Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Genre: action-adventure first-person shooter
Wolfenstein: The New Order was a godsend when it arrived this time last year. In a time where we were flooded with copycat FPS games, Machine Games managed to deliver a shooter that was both new and old-school, where seemingly non-stop action met memorable characters, brilliant graphics and ingenious gun mechanics combined to remind us of what really matters in an action game.
Understandably, the folks at Bethesda and Machine Games were happy with the new Wolfy’s success and wanted to keep that good thing going, and brought us ‘Wolfenstein: The Old Blood’, a standalone DLC expansion that takes place before the events of The New Order. While this sounds excellent on paper, something has gone awry in the planning and execution of this game. Instead of tense castle corridors and nazi-riddled compounds to blast our way through, we’re given uninspired and repetitous levels. Instead of a colourful cast of interesting characters, we’re given watered-down nazis and resistance characters. While the game itself is competent, it’s missing a lot of what made Wolfenstein: The New Order so special.
Once again, players are cast as BJ Blazkowicz, a soldier with tree trunks for arms and the ability to dual wield artillery like he’s holding two fountain pens. At the beginning of The Old Blood, BJ and his cohort Wesley are captured by the Nazis and have to escape a prison compound. When I first became captured, I was excited to think that we would be escaping prison in a complex and intricate escape like the Steve McQueen classis, the Great Escape. Instead, BJ takes a break from shooting for around 3 minutes until he gets his hands on all manner of insanely overpowered weaponry.
I had also hoped that while I had to kill my way through the prison to escape it, that the stealth and throwing knife gameplay from Wolfenstein: The New Order would be largely present. While I could have snuck around bludgeoning people over the head with a pipe stealthily, the level design and enemy placement made it extremely difficult to do so, to the point where I assumed I was always meant to get spotted.
The second part of the game focuses on stopping a mad Nazi archaeologist from unleashing an evil and powerful force from ancient ruins. Of course, BJ arrives just that tiny bit too late and must fight Nazi zombies, something we gamers have all sadly become rather used to. While hurling a grenade into a group of Nazi zombies was fun at first, it grew old rather quickly.
Now it probably sounds like I’m treating Wolfenstein: The Old Blood and I could be. The thing is, The Old Blood does a perfectly fine job at repeating the basics of the last title, I had just hoped to see more levels and action sequences I could call “exciting”, or at the very least, “memorable”. Sure there are sequences where BJ steals vehicles that are powered via electrified rails but all they end up doing is forcing the player to stand on a mounted gun with no cover – on harder difficulty settings, these moments are torture!
Weapon-wise, there are some cool guns to get your hands on, though once again I feel like the first game nailed it where The Old Blood simply gets it right. At least it manages to deliver one of every type of weapon you could possibly want – shotguns, assault rifles, single shot rifles, SMGs and explosive weapons are the order of the day, but as I said, something feels missing. Perhaps I feel that way because there are soldiers with enormous Tesla-style electric backpacks that do nothing. At all.
So, you’ve heard me rant about what Wolfenstein: The Old Blood gets wrong, so what does it get right? Well, simply being more of the same is both a blessing and a curse for this game. Being a Wolfenstein title from Machine Games means it will be different from other FPS games currently out, so people after a shooter that dares to be a little different will be pleasantly surprised by it. On the other hand, it’s no Wolfenstein: The New Order, either. There are no tense moments, no memorable and freaky Nazi commanders like Irene Engel or General Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse, and no friendly NPCs that you will learn to genuinely care for. Still, if you want to live out another Nazi sci-fi alternate history blastorama, then Wolfenstein: The Old Blood may just be the game for you.
Standalone DLC expansions are a tricky thing to nail, and while other games have managed to release them successfully (Saints Row: Gat Outta Hell), Wolfenstein: The Old Blood just falls short of being a great title in every department bar graphics. The weapons, story, characters, level design and action sequences are competent, though nothing extraordinary. For die-hard fans of highly-shootable Nazis only.