Wolfenstein II Part 7: Dream Sequence

By Shamus Posted Thursday Mar 15, 2018

Filed under: Retrospectives 118 comments

As promised, BJ is dragged around the country and put on television like a trophy. The Nazis call him “Terror Billy”. He’s given a show trial and sentenced to death.

Worst. Daydream. Ever.

This is complete overkill on the Nazi iconography. You have to play the game to feel how one-note the environments are. It's numbing.
This is complete overkill on the Nazi iconography. You have to play the game to feel how one-note the environments are. It's numbing.

As he’s sentenced, one of the guards turns his back on BJ and you’re able to do a melee attack. No wait, you’re obliged to do a melee attack. The story will literally not proceed until you press this one button. When you do, BJ suddenly breaks his shackles, kills the guards, and steps out of his restraints.Thus begins what is probably the hardest fight in the game.

If you’re taking this escape at face value then it feels completely unearned. BJ snapping those shackles is completely implausible and there’s no reason for him to be suddenly able to walk. Nothing has changed in the story to make this moment possible. On the other hand if you correctly realize that this is a dream sequence, then you also know that the whole thing is just a giant waste of time.

Like I said, this is the toughest fight in the gameAlso the spot with the WORST framerate, if you’ve got low-end hardware.. If you die, you start over. So how does that work? Is BJ failing at his own ludicrous fantasy? It ends with him daydreaming a conversation with his mother, but she’s dead so this doesn’t matter. She doesn’t say anything to help or change him in any way.

It would be one thing if we had to put the controller down and watch a movie, but this is a 25 minute movie where almost nothing happens but you’re forced to fight your way through a pointless daydream so the story can go back to spinning its wheels.

And then once it’s over you just snap back to the courtroom anyway, where you are sentenced to death. It’s the old frustrating videogame trope: Failure is forbidden until it’s mandatory. This fight is the only interactivity in the entire 25 minute stretch, and it comes off as stupid and contrived until your realize it’s actually just pointless.

Nobody Knows How No Body Feels

I don't want to play anymore. It seems like Engel already won, regardless of what happens next. Everything beyond this point feels like another absurdist fantasy.
I don't want to play anymore. It seems like Engel already won, regardless of what happens next. Everything beyond this point feels like another absurdist fantasy.

At the end of the ordeal, Engel executes BJ in front of a public audience. She cuts off his head, holds it up for the cheering crowd, and tosses it into a furnace.

What she doesn’t see is that a drone grabs the head, flies off with it, and delivers it to the resistance. They hook it up to a machine to give it oxygenated blood, and then stick it in a jar while they prepare the transplant.

See, scientist Set Roth (my favorite character) had the headless body of a Nazi super-soldier laying around, and he’s going to put BJ’s head on it.

To be fair, the story laid the groundwork for all of this, making sure all the elements were introduced ahead of time. This was both foreshadowed and established as a thing that can happen. If you visited the lab earlier in the game you could see the headless body. And earlier in the story they introduced a pet of Set’s, which he created by putting the head of a cat onto a monkey.

Having said that, this still doesn’t work for me.

Maybe the previous twenty minutes simply tested my patience and I stopped believing in the world. Maybe this idea is just too far out, even for this universe. Maybe this needed to “cost him something” so it didn’t feel cheap. Maybe I’m just an unreasonable crank that hates fun. I dunno. It didn’t work for me.

Maybe it seems unfair to argue with the writer about what can and can’t happen in their universe. But I think the problem with this scene isn’t necessarily this scene, but everything that came before it. So much of this story has been heavy-handed, clumsy, poorly justified, and overly verbose. If you want the audience to buy into an incredible premise, then you need buy-in. You need them to care about the characters so they’ll want to go along with it and they need to trust the storyteller so they can go along with it. But by this point in the game movie I’d lost all interest in these increasingly cartoonish and ill-defined characters, and that whole dream sequence obliterated my trust in the author.

The writer just did some sort of fake-out dream sequence where they made us play through an absurdist fantasy, and now they’re presenting an even more absurd turn of events and expecting us to go along with it. The dream sequence is basically a plot-twist. “Ha! It was fake! Don’t you feel like a fool for believing me?” says the writer. And then they follow that absurdist fantasy with a turn of events that’s even more implausible. The author is asking a lot of the audience, right at the moment where we’re likely to have the lowest trust and investment.

Are all of these Americans here because they're excited to finally see Terror Billy die, or are they here because they're afraid of the regime? We can't tell because the writer never bothers to characterize this country at the center of this conflict.
Are all of these Americans here because they're excited to finally see Terror Billy die, or are they here because they're afraid of the regime? We can't tell because the writer never bothers to characterize this country at the center of this conflict.

Even if you’re okay with the idea of putting heads onto new bodies, there’s still a lot that makes this scene hard to believe. This execution takes place in front of tens of thousands. Security for a politicized event of this scale would be phenomenal for any country, much less one ruled by the most brutal and authoritarian regime the world has ever known. And yet these five people managed to sneak into the very heart of Washington DC with all of this complex medical equipment? And I guess they knew ahead of time exactly how the execution would goSure, you could make an excuse that this is sort of public execution is a regular televised event. Even better is if the WRITER had used that excuse. It would have helped justified the prescience of the good guys while also serving as a bit of worldbuilding. and where they needed to be? If Engel had even hung onto the head for an extra three seconds then this plan would have failed. Then they snuck out of DC through this massive crowd and back to their submarine with no problems, despite the fact that every one of them is a wanted terrorist?

I’m not saying it’s impossible for this small team to get here, I’m saying its a daunting enough challenge that you shouldn’t just casually pretend it’s no big deal. The writer spent so much screen time lingering on the execution, having the player experience the beheading from a first-person perspective. Then they lingered on Engel’s moment of triumph and the black screen that follows. But they couldn’t spare a couple of lines of dialog to help sell this crazy turn of events?

BJ Never Asked for This

Apparently the Nazi super-soldier body doesn't have nipples. This makes me wonder what ELSE they left off.
Apparently the Nazi super-soldier body doesn't have nipples. This makes me wonder what ELSE they left off.

So BJ has a new body. This one is stronger, faster, and more durable than his last one. Mechanically, the game shows this by raising your max health from 50 to 100, and then lowering your max armor from 200 to 100 to reflect the loss of the power armorI wonder what the Nazis did with that thing, anyway. It was pretty sweet.. His enemies all think he’s dead, and he’s able to resume his mission stronger than ever.

The bright side is that this super-soldier body finally gives us an excuse for why BJ is so unstoppable. New Order never explained to us how our main character was able to kill so many Nazis with impunity. Isn’t he just a regular human being? What keeps him going? Gordon Freeman has the HEV suit. Crysis has the nanosuit. Master Chief is both cybernetically and biochemically enhanced. But BJ? BJ was supposedly just a regular guy with big muscles. But now his superhuman combat prowess is explained by the fact that he’s literally more than human.

I mean, you don’t need an explanation for those kinds of questions, but it’s nice when you get one.

Cybernetic Door-Opener

At this point BJ is a head in a jar, and the good guys are asking which door-opening superpower he wants.
At this point BJ is a head in a jar, and the good guys are asking which door-opening superpower he wants.

