Wolfenstein: The Old Blood – Review
PC, Xbox One, PS4
Last year MachineGames surprised the world with the release of Wolfenstein: The New Order. Nobody expected the tight story, hugely entertaining gameplay and amazing setting that was delivered to gamers everywhere. The game was such a success that it ended up on many “Game of the Year” lists (including my own), something that many thought was beyond any game featuring the name Wolfenstein. Many were left wanting more of B.J Blazkowicz’s Nazi hunting adventures and with the release of the Standalone expansion entitled The Old Blood, MachineGames has delivered exactly that.
This adventure is set in the year preceding the events of The New Order. B.J is tasked with infiltrating Castle Wolfenstein and taking down the mad experiments that are occurring there. Of course things don’t go to plan and the result is a lot of dead Nazis, multiple explosions and an unfortunate outbreak of the undead. The story for The Old Blood goes back a few years to past games in the franchise, focused on the Nazi obsession with the occult. This is well worn territory for the series and while it certainly wasn’t a bad story there was a feeling of “been there, done that” with the campaign. For people that were introduced to Wolfenstein with The New Order this is likely to be an interesting excuse to kill Nazis but for those of us that have been following B.J throughout the years it is a song we have heard before.
What is fresh are the new weapons that are available. While not exactly period authentic. the weapons are universally entertaining to use. Once again the weapons can be dual wielded which sacrifices accuracy for a storm of hot lead. Wolfenstein seems to run with the philosophy of “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing” and the weapons are all a true indication of that mission statement. Perhaps the most interesting new weapon is a humble piece of pipe. This pipe becomes B.J.’s multi tool. It can be split in half to climb walls, used as a lever to open stuck hatches or even as a handy piece of jagged metal that can be repeatedly stabbed into a Nazi Guard Dog’s neck. Stealth kills with the pipe can be particularly brutal and will leave more than one player wincing at it the graphic nature of these deaths.
The combat is just as satisfying the second time round with the perfect mix of stealth and action making a welcome return. Sneaking up on commanders to prevent them calling in backup is a beautiful mechanic and keeps players on the edge of their seats. The addition of electrical super armour is also a welcome addition as these enemies can only be defeated once their power supply has been cut off. Perhaps the only disappointing thing is the enemy variety which is a little lacking for most of the game. This changes in the final hour or so but until that point there is fairly stale selection of Nazi soldiers to mow down.
Level design is also just a little bit below what was served up in The New Order. This is perhaps simply due to the WW2 setting so the developers couldn’t be quite as fantastical with their maps. That is not to say they are bad though, as they aren’t, they are perhaps just a little bit less exciting in their locations. The levels are however fun to play through and once again stick to an old school design philosophy. The maps are sprawling and quite often have multiple paths through them and there are an abundance of secret doors to discover. Completionists should get a kick out of what is on offer.
The Old Blood should take most people about 4-6 hours to finish, which is fine for the $40 asking price. The game never outstays its welcome and as it is basically more of the same players probably won’t be left wanting more. It certainly brings to mind the expansion packs of old where the cost of entry just got you more levels for the original game. While it is clear that MachineGames have put a bit more thought into it than that, it is also clear that this is not a fully-fledged sequel.
If you are considering purchasing The Old Blood and you haven’t played The New Order then don’t. The New Order is a better game is almost every way. The Old Blood is for players that just can’t get enough Wolfenstien and not for people new to the franchise. It is dessert to The New Order’s main meal, a tasty treat to finish the night as opposed to your prime course. The Old Blood tops off this chapter of B.J’s adventures nicely but doesn’t advance the franchise in any meaningful way. In the end The Old Blood does exactly what it sets out to do and that is to give players an extra helping of the great Wolfenstein gameplay they were introduced to last year. As far as achievements and goals go, it is certainly a hard one to find fault with.