never did run too often with it. Conversely, in The New Colossus, heavy weapons were definitely worth using, and while each of the different weapons have their unique points, the Lasergewehr is the most versatile: the Dieselgewehr and Hammergewehr are both fun but better suited for close ranges, while the Übergewehr requires a bit of skilful timing to use owing to its slow firing rate.

  • With my heavy weapons perk levelled to the maximum possible, I was able to carry a ridiculous amount of ammunition for them. The slower movement speed was offset by the vast amount of firepower available, and unlike The Old Blood, these weapons definitely feel powerful. It becomes possible to hold down the trigger and watch as untold amounts of destruction unfolded; the deck here was cleared in no time at all.

  • One detail that I began noticing with the Schockhammer is that, when the rotating barrels are engaged to allow the shotgun to fire all three barrels at once, the weapon goes through three rounds per pull of the trigger, and this is reflected in the shells being chambered in the magazine. Subtle elements, such as weapon chambering animations, never cease to impress me; I am always fond of games that make the effort to add these animations to weapons.

  • The sheer amount of chaos on board the Ausmerzer is such that I’m glad that there are no weapon upgrade kits here to collect: the mission’s entire focus is on capturing the Ausmerzer. Compared to the specific weapon upgrades of The New Order and The Old Blood, the kit-based system of The New Colossus is superior in that it offers players a choice in upgrading their weapons to best fit their play-style. While natural progression will eventually see all of the upgrades unlocked, providing options allow players to pick and choose their preferred weapons to upgrade early in the game.

  • I acquire another Übergewehr on board the Ausmerzer, and look back on the parts of the ship that I’ve already progressed through. I’ve heard people state that the Übergewehr is a black hole generator, but this is ludicrous. Documentation properly describes the weapon as using a combination of electricity and diesel fuel to create a powerful energy blast capable of igniting and vapourising even heavily-armoured enemies outright. Overall, the heavy weapons of The New Colossus are much more fun to use than the MG46 and MG60 seen in its predecessors.

  • When the doors open and pods containing Supersoldaten were launched, I immediately began charging the Übergewehr. There’s a small mechanical indicator on the weapon that shows whether or not the weapon is fully charged: the Übergewehr won’t fire until this indicator is filled, and in the heat of battle, it can be a little difficult to determine what one’s firing state is. Here, I use the weapon to one-shot a Supersoldaten using the Übergewehr’s main energy blast. After a number of these pods are launched, two Zerstörer (“Destroyer”) robots, the level’s bosses, come out in full force. It’s the toughest fight I’d faced in The New Colossus, even with fully upgraded weapons and contraptions.

  • Armed with Übergewehrs of their own, the Zerstörer robots can one-shot Blazkowicz. The Übergewehr, while powerful enough to kill everything else in The New Colossus in one shot, will not destroy the Zerstörer as easily. While slow moving and slow to fire, the fight is compounded by the endless number of soldiers and Supersoldaten that join the Zerstörer. This fight was absolutely overwhelming and it took me a few attempts to get it right: victory is not achieved by superior firepower (least of all with heavy weapons, which slow the player down) alone, but rather, clever use of the available environment to evade and gain better positioning.

  • I managed to kill one Zerstörer using the Übergewehr, which earned me an achievement. The second one, I destroyed in conjunction with the unending reinforcements using the Sturmgewehr. There’s an entire floor below the top deck, and escaping in here to avoid enemy fire, as well as thinning out the standard soldiers, are an essential trick to completing this battle. The boss fight is much easier with the Ram Shackles, since players can batter soldiers to death while beating a hasty escape. After I figured out the environment, and fell back on the old DOOM strategy of shooting the remaining Zerstörer until it was destroyed, I finished this section to finally capture the Ausmerzer.

  • With the Ausmerzer under the Kreisau Circle’s control, there is one final loose end to deal with: General Engel herself. By a bit of a hilarious coincidence, one of my old classmates has taken this surname. The irony comes from the fact that I did not particularly get along with this individual or their friends (followers, really) too well, since they regarded themselves as being the height of popularity and set the standards for what was “in”, whereas I believe that people should make their own decisions regarding brands, life choices and politics.

