Wolfenstein II: The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe is the first major expansion for first-person shooter Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe is available as part of a season pass titled The Freedom Chronicles which can be purchased digitally from the PlayStation Store on PS4 for £17.99 or $24.99 including three expansions or individually for £7.99 or $9.99, while The Freedom Chronicles can also be purchased digitally as part of the Deluxe Edition containing Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and all three major expansions for £64.99 or $79.99. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was critically well received and deservedly became an award winner with Best Action Game at The Game Awards 2017, but can The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe achieve the same standard of quality?
The story is told in a different style to previous Wolfenstein games as it is presented in a comic book art style in-between gameplay. The story revolves around former professional quarterback Joseph Stallion who is introduced in Episode Zero as he is captured and imprisoned after refusing to conform in a football match that the Reich wanted to win without competition. When a fellow civilian informs Joseph about the location of the resistance; he finds himself a new purpose in life to join the resistance and fight on their side against the Nazi occupation.
There are three volumes to Joseph’s story within The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe, although after completing each volume it becomes available as a combat scenario challenge arena in a similar fashion to that of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood with varying difficulty levels providing a risk and reward factor for earning greater points during higher difficulty levels in addition to online leaderboards introducing a competitive edge. The challenge is essentially based upon points scoring in which every defeated enemy has a particular points value such as a light armoured soldier providing 400 points, while a super soldier is 1,400 points, a commander produces 900 points and an elite soldier is 600 points, although combos, headshots and kampfhund kills offer varying quantities of bonus points. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus received combat simulations for each level in a free post-launch update.
As always in Wolfenstein, there are numerous collectibles including 12 gold bars and 24 readables such as continued Nazi propaganda in newspaper articles, written orders from Commander Metze, warnings about rules banning public gatherings and handwritten notes between resistance members. Every readable can be found and inspected scattered throughout environments which provides a clever back story to Joseph Stallion’s story.
Character design is as integral to The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe as it ever has been in Wolfenstein; as Joseph Stallion is depicted as a football hero that steps up to fight alongside the resistance. Enemy design is mostly the same as B.J. Blazkowicz’s story in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, although the significant difference is Joseph Stallion’s arch nemesis Commander Metze that is just as ruthless as any commanding officer or general that B.J. Blazkowicz has encountered, especially considering how he particularly treats captured athletes.
Weaponry is pretty much identical to B.J. Blazkowicz’s arsenal in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, although Joseph does not know scientist Set Roth resulting in there being no gadgets as such or resistance manufactured weapon upgrades, but Joseph tends to find weapon upgrades here and there located within prisons and facilities. As was previously the case in Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus; there are various perks that can be earned through achieving specific side objectives. For instance, Joseph can carry an increased magazine size for detached heavy weapons by defeating a certain amount of enemies with heavy weapons; slower reduction in overcharged health for defeating enemies when your character’s health is overcharged; faster health regeneration as a result of defeating enemies by using combat takedowns; and more besides. Joseph has his own unique skill set in comparison to B.J. Blazkowicz as Joseph Stallion is capable of punching through weakened walls while sprinting; regenerating armour after a few seconds of not being hit by enemies; not falling to ground after blast waves; and throwing objects at pace.
As always in the Wolfenstein franchise; there are moments in which the pacing of the game changes entirely such as after breaking out of the prison Joseph rides a giant mechanised dog through the streets of Chicago as he is attacked by wave after wave of Nazi soldiers attempting to prevent him from progressing any further in his quest to find and join the resistance. There are even clever touches elsewhere in the story as travelling to a distant planet showcases varying air and temperature conditions between indoor pressurised environments and outdoor areas in which your suit requires coolant from nearby cooling stations; otherwise Joseph will overheat.
Graphically, The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe is just as spectacular as Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus with the same quality of lighting, explosions, character models and performance. Meanwhile, the audio is as involving as ever with large scale shootouts and Joseph Stallion punching his way through walls, while Joseph Stallion’s and Commander Metze’s respective voice-over artists help to create a tone of genuine rivalry that Joseph’s adventure is based upon. Elsewhere, controls and general presentation is the same as Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus with the exception of Joseph Stallion’s abilities being different to that of B.J.’s.
The trophy list includes 10 trophies with 8 bronze trophies and 2 silver trophies which is somewhat disappointing given that Wolfenstein: The Old Blood comprised of two stories that were four chapters in length yet had a platinum trophy. Easier trophies include completing the three story volumes as they can be completed on the easiest difficulty level. Harder trophies include the Signing Bonus silver trophy for finding all gold in The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe and the First Team Soldier bronze trophy and the All-Pro Warrior silver trophy for completing The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe on the two hardest difficulty levels. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 5 to 10 hours to 100% the trophy list based on how you fare in the combat simulation challenges and collectibles.
Wolfenstein II: The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe’s replayability stems from unlockable combat scenario challenges, collectibles, perks and 7 difficulty levels which will have players returning for a few hours after completing all three volumes of Joseph Stallion’s story.
- Title: Wolfenstein II: The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe
- Developer: Machine Games
- Publisher: Bethesda
- System: PS4
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1
- Hard Drive Space Required: 62.08GB (Version 1.05)
- Storyline - 90%90%
- Gameplay - 93%93%
- Graphics & Sound - 90%90%
- Controls - 89%89%
- Difficulty - 90%90%
- Replayability - 90%90%
Overall, Wolfenstein II: The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe delivers an amazing expansion to Wolfenstein’s story arch from a different character’s perspective. With such exceptional quality on display from Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus’ first major expansion; it will be exciting to see if the second and third major expansions contained within the season pass can simultaneously sustain the same level of action and intrigue as Wolfenstein II and The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe. If you are yet to experience any of Machine Games’ Wolfenstein games, then start from the beginning with Wolfenstein: The New Order and progress onwards from there as every game and expansion is of a superb quality.