Before the surgery, you’re given a choice of a physical augmentation to add to the new body. You can get telescoping leg extenders to enable you to reach overhead catwalks and such. Or you can get a thing that lets you collapse your chest down and fit into really narrow vents. Or you can get something that lets you run through specially-marked walls.

Augmentations sound like a good idea, but all of these powers are different variations of “open a door”. None of them are really combat powersAlthough the running-through-walls one lets you plow into foes at high speed and do damage. It’s not as practical as killing them with melee, but it’s fun.. The game designer can’t let you use these powers to create shortcuts, since that would mean skipping gameplay and there’s barely enough of that to go around as it is. They can’t make any particular power a requirement for progress, since you’re only going to have one of the three.

Which means this ends up being a non-choice. Imagine if they gave you a choice of carrying around a red, green, or blue keycard. And then about once a level you come to a red, green, and blue door arranged next to each other, all leading to the same room. This is effectively what we end up with.

From this point in the game you’ll occasionally run into situations where you need one of these abilities to reach a cache of resources. Sometimes you’ll see a secret you can reach, and sometimes you’ll encounter secrets that require one of the other powers.

After the surgery the game drops you into a tutorial for whichever power you chose. That’s understandable from a game design point, but it exacerbates the ongoing problems with pacing. The main plot of “liberate America” slammed on the brakes about an hour ago when BJ began wandering around his childhood home. Since then we’ve been mostly watching cutscenes. The player isn’t engaging with the mechanics and the characters aren’t taking action to advance the plot. The player is very likely restless at this point and eager to get on with things, and so this is a lousy time to make them sit still for a two-minute obstacle course. It’s not the the tutorial itself is wrongAlthough at two minutes it’s at least twice as long as it needs to be.. It’s that the previous cutscenes are continuing to take their toll on our enjoyment of the game.

Once the whole “our hero dies and is miraculously resurrected” distraction is over, we can return to the main plot of liberating America.



[1] Also the spot with the WORST framerate, if you’ve got low-end hardware.

[2] Sure, you could make an excuse that this is sort of public execution is a regular televised event. Even better is if the WRITER had used that excuse. It would have helped justified the prescience of the good guys while also serving as a bit of worldbuilding.

[3] I wonder what the Nazis did with that thing, anyway. It was pretty sweet.

[4] Although the running-through-walls one lets you plow into foes at high speed and do damage. It’s not as practical as killing them with melee, but it’s fun.

[5] Although at two minutes it’s at least twice as long as it needs to be.

From The Archives:

118 thoughts on “Wolfenstein II Part 7: Dream Sequence

  1. trevalyan says:

    The first Dragon Age had your companions break into the most heavily fortified building in the country to free the PC. I didn’t mind because it was hilarious, you’ve levelled to the point you are technically a demigod, and Arl Eamon probably burned his last favors to grease the way out. Anyways, they earned my trust even when it should rightfully be stupid.

    Mass Effect 2 starts with Shepard’s resurrection. Put aside the absurd notion of his corpse staying intact on atmospheric re-entry… a super clandestine organization with insane financial resources takes months to regrow his body back to level 1. They had multiple dramatic objectives to accomplish in terms of romance and leaving the Alliance, had to get you into the hands of Cerberus for longer than it would take you to become Ludicrously Treacherous Science Experiment #57 before heading back to the Alliance, and needed an excuse for the combat revamp. I don’t like it, but fine.

    Wolfenstein? “Oh, we glued your head back on. Yeah, the Nazis didn’t turn your bleached skull into an ostentatious goblet for Hitler. We totally foreshadowed this, so gluing heads is totally legit. You ask why did you have to die midway through the game? *shrug* Anyways, no Steam refunds.”

    Best narrative 2017, baby.

    1. Even the Mass Effect 2 resurrection was too much for me. That was the end of my interest in the franchise.

      The one in Dragon Age: Origins bugged me because they don’t telegraph at all that if you lose the fight against Ser Cauthrien it’s NOT a game over like every other time you lose a fight. I only later, after much cussing and corner-cheesing to finally defeat her, learned that there was the cool “rescue the Warden from jail” section afterward.

      1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

        Dunno about you, but the first time I got to that fight in DA:O, I got flattened. Didn’t even know you could win it, I thought it was a “supposed to lose” fight.

        1. Daimbert says:

          Chuck over at SF Debris, in his playthrough, at least claimed to have used his laughably overpowered mage abilities and win the fight, despite it being one that he knew he was supposed to lose. And I believe him because going through the rescue would have provided too much humour for him to NOT do show it if he’d actually lost.

          The first time I played it, I didn’t realize that they were asking me to choose which companions would rescue me, and so picked the only two that I knew I could trust to help me: Leliana and the dog.

          1. Viktor says:

            I mean, if you’re looking for rescue, a spy and a warhound aren’t a bad choice.

          2. Ninety-Three says:

            I’m in the same camp as Chuck, this is the first I’m hearing of it as a supposed-to-lose fight. Mage abilities were insane, especially with the paralyze durations in 1.0 that made it so easy to stunlock bosses.

          3. KarmaTheAlligator says:

            Well I was playing a Rogue (is that the class name? I forget), and wasn’t using Morrigan or the other one at the time so yeah, no OP mage abilities for me.

        2. Aevylmar says:

          Wait, you could lose the fight, go to jail, get a cool breakout, and not kill the sorta likable knight lady? I played that game twice and I never knew that!

          DA1 magic is incredibly overpowered.

          1. ElementalAlchemist says:

            And if you surrender or lose that fight you run into her again when you are trying to go to the Landsmeet and she is guarding the entrance. You can fight her or convince her to leave peacefully.

            1. Aevylmar says:

              Darn it! And I’ll have to play through the Warden Initiation and the Deep Roads again if I want to find out what happens next. I wish I hadn’t missed that.

      2. GoStu says:

        Particularly annoying with the Mass Effect 2 “resurrection by Cerberus” thing? It’s never really brought up again, aside from some philosophical musing near the end of 3.

        Cerberus overcomes DEATH ITSELF, humanity’s oldest enemy, and nobody really thinks it’s remarkable. Apparently they can do it on a whim, as well – TIM’s speech to Miranda seems very much based on the idea that Shepard is alive; Shepard dying and needing to be brought back would be very much plan B. (The B stands for Bonkers)

        Know what would have been cool? If that facility hadn’t blown up in the Tutorial. Resurrection was something they’d been working on anyway, and they just threw Shepard (and some extra funding) into it when Shepard turned out to be a little more dead than initially planned. It ends up working, Shepard is the first proof-of-concept of the Lazarus Project… and then they keep using it to bring back dedicated Operatives.

        High-concept sci-fi might have room for “fancy resurrection tech” but it’s hair-pullingly maddening that once it’s established that they have this ability, that it’s never used or even really discussed again.

        Bringing it back to the topic & game at hand: it’s one thing to introduce a wacky idea in your game like resurrection, but it’s really egregious to introduce it, present it as this trivially easy (possible for a little band of guerrillas), and then never think about it again.

    2. Nessus says:

      The resurrection in Mass Effect 2 was bullshit from every conceivable angle. It didn’t break the game for me, but it did establish at the very beginning that the main story was going to be a loss and thus should be ignored if I wanted to enjoy the game.