  • This was the easiest final fight ever: Engel does not stand a chance against Blazkowicz, and this was one of the most violent things I’d seen since The Animatrix‘s Second Renaissance. On the flip-side, Blazkwicz avenges both Caroline and Super Spesh, setting the stage for an opportunity to finally liberate the world. I’ve heard negative reception towards the cliffhanger ending, which is reminiscent of Halo 2, but the possibility of getting another Wolfenstein game a few years down the line is an exciting one. I look forwards to seeing how this journey ends. With The New Colossus‘ campaign at an end, I will be returning in the future to talk about two other aspects of The New Colossus not covered during my campaign run. Looking at the calendar, we’re now a month away from Christmas. There’s quite a lot to do before Christmas arrives, but I look forwards to a peaceful Christmas with family that I foresee spending in Battlefront II or The Division, as well as relaxing with a good book in hand.

Overall, my final verdict for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is that this is a game well worth the price of admission: while perhaps not quite as focused as its predecessors from a narrative perspective, the story nonetheless fits together in a satisfactory manner to reinforce the idea that Blazkowicz’s war is finally beginning to turn in a favourable direction. Between the world-building that further explores what a world under Nazi rule might be like and a large cast of characters that offers no shortage of humour to the journey, The New Colossus might not have the same sense of sombreness or urgency of its predecessor, but it replaces this with hope, suggesting that a world liberated from Nazi rule might very well be close at hand. This looks to be setting in stage a continuation, and I would welcome another instalment in the Wolfenstein franchise. In conjunction with generally solid gameplay (the game is an overall improvement over its predecessor in every department except for indication that damage is being sustained) and fantastic audio-visual elements, it was a superbly entertaining journey to pick up weapons and absolutely shred Nazis. With The New Colossus now in the books, there’s actually still a few things remaining before I can say I’ve fully finished the game: I’ve got a few Übercommanders left to finish off, and because I bought The New Colossus on Day One, I got Episode Zero to complete, which serves as an introduction to each of Joseph Stallion, Jessica Valiant and Gerald Wilkins, who are playable characters in the upcoming DLC.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus- Review and Reflection after the Manhattan Bunker, New Orleans and Oberkommando Venus Base

“Welcome to the Oberkommando. Population: shitload of assholes. You got my ODIN codes, assholes?” —William “B.J.” Blazkowicz

With a powerful new body, Blazkowicz is sent to a Nazi bunker in Manhattan to retrieve a file on New Orleans and learns that the Nazis have a plan to systemmatically eliminate everyone in a large walled ghetto there. Travelling to New Orleans with the Kreisau Circle and fights his way through the occupying Nazi forces to meet up with Horton Boone and his resistance members. Blazkowicz’s combat efficiency impresses Horton, and after a few drinks, he gets into a shouting match with Horton that culminates with Blazkowicz earning his respect. Horton and his crew agree to join the Kreisau Circle, and Blazkowicz uses a captured Panzerhund to distract the Nazis while Horton’s people evacuate to Eva’s Hammer. He returns to the Eva’s Hammer and uses the nuclear cannon to generate a shockwave that pushes the submarine back into the ocean ahead of the Ausmerzer’s arrival. Back on board, the Kreisau Circle learns that the Ausmerzer was originally built to suppress resistance forces and would be a powerful asset if captured. However, the Ausmerzer’s ODIN defense system must first be disabled, and to this end, Blazkowicz travels to Venus under the guise of an actor auditioning for the role of Terror Billy in a propaganda film. He comes face-to-face with Adolf Hitler himself, although far from being the mastermind of the Nazi’s rise to power, he’s now degenerated physically and mentally, suffering episodes of psychosis and a persistent cough. After a tense audition where Blazkowicz brutally kills a Nazi soldier for a scene, impresses Hitler and is given the part. Blazkowicz later steals away from his quarters, fighting his way through the Venus facility and reaches the Oberkommando Base, located on the blisteringly hot surface of Venus, where he finds the codes for ODIN.

