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Wolfenstein II: The Freedom Chronicles Ė The Diaries of Agent Silent Death
Score: 80%
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: MachineGames
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/First Person Shooter

Introduction:

Wolfenstein II: The Freedom Chronicles Ė The Diaries of Agent Silent Death continues the formula outlined in The Freedom Chroniclesí prologue in more or less the way that it should. Considering that each of its heroes somehow possesses one of the Supersoldaten abilities B.J. Blazkowicz acquired over the second half of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, itís easy to understand what kind of expectations you should have. And with a title like this, itís even easier to assume that its themes will largely drive its gameplay. That assumption is correct, for the most part. Itís not without its missteps, but The Diaries of Agent Silent Death is still a bloody good time.

The Lovers Valiant:

OSS Agents Jack and Jessica Valiant loved each other as much as they loved slaughtering the degenerates of the Greater Reich. But the fall of the free world exacted a terrible price on everyone who didnít adopt the swastika. Jessicaís was exorbitant: Jack was betrayed, tortured, and murdered. Jessica escaped to the relative safe haven of S„o Paulo, Brazil, where she lost herself in a sea of alcohol and casual sex.

One day a package marked with a crimson bulldog shows up. It contains dossiers on the three men predominantly responsible for Jackís death. All three are in positions of power, the promised reward of the tyrants who now occupy the United States of America. Her purpose restored, the eyepatch-wearing vixen returns to the field with the objective of ending these particular lives.

Level design borrows several elements of the core game, but youíre always behind enemy lines instead of occasionally delving into the slowly-decaying perversion of the American Dream glimpsed ever so slightly during the Roswell chapter. Two of the three levels are no-frills enemy bases, but itís the middle chapter that stands out: a trek through a Hollywood backlot to take out a man who is essentially Nazi Harvey Weinstein.

I would say that The Diaries of Agent Silent Deathís greatest asset is the voice of Claudia Black. Sheís a real treasure as far as video games are concerned: exactly how sheís able to retain that impossibly seductive tone through all the nuances of her many performances is a mystery to me. This is an easy role for her, however, and she makes it work.


Knives and Silencers:

As its name implies, The Diaries of Agent Silent Death largely focuses on stealth above all else. Jessica is an assassin, not the type to go in guns-blazing. To keep her lithe mobility to a maximum, she largely goes without body armor, choosing instead to eliminate her targets systematically, one-by-one. Apparently years of this kind of stuff have bestowed upon her the effects of the Constructor Harness, the ridiculous contraption that allowed Blazko to compress and flatten his body to the point where he could slip through enclosures and vents like human Silly Putty. But considering the exploitation angle that The Freedom Chronicles is clearly going for, itís easily hand-waved.

While I mostly enjoyed The Diaries of Agent Silent Death over its short runtime, it makes a couple of pretty serious missteps: one thematically and the other mechanically.

Considering the revenge plot that drives the stealth action, youíd think that each of these three missions would wrap up with over-the-top catharsis. These despicable men deserve creative deaths; it would increase the impact and elevate the natural emotional payoff that the story clearly attempts to cultivate. Nope. They all go down like the rest of them. How unsatisfying.

Iím not a fan of the final mission. This is partly due to its linear, restrictive level design, but itís more due to the fact that it completely undermines itself. Most of The Diaries of Agent Silent Death can be completed in total stealth, but its final moments force Wolfenstein IIís run-and-gun playstyle. Compound the fact that I personally feel the gunplay is inferior to The New Orderís due to its poor balancing and punishing, arbitrary difficulty with the fact that Jessica canít equip more than 40 armor at any given time, and itís easy to understand why I believe this is a sour note to end on.


Conclusion:

Wolfenstein II: The Freedom Chronicles Ė The Diaries of Agent Silent Death is cut from the same disposable (but enjoyable) cloth as The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe. The exploitation film aesthetic still works really well for this particular property, and its pulpy, episodic format and bite-sized pops of action justifies its refreshingly meager asking price.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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