      It didn’t make sense in-universe because spending what’s implied to be the equivalent of an entire country’s GDP on resurrection one man/woman from the dead could not possibly be justifiable for anyone short of actual literal Jesus. No matter how much of “a bloody icon” Shepard was, it would always be flat out a better ROI to just find a new hero, by so many orders of magnitude.

      It didn’t make sense dramatically, because both the death and resurrection happen back-to-back at the very beginning of the game, so they just cancel out, and there’s no emotional weight or meaning to either. If Shepard had died at the end of ME1, then that and the resurrection at the beginning of ME2 might have some gravitas, but killing him/her at the start of ME2 and immediately resurrecting them in literally the next scene makes it functionally the same as if he/she never died, so the whole thing is pointless faff.

      It makes no sense plot-wise because it serves literally no purpose other than to have Shepard disappear and reappear in Cerberus’s service. There’s lots of ways that couldn’t been done, and pretty much ALL of them would’ve been a bigger dramatic goldmine, AND would’ve made more sense in-universe.

      It’s not a pile of bullshit so much as a statue of a clown hand-sculpted out of bullshit.

      This death-and-resurrection (in Wolfenstein: TNC) at least has the marginal advantage in that they spend half(?) a game building up to it, and foreshadowing the pieces. Doesn’t really make it not bullshit, for the reasons outlined in the article, but at least it’s not as COMPLETELY bullshit as the one in ME2.

      1. Daimbert says:

        It didn’t make sense in-universe because spending what’s implied to be the equivalent of an entire country’s GDP on resurrection one man/woman from the dead could not possibly be justifiable for anyone short of actual literal Jesus. No matter how much of “a bloody icon” Shepard was, it would always be flat out a better ROI to just find a new hero, by so many orders of magnitude.

        Ironically, this is where the original framing in ME works better. You aren’t going to go through that much effort to resurrect a hero, especially since you can’t be sure they’ll be willing to work with you if given the choice (which is why Miranda didn’t want to give you the choice, but TIM overruled her). However, if that person is the only person who can interact with the Prothean beacons, and those beacons are pretty much the only information you have on the Reapers who are coming to wipe everything out, then that makes Shepard unique and so justifies making sure you have access to them. It even justifies them NOT inserting a control chip with the reasoning of “We have no idea why Shepard can actually interact with them, so let’s not add anything that might interfere with that ability”.

        It would also provide a way out for some of the other things that Shamus complained about in his epic ME analysis. If Cerberus has found another beacon but hasn’t been able to access it, then the help they’d be offering in the beginning is to point out the beacon to Shepard. Once revived, TIM can dangle the beacon instead of just the Collector attacks as a reason to work with Cerberus: if Shepard doesn’t work with them, TIM won’t tell Shepard where it is, and so neither of them get what they want unless they work together. Then the first mission can be to go to that beacon, and you can add some enemies as necessary. The beacon suggests that the Mass Relay that the Collectors hide behind is important somehow, but doesn’t give the details. TIM then can point out that they were already looking at putting a mission together to go through that Relay as a reaction to the Collector attacks on human colonies. At that point, you’ve given Shepard a reason to work with Cerberus, brought the Collector attacks into the story, justified the recruitment missions — Cerberus’ investigation leads them to believe that you will need those people to do the things you need to do to go through the Relay — and directly tied everything into the main plot so you don’t get the player wondering why we’re chasing Collectors when we should be looking for the Reapers.

        But, of course, in ME2 that idea was ignored, and that resulted in the mess we had.

      2. John says:

        I was under the impression that the resurrection in ME2 existed in order to give the player an excuse to re-spec his imported character from ME1.

        1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

          Which is a really stupid reason: “we’ve rebuilt Shepard exactly as they were before!” would imply that you get the same build as before. But yes, I think that was the official reason given.

          1. Daimbert says:

            Like the changes to the guns — from heat sink to something like ammo — this was a gameplay element that they really should have simply ignored in-story instead of trying to find a way to justify it. Almost all players would have happily ignored it, and the in-story logic attempting to justify it just raised more and more problems for the story.

            1. GoStu says:

              It would have been really, really easy to justify re-speccing though. Cover the passage of “some time” between the games with Shepard having gone on a mission and then getting badly hurt & coming out of physio/rehab or something.

              Doctor: “Okay Commander, we’re going to go through a nice & easy training course. You ready?”
              Shepard: [Dialogue choice]
              Shepard: [does movement tutorial]
              Doctor: “Good stuff, looks like you’re back to fighting form!”
              Shepard: [Dialogues some more]
              Doctor: “Ready for some shooting?”
              Shepard: [blah blah blah]
              Shepard: [basic combat tutorial]
              Doctor: “That should be enough today, Commander”
              Shepard: [Grumble, paragon/renegade, push self to limit]
              PLAYER: CHOOSE CLASS (adept/engineer/soldier/vanguard/infiltrator/sentinel)
              Shepard: “Let’s work on some [class abilities]”
              Doctor: “I don’t think we should strain you…”
              PLAYER: DIALOGUE INTERRUPT (this is your tutorial moment to learn about this new thing)
              Paragon Shepard: “Look, the [antagonist] isn’t going to wait for when I feel ready. I’m fine.”
              Renegade Shepard, sarcastic: “I’ll just tell the [antagonists] to go easy on me, then. I won’t need my [class abilities]”
              Shepard: [tutorial on class combat abilities]

              and of course before this on subsequent playthroughs, an option to blow the doctor off & skip this tutorial section because “I’m feeling fine, I need to get back to my duties. I should go.”

              1. Syal says:

                and of course before this on subsequent playthroughs, an option to blow the doctor off & skip this tutorial section because “I’m feeling fine, I need to get back to my duties. I should go.”

                Ha, that would make a pretty good difficulty selection, taking less and less of the doctor’s advice.

            2. BlueHorus says:

              Or they should have just kept the heat-management system from the first game. THAT felt like you were using advanced sci-fi weapons in your sci-fi game.
              The reload system introduced in Mass Effect 2 and 3 felt like every other shooter game out there.

              1. CloverMan says:

                Grom gameplay standpoint it created very long waiting periods in gameplay in witch you could do very little.

                I’d love if instead they added heat sinks ON TOP of existing system. This way we could still have cool sci-fi infinite ammo guns and some additional resource management to boot. It would also make easier to craft some proper challenges instead of what we got in ME2 where enemies HAD to drop more ammo the more you used it – using a heat sink would be a huge burst of DPS that could be strategically applied.

                1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

                  Meh, when one gun was overheating you still had your powers (which didn’t share a cooldown), you had your other guns, you had grenades.

                  But, I like the idea of adding the thermal clips to the old system for more strategic purposes.

                2. GoStu says:

                  Apparently they tried this in development and playtesters found it quite confusing, and it was obnoxious from a design perspective.

                  From the design side, the Heatsink basically becomes a consumable DPS bonus – burn one to ignore the limitation on how many shots/minute you can have. It’s similar to turning your regular gun into a heavy weapon. So how many Heatsinks does the player get to have? Remember that your fight can’t be impossible if you don’t have one left, you can’t (or at least shouldn’t) punish the player for not hoarding these things.

                  Then you deal with the fact that while you’ve effectively handed out power weapons, they aren’t actually that much fun to use from a player perspective. They make the same noises and handle the same way as standard weapons. There’s no satisfying explosions or cool secondary effects. In the words of Marvin the Martian: “Where’s the kaboom? There was supposed to be an earth-shattering kaboom!”