This is where I am so far for The New Colossus, and like The New Order before it, I’ve advanced through the game at a high pace – The New Colossus is engaging in its story, and the colourful cast of characters have been the game’s strongest point, adding much humour to an otherwise grim world. The second half has definitely been a blast, and while perhaps similar to The New Order in essentials (stealing a powerful Nazi war machine to supplement the Kreisau Circle and travelling to a facility in space to acquire codes required to make this endeavour possible), the second half of The New Colossus is coherent, focused and clear as to what Blazkowicz’s goals are. One of the aspects that is absent in The New Colossus are over-the-top boss fights mid-game: so far, the toughest enemies I’ve encountered so far are the Zitadelle robots, which can be easily defeated by making use of an AP round-equipped assault rifle to eliminate its weapons. By comparison, The New Order had Blazkowicz fight the London Monitor in a titanic battle. While the lack of memorable bosses in The New Colossus prior ot the the finale is noticeable, The New Colossus offers an excellent set of Übercommander assassination missions, in which Blazkowicz returns to previously explored districts to kill off a high ranking officier, as well as side-missions that allow him to explore Eva’s Hammer in more detail. The additional world-building provides further depth to the world that Wolfenstein II is set in, and I’ve found it to be superbly enjoyable to revisit old locations with upgraded weapons and contraptions.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • After getting a new body, gameplay changes slightly as Blazkowicz regains access to 100 health, but loses the ability to pick up additional armour. Dropped in New York without an air filter or powered armour, the return to Manhattan has Blazkowicz picking up health packs every so often to ensure that he does not succumb to the radiation. Of the three contraptions, I picked the battle walker, which allows Blazkowicz to gain the high ground in combat and access locations that are otherwise out of reach.

  • The other two contraptions are the constrictor harness, which allows Blazkowicz to squeeze into incredibly tight quarters such as vents and openings closer to the ground, and the ram shackles that offer the ability to ram through some doors and boxes. My choice in the battle walker was made because it seems the most fun to use, bringing to mind the Bamboo Boogie Boots from Futurama. The ram shackles are the best suited for a highly aggressive play-style, while the constrictor harness is fantastic for stealth. It is possible to acquire all contraptions and upgrade them, and this is something that I ended up doing.

  • Panzerhunds make a return as mini-bosses of sorts in The New Colossus, although by now, I have no shortage of options in dealing with heavy enemies. The battle walker allowed me to climb onto hard-to-reach places or maintain a superior vantage point over the battlefield. Together with the Hammergewehr, I absolutely massacred the Panzerhund here. I’ve read that the lowest difficulty is the best way to enjoy The New Colossus, but I would have to disagree with this remark: normal difficulty is fine.

  • Collectable concept art, star cards, Nazi Gold and Max’s toys are scattered throughout The New Colossus, and while I’ll pick them up if I find them, my greater priority is on collecting weapon upgrade kits, since those directly affect gameplay. I missed a few during my playthrough, but thanks to the Übercommander missions, I’ve been able to collect everything, allowing me to fully upgrade all of my weapons. The constrictor harness can be found here, and I used it to take out the Übercommander on this map, as well as to help me find the second of the upgrade kits.

  • Here, I find the Kampfpistole to complete my collection of weapons. Returning from The Old Blood, the incarnation in The New Colossus now has a six-round magazine, and while initially appearing to be a downgrade from its predecessor in The Old Blood for firing grenades, the Kampfpistole can be upgraded to fire rocket-propelled grenades. The weapon is based off the Sturmpistole, which was a modified flare gun that was intended to be an infantry-portable anti-tank solution that could further be mounted as an under-barrel attachment, as seen in Brave Witches.

  • Reaching the end of the Manhattan Bunker with the New Orleans folder in hand, there’s a short elevator ride that takes Blazkowicz back to the surface. After returning to Eva’s Hammer, I spent a fair bit of time unlocking Übercommander missions with the enigma codes I amassed. Before heading to New Orleans, I cleared out Manhattan, Roswell and Mesquite: the missions don’t feature auto-saves, and the Übercommanders are armed with the Kampfpistole. On some missions, I was forced to take them head-on and died more times than I cared to count, but I managed to finish the Roswell mission without being detected.

  • Under Nazi occupation, New Orleans is distinctly woebegone, with empty streets and boarded up buildings. For some reason, I’ve inexplicably associated the Deep South with Tango-Victor-Tango, if only for the fact that one of my friends introduced me to the site and Marble Hornets and I began playing Left 4 Dead 2 during the summer days, when the weather up here in Alberta elicits the sort of atmosphere seen in the Deep South. Marble Hornets is set in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Left 4 Dead 2 takes players through the swamps and cities of Louisiana. Thus, playing through New Orleans in The New Colossus elicits memories of summer evenings spent browsing Tango-Victor-Tango and watching Marble Hornets long after research hours ended when I was an undergraduate student.

  • I remember seeing gameplay footage set in New Orleans during demos back during the summer and found myself highly impressed with the visuals. Compared to The New Order, lighting effects and details are slightly more sophisticated, and I originally wondered if my computer would be able to handle The New Colossus. While we are on the topic of Tango-Victor-Tango, the last week was a little hectic after one reader sent me a request to help fact-check for the Hai-Furi page there; they were looking for some assistance in determining which of the technical examples were legitimate and which ones were fallacious. I spent most evenings looking through examples and verifying them in place of my usual relaxing.

