Continuing on my Wolfenstein adventure, I’m onto the smaller games to have released in MachineGames’ lineup. The Old Blood was released between The New Order and The New Colossus but is set before the events of The New Order, so that means that we are traveling back to the past and WW2.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I booted this game up, but I was hoping for an experience that would continue to build on the characters and world that had been so well devised in the mainline games thus far. What I got though wasn’t nearly on the same level.
A Prequel With Few Additions
William “BJ” Blazokowicz is on his way to infiltrate Castle Wolfenstein with his partner to recover a folder that has important information about the war. The campaign takes place in two parts and is thus split into only a few locations. The majority of the game takes place in the halls of Castle Wolfenstein and can often feel like you never get anywhere.
The first part of the story focuses on BJ’s infiltration of the castle and his escape. He fights General Helga’s second in command which is little more than a mech soldier fight and then BJ escapes with some new friends.
The second half is about recovering the folder in a different part of town and investigating what the Nazis are doing in the area. This is the part of the game that both feels new and a little outlandish considering we never see anything like this again so far in the Wolfenstein universe.
We know that the Nazis had acquired almost mythical levels of technology, but The Old Blood introduces monsters and zombies. I almost laughed out loud when I was stumbling through a burning building and a Nazi zombie appeared in front of me with glowing eyes while burning. It felt straight out of Call of Duty: World at War.
While the latter half of the campaign does have a lot more happen compared to the first half, it still felt like this prequel gave very little in terms of context. That is, the only real connection it has to the events of The New Order is that Blazcowicz is tracking down the folder to General Strasse’s location and is later picked up by Fergus on their way to the airfield.
It felt more like a spinoff with how many fantastical elements they were throwing in. If anything, I would have appreciated this being even earlier in the timeline instead of literally moments before The New Order, which felt a little too convenient.
More of the Same Gameplay
If you enjoyed the gameplay from The New Order, you will be pretty happy with this entry as it really is more of the same. There have been a few tiny additions like the ability to climb certain walls, but for the most part, the weapons upgrades, perk system, and items are all the same.
However, we are given a new melee weapon with a lead pipe, and we also get a sniper rifle ad a sawed-off shotgun which quickly became one of my favorite weapons in any of these Wolfenstein games so far.
I enjoyed having the range that often was never given to me as if Wolfenstein wanted you to charge into every encounter guns blazing despite it having walls of enemies in many of its encounters. The shotgun was great when dealing with the zombies at the end and felt so cathartic to use.
Seeing as this is more of a standalone expansion than a new game entirely, you shouldn’t expect to get a long campaign. In fact, even playing on Uber difficulty, I was able to beat the game in about six or seven hours. The levels aren’t long, but the enemies can be pretty great at delaying your progress, especially since there are so many of them.
I think they squeezed as many enemies into these levels as possible to help keep them from feeling too short. There were plenty of sections where I felt like I needed to pick off enemies before I could begin to advance. The Old Blood also does away with the manual save feature, so if you are tired of redoing the same section over and over again just to get to the hard part, tough luck.
The Old Blood wants you to fight through its hordes of enemies no matter what. I often found that this was the worst Wolfenstein so far for sneaking around enemies. They weren’t that aware, but especially in the later parts of the game, the levels don’t lend themselves to the same stealth actions as others in the series.
It really just wants you to fight guns blazing which isn’t a bad thing, but the number of enemies in such small arenas can make things feel cramped and annoying. And as you crouch trying to reload your weapons after killing your 20th Nazi, be prepared for the handful of grenades that are going to be thrown your way. The enemies in The Old Blood are more grenade-happy than the AI in Call of Duty.
Collectibles make a return but don’t offer much besides a little side thing to do when you have done everything else. However, there is a new collectible type thing in each level that allows you to play the original Wolfenstein. It’s a nice little addition, but I wish that it was easier to play the levels continuously without having to enter each separate level.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is nothing spectacular, but it gives fans of the series a little extra content to hold them over for the next title. If you haven’t played this one yet and are only interested in the plot of the games, then you won’t be missing much here. However, if you enjoy being in the shoes of BJ and taking out Nazi scum, you’ll find a solid excursion. 7/10