                  One of the Soldier powers sort of works this way by providing a big damage boost while it’s active – similar in a way to burning a consumable to up DPS. It’s… not a ton of fun to play with. It’s all right. Sorta.

          2. shoeboxjeddy says:

            It’s a reason that allows for the player to make sense of the lore in their own head. If you want to switch classes, it’s a “we made him even BETTER than before!” type deal. If he’s the same, then it’s “we reproduced him exactly as he was”. And if you think some of Shepard’s responses don’t fit the previous game… well he was rebuilt from scratch… maybe they missed something.

            1. Nessus says:

              Again though, there’s all kinds of other ways to accomplish the same thing, pretty much all of which would have both made more sense and have more exploitable dramatic potential, so this doesn’t really count as a reason IMO.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                To me,the thing that wouldve made the most sense was to end the first game on that cliffhanger when shepard is buried by rubble.Instead of having her emerge triumphantly,have the game end there and then have the second game start with them getting her out.But that would require planning the whole thing as a trilogy,instead of just announcing the whole thing as a trilogy and doing it one by one as they did.

                1. CloverMan says:

                  Just like they explained how player lost all they acquired powers in Gothic 2 ;)

                2. shoeboxjeddy says:

                  Ending a 20-30 hour game in “then rocks fall and the hero dies (?)” would have been terrible and would have led to an uproar from anyone who played it. Games are not TV shows, we don’t get the next installment in a week. You need to end each installment in a way that’s dramatically satisfying. What if you don’t GET the next installment? Then you get a bunch of shitty game ending cliffhangers that are never resolved, which I can list some if you’re interested. Start with Beyond Good & Evil (even the sequel which is supposedly FINALLY coming is… a prequel), proceed to Half-Life 2 Episode 2, and conclude with Darksiders (we may actually get some sweet relief on this one, if 3 sells).

                  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                    If its announced as a trilogy,you are screwed whether you pick to not plan it as a trilogy or if you suddenly stop midway.

      3. Darren says:

        The thing about ME2 that always bugged me is that they could’ve made it so much better by having Shepherd get to an escape pod that then is damaged. Instead of the absurdity of scraping ash off the surface of the planet, Cerberus would’ve resurrected a frozen corpse, which seems like a much more reasonable sell. “We were able to resurrect you because an extremely fortunate turn of events preserved your body. Heck, we weren’t even looking for you, we were there to salvage your top-secret spaceship wreckage before the government came to collect it!”

        This changes absolutely nothing besides a cutscene and some dialogue, so it’s not like it would’ve been a hard fix.

        1. Tom says:

          Heck, they didn’t even need the pod, they just needed Shepard’s flash-frozen body to remain in a stable orbit around the planet with the rest of the ship’s debris. (A la Frank Poole in Clarke’s “3001”) Unless the ship had already been on a landing trajectory to begin with, none of the debris should have undergone atmospheric entry. But then, we’re talking about a game whose second and third entries cheerfully let you zoom about in straight lines through space and planetary bodies alike (even SUNS!), so I doubt they really brushed up on their orbital mechanics when they were writing that crap.

          1. Nessus says:

            Doesn’t really require “orbital mechanics” though. Just awareness that “orbit” is a thing at all.

            I’d bet money that the writers actually did mean for it to be that Shepard’s body was frozen and retrieved from orbit, and it’s only whoever was assigned to make that first cutscene who screwed it up by independently adding the visual of Shepard turning into a shooting star in the atmosphere. Everything else in the cutscenes and dialog thereafter seems much more consistent with the body being frozen and in orbit. Particularly since reentry wouldn’t have left anything to resurrect at all. I have no problem simply taking it as a cutscene animator’s screw up that can be ignored or retconned.

            But as I say below, this is the very least of the whole idea’s problems, and assuming the body was in better condition doesn’t really reduce the total bullshit by any meaningful amount.

        2. Nessus says:

          What kind/degree of death Shepard was resurrected from is the very least of the issues, and changing that wouldn’t really fix anything.

          Ressurecting him/her from a frozen instead of obliterated-by-reentry corpse would do nothing to fix the problems of entire even not having any dramatic or story meaning, nor would it fix the “cheaper by far to just find a new hero” issue. How Shepard died and the condition of his/her body is a fleabite among open wounds.

    3. Tom says:

      Ugh, that mission should’ve been a crowning moment of awesome, but for an unforseen scripting bug that ruined it for me. I opted to bust out of the prison alone, rather than have my companions rescue me, and actually succeeded in doing so. However, during the course of my escape, I pick-pocketed a couple of necessary items – being an upstanding citizen, I’d never pick-pocketed before in-game, so I did not know that pickpocketing guards apparently triggers a gigantic posse to show up and attack your party next time you’re travelling through town. And that particular mission then has you travel home alone, so after my exciting escape (saving the game right before exiting the prison) I invariably got murdered to death by a billion guards in the streets with nobody to back me up, with nary a clue as to why.

      1. Asdasd says:

        You say bug, I say you accidentally discovered the Deus Ex of isometric RPGs. Emergent gameplay FTW!

        1. Tom says:

          Heh, well played, but emergent gameplay is consistent with the rules of the world, and unfortunately the hardscripting here conflicts with the uncoded but implicit rule that the guards should care less about you pickpocketing someone during your escape from maximum security prison than the fact that YOU ESCAPED FROM MAXIMUM SECURITY PRISON! :-P

    4. Coming Second says:

      Yeah, I too am in the ‘ME2’s bullshit was worse than this’ camp. Collosus does do some foreshadowing, has a reason for doing it, and somewhat builds the whole ridiculous concept into the game.

      It’s bad for all the reasons Shamus listed, but doesn’t ruin the entire series, which I firmly believe is what Shepard’s death/resurrection did for ME. It was a brutally stupid way for the writers to crowbar their pet faction into the game, and the moment Cerberus took centre stage was the moment ME (and Bioware as a whole you might argue) started going south.

  2. Hector says:

    There’s something (else) which seems quite off about this storywise, but I struggled to explain it. I think it’s that this is a very good place to begin a story, but it’s a horrible one for halfway through a story. The idea of a character who is a head grafted to a super-scienced body is a good one. It’s just complete nonsense in the context of Wolfenstein. I know it came up before, but BJ’s always been able to take a thousand rounds to the head as long as he eats turkey legs and medkits along the way. He’s also an established character in a story that already doesn’t really have room for this.

    I think Campster on Errant Signal tried to make this into a meaningful statement about the character, but I didn’t quite follow his logic. It was still a good Errant Signal though.

    1. Redrock says:

      I don’t really think they’re implying that the new super-nazi body is much better than BJ’s old one before his injury. It has the same stats, after all. That was probably part of Campster’s point too – that BJ is and was physically pretty close to the Nazi’s Aryan ideal.

      And, again, it’s not like in terms of gameplay BJ is really a supersoldier. He can’t take too much damage, you’re forced to literary “hit and run” all the time and keep munching on medkits. Most Call of Duty protagonists these days are more “super” than BJ – they heal right up by sucking their thumb for a few seconds.

