I was exploring an underground Nazi railroad miles underneath Roswell. There was a contingent of soldiers patrolling, but I kept my kills to a minimum because – despite considerable upper body strength – I couldn’t hide any bodies. I was given a vague idea where the commanding officer was and I painstakingly made my way to him. I descended from my rocky vantage, crept under an idling train, and ascended a staircase towards the control room. He had a dog nearby but a quick axe took him out (I still hate killing dogs) and I was closing in for the stealth kill. Suddenly, someone spotted me from down a long hallway. I was so close! I knew I didn’t have to reset, but I already knew I was going to. I had the option to play stealthy and I was going to play stealthy, dammit! That’s when I decided Wolfenstein 2 needs detective vision.
Wolfenstein 2 is a pretty great game. The action is a fun and visceral as the first game and the enemies are intelligent and appropriately intimidating. The locations – primarily a Nazi-occupied United States – is fascinating and chilling. Much like the first game, the sequel supplies you with a fascinating team of fellow rebels who quickly endear themselves; these are probably my favorite NPCs in any first-person shooter. On top of all of that is the emotional journal your hero experiences through the first half of the game as he comes to terms with his tormented childhood which motivated him to become an unstoppable killer in the first place.
So, there’s a lot in the game, but the game is mostly shooting at Nazis and robots. Every now and then, though, the game changes things up. You’ll enter into an area and be alerted to the presence of a commander (or two) and a compass indicating their general location. Your goal is to eliminate the commander without being seen; if anyone sees you, endless waves of guards start pouring in until you eliminate the commander. Usually, that is what happens and the sequence becomes a high-energy hunt for the fleeing commander before the incoming troops overwhelm you. But if you want to play safe, you’ll find that it’s really difficult to go unseen; guards appear from around random corners fairly regularly. If you want to be sneaky, you’ll find yourself resetting multiple times to get it right. And this gets old pretty quick.
This is where some optional ability to scan the area would be perfect. Midway through the adventure you acquire the option to pick a special ability for the rest of the game (e.g., a jump boost or the ability to shrink). Why not give us a radar system or – better yet – a drone we could release to spot potential targets? Dishonored does this well in their recent expansion by allowing you project yourself invisibly into areas and mark enemies. Arkham’s detective vision lets you scan through walls to see where enemies are located. Wolfenstein needs this kind of option, too. Players who don’t want to mess with it can skip it, but those of us you enjoy the stealthy combat challenge ourselves to play through as a Nazi-hunting ninja if we wanted.
Wolfenstein 2 is a great game everyone should play. As good as this series is, I think replayability is going to be an issue with any first person shooter. Expanding our gameplay options by enabling us to be a silent killer would make this game even more fun than it is now. Given all the attention to detail that we see in these locations and areas, it seems a shame that there’s often only one way to beat a section: run through with guns blazing. Allowing gamers to see where enemies are and silently take out our targets would open up an entirely new style of gameplay. I hope that we get a new Wolfenstein and I hope that it includes some kind of targeting system. Batman has his detective vision; Blazkowicz needs Nazi vision.