  • In the end, I managed to corroborate most of the information save two claims: that methane clathrate (“burning ice”, or “gas hydrate”) deposits were not located anywhere near Japan, as well as the assertion that Akeno, Moeka and Mashiro’s nicknames (“Mike”, “Moka” and “Shiro”) are common cat names in Japan. The former is untrue, as geological surveys have in fact found the presence of some deposits, and the latter is also untrue: a year-and-a-half after Hai-Furi ended, I still haven’t found anything to suggest that Akeno and the others are named after cats beyond one bogus “discussion” whose author claims that “the cat theme is there and intentional, though – it extends to the entirety of the Harekaze crew”.

  • After twelve episodes and two OVAs, cats have a practical, rather than symbolic role in Hai-Furi, so I’m going to leave the discussion there and transition over to talk of dogs, specifically, mechanised ones. Panzerhunds have been trying to kick Blazkowicz’s ass throughout all of The New Order and most of The New Colossus, so when Horton gives Blazkowicz a captured Panzerhund to ride, the game kicks things into twelfth gear. The Panzerhund can pick up armour off defeated enemies to restore its armour pool to prolong its usefulness in combat.

  • It is incredibly satisfying to use the Panzerhund’s flamethrower to incinerate enemies: the flames are so intense they can burn through the Supersoldaten in mere moments, and even explode a heavily armoured vehicle carrying Nazi soldiers. However, all good things must come to an end, and eventually, the path becomes too narrow for the Panzerhund to fit through. After entering an abandoned factory and fighting off a horde of Nazis, Blazkowicz makes his way into the sewers of New Orleans.

  • It turns out that the massive robots I’ve been fighting are called “Zitadelle” (German for “Citadel”). Their armaments allow them effectiveness at all ranges; while they are intimidating with their size and loadout, they can actually be destroyed quite quickly. My preferred tactic is to use the Sturmgewehr’s AP rounds in single-fire mode and blow off the left arm first, limiting its attacks to close range, and then destroy the remaining arm, which causes the entire thing to explode spectacularly. The stealth approach is a bit riskier, involving sneaking up on it and severing both of its fuel lines. Igniting the fuel also allows for the Zitadelle to be destroyed quickly.

  • I originally was not intending on playing The New Colossus entering the weekend – Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero Chapter was scheduled to release, and I was aiming to have a post out for the first episode of Hero Chapter out that evening, but we ended up with a recap episode, and so, I ended up taking the time to advance further in The New Colossus. I’ve previously remarked that I have plans to blog about Hero Chapter in an episodic fashion, and while no new episode was aired, I did see that another anime blog had a talk out for the recap, published while I was still at work. If this is the case, I do not think I’ll be able to offer the fastest discussions on Hero Chapter, but I think I can make interesting, insightful posts nonetheless. I will try and see if it is viable to get posts out on the same day that episodes air, although it is possible that Saturdays are when the posts will be published, as well.

  • While the section through the New Orleans sewers is short, they nonetheless bring back memories of the sewers from Enter The Matrix. The last time I completed the game was back in late 2015, and I’ve been meaning to do a pair of talks on the game, but the opportunity has not yet materialised. A Matrix reboot is supposedly in the works, and it could be time for me to take another look at a game that I greatly enjoyed when I was younger, back in the days when dual core processors and high speed internet was just beginning to become commonplace. The ram shackles can be found here for observant players, and folks who missed it can always return to claim it during an Übercommander mission.

  • At this point in The New Colossus, I’d upgraded enough of my weapons so that even Supersoldaten were not much of a threat: the Schockhammer X, when fully upgraded, features a forty-round magazine and can fire three shots with each pull of the trigger. It will annihilate almost anything downrange, and after I cleared out the area here, I found another weapon upgrade kit inside the house, in a small room to the left. This is one of the upgrade kits that are more out of the way, and in my experience, was the second most hidden one.

  • Adolf Hitler is depicted in the game, and far from the powerful dictator who commanded the Third Reich, the Führer now is a wretch of a man, troubled with a failing body and neurodegenerative disease. Critics have praised this particular direction, suggesting that it’s the perfect caricature of one of the most vile individuals calling themselves a leader in history, and for this, I find that this particular incarnation of the Führer is ill-suited to be the antagonist of any sequels, being relegated to a pathetic and somewhat comedic role. There’s an easter egg here for folks who are inquisitive.