      Also, personally, the head and body switch isn’t that far-fetched. It gets foreshadowed and, well, we have that doctor from MGS V attempting it in the real world these days. So this part I think is fine. Everything around it, though, that’s another story.

      1. Matt Downie says:

        I ate a medkit once in real life. They’re not as tasty as they look.

        1. Redrock says:

          No? Did you try deep-frying it? That usually does the trick. And, if all else fails, everything goes down well with some ketchup.

        2. djw says:

          How do they compare to tide pods?

      2. Hector says:

        I wasn’t really analyzing it in-game; just from the narrative perspective. It’s a really huge plot point that really needs an entire story built around it.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I disagree.As I said below,quake 4 already did this and did it amazingly well.And that one also happened half way into the game.Its a great thing to do at the half way point to shake things up.But you need to be very careful in HOW you are doing it.Q4 did it well,this game (and me2) did not.

      1. Mousazz says:

        Quake 4 didn’t have 25 minutes of cutscenes, though. From what I remember, you’re just on a regular mission with your dudebros to take out a Strogg communications nexus, when suddenly, out of nowhere, Makron boss fight! You get destroyed pretty quickly.

        Fade to black, fade back, you’re already strapped to the bed, your guts getting cut apart and your legs getting sawed off. Quick, simple, absurdly out of left field, and unexpectedly shocking.

        1. Hector says:

          Also, Quake4 doesn’t really have a character. You’re a mute cipher who does fighty-shooty stuff. There’s no arc or hero’s journey. Wolfenstein does, or at least, has ambitions to it.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            That has zero impact on the death scenes.

            You being captured at the midpoint,being rescued in whatever fashion and getting an improvement due to it worked in plenty of heavily narrative games.Here,the problem is specifically in HOW that was executed(no pun intended).

            Though,like Shamus said,if the rest of the game was better,maybe this scene would work better too.

  3. Redrock says:

    I spent an ungodly amount of time on beating that dream sequence. The thing is also wonky when it comes to enemy spawning. Once I got out of the courtroom and onto the staircase, I somehow managed to get “lost”. As in I killed the nazis in front of me, ran around a bit collecting health and ammo and suddenly found myself seemingly utterly alone. I ran up and down the stairs a few times, banged my head against a few locked doors until I finally bumped into a couple of stragglers. Killing those guys triggered another wave of assholes to kill. It was all really weird and badly paced.

    As for the upgrades, aren’t the legs supposed to have some combat use, like allowing you to shoot over cover and get easier headshots from above? I never really used them, too fiddly, but I got the impression that was the intended use.

    1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

      Wouldn’t using the legs like that also nullify any potential cover for you and make you even more vulnerable than before?

      1. Redrock says:

        Dunno. I think it’s intended to be used in short bursts. Like you are charging a bunch of dudes and suddenly yoy get much higher for easier aiming, before getting back into cover. Something like that.

        1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

          Like an improved Bunny Hopping, then?

          1. Sartharina says:

            Sounds more like using Head-High walls as Chest-High walls.

          2. Doctor Ivellius says:

            Like a Super Bunny Hop, we might say?

      2. Ranneko says:

        Yep, they partially counter this by kills also giving you a small amount of health. Plus it lets you do the power slam attack anywhere.

        It still is better to actually use cover unless you have a nice big heavy weapon on you.

  4. Al says:

    The excessive Nazi imagery is an important part of how fascism works. It’s ever-present and oppressive by design. It is numbing because it’s supposed to beat you down into accepting it as normal. When you say it is numbing, it is having the desired impact. So yes, it is overkill, because any fascist power needs it to be overkill so that people who lived prior to the rise of fascism can be beaten into submission, and people born into it will accept it since it is an ever-present part of their lives. Leveraging that as a criticism of the game or its style is a wonky angle at best.

    1. Leocruta says:

      The game’s not a fascism simulator though. It’s supposed to be a cathartic “kill nazis in fun ways in cool environments” game. Applying logical thinking to the Wolfenstein setting strikes me as a wonky angle at best.

      1. Groggy says:

        Not logical sense, but narrative sense, consistency, and basic story-telling flow.

        Yes it’s a carthartic game about killing Nazis in fancy locations, but so was CoD:MW3 (Just replace Nazis with Russians) and we still mock that game for Russia managing to invade all of Europe at the exact same time.

        1. Leocruta says:

          Of course. When something makes sense in-universe, I prefer the term “internally consistent”. Above, I’m saying that if the environments are oppressive, we cannot defend them by pointing out that it’s logical for a fascist regime to have oppressive environments. It’s an environment designed for a cathartic “kill nazis” game, and shouldn’t be numbing.

          Wolfenstein, being an inherently sillier setting than CoD, allows for more absurd things while still being internally consistent, and this scene would not be hurt with a more interesting environment.

      2. Leocruta says:

        What! And this is a game that’s supposed to continue the Wolfenstein legacy? A flat plane with no vertical camera movement is the only acceptable design scheme.

      3. Daemian Lucifer says:

        You are all forgetting one of the most important things:Wolfenstein 3d.It was decked wall to wall with nazi imagery.These games are all follow ups to that game,so of course they should go overboard with nazi imagery.

        1. ITom says:

          I think the original Wolfenstein 3D may even have played the actual, real-life anthem of Nazi Germany as the title music!

    2. ThaneofFife says:

      I completely agree. This is especially true in a courtroom setting, where the iconography expresses the overwhelmingly oppressive power of the fascist state. It’s also fairly consistent with what Nazi Germany actually did, historically. Practically every single frame of Triumph of the Will is covered in swastikas.

      1. Tuck says:

        Triumph of the Will was propaganda, not a true depiction of reality. That’s an important point to bear in mind — this is supposed to be the real world (for BJ), not a state-crafted depiction of it.

        1. Preciousgollum says:

          Court Rooms ARE state-craft depictions of ‘the real world’ acording to the state, where people are arranged in pre-defined roles. I mean, people put on long black robes and wigs and stuff, they make statues of blind folded women holding scales and swords… and they don’t think it has anything to do with Eyes Wide Shut or Fifty Shades… weird stuff. Court room symbols never even asked if the woman wanted to wear that blindfold or not.

  5. Nimrandir says:

    I can’t help but envision someone running into the writers’ room clutching a copy of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and insisting that they just got an idea for the best plot twist.

    1. ThaneofFife says:

      I had said previously that it felt like they were setting up Wolfenstein II to be the Brazil of video games. In the end though, they went with the U.S. theatrical cut.

      Note for the confused: In the ending sequence of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, the protagonist escapes from a government torture chamber in a strange, dreamlike action sequence (which is fairly consistent with the dreamlike tone of the entire film). It’s then revealed that the protagonist is actually still in the torture chamber and has merely gone insane and dreamed the escape. The U.S. theatrical cut of the movie simply omitted that reveal, which resulted in a happy ending.

      1. PPX14 says:

        In Brazil like you say given the dreamlike tone of the whole film, I feel it really seemed like he started dreaming at other points too – when the woman suddenly starts behaving nicely to him, and then definitely when he leaves her in his mother’s house and then comes back to find her looking like she does in his dreams!
        I think that’s partly why for me it is more ‘weird but interesting’ than ‘good and thought provoking’.

      2. PPX14 says:

        Not another US Theatrical happy ending! How many of those are there?!

