We all want to believe that we’re doing the right thing. However, our sense of right and wrong is never so clear-cut, which is something that Wolfenstein: The New Order perfectly illustrates with one scene in particular. I didn’t give Wolfenstein a chance when it first came out but after a sale, I felt a simplistic, mindless shooter would fill my time nicely. At least, that’s what I thought going in.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the game was a lot more than just an alternate-history dystopian Nazi future. The game shows it’s understanding of America’s hypocrisy when it claims to fight for freedom. The scene in question is between our patriotic, Nazi-hating protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz and J (played wonderfully by Luke Burke), an obviously stoned and tortured guitarist. When B.J. picks up J’s guitar, we immediately get the sense that B.J. is no hero in his eyes.
As you can see, J’s speech reflects a lot of today’s mentality between the marginalized and privileged. The hardest thing for B.J. to hear is that he’s just a bad as the bad guys. Hell, he even fits the Nazi’s idea of the perfect man – blonde hair and blue eyed. To have his vision of the America he knew stripped away and the idea of what he represents called into question hurts, mostly because that’s what the truth does.
What’s most apparent is that the anger, rejection, and violence that B.J. exhibits to being called a Nazi is all too familiar with today’s heavy political climate. It’s reflective of many Americans’ vision of the past. Nobody wants to look back at their country or ancestors with disgust but pride. Sometimes, the best step to a better tomorrow is acknowledging the mistakes of the past.
World War II is always thought of as a time where most of the world united against a common enemy: the rise of Nazism. An enemy so despicable that you would think that everyone should agree that they were on the side of evil. What we choose to ignore, and what our main protagonist is willfully ignorant of, are the sins of the supposed good guys.
Don’t get me wrong, Nazi’s are and will always be a group of people who have committed some of the worst atrocities known to man. However, their sins don’t erase our own. Blackface lasted well into the early 1900’s, racial segregation didn’t end until the 1950’s (lasting almost 100 years), and as J points out, blacks were drafted into a war to fight for an America that still hated them. This doesn’t even begin to touch the surface of some of the massacres and injustices perpetrated by America pre-World War II.
Developer MachineGames says The New Order wasn’t meant to comment on today’s culture, and while neo-Nazis may have not been in the headlines in 2014, the game clearly makes a statement. With The New Colossus set to debut next week, it tackles an America under Nazi rule, bringing out the worst aspects of the country. As white men with Nazi tattoos and wearing swastika bands on their arms march in the streets, it’s going to be harder and harder for the developer to disassociate the game’s messaging from real life. Even if they can’t predict what the world will be like when their game releases, there are obvious injustices that influence what we see in the Wolfenstein series.
Their marketing has shown to be more reflective of current events but can easily be seen a chance for them to draw attention to their game through popular topics. At the same time, they continue to distant the series from anything related to today’s politics. It’s a bit disheartening to hear, considering MachineGames has a chance to say something of substance while playing around with this particular subject matter. Hopefully, The New Colossus provides more scenes that reflect the dark parts of America that a vocal percentage doesn’t want to see.