When I was a kid, all my favourite shows poked fun at Nazis; The Young Ones did a gag where Lenny Henry dressed up as a Hitler postman. The Pythons had a sketch where "Mr Hitler" ran in the North Minehead by-election. Heck, Spike Milligan was rarely out of a Hitler costume.
Even 'Allo 'Allo portrayed Nazis as bumbling idiots, backstabbing one another over a painting of The Fallen Madonna With The Big Boobies, which gets hidden inside a knackwurst sausage.
In a way, a lot of that felt like a post-WW2 exhalation of breath. By poking fun at Hitler, by turning him into a figure of mockery, it stripped him - and, by association, the Nazis - of power. Somewhere along the way, to a certain disenfranchised generation, Hitler's ideology became cool again.
Between the release of 2014's Wolfenstein: The New Order and the release of The New Colossus, Nazis stopped being comedy bad guys, and were exposed as a legitimate threat in the real world.
Why, just this past weekend there was a far-right rally in Poland. Between 60,000 and 100,000 people took to the streets to call for a "white Europe". That's a whole lot of racists.
It isn't just Poland of course; far-right ideology is spreading across the world, and too many powerful people - politicians, the media - are willing to embrace it, or at least turn a blind to it, for ratings or votes.
For me, the thing that's scary is that the new Nazis look like regular people. They don't wear the funny uniforms, like the Nazis I grew up with. They don't goose-step around the place shouting "Sieg Heil!". They hide in plain sight, the vast majority disguised behind day jobs or media-friendly soundbites, which say just enough without actually saying what they really mean.
They piggyback on the genuine concerns and anxieties of regular people, those less politically motivated, who are simply looking out for themselves. Unfortunately, hidden behind those anxieties are many who genuinely would be fine with a return of gas chambers and labour camps.
The scariest end-point scenario of this is what The New Colossus explores through the continuing adventures of BJ Blaskowicz; an America in the 1960s, after the Nazis won the Second World War by nuking New York into oblivion.
Somehow, this fictional, tongue-in-cheek scenario does a far more effective job of exploring the true nature of fascism than the recent Call of Duty: WW2.
After a shaky start, I really grew to like Wolfenstein: The New Order, and The New Colossus is much the same... but probably takes even longer to start shining. Nevertheless, let's get a few positives out of the way so that I can spend the remainder of this review just moaning and complaining, because me so edgy:
1. No massive installation! I put the disc in and could play immediately!
2. It's a single-player-only game!
3. There are solid reasons to play through more than once (bonus "assassination missions" after the main story ends, and certain in-game choices that affect the story)...
Unfortunately, it feels like the game only really gets going in its second half - when you are asked to make a choice between three unique exoskeletons (a pair of telescoping legs, a harness that constricts your body, and one that lets you to slam through grates and enemies) which allow access to new areas of the levels. Even then, it still sort of slips back into the same rhythm, and the suits don't have as big an impact on the gameplay as I'd have wanted.
Part of the issue for me was a sort of conflict at the core of the game between stealth and all-out blasting. On the default difficulty and higher, this is a punishing game. You're encouraged to seek out enemy commanders - and execute them before they can raise the alarm, sending troops swarming your position. However, the actual gunplay feels more like the recent Doom reboot than anything - but Wolfenstein II doesn't seem to always allow for that.
Weapons - which can be upgraded using kits you find lying about - don't really favour sneaking around, and many of the bigger enemies can only be taken down by blasting away.
Additionally, the action is broken up with intermission stages set on a huge submarine base. Here you interact with your colleagues in the Resistance, embark on little side quests, hone your shooting in the shooting gallery, and set up the next main mission. However, the labyrinthine sub makes it hard to navigate, and it's never entirely clear where you're meant to be going next. It weakens the momentum.
Consequently, if this game was a movie there'd be big action sequences, followed by 15 minute-long scenes where the main character wanders around lost, while other people say hello to him.
The weird shifts in the gameplay are oddly indicative of the jarring narrative lurches in the storyline. The New Colossus tackles some heavy themes, but never quite seems to know whether to play things for laughs.
That's not necessarily a criticism - it does a fine job of humanising its characters (there are grim flashbacks to BJ's childhood, being raised by a racist father, who - inevitably - becomes a Nazi collaborator). There are moments where it lays it all on a bit thick, but it mostly does an effective job.
There's an extended sequence set in the town of Roswell, showing "ordinary" Americans seemingly co-living side-by-side with their Nazi conquerors in peaceful co-existance. Ku Klux Klan members walk the streets freely, fascists enjoy milkshakes, propaganda plays at the local picture house. The story also deals with the power of the media, the nature of "fake news", and an incontinent, psychotic Hitler.
These are all powerful topics to tackle, and - for the most part - handled well. Showing how regular people will turn a blind eye to fascism for the sake of a peaceful existence, exposes the engine which allows evil ideologies to thrive; turning a blind eye. By not standing up to it, by not calling it out, by not tackling it at the root, it breeds and grows in the cracks, and before you know it the weeds have taken over your driveway.
For a game to so successfully marry big themes to what is otherwise a big, dumb, first-person shooter, with a handful of slapstick characters, is the biggest success of The New Colossus.
However, having loved its predecessor, I was otherwise a bit disappointed.
SCORE: Three Liberal Snowflake Cuck Agendas out of Five.