  6. Syal says:

    And earlier in the story they introduced a pet of Set’s, which he created by putting the head of a cat onto a monkey.

    Did it walk like a monkey or a cat?

    I’m going to take a guess and say the problem was they didn’t put any stupid quirks into the new body. It should randomly start goose-stepping, or throw a Nazi salute every once in a while when you’re trying to aim, just to remind you the thing’s just on loan.

    1. Tom says:

      “Mein Fuehrer! I can walk!”

    2. BlueHorus says:

      That would be amazing. I second this, wholeheartedly.

      Could lead to some gameplay creativity, like a special assasination mission: everytime you try to just shoot the officer in question, your body instead does a salute and bellows “SIEG HEIL!” instead. So you have to contrive an assassination using timed explosive or falling debris etc.

      In a different Wolfenstein game that wasn’t taking itself seriously, this could be great.

    3. Cubic says:

      That would have been a very funny animation while waiting for player input. Buuut it would also have mildly subverted the rest of the game and probably lead to several angry articles.

  7. Shas'ui says:

    I wonder how many hundreds of Deutschmarks were spent on that massive gold wall mural/carving before they realized that the head of the eagle was facing the opposite direction from the same iconography directly below it & on the soldiers. Not sure if this occurs elsewhere in the game, as I haven’t played it, but it’s no wonder they are turning to brute-force decorating if they can’t even get their own insignia right as soon as it becomes more complicated then a swastika. Also: why would you put your flag underneath the execution platform? Do you want to have a 20′ by 30′ rug that you have to wash after every execution? It’s going to be a horrible mess, smell terrible, and not even be visible from where the audience is. Although, given the angles shown, I’m not sure the audience can actually see the execution either…

    1. Viktor says:

      Look up the number of times they’ve swapped the head of the eagle on the US Presidential Seal. That thing is so important you’re not allowed to sell it on merchandise, yet they basically randomly decide whether it’s facing left or right each time they redecorate.

      1. Syal says:

        The artist has a model eagle, and draws whatever it’s doing; we’re lucky the coin hasn’t had it sticking its beak in its armpit yet.

      2. Sartharina says:

        The eagle’s head swaps between facing the Olive Branch in one claw during times of peace, and toward the Arrows in the other during times of war. Of course, now the Military-Industrial complex has us stuck where we can’t tell if we’re at war or peace.

        1. Locke says:

          This is a common misconception. Snopes has an article on it. The tl;dr is that the last time the presidential seal was redesigned did happen to be right after WW2, when Truman did specifically have it redesigned to face the olive branch of peace instead of the arrows of war. The eagle had been facing the arrows since before WW1, though, including all through the peace time between the world wars.

  8. Dreadjaws says:

    It’s the old frustrating videogame trope: Failure is forbidden until it’s mandatory

    Oh, my God, how I hate, hate, HATE that with a passion. I don’t think anyone has ever liked such a thing in the entire history of videogames. At most, people might have tolerated it, so I don’t know why it keeps popping up on games. Yeah, I know it’s a way for a developer to pad a game’s playtime, but there are hundreds other ways to do such a thing, why resort to one of the most hated ones?

    1. BlueHorus says:

      This dream sequence really reminds me of the nadir of my Metal Gear Solid experience, for this reason. (Spoilers: MGS2)

      So there’s a boss character, who’s a vampire. Why a vampire? Because Metal Gear Solid, that’s why. Anyway, you kill him in a boss fight.
      Now, fast forward to later in the game and you’re tasked with an escort mission: lead an insultingly helpless female character around (literally by the hand, without you to guide her she just sits there), taking out guards. If she dies, game over.

      Then there’s a section where she walks over something (is it a bridge?) while you’re covering her with a sniper rifle, clearing guards from her path. Again, if she dies, game over.
      But then that vampire that you killed earlier jumps out of the water with a knife: cue a Robocop-style boss fight where you have to shoot him as he’s using her as a human shield, before he stabs her to death. Take too long or hit her by accident and she dies, game over.

      And then the best bit: After all that SHE DIES ANYWAY – because Vamp stabbed her! There’s a massive cutscene about it full of sad music.

      It’s like the game went out of its way just to make the stuff (that it made the player do!) feel pointless.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        Reminds me of Hellboy 2 as well. It was a fun movie and all, but they spent the entirety of the film protecting the princess from harm even though they knew her death would mean the threat would stop, and at the end she kills herself to stop the threat. I mean, come on, I spent all the movie trying to figure out how they were going to find another way to deal with the problem so the entire plot wouldn’t feel like a waste of time.

    2. shoeboxjeddy says:

      This is an old favorite of JRPGs. You HAVE to beat the boss in order to lose to him in a cutscene. If you ACTUALLY lose to the boss, that’s game over.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        It’s not usually as pointless as the sequence in TNC, though, is it?
        Usually it’s explained away with a sort-of-asspulled bit of handwaving: the boss was toying with you/not taking you seriously.
        They say something like ‘Wow, you’re tougher than I expected, I’ll have to pull out my best attack for you’ or ‘Well, this has been fun but I’ve got somewhere to be’ and then they beat you – which, while still lazy storytelling…
        (‘Shit, how do I get my antagonist out of THIS pickle? Wait, I know…’)
        …it does move the story along. You rarely end up in exactly the same place as you were before.

        1. shoeboxjeddy says:

          In Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core, you have to win a tough battle against Sephiroth… in order to lose that battle so that Cloud can ACTUALLY win it in a cutscene.

          In Final Fantasy VII proper, you have to fight Barret’s old friend Dyne in a one on one battle, because machismo. If you lose, it’s game over, even though the rest of the party is standing literally 2 feet away watching this fight take place. I guess they all keel over dead from the disappointment.

          At several points in Kingdom Hearts 2, the game gives you the vague direction to just kill every enemy you see. Once you’ve killed “enough”, you get the cutscene, generally of the gang being pressed to their limits and in danger of losing their lives. Hilariously, there’s a certain point in the game where you, in canon, kill like 1000 Heartless in a single battle. How the HELL were they being pressed before if they could manage that?!

          1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

            To be fair to KH2, most of those fights end early if you do badly enough, so you can’t actually lose them. Also at the start, Sora and Co. just came out of a one year coma, so there’s a reason why even if they kill a lot of enemies they get winded after a couple minutes.

    3. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I’m going to hazard a guess that they were desperate for something to break the half an hour long combo of non-interactive movies. It would be interesting to know if they intended it from the start or if they figured the pacing problem later and shoved in the pointless fantasy sequence to leverage an environment they had already designed.

  9. Liessa says:

    Jesus. Having BJ lose the use of his limbs was one thing, but for him to have his HEAD CUT OFF and still survive? Shouldn’t he be brain-dead from oxygen starvation within a minute or two (at most) and permanently brain-damaged within a much shorter time? I’m sorry, but whatever explanation the game tries to come up with here (“they got him into the machine really quickly!”), this is where the narrative irrevocably breaks down for me.

    1. Len says:

      Reattaching heads is fine. Maybe heads work differently over there. Steal a flying head out of the biggest, heavily guarded televised event, that’s another story.

      1. Liessa says:

        I don’t have a problem with the reattachment itself, but with the fact that his brain survives – apparently unharmed – for however long it takes to get reattached. If this were a controlled process, where they found some technobabble way to keep his head stored and oxygenated in in the meantime, I might be more willing to buy it.