  • The Oberkommando base on Venus is a familiar concept, being similar to the Moon base from The New Order. However, the different environments mean that the Venus base and Moon base are completely different from one another. The presence of a Nazi facility on Venus also attests to just how much of a technological advantage they have over the world, and to have constructed a base on Venus, of all places, is a nontrivial feat: consider that we’ve not returned to the moon since the last Apollo XVII mission in 1972.

  • The interior of the Venus facility feels a little bit like the average space museum, with all of the surface relief models and satellite replicas. The page quote here comes from a point during this mission when Blazkowicz closes in on the Oberkommando center, bringing to mind his comments on the Nazi moon landing in The New Order. Present in the new Wolfenstein games since 2014, I’ve been a big fan of the random quips that Blazkowicz will make during the course of a mission.

  • The engineering in the Venus base is incredibly detailed, and really gives the sense that it was designed to withstand the extreme pressure and heat on the surface. Hallways are composed entirely of steel and look like they’re designed to withstand high pressures, with HVAC components visible here and there to hint at how much resources are directed towards keeping building interiors cool. Windows are small, compared to the large windows and high ceilings of the lunar base seen in The New Order. It’s apparent that Machine Games investigated architecture suitable for conditions on Venus, and the interior of the facility screams Venus, with its yellows, reds and tans, compared to the greys, whites and blues of the moon base.

  • At its surface, Venus has an average temperature of 462°C and a pressure of 92 atm. The atmosphere is largely carbon dioxide, with traces of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen. Precipitation takes the form of sulfuric acid, which is highly corrosive and can cause severe burns. In The New Colossus, Blazkowicz dons a special suit in order to traverse the facility’s exterior, and while it is not implausible for a suit to withstand extremities of temperature, I find its construction to be most impressive, given that it can stand up to Venus’s atmosphere, which exerts an equivalent of the pressure found in the oceans down at a depth of one kilometer.

  • One of the nuances about Venus is that Blazkowicz must be mindful of the amount of coolant remaining in his suit: it depletes over time, forcing him to resupply at special stations. Running out completely results in a painful death, but it seems that moving around at high speeds and taking damage in combat thankfully does not appear to have an impact on the coolant supply. It is possible to instantly restock on coolant by entering a building, and while it can be easy to neglect coolant levels mid-combat, The New Colossus provides cues for players: Blazkowicz will remark that it’s a good idea to resupply or that it’s getting hot when he’s low, and an alarm will go off if levels are critical.

  • In The Old Blood, the Kampfpistole could not be dual-wielded, so when they made it an option to pair the Kampfpistole with another weapon and even use two at once, there is the possibility for limitless destruction, allowing Blazkowicz to reduce entire groups of enemies to puddles of blood and chunks of meat. Fully upgraded, the Kampfpistoles can put out six rockets at a time when dual-wielded, with each Kampfpistole firing three rounds at a time for massive damage.

  • This ladder goes up a shaft leading to the next section, and it is here that the best-hidden weapon upgrade kit is located: it’s found halfway up the shaft on a ledge adjacent to the ladder and can only be accessed by climbing to the top and hopping back down. There are a total of twenty one weapon upgrade kits in The New Colossus, and while I’ve heard of players farming Übercommander missions to acquire more, one only needs twenty one to fully upgrade every weapon. The last upgrade kit is found in one such mission, and can’t be missed, being on the way to the Übercommander.

  • Admittedly, the exteriors on Venus bring to mind the terrain and landscapes of Mars in DOOM: this is the closest that Wolfenstein and DOOM will come; while the games original incarnations were quite similar in mechanics, their narratives differed greatly, and both games contributed to the development of modern shooters.

  • Scattered throughout the Venus base are large spherical fuel tanks that explode when shot. A well-placed explosion can eliminate an entire group of enemies at once, earning players environment kills that contribute to a perk that reduces explosive damage taken.

  • The Übergewehr is the ultimate weapon in The New Colossus, being more or less the Wolfenstein incarnation of DOOM‘s BFG 9000. Like the BFG, it is so powerful that it can reduce entire groups of enemies and even Supersoldaten into unrecognisable piles of meat and blood. However, unlike the BFG 9000, Blazkowicz cannot carry the weapon in his inventory, experiences reduced movement speeds while wielding it (like all other heavy weapons), and there aren’t any powerful bosses to use it on. It must be charged before firing, and creates a massive energy sphere that vapourises anything it touches. The scene where players are presented an opportunity to try it out is also reminiscent of DOOM, where players can try their newly-acquired BFG 9000 on a room full of possessed.

