The storied video game "Wolfenstein 3D" is considered by many to have helped spark the first-person shooter genre, which spawned successors such as "Doom" and "Call of Duty."
Ever since that first game, released in 1992, "B.J." Blazkowicz has been the hero of the series fighting Nazis in the game's alternate historical setting, in which Germany won World War II.
But this latest game turns the action over to his twin daughters. In "Wolfenstein: Youngblood," out Friday ($29.99-up, Microsoft Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation 4, and PCs, rated Mature for ages 17-up), the young adult sisters, Jessie ("Jess") and Zofia ("Soph"), must search for their father who has gone missing.
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Team up to triumph over Nazis
The game is a first-person shooter, but you aren't sent on the mission alone. You can have a friend play one of the sisters. If you don't have a playing partner available, the game's artificial intelligence will control the second sister.
"Wolfenstein: Youngblood" picks up two decades after the events of 2017's "Wolfenstein: The New Colossus," which ended with the Second American Revolution freeing the U.S. from Nazi rule. Also in the game it was revealed that Blazkowicz's love interest, Anya, was pregnant with twins.
Now, 19 years later, those twin sisters must search for their father, who has gone missing on a covert mission in Paris, which remains a Nazi stronghold. Having created several "Wolfenstein" games, the developers at Swedish-headquartered studio MachineGames wanted to move beyond a contained single-player experience and opted to create an online-based game.
"So we decided to make a two-player coop game and using the sisters made sense," said Jerk Gustafsson, the game's executive producer. "By doing that you still get to play a Blazkowicz."
The two sisters are joined by another character, Abby, the daughter of resistance fighter Grace Walker. "This is very much a story about love (for the sisters' father), but also a story about the transition from adolescence to adulthood," Gustafsson said. "These two girls go out into the world on their own and take that step, doing something they feel is important."
Designing women ... with weapons
Having two weapon-wielding women protagonists could bring some new players to the first-person shooter genre, says Valerie Rose Lohman, who provided the voice and motion-capture movements for the character Jess.
"They are charming and funny, so this may be a great entry point for people who didn’t think they would like shooting games," said Lohman, an actress who previously played Edith Finch in the acclaimed video game "What Remains of Edith Finch."
The Blazcowicz sisters "are relatable," she said. "Everyone knows someone like them who is silly and fun but can also be serious."
In flashbacks, we see B.J. preparing his daughters to be formidable fighters. But when they must go out on their own, it makes for tense – and sometimes amusing – results. "They are only 17. They are high school students," Lohman said. "This is a major challenge for them and they have to learn very quickly."
During an early sneak preview of the game, while playing with another player, the action was fast and frenetic, with several obstacles and tasks needing teamwork. With plenty of enemies in their path, you must truly cooperate to succeed.
Game Informer's Javy Gwaltney suggested using online chat to strategize with your partner. "Throughout the 10-hour story campaign, I had several dramatic clutch moments where a partner used an emote that restored a bit of my health and gave me a chance to escape, or blew up an entire squadron of Nazis surging on my position with a well-placed grenade," he said in his review. "The co-op and coordination don’t detract from Wolfenstein’s combat; they enhance the best moments to great effect."
To play the game cooperatively, you and a friend can both have a copy of the standard edition of the game, or one of you must own the deluxe edition ($39.99), which includes a Buddy Pass to invite an online friend to play alongside for free. Also included: several perks including a power suit from "The New Colossus."
So far, the game has gotten a respectable rating of 76 on Metacritic for the PC version of the game, which released Thursday.
In her review, Variety’s Brittany Vincent writes that the game, played on Xbox One, delivers "a frenetic, violent ballet of whizzing bullets and whirring lasers rife with satisfying gunplay, slick co-op action and plenty of carnage for shooter buffs to take in."
Carnage and Nazi hunting has been a mainstay for the long-running "Wolfenstein" series. B.J. Blazcowicz began his run in id Software's initial "Wolfenstein 3D," a 1992 first-person MS-DOS game inspired by "Castle Wolfenstein," a top-down strategy game made in 1984 for the Apple II.
Since then there have been eight additional installments, as the games have spread from shareware and computers to the Game Boy Advance, the original Xbox and all the current consoles.
MachineGames developed "Wolfenstein: The New Order" (2014) and "Wolfenstein: The Old Blood" (2015), in addition to "The New Colossus." The studio was acquired in 2010 by ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks ("Elder Scrolls"), id Software ("Doom") and Arkane Studios (Dishonored), which collaborated with MachineGames on "Wolfenstein: Youngblood."
"It's such an iconic series," Lohman said. "It is incredible to be part of such a legacy. It is exciting to have two female leads in a major shooter game. That is definitely not something I had as a kid."
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Wolfenstein: Youngblood' lets next generation wage war on Nazis