        1. Adeon says:

          Basically they grabbed it and stuck it in a magical healing goo for transport (think like bacta from Star Wars) which sustained it long enough to take a trip back to the sub and get ready for the transplant.

    2. ThaneofFife says:

      In the cutscene, they’re actually timing how long they have. I think they picked either 7 or 11 seconds (which historically is based on how long a doctor who was executed during the French Revolution was able to keep blinking; his assistant timed it–the game doesn’t mention any of that, though). But they don’t start counting until after a few seconds have already passed, which makes it even sillier.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        – Ok,we have to hurry,we only have 11 seconds after the chop…..And here we go!One….ummm….hey,whats the name of that river?
        – What river?
        – The one big river used for counting!
        – Denial?
        – No!Not the nile damn it!The american one!
        – Amazon?
        – Not that america!
        – Oh,you mean mississippi?
        – Yes!Thank you.So,one mississippi,two mississippi,thr..
        – Are you sure?
        – About what?
        – That we have only 11 seconds.I thought it was 13.
        – No,its definitely 11.We cant go a second over 11 or his brain will be dead and useless!
        – If you say so.You are the smart one.
        – Now where was I….Damn,you made me lose count….Ah,screw it,Ill start over.So,one mississippi,two mississippi,three mississippi,fou..
        – WE GOT IT!
        – Yes!Woo-hoo!
        – And with 9 seconds left to spare!
        – What?Its not 9,its 7 seconds left!
        – Are you sure?I thought it was 13 seconds before brain death

        1. BlueHorus says:

          In a different game that wasn’t taking itself seriously, this exchange would have been great.

          Has there ever been a Wolfenstein game that was written as a comedy? Because over-the-top nazi-killing action and absurdist comedy would go really well together. Keep the tone light and irreverent, add in features like Syal’s idea of the body randomly goose-stepping or giving nazi salutes at inappropriate moments and it could be awesome.
          And BJ’s ‘body transplant’ plot would stick out less as well.

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    While reading all of this,I had a feeling that this sounds so familiar.Then you mentioned the health thing,and I remembered why.There was this obscure little game that already did the “Get killed to become stronger than before”.That game is quake 4 .It did it faster,it did it better,and it did it in a more horrific way.Its one thing to fail,but its something else to fail at emulating something that was done well 10+ years ago.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      Also, God of War.

      1. Cubic says:

        Heh, now that you remind me, that was a pretty great take on dying.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    And earlier in the story they introduced a pet of Set’s, which he created by putting the head of a cat onto a monkey.

    But because it had only one ass,it was considered a failure.

  12. Mark says:

    Okay Shamus, you had your fun trolling us. Now seriously, what happens next in the game?

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Yeah, I mean what kind of idiots would let the player LOSE in what is clearly meant to be a fantasy/dream sequence?

      That’s like in Resident Evil 4, where they put in in-cutscene Quick-Time events so that you couldn’t relax and just laugh at the dumb story.
      Don’t go having too much fun now, player!

      1. Cubic says:

        Look, BJ suffers from poor self confidence.

  13. ccesarano says:

    I had to go back and reread for a minute because I thought you were still discussing the dream sequence re: BJ’s new body. I feel like the game would have been better served if they removed the dream sequence and had the player control your other characters in a stealth section, where you can overhear the crowd (HEY POTENTIAL TO DEVELOP THE CITIZENRY) as well as Engel’s speech, being almost in time only to witness BJ get executed. And then maybe Set has a last minute plan and you control the drone.

    I dunno if that would have worked at all, but I mean…

    Y’know what? I was waiting for this game to release on Switch. That’s why I didn’t buy it new on PS4. I was looking forward to playing it later this year. Now, I think I’ll just skip it and replay DOOM or something instead.

  14. shoeboxjeddy says:

    At first, even not playing the game, this plot twist made me annoyed and mad. It reminds me of Erased where the protagonist is near killed by the enemy serial killer so that he can travel through time to the present day in a coma or Assassin’s Creed III where the player character is set up by the enemy to be jailed by his own side for MONTHS before being set up to be executed in a show trial which is finally prevented by his allies. Then the game continues as normal, as if your character wouldn’t be a ball of murderous resentment and crippling distrust for every person on every side after that experience. After thinking about it for a while though, I kind of like it? They set up that BJ was going to die due to a failing body and put that threat over the whole storyline and the villain starts the game by chopping off a good guy’s head. Combine those two ideas and we have the villain accidentally dooming herself by repeating her horrible act from the start of the game. Suddenly the problem is solved without magically healing a problem that was said to be unsolvable at the start of the game and there should be that magnificent followup of the Nazis LOSING IT when a dead man comes for them from beyond the grave and slaughters them one by one. They could still screw up the finale no doubt, but I kind of like this one?

    1. Nope says:

      I think it’s more the execution than the concept that’s being criticised here. Giving him a new body could work, but forcing the player to “win” a dream sequence, just so they can pull an insulting fake out is a bad way to prime a scene which is already pushing the limits of dramatic tension.

      “It was all a dream” is literally a joke about bad storytelling, and they somehow compound is by having that dream be a difficult, failable fight.

      After that, it becomes difficult to buy into the staging and choreography of the scene, which already requires a lot of handwaving. There are a bunch of weird choices to get the sequence done which could have been made better to give the player more of a reason to follow it, but mileage always varies.

      1. shoeboxjeddy says:

        I think the purpose of the dream sequence is pretty much just “let the player shoot something, they’ve been sitting still and watching too long.” This is a point where I find Shamus’ critique rather unfair. It takes a special kind of picky to say “this is too many cutscenes in a row” followed by “what the eff is this gameplay they stuck in here, it’s so unnecessary!”

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Not unnecessary; pointless.

          You have to ‘win’ the dream sequence – but when you do, you end up literally back where you started. BJ is still in chains, still awaiting execution. The player’s actions achieve nothing.

          Compare & contrasts with Saints Row 2, where you have a sword fight mini-game against a boss. Again, you have to win, but when you do, you get a cutscene of your character losing the sword fight and cheating, just shooting the guy from the floor.

          Stupid and annoying? Absolutely. But the boss is still dead at the end of the fight. The player beating the challenge the game set them still acheived something, even if the story undermines it.
          The Wolfenstein sequence lacks even that.

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Its the old “If you want to improve a bad thing,dont replace it with another bad thing”.Sure,a punch in the face will make you briefly forget that youve stubbed your toe,but you wont be grateful to the person that punched you.

  15. ThaneofFife says:

    The strange thing about Wolfenstein II is that it wasn’t the execution scene where the narrative broke for me. I thought BJ’s execution was a really scary and innovative storytelling technique, and based on both the strength of the previous game and how much I cared about the characters, the writers had a ton of credibility with me at the start of the capture sequence. (As someone who dealt with verbal abuse as a child, I also didn’t find BJ’s father to be as cartooney as Shamus did.) The game burned a lot of that credibility in the cutscene, but I was still there until the end.

    That said, the game really lost me with what came after BJ’s head got reattached. The part where Anya exactly repeats Super Spesh’s explanation for how they escaped from the underground garage in the earlier cutscene was what broke it for me. (She said something like, “We had a few tricks up our sleeve.”) That was a huge tell that BJ was still dreaming, and BJ even identifies it as such. And yet, the game just left the question unanswered without either showing that things were definitely real (no idea how they could have done that), or dropping more hints that it was a dream. If the writers had just let Anya give a semi-detailed explanation of what happened, it would have largely solved this issue.

