Wolfenstein: The New Order released last year to a high degree of critical acclaim. Fans of the franchise loved it and, as I am evidence of, it drew a significant number of new people into the shoes and crew cut of Blaskowicz. With the strong footing of The New Order as its backbone, the stand-alone The Old Blood seeks to expand upon the pseudo-reboot’s immersive world and cast of characters.
The events of The Old Blood, without giving too much away, take Blaskowicz through a host of different areas, each with their own distinctive tone and color palette; large stone structures feel cold and foreboding, burning cities fill the player with increased levels of panic and stress, and underground caverns and ruins pluck the strings of the wary explorer that all gamers have within their hearts. However, no environment feels out of place in the alternate timeline. The art design and graphical fidelity maintain the quality presented in The New Order, making the stand-alone game feel like a cohesive part of the larger experience.
Along his journey Blaskowicz encounters a host of new characters, but since this is a cheaper experience and therefore shorter, none of them are capable of being developed into people you care about or truly fear. There are definitely moments where the game screams, “YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD THAT THIS IS HAPPENING” but there simply isn’t enough time to form a significant bond with any of them. The same goes for the villains. Their appearances are few enough that tension has no time to build, and your hatred for them is nowhere near smoldering, despite them being interesting enough. Although the characters themselves may have been lacking, the ridiculous and criminally badass events that unfold more than make up for it. The end of the game even ties in directly to the opening events of The New Order which, as a fan of the game, I very much appreciated.
The Old Blood is all about action, and it does that with an aplomb rarely seen outside of the Serious Sam games. The campaign took me roughly 5 hours to complete, and at least 4 1/2 of those hours were spent sliding and shooting, stabbing soldiers in the neck, dual-wielding shotguns in a heavy trooper’s face, flinging knives across dining rooms, centering my crosshairs for the perfect headshot and…well, you get the picture. But in case you don’t, here are some pictures.
There are couple of new weapons this time around that offer the player more options and variety in gameplay. The biggest new weapon is more of a tool, and that is the pipe. The pipe is obtained early on and is kept through the campaign as both a melee weapon and a climbing tool. The pipe can unscrew into two separate pieces, allowing faster but weaker strikes and the ability to climb your way up certain eroding rock walls. While it was a neat addition, they also gave players the knife, which had me confused as to which melee weapon they were expecting me to use; both can be used to assassinate enemy soldiers as seen below.
The new weapons include more than just the pipe, however. A new toggle-scope rifle makes an appearance, with which you can, at will, switch between iron sights and a 4x sighted scope. The model and animation reminded me a lot of Call of Duty variable scopes. There is also a new double-barrel sawed-off shotgun that is perfect for dispatching the enemies in the latter half of the game. Speaking of which…
That’s right. Wolfenstein now has Nazi zombies as official canon. Like it or not, these fiery oppressors make up most of the enemies in the second half of the game, and are an absolute blast to pick off by the truckload. Oftentimes, you’ll be set upon by a veritable horde of the afflicted nazis, but with your new firepower and…wait, what’s that?
The mech returns! The fan-favorite giant metal behemoth from The New Order is back in spectacular fashion. Using it to splatter nazi zombies across the cobblestones is one of the most satisfying moments I’ve experienced in an action game to date. The mech controls a little slowly, but its long sweeps and sizable reach more than make up for any lack in speed.
The Old Blood does an excellent job of creating an action-packed and bloodthirsty experience, but it does little with the development of Blaskowicz and the characters you encounter. While I had entirely too much fun playing it, I was left wondering why, since The New Order placed a vast amount of importance on character development, that that part of the experience was at the bottom of the totem pole.
Don’t forget to check out our Peep Show for some gameplay footage!