Wolfentstein: The New Order was a love letter to old-school fps that managed to reboot a beloved franchise and kick it into the 21st century. I am happy to say MachineGames latest outing in the Wolfenstein series keeps on rolling with this trend in the form of a $20 ‘Expand-alone’.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is a brilliant idea along the lines of Far Cry 3’s Blood Dragon, a short, cheap slice of the original game with some new mechanics, new plot and a little sprucing up of the engine. One of the best parts of this package also being that the game is set prior to The New Order and can be picked up and played by anyone. At its core though The Old Blood is more of the same; but that isn’t a bad thing at all.
This time you’re getting more of the adventures of B.J. Blazkowicz in the form of two ‘episodes’, compromising of four chapters each. These episodes all flow continuously though so there is no hopping back to the main menu to go to the next episode, it culminates in an eight chapter experience that clocks in at about 7-9 hours long. I played through The Old Blood on PC, in which it ran at a stable 1080p 60fps on High settings on my rig (PC specs at the end), like its predecessor however it also runs at 1080p 60fps on the consoles.
The first episode named “Rudi Jäger and the Den of Wolves,” takes place in the infamous Castle Wolfenstein, in which B.J. is charged with obtaining documents containing the location of Deathsheads compound in which the opening of previous game takes place. While starting at an oddly slow pace for Wolfenstein, it picks up in the latter half of the episode. It introduces an interesting antagonist but fails to introduce any compelling characters the likes of those in The New Order. This is where the game feels the most similar to the original and there isn’t anything outstanding, but it’s still fun and the intricate hallways and intersections of the castle make a good set piece.
OLD FOES – The Hulking brutes from the original return to gun you down as you conquer Castle Wolfenstein.
The second episode, “The Dark Secrets of Helga Von Schabbs,” is where the game takes a somewhat drastic, but still very much Wolfenstein turn. I say drastic but in reality it’s just zombies, but in the world of MachineGames version of Wolfenstein it was an unexpected but in no means out of place addition. It’s on par with the testing of your suspension for disbelief that The New Order did with its sequence on the moon, not unbelievable for this world. In this instance it fits the very horror ‘B-Movie’ vibe the second episode has with the crumbling town of Wulfburg, Helga’s secretive research into the occult and the trail of clues conveyed through letters, notes and newspaper clipping scattered around levels.
The gameplay itself compromises of all the classic FPS mechanics from the original, this includes the incredible dual-wielding, the monstrous weapon wheel (that allows you to carry practically infinite guns even while playing as a half-naked Blazkowicz) and, the overcharging health/armour system. The only major mechanical changes come on the form of some new weapons, the most prevalent being the Pipe, which serves not only to be Wolfensteins very own trick weapon but a great plot device to boot, being the crowbar to your Gordon Freeman.
If a little is good, more must be better
The option to take a stealthier route is back as well, with melee takedowns, silenced pistol and hundreds of knives to throw. In some sections stealth seems practically mandatory rather than an option, especially on the higher difficulties, but it never hits the level of frustrating. The perks system also makes a return, with its “earn by doing” system, so to get the fast reload perk, you have to reload a lot etc. The rest of the game plays almost exactly like The New Order, barring the twists in the second episode, however this isn’t a criticism. The game follows the mantra of, “If a little is good, more must be better.”
Trick Pipe – Wolfensteins very own homage to bloodborne with its abillity to be used to dish out sweet American justice.
While being a short experience, The Old Blood has some excellent replay value. While the collectibles in the main game will be enough to warrant subsequent play throughs from loot fanatics, for others The Old Bloods’ challenge option will keep us replaying. A system similar to the challenge rooms of the Batman: Arkham Asylum series, you can replay certain arena style sequences in the main campaign to rack up points and post your high scores to compete with friends. While there being only 10 rooms may seem few, remembering that this is a $20 game means extreme value for money when it comes to replay ability.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is everything you could want from a $20 stand-alone FPS. It is short and sweet, the game wastes no time getting to the meat of the content, especially in its second half throwing awesome B reel set pieces at you and having you blast your way through them in a hail of bullets. The Old Blood is not only a great $20 experience, it’s another great entry in the franchise, something MachineGames are getting very good at. It’s a great homage to classic FPS, following the same trend as its predecessor. If you liked The New Order, this purchase is a no brainer, but if you’re just in the market for a cheap FPS experience you really can’t go wrong with The Old Blood.