Review: Wolfenstein: The Old Blood – It’s Raining Nazis
Last year Wolfenstein: The New Order made killing Nazis fun again. It put us in an alternate history where we lost the war and suffered a massive invasion.
The Old Blood is a standalone title that takes place during the events prior to the attack on General Deathshead’s base at the beginning of The New Order, before the world went to hell. It’s a good thing B.J. Blazkowicz is really good at only one thing and that’s killing Nazis with blunt objects.
The Old Blood is split into two acts. The first involves B.J. rescuing an ally from the psychotic Nazi dog trainer and second involves tracking down a wacky Nazi archaeologist in order to find the location of the Third Reich’s main base of operations.
As you can imagine, things don’t go quite as planned since B.J. is hands down the worst spy ever. It’s not his fault, his German sucks and he’s as wide as a door frame so the man tends to stick out.
That cutscene introduces one of the two main antagonists, the massive Rudi Jager. Rudi and Helga von Schabbs are great villains. Both have interesting quirks and taking them down was a hell of a satisfying experience. Your hatred for Rudi becomes personal very early when you find what he feeds his cyborg dog, Greta.
Helga falls under the Indiana Jones category of bad guy. Her research is dangerous in ways that would most destroy all of mankind. So, she’s gotta go. The supporting cast comes off a little weak since The Old Blood’s heavy action doesn’t leave much quiet time for any meaningful character development outside of a handful of lines of dialogue.
Characters like Welsey and Pippa don’t get enough screen, which is a shame since they seem to have quite a history with B.J.
The first act is a stealth mission turned prison escape turned rescue mission where we are introduced to the effectiveness of stuffing a lead pipe into Nazi skulls. The level design is lot tighter and more linear than its predecessor.
I really enjoyed this title’s approach to stealth, where getting caught isn’t much a big deal. Each combat arena has two commanders who can call for reinforcements if alerted and bad guys will keep spawning until said commanders are dealt with.
Most situations will usually play out with you stealth killing the closest commander and then getting caught on your way to the second one. Seeing how fun it is to get into shootouts, however, you’ll want to skip the whole quiet approach and enter each area guns blazing. I mean you’re William Joseph B.J. Blazkowicz and you can dual wield assault rifles — go nuts.
The hyper-violence you’ve come to know and love in a Wolfenstien game is all there in its dual shotgun wielding glory. Each combat scenario has both a stealth and a “screw it, shoot everything” approach.
The latter is clearly the more fun route since aiming and shooting remains incredibly tight. The silenced pistol and gruesome takedowns will get players past the first hour or so before the action really picks up.
Speaking of gruesome, the number of ways you can kill a man with a pipe is kind of staggering. It also turns out that pipes are pretty efficient for taking out zombies too.
That’s right, zombies. In typical Nazi fashion, they dig up something they really shouldn’t have and now the dead are up and about. Zombies swarm and can occasional fire off some machine guns. The real treat comes in the end-game when the battlefield is full Nazis who you kill who then turn into fiery zombies.
The zombies have no allegiances — once they raise from the dead no one is safe. This buys you some much needed breathing since the soldiers put up more of a fight this time around.
They have a tendency of spamming grenades to draw you out in the open. Thankfully, B.J. is a human bullet-sponge capable of much abuse and health packs seem to be in steady supply on medium difficulty.
You’ll get around five or six hours of story, which is a little on the short side when compared to The New Order.
Even though single-player is shorter, The Old Blood definitely feels more of a polished ride gameplay-wise. There a bunch of small news clippings and diaries sprinkled throughout the game that flesh out the state of the war and the growing desperation of the Allies against this seemingly relentless enemy.
The best of these collectibles are the return of the bonus levels based on the original Wolfenstein 3D.
These throwbacks aren’t exactly super fun but more of an example of how far the franchise has evolved in over 20 years. I do love that they keep the current weapon models as a fun contrast to the classic stages that have not aged well.
MachineGames managed to improve Wolfenstein in ways that don’t diminish any of the over-the-top violence. At $20 you really can’t go wrong with giving The Old Blood a shot. If you enjoyed The New Order then you’ll feel right at home with this prequel.
Newcomers can also enjoy a ton of Nazi killing hi-jinx without feeling too left out. The zombies add a level of weirdness that doesn’t feel out of place in the already crazy setting.
Somehow Wolfenstein: The Old Blood makes killing Nazis and zombies, the two worst things in videogames next to quick-time events, a fun and worthwhile time.