After an uninspiring start to Wolfenstein II’s The Freedom Chronicles with the disappointing Adventures of Gunslinger Joe, it’s time to head back in with another adventure. But can the Gunslinger Joe adventures be improved upon with a strong showing from the second content drop in The Diaries of Agent Silent Death?
In this second episode you take on the role of veteran British assassin, Jessica Valiant. Having been out of the job for some time and wallowing in a life of heavy-smoking, heavy-drinking and self-pity following the murder of her husband, OSA Agent Jack Valiant, she’s been called up for one last vital role, one in which she will get the chance to exact revenge on those to blame for the torture and murder she’s been pained by for so long.
Whilst I expected a character similar to that of Watch Dogs’ broken protagonist Aiden Pearce, Agent Silent Death Jessica Valiant brings us something different. There are still obvious signs of the wearing deterioration within the character, with the perfect British accent, the smoke-damaged voice and the amusing one liners that often come in the form of insults towards the Nazi soldiers, but we aren’t looking at a simple plot for revenge, instead being treated to something which feels like the closure this character needs in order to move on. Given the lack of feeling which was missing entirely from The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe, it’s a monumental improvement that really helps things get going in this second DLC.
As for the gameplay, Agent Silent Death focusses heavily on stealth in each of its three chapters, and despite the main game holding very little opportunity to maintain a stealthy approach throughout, Agent Silent Death brings a few changes to make this easier – although it is still a challenge.
The first of the changes to help with the stealth-based focus the DLC pushes on the player comes with Jessica’s ability to contort her body to be able to fit into the smallest of spaces. Throughout each chapter there are many vents that connect rooms together, and by using these Jessica can hide from, or attack, enemies by taking out their legs. It’s also great for traversing through different areas without the usual means of open doorways, and is certainly a different way to move about.
Something else that becomes very obvious with Agent Silent Death is seen when you’re about to shoot an enemy. Whilst it doesn’t happen on every occasion, more often than not you’ll find time slowing for a brief moment to allow a small window in which to execute a silent headshot with the protagonist’s silenced pistol. But this isn’t neccessarily a welcome feature. Sure the focus is stealth, but it doesn’t feel right to enforce that stealth by way of slowing down time just to ensure you could do things silently. It would feel much better to have left things running at the normal speed and bring an element of risk to each shot, especially considering the threat that comes at you should you happen to cause the enemy to trip the alarm. By leaving things as normal, the impending doom of rushing enemies naturally creates stealthy gameplay, however utilising a slowing of time to enforce the intentions simply feels a bit cheap.
In regards the locations found within Agent Silent Death and they offer a fairly similar experience. You start off the first chapter in the Gestapo Office, left to hunt down torture veteran Ubercommander Hans Stiglitz, before heading off to Paragon Film Studios to assassinate Nazi collaborator Chuck Lorentz. From there, you find yourself moving to the Moon Gamma Base of General Gerhardt Dunkel to complete the final killing, before heading back to a life of silence and anonymity in Rio, Brazil.
Unfortunately, no matter whether you’re strolling the hallways of the Gestapo Office, or the narrow corridors of the moon base, there is very little to differentiate between either. It’s not like it’s the first time we’ve seen the drastically different locations look so similar with the same thing happening in The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe, as well as the base game, but it would have been nice to see something a little out of the ordinary to give a little extra variety.
The mechanics of the game, other than the slow-motion moments of gunfire and the contorting abilities of our protagonist, are exactly as you would expect. Gunplay is fluid, gameplay is fast, and shooting feels wonderful. The story is told once more through the comic book style used within the previous episode and whilst I would like to see things told in a different way, this is the general tone that is planned for all three episodes so it’s not a surprise to see it back.
There was one thing that I picked up on that was also a part of the previous Adventures of Gunslinger Joe that doesn’t feel right however, and that is in regards the running mechanic. Should you need to sprint away from ensuing enemies, clicking the sprint button will result in a rather unnatural burst of speed. There are no exo-suits or anything to enhance abilities on show in Agent Silent Death and whilst I put it down to simply being a part of the character given the American football background last time out, seeing it on show once more does make me question if maybe it’s a mechanic left in from the base game, which is seen after B.J. receives his new and advanced suit.
Even though the slow-mo shots feel controlling, and the running feels entirely unnatural, The Diaries of Agent Silent Death is a vast improvement over the previous DLC entry. It’s fun to play through, the story is one you want to see concluded and the character is vastly improved over the disappointing Joseph ‘Gunslinger’ Stallion.
Is it enough to save the Freedom Chronicles Pass? It’s too early to say, but it’s a necessary improvement.