Like it’s older brother, The New Order, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood brings the same nostalgic, mostly hip firing, fast paced action of old-school FPS titles but with precisely the kind of refinements you’d expect from a modern shooter. The result is a spectacular romp through Castle Wolfenstein and a neighbouring village, fighting the advanced World War 2 tech of the Nazi’s paranormal division, and, a little on in the story, a horde of Nazi zombies.
Indeed this is more than just a side story or expansion to last year’s Wolfenstein, The Old Blood is instead a standalone adventure acting as a prequel to the events of The New Order, placing you in the boots of B. J. Blazkowicz once again as he battles the Nazi menace. It’s far less story focused affair this time around, but snappy dialogue between the few characters that are present, and some introspective monologues, set the scene and drive the tale brilliantly through this 6-7 hour adventure.
It’s also less reliant on grand set-pieces and shoot outs than The New Order. Whilst these are indeed present, and offer a wonderfully intense bout of frantic shooting, weapon switching, and copious amounts of blood and dying, the focus is instead on stealth and evening the odds through guerrilla tactics. Ammo, as abundant as it is, is heavily outweighed by the sheer amount of enemies you’ll encounter and the amount of damage they can absorb, and an aggressive, cunning AI, takes cover, attempts to flank, calls and waits for reinforcements, and sets about hunting you down and killing you in a highly effective manner, making the title a true challenge throughout.
Ammo is also liberally varied across your arsenal, forcing you to use different weapons frequently, which proves a terrific way of making each shootout more intense and unique depending on the terrain. You’ll find yourself moving through a cave network where a shotgun is most effective only to run out of ammo and have to switch to the single shot sniper rifle and change your tactics completely. And whilst this can get a little frustrating as it compromises your desired playstyle, the level design allows for just this kind of flexibility, hinting at the depth below the superficial run ‘n gun shooting.
Indeed, The Old Blood is a far more cerebral game than it seems. The aforementioned intelligent AI makes even a solo enemy dangerous, areas are teaming with cover, crawl spaces and multiple paths with ammo and health littering the battlefield but turning out to only barely be enough to get you through the enemies you encounter. Additionally, you unlock perks for performing certain actions frequently, such as scoring kills with particular weapons, these perks then improve your weapons with increased clip sizes, provide you with new abilities, or result in better yields from ammo, heath and armour pickups, this once again encouraging you to switch tactics and weapons often. It’s marvellous.
Remarkable visuals and lighting, matched by equally impressive music and sound effects truly immerse you in the adventure, with the castle itself offering a wide variety of aesthetically different areas before you venture outside to a nearby village for a completely new environment. Additionally the majority of the weapon you find are new, although many boil down to different looking variants on weapons found in The New Order. It certainly feels and look fresh enough to warrant a standalone.
Furthermore, multiple collectables and secrets are waiting to be found; documents shed more light on the narrative and world, gold bars are tucked away amongst the ordinary pick-ups. Meanwhile, each level has a hidden bunk which triggers a Nightmare, taking you back to the old Wolfenstein 3D corridors with a level or boss fight to complete. Finally 10 combat challenges taken from the shootout scenarios in the campaign are available to conquer individually and post high scores on an online leaderboard, adding a terrific asynchronous multiplayer component.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is a fantastic standalone experience that further immerses you in the alternative history of Wolfenstein with its challenging, intense and highly enjoyable action. Adapting to the focus on stealth and switching weapons frequently is going to challenge some more than others, but the all-out action scenarios between them make for delightful rewards for sticking with it – and you can always brute force your way through if dying a bunch doesn’t demotivate you. Indeed, The Old Blood is superb.
TiX purchased their own copy of the game for review
[rprogress value=94 text=”TiX Score 94%”]
[xyz-ihs snippet=”XboxOne”][xyz-ihs snippet=”Pegi18″]