    I’ve said before that this game could have been the Brazil of video games (see my comment above for an explanation), but I would have settled for it being the Minority Report of video games (see next paragraph for explanation). As it was, my interest just kind of petered out. This was further exacerbated by the fact that almost all of my favorite NPCs had disappeared from the submarine after the main story was complete. I understand the story-based reason for that (they’re on the flying battleship whose name I can’t spell), but it just made the submarine feel empty and lonely.

    Minority Report explanation/spoilers (please keep in mind that I haven’t seen the movie since it was in the theater): At the end of the 2nd act of Minority Report, Tom Cruise’s character gets captured and put into a stasis prison. As he’s being locked up, the warden says something like “I hear all your dreams come true while you’re inside.” This is immediately followed by Tom Cruise getting rescued (by his love interest, IIRC), and going on a one-man quest to prove that he was framed. He succeeds and rights several other wrongs, resulting in a happy ending. The thing is that this ending is a perfect fit for the warden’s statement that all his dreams would come true in stasis prison, suggesting that Tom Cruise never actually escaped, but only to viewers who were really paying attention. If Wolfenstein II had been the Minority Report of video games, it would have needed to have more explicit foreshadowing of BJ’s death and more in-game clues that he was actually dead. It would have been brilliant if they had actually done this, too.

    The game could have also embraced BJ dying by having BJ’s spirit get captured with some sort of magical Das Yichud (sp) technology, which would have allowed BJ to possess willing members of the resistance and continue fighting in their bodies. Then he would have been the literal Spirit of the Resistance. This would also have allowed for dramatic shifts in gameplay depending on whom BJ possessed for each mission.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      I think Total Recall did the ‘it’s all in their head – or is it?’ twist better, since memory alteration was a part of the plot already. Minority Report seemed to want to say things about fate and justice as far as I recall – hence they wanted the ending to be real*.

      But if TNC’s writers were going for that kind of twist, they’d severely undermined themselves earlier in the story. First there was the pointless sideplot about Super Spesh trying and failing to free you, then there was an expicit dream sequence of BJ ‘escaping’ from the court.
      If the rest of the story is ALSO not real…that’s just taking the piss.

      *One of the few things I remember about Minority Report was the way they threw away a brilliant crime-prevention service at the end, for little-to-no reason. Pre-Crime WORKED, dammit! What’re you idiots doing?

      1. Hector says:

        You mean apart from it requiring massive, ongoing violations of civil rights, ongoing torture of three random innocent people, and is destined to fail in a few years due to not having more people who can see the future sitting around?

        Granted, those are also reasons it should never have started in the first place.

        1. Felblood says:

          Yeah, Minority Report is basically about why Pre-Crime is a terrible idea.

          Additional bullet points:

          *If you arrest the killer before the crime happens, you can’t know for sure the murder would have really happened.

          *The system is hardwired to conceal evidence of it’s own errors (the titular minority reports).

          *Nobody knows for sure what those halos even do.

          *The system only works on murder, not any other crime. This includes conspiracy to trick someone else into committing murder, for some reason.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        The whole point was that the pre crime did not work at least 30% of the time.Whenever there was a discrepancy,between the three,there was doubt in whether what they saw would actually have happened.And of course,there is the whole issue of how the three precogs were made,and what to do when one of them died.

        1. Liessa says:

          What always got me about that movie is that there was a perfectly simple way to solve most of the problems with Pre-Crime: charge the defendants with attempted murder and give them a normal trial, including evidence from the arresting officers and any ‘minority reports’. Then, if found guilty, just hand down a normal jail sentence in a normal prison. Granted, it wouldn’t solve the issue of the pre-cogs being mistreated, but that was never presented as the main ethical problem anyway even though it arguably should be.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            Exactly. In the film’s opening, they stop a cuckolded husband murdering his wife and her lover in a fit of rage. But then – no trial or anything – he gets locked in mind-prison for…murder? Attempted murder? It’s not clear/I can’t remember.

            Seriously. Give the guy a divorce lawyer, some time to cool off, maybe a restraining order, keep a watch on him. He might well have changed his mind after some time in police custody.
            Don’t just lock him up! He hasn’t committed a crime yet!

            The big problem to me always seemed the lack of trial/the prison system rather than Precrime itself.

        2. BlueHorus says:

          I’m probably confusing the film and the original story here, but wasn’t the point that a Minority Report could ONLY happen to someone who operated the precog machine/saw its results? (It definitely was the point in the original story.) That throws into doubt like 0.0001% of murders predicted by the programme, for a very understandable reason.

          When a precog dies, the others can just retire? Possibly surrounded by Thank-You cards from all the people whose murders they helped prevent. It was good while it lasted.

          Also, how were the precogs made? I’m assuming it’s some MKUltra-level shenanigans, but I forget. And nothing stopped the programme operators asking for the precog’s consent/lack of it…

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            I dont remember such a thing happening in the movie.I dont remember them ever explaining why there was sometimes a glitch with the three.

            Yes,they were made when some pregnant woman was using some drugs or something.

            1. Syal says:

              Considering there’s only two operators in the movie, if they had explained that it would have cut the B plot down to nothing.

          2. Gethsemani says:

            The Precogs are the children of women who did a specific drug while pregnant, which resulted in the abnormalities that allowed for prescience. The Precog that helps Cruise in the movie, Agatha, was sold by her addicted mother to the Pre-Crime unit. A plot point is that her mother was murdered by Pre-Crime when she tried to get her daughter back after kicking her habit. It is also pertinent to the plot that Agatha has “Minority Reports”, where her vision of the future differs from the other two Precogs and that this is covered up, because it would prove the system flawed.

            The ultimate theme of the movie (don’t know about the book) is that the future can be changed and that the Precogs only see one possible (or two, in the case of Minority Reports) version of the future. The point is especially driven home that if someone is aware of their future, they can change it. So for the movie at least the Pre-Crime unit is a sleazy set-up that cares more about results then the human costs of those results, which is shown in the way the Precogs are treated, the way they just toss the people they arrest in jail and the way they are ready to do anything to keep the system going, including murder.

            1. BlueHorus says:

              So, very different from the book. Shutting it down makes a lot more sense in that movie’s case – especially if the precogs naturally gave different predictions.

              It’s almost like the film is pointing out that the idea of predicting the future is some kind of science fiction…

    2. Bloodsquirrel says:

      Being the Brazil of video games would require a fundamentally different set of priorities. Brazil was about a system that was oppressive because of its sheer apathy, and about a man being ground down by it. The distopia is a metaphor for a mid-life crisis as much as anything else, and it was about escaping it somehow, not beating it in a gunfight.

      I don’t really see how Wolfenstein gets anywhere near that in tone, theme, or style.

  16. CloverMan says:

    I hate how this whole stupid plot twist has been spoiled for me by the collar-head-plugin thingie being clearly visible on the cover. Also skin tones differ between the chest and head, so it was pretty obvious for me that BJ is going to lose his head, I actually though it will be a way to make him survive the poor blank granade blast from the end of TNO.

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