What’s Gus Playing? Wolfenstein – Youngblood!

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Due to customer demand – namely one dude in the forums who shall remain nameless who asked ‘Hey what happened to the What’s Gus Playing thing you used to do? – I am back to tell you all about What I Am Playing. Right now I am actually playing through three games – Panzer Corps 2, Order of Battle – Red Steel, and Wolfenstein: Youngblood. Since I don’t know how much time I have until my power goes out again from the fourth foot of snow we are receiving as I type this – I’ll be quick.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood, developer Arkane and publisher Bethesda, have all taken a ton of flak (pun intended) in online forums since the game’s release. Why? Most likely because it’s two playable protagonists, Jess and Sophia Blazkowicz, daughters of Wolfenstein hero BJ, are young women. Many of the NPCs are women as well, and their computer nerd assistant who maps out Paris for them, finds them side missions and generally helps them along is also a woman. The majority of the enemies they fight are men, and also Nazis. I didn’t have a problem with this set up, other than the girls’ banter back and forth occasionally got a little irritating, the same way the banter between my own daughters gets irritating. And I found a whole lot more to like in Wolfenstein: Youngblood to offset any annoying chatter.

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By: Lloyd Sabin,

Wolfenstein: Youngblood takes place in ‘Neu Paris’ in 1980. The developers really went out of their way to instill a 1980s vibe…the aesthetic, the neon, pop culture, technology and music are all fantastically rendered.

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Purple Rain…I mean Pink Mist.

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Anyone have a pencil with an eraser? Just in case…

The music is especially awesome for people ‘of a certain age’…let’s call it 45 or over. If you can remember the 80s, it will be hard for you not to enjoy the alternate reality movie titles, music and even playable video games that appear in Wolfenstein: Youngblood. Just be warned that in this 1980, the Nazis won World War II (although the United States has by now been liberated) and Europe is still under their rule. So you will see plenty of book, movie, game, song and band titles that look eerily familiar but are definitely not exactly what you remember.

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Vinyl collection

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Arcade cabinets

The technology of floppy disks and big bulky computer terminals is alive and well here. Every now and then there are some incongruities, like laptops, but the world all-in-all felt ‘period correct’ for the most part. The entire game takes place within the confines of Neu Paris, and is very much on rails (literally because you move around different zones of the city on the Paris Metro), so if that bothers you in the age of games like Far Cry or Witcher 3, you will most likely feel limited here. The main ‘base’ of your employer, the Paris Resistance is also underground in the Paris Catacombs, also accessible by the subway, and is where a lot of the great 80s finds are located.

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The levels themselves are pretty byzantine and it is possible to get lost, but this is not an open world game. Some levels did sometimes feel a bit confined, but whenever I began to feel that way I just reminded myself that Wolfenstein: Youngblood is basically a Nazi shooting gallery. Then I let myself have fun.

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Approaching Nazi shooting gallery

The player takes the role of either Jess or Sophia. Mental and physical characteristics are all upgradeable and modifiable, and there are tons of buffs to improve upon to make your avatar truly ‘uber’ – including the suit of skin tight armor that your character wears. Gunplay feels heavy and substantial and the great audio compliments the experience. Extra details on the game world are explained through diary entries and cassette tapes that also feel authentic and are fun to use.

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Skin-tight armor

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Clearly on the Nazi Shit list

Battling my way through the streets of the city, hospitals, prisons and even zeppelins high above Paris early in the game, Wolfenstein: Youngblood also evokes 80s action movies like Predator, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard. A lot of the game scenes also reminded me of one particular issue of the comic GI Joe – I can’t remember which one, so bear with me here – in which some of the GI Joe team members penetrate the Cobra Consulate building in New York City.

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Well, it was flying in the sky

There are many Nazi buildings scattered throughout Wolfenstein: Younglood that have the same forboding, ‘Brutalist,’ tech-saturated look as the Cobra Consulate in that issue from around 1987 or so. Needless to say Wolfenstein: Youngblood does a great job placing the player into a version of the 1980s that, thankfully, never was.

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Albert Speer, eat your heart out

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We have ways of making you talk

Wolfenstein: Youngblood is not a bad game by any means – it runs smooth, looks great and I am having a ton of fun with it as long as I don’t take it too seriously. If you like arcade shooters that allow you to kill and destroy a wide array of dieselpunk, alternate reality 1980s Nazi troops and machine, by all means, try it out!

Wolfenstein: Youngblood is available on Steam for $29.99. https://store.steampowered.com/app/1056960/Wolfenstein_Youngblood/

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