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Wolfenstein: The Old Blood Review

by William Schwartz

As one of the best first person shooters released in 2014, Machine Games’ Wolfenstein: The New Order was praised for its combat mechanics and narrative, proving that there was still room in gaming for a story-centric shooter that didn’t rely on multiplayer to satisfy.  Wolfenstein: The New Order dumped players into an alternate history of World War II and re-introduced series protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz to a new generation.  Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is a stand-alone piece of expansion content to The New Order.  This prequel stays close to home, playing to the strengths of the original release, while giving players some new mechanics to explore.  This 4-5 hour lead-up to the events of The New Order looks to set the stage as far as story goes, filling in the blanks in regards to the events that lead to Blazkowicz’ coma in the failed assassination attempt of General Deathshead.

While The Old Blood isn’t quite as deep as the original in terms of story, and doesn’t introduce you to an extensive cast, the characters that are introduced will tie-in directly to The New Order, and drum up nostalgia for old school Wolfenstein fans.  In The Old Blood players infiltrate then escape Castle Wolfenstein, and will run into familiar faces from the franchise.

Most of what Machine Games put together for The New Order returns in The Old Blood.  Broken into two acts, The Old Blood features some very familiar gameplay in its first act, while introducing some new enemies and methods for their dispatch.  Like The New Order, there’s a good mixture of stealth and over-the-top action, where players must carefully navigate the game world hoping to not alert commanders as they will call in reinforcements and make life that much more difficult for Blazkowicz.  Never committing fully to either completely stealth or action at any part of the game, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood allows players to play as they choose.  Whether you want to sneak around and use the new pipe weapon to brutally eliminate those in your way, or if you’d rather make it a dual-wielding gib-fest — The Old Blood will let you do just about anything you want, assuming you’ve got the tools for the job.

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For the most part, the large cast of enemy types returns for The Old Blood.  Traditional soldiers, hounds, super soldiers, commanders and others litter the varied environments.  Though as you transition into the second act of the game you are introduced to Nazi zombies, which adds a new dimension to the combat.  Hordes of zombies will be found in The Old Blood’s second act, and you can mow through these characters pretty swiftly with Blazkowicz’ arsenal, but they add a three-party combat system which has both you and the Nazi soldiers battling the undead.  Worse yet, defeated soldiers will sometimes turn into zombies themselves.  You’re never quite sure if every last zombie has been put down in The Old Blood.  These new zombie enemy types all pretty much fit the same bill.  They move slowly, shuffling along, but will occasionally use a quick dash attack, and some you’ll find shooting at you.

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood feels like it’s for either the player who enjoyed The New Order and wants more, or the newcomer who has no idea what to expect.  This expansion content isn’t going to spoil anything in terms of story from The New Order, and it’s quite possible if you haven’t played the main game, you’ll want to when all is said and done.  Though The Old Blood has a lot of content in it on its own.  Like The New Order, there are numerous difficulty levels, a bunch of collectibles and story-telling items.  It IS a fairly unforgiving game on its harder settings so a second or third playthrough could be warranted if challenge is your thing.  There’s also a host of challenge maps as well, which takes player out of the story and puts them in timed arenas where the objective is winning medals by killing with style. While the main campaign isn’t quite as long as The New Order, the $19.99 price tag makes it more digestible.

The Verdict

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood pays homage to Return to Castle Wolfenstein in some really neat ways that fans of the long-running franchise will appreciate.  Machine Games does it while keeping their own additions to the series front and center.  While you don’t have to have played Wolfenstein: The New Order to enjoy this prequel, you’ll likely be itching for more if you haven’t.

"loved"
loved

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

  • Available On: PC, Xbox One, PS4
  • Published By: Bethesda Softworks
  • Developed By: Machine Games
  • Genre: First Person Shooter
  • US Release Date: May 5th, 2015
  • Reviewed On: Xbox One
  • Quote: "Wolfenstein: The Old Blood pays homage to Return to Castle Wolfenstein in some really neat ways that fans of the long-running franchise will appreciate. Machine Games does it while keeping their own additions to the series front and center."
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