  • As I wander deeper into the Oberkommando facility, I’ll also take this time to remark that its been a bit more than a week since the Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka??: Dear My Sister OVA began screening in Japan. With the home release (and correspondingly, my review) likely to come in Spring 2018, I remark that discussions on the OVA has been fortuitously light. With this in mind, at least one English-speakers have already seen it, having reserved tickets ahead of time and traveled to Japan with the sole purpose of seeing the film. While one might perhaps admire their tenacity and disposable income, I simply don’t have the time to do something of a similar scale. So, for folks wondering when I’ll write about Dear My Sister, the answer to this is that it’ll be close to the home release: ordering BDs is rather more economical than spending an excess of two thousand Canadian for one 50-minute long OVA.

  • It’s actually a bit surprising to learn that I’ve spent roughly fifteen hours in The New Colossus and I’ve still got quite a bit to do before I finish the game: I spent most of the past weekend in The New Colossus. Most of Saturday was devoted to looking around for a new tree top ornament with LED lights, which I was unsuccessful in finding, and then visiting a local meat shop to buy some spicy kebabs and chicken wings. Despite the lateness in the day, the clerk gave us a sample of their meatloaf, which tasted quite wonderful. I nonetheless managed to get a good way into the Oberkommando mission after a hearty dinner of fried chicken and fries with a nacho salad to start – it’s always satisfying to spend a Saturday evening gaming following a crunchy and flavourful fried chicken, which seems the perfect accompaniment for shooters (after washing and drying the dishes, of course).

  • Contrary to complaints about things on Steam reviews, the amount of content in The New Colossus is nothing to sneeze at, and it looks like that I might not be able to finish The New Colossus‘s campaign and Übercommander missions before the hopefully upcoming Steam Black Friday sale, where I’m looking to pick up The Division. I’ve mentioned this in passing previously, and while I didn’t think the value was there when the game was going for 35 CAD during last year’s Winter Sale, the game has seen discounts to the tune of 60 percent off, which corresponds with a price tag of 28 CAD, which is rather more reasonable. Coupled with the fact that this time of year, leading up towards Christmas, ties in nicely with the atmosphere in The Division, it feels like the time is right for me to experience a game I’ve not played since the open beta back in February of last year.

  • As for Star Wars: Battlefront II, I’m still on the rocks about whether or not I’ll be picking it up. The crisis with the loot crates notwithstanding, the gameplay looks mechanically solid, and the Christmas season seems the time to be playing a Star Wars game. I’ll make a decision on Battlefront II closer to The Last Jedi‘s première, when the game will likely be sold at a discounted price. Back in Wolfenstein, I’ve upgraded all of my weapons and have all of the contraptions upgraded as well, meaning that I’m more or less ready to roll onwards and finish the final mission on board the Ausmerzer. I will be returning once I complete The New Colossus to do a final impressions on the game overall. In the meantime, Hero Chapter‘s first episode is set to air this Friday, so I’m looking forwards to seeing what this entails.

From a technical perspective, The New Colossus is an incredibly fun game that definitely has earned its place in the sun as a worthy predecessor to The New Order. The biggest strengths in the game lie in the world-building, which expands upon what was seen in the first game, and the cut-scenes were as entertaining to watch as the shooter elements were to play. Notably, The New Colossus is able to strike a balance between comedic and serious moments more so than its predecessors – finally, we have a game that feels consistent with the marketing and advertising, and the humour interspersed throughout the game conveys a sense of hope that, with Blazkowicz and his raggedy-ass bunch of resistance members, there really is a possibility to liberate the world and return liberty to its people. The New Order ended on a somber note; defeating Deathshead did not stop the Nazi stranglehold over the world, and similarly, The Old Blood concluded with Blazkowicz joining Fergus for the ill-fated run on Deathshead’s compound. Both games had easy-going, hilarious advertising campaigns, and the games themselves left me feeling a bit melancholy, knowing that all of Blazkowicz’s effort notwithstanding, his dream of ending the war and settling down to start a family would not be realised yet. The change in atmosphere in The New Colossus, seemingly irreverent, actually gives the impression that the world Blazkowicz dreams of building might not be an impossibility after all.