The announcement of this standalone expansion prequel to last year’s excellent Wolfenstein: The New Order was an excellent surprise and the news that it was only going to cost about £15 was even better. Fast forward a few short weeks and you can pick up a copy for about a tenner. You’re looking at the best bargain of 2015, folks.
While the majority of the last game was set in the alternative version of the 1960s where the Nazis won WWII, The Old Blood takes place towards the end of the war in the mid 40s. You’re attempting to infiltrate Castle Wolfenstein, an enormous fortress built into the side of a mountain. The word ‘imposing’ doesn’t really do it justice as you approach it via cable car.
I’ll not ruin any of the main story beats for you, but the pace never slows down to mild crawl that occurred in the middle of The New Order and there’s much less chatting, which is what we want really.
The action mixes up stealth with very loud gunfights. An early stage sees you sneaking between the hulking patrolling Supersoldaten troops, with you having to power them down via switches that need to be held down for agonising seconds with you stood exposed. It’s super tense, but worth it as you can finish them off with a melee move once they’re stunned rather than get involved in a lengthy gun battle.
Before long, you’re given assault rifles and automatic shotguns that look way advanced of what they actually had in the 40s, but not the screen filling monsters of The New Order. And then the game lets you dual-wield the bastards, which is just a beautiful thing. Well, beautiful in the way you can blow a Nazi’s limbs across the room kinda way.
The game’s stealth elements return, but they feel toned down this time and it has to be said, harder to maintain. You still have areas of the game where you need to silently take out commanders, so reinforcements can’t be called in if you’re caught. There aren’t many of these stages in the first half of the game; it seems you’re forced to go in all guns blazing. Once a single enemy sees you, everyone is alerted, even if you take out the initial solider with a silenced shot before he is able to shout or fire at you. You’ll think you’ve got away with it, and then notice the music has ramped up, meaning you better switch to those assault rifles and grenade launchers.
While it’s annoying that your sneakery isn’t rewarded as much as it should be, the handling of the loud weapons is so superb, that it’s hard to stay mad as you nail multiple headshots in a row with the excellent assault rifle or the deadly bombenschuss bolt-action rifle.
You have a new pipe tool in The Old Blood, which has multiple uses. It’s a brutal finishing weapon for ramming into unaware Nazi necks, you can use the pieces to climb up certain walls, or maybe use it to prop open a drop door -the latter being especially cool as you slide through and pull it out at the last moment.
In the final third of the game, the levels seem to expand and many gunfights are entirely optional as you can avoid large sections of the map. Unless you want to tick off all the collectibles, which should warrant a second playthrough or a lengthy initial one if you want them all.
When you’ve wrapped up the campaign and it’s collectibles, there’s a new challenge mode with map sections from the campaign with score targets in both stealth and run and gun missions. The Gold medal challenges ensure that you’ll need to put some serious effort in if you’re going to claim that Platinum Trophy too.
As per The New Order, Machine Games have nailed the fun gameplay elements and also included some memorable cutscenes filled with tense moments and delightfully over the top evil Nazi characters. The fact they’ve been able to replicate the fun of their last game for another 5-6 hours for a fraction of the price is highly encouraging for their future. Unsurprisingly, I’m hoping that’s going to involve more of B.J Blazkowicz’s adventures. I think it’s also worth pointing out that there hasn’t been a single patch for the game as there are no performance issues at all, which is unheard of today as there’s usually a 1.01 waiting for you around launch. Guess they just nailed this one first time.
- Tremendous value
- Fantastic choice of weapons
- Enjoyable characters
- Enemy hive mind when you’re seen
- The last boss
- Can we have more please?
The Short Version: At £10-£13 for a six hour campaign and additional challenge maps, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is an absolute steal. The stealth options aren’t quite as reliable as last time, but the core shooting experience is incredibly fun with meaty weapons, a ramped up pace and enjoyably over-the-top characters.
Platform: PS4 (reviewed) | XO | PC