Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was easily one of 2017’s best games, not to mention it being by far the bloodiest shooter of the year. When we saw there would be even more content coming our way via The Freedom Chronicles Pass, there were plenty of reasons to be excited. Now it’s here though, can The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe keep up the same level of quality and enjoyment brought by the base game?
The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe is the first of three DLC pieces that will be coming to Wolfenstein II via The Freedom Chronicles Pass, with each presented in a comic-book-like fashion. In the first episode, players take a break from the weathered shoes of veteran anti-Nazi resistance fighter B.J. Blazkowicz and instead experience the adventure undertaken by ‘Gunslinger’ Joe Stallion, a popular African-American rookie football quarterback whose football career has seen him stuck playing in match-fixed games, with heavy punishments dished out for anyone failing to throw a match.
If you’re expecting to find yourself running for that touchdown however then think again as away from the striking ability to flatten your enemies and weakened walls with a savage tackle ability, there’s very little of Joe’s footballing skills put to use within The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe – not that there is really much a football career could bring to a fight against the Nazi’s anyway.
So, after becoming incarcerated in a Nazi prison following a run in with ex-dentist turned monster, Roderick Metze, Joe turns his attention to one thing – revenge. To exact that revenge, he must tear through the Nazi forces one step at a time in an adventure that takes him from an underground research facility in Chicago, all the way through Roswell and New Orleans and even up into space in a culminating battle in the Venus base of the sadistic Nazi associate.
Unfortunately, if you were hoping to find something new and exciting within The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe, you’ll be heavily disappointed. Sure, there’s a new protagonist, and there’s even finally the chance to put the boot in to the infamous KKK, but other than that, it’s a struggle to find anything within the two-hour experience that doesn’t provide an overly similar experience to that found in the base game – and that is rather disappointing.
Of course, the base game was great, and we’d love to see more of the main storyline from that being expanded, but a big reason behind that was due to the in-depth background we already had on protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz. Joe may have a similarly uncanny ability to crack a headshot from long distance as well as a tackle reminiscent of B.J’s ‘Ram Shackle’ gadget – albeit without the devastating armour – but he doesn’t bring the same hero status to the table and ultimately fails to impress.
One other notable change does come from Joe’s preferred melee weapon, which instead of copying Blazkowicz, is actually nothing more than a can. That’s right, you’re basically throwing tins of beans at the enemy… the gun-wielding, helmet wearing, armour heavy enemies.
The biggest disappointment for me however is found in the story. Other than a huge determination to hunt down the villainous Nazi in charge of deciding what requirements make for a ‘sub-human’ prisoner, there’s nothing overly exciting to get involved in. Sure the opening stages may have a rather gruesome facility full of botched torture victims and scribbled notes depicting just what’s been going on, but it doesn’t take long before things calm down and you’re doing nothing more than running, shooting and moving on.
One major missed opportunity is in regards the fight against the KKK. With an African-American protagonist, it doesn’t feel right that fighting the KKK members that run the streets is done for nothing more than progression. There’s no real heartfelt hatred from the protagonist towards these enemies and it feels like a missed opportunity.
There are no new weapons to speak of either, all the usual enemies are still present and there’s even the chance to take control of the overwhelming German machinery once more, in the form of the fire-breathing Panzerhund. But for me that’s not enough variation to bring any fresh excitement.
One more thing which doesn’t help is the comic book style nature to things. With all cutscenes coming in the form of a comic strip nature, it’s hard to grasp the seriousness of just what Is actually being told, which is something that could prove an even bigger problem when later episodes from the Freedom Chronicles arrive.
The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe doesn’t provide the exciting extension to the Wolfenstein II adventure we all hoped for. Sure, the gameplay is the same and it’s an equally fluid experience, but content wise, Machine Games have dropped the ball with a protagonist who’s too similar to B.J. Blazkowicz – but without any of the brilliant background. This doesn’t feel like a worthy addition to what is a fantastic game, so if you want more of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, then just go back and play through the main game again and again.
The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe isn’t bad, it’s just disappointing.