Wolfenstein II’s Freedom Chronicles opened strong with its first episode: The Adventures Of Gunslinger Joe. Gunslinger Joe not only combined Wolfenstein’s wackier inclinations by embracing camp and gore, but also made Joe himself a compelling character within a short amount of time, showing explicit examples of the Nazis’ cruelty to black men and women in Wolfenstein’s universe and how Joe rises against it. The levels were also well-designed, with great combat encounters and pacing. I was excited to see where the Freedom Chronicles after finishing Gungslinger.
Unfortunately, the second DLC Diaries Of Silent Death fails on pretty much every count to live up to the promise of the first. Here’s why:
The Story And Protagonist Are Dull And Cliched
Jessica Valiant, a one-eyed former OSS agent seeking to avenge her husband’s death at the hand of Nazis, is a great character on paper. Fierce, deadly, and witty. The first two are true, but Valiant’s monologues are mostly about drinking and trying to fill the hole in her heart left by her husband’s death…by stabbing Nazis. Diaries Of Silent Death throws Wolfenstein’s sober storytelling to the side to focus on wacky shenanigans, which would be fine if the writing was strong enough to support it, but Diaries Of Silent Death is weak in that regard.
The Stealth Is Bad
Wolfenstein II’s campaign shines with its gameplay flexibility, letting you choose to play stealthily or go guns blazing. The Freedom Chronicles sections off gameplay options, though. Joe had to play as a bruiser, capable of tackling Nazis into red mists and hurling cans at fatal speeds, which were fun. The stealth gameplay of Wolfenstein II is strong enough on its own, but the poor level design of Diaries Of Silent Death make it a chore. The last level in particular is frustrating, with precious few infiltration points (like vents), and tiny areas crowded with massive enemies capable of taking out Valiant with a few shots. The campaign is just consistently frustrating rather than fun.
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The Levels Are Uninteresting
Diaries Of Silent Death goes to Hollywood. That journey should be exciting but instead, it’s a brief jaunt that isn’t fun at all. The other levels are also the sort of military compound infiltrations we’ve come to expect from the series, except these are all drab and dull.
The Playtime Is Pitifully Short
It took me an hour and ten minutes to blow through Diaries Of Silent Death. As one of the most ardent Wolfenstein fanatics out there, it’s easily the most lackluster time I’ve spent with a Wolfenstein game.
For more on Wolfenstein, check out our feature on the history of the series here.