Escape from Castle Wolfenstein with The Old Blood
Polish-American one-man army, William “B.J.” Blazkowicz, returns to kick Nazi and mutant butt, alike, in Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. This standalone expansion is a prequel to last year’s hit first-person shooter, Wolfenstein: The New Order.
It’s 1946 and B.J., along with OSS Agent One have got themselves captured by the Nazi as they infiltrate the foreboding Castle Wolfenstein. Their mission: to steal a file containing details of the location of the villainous General Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse. With the plan in tatters, Blazkowicz must gun his way out of the fortress and escape from Castle Wolfenstein.
Along with zombies, nobody is going to mind you pumping Nazis full of lead. Yes, like their undead peers, Hitler’s boys are a pretty safe bet when it comes to first-person shooters. With last year’s Wolfenstein: The New Order, Bethesda went one further and mashed up both mutant zombies and Nazis to give us a fantastic shooter that successfully rebooted the classic series.
Set in and around the titular Castle Wolfenstein, The Old Blood is a tighter, more constrained experience. With less exposition and more gunplay, the experience sometime feels a bit repetitive and lacking, but at other times refreshingly old school.
The action is over the top and the whole affair has a subtle tongue-in-cheek humour about it. B.J.’s monologues are both touching and amusing as the meat-headed protagonist tries to rationalise the bleak situation that he is in. Like The New Order, The Old Blood acknowledges the type of man that would be able to follow orders in the face of such adversity, creating a three-dimensional protagonist out of a usually two-dimensional cliché.
The Old blood is all about shooting stuff using a variety of very satisfying armaments. The reduced narrative does mean that the game gets a bit more exhausting as it piles an increasingly powerful array of bad guys in the way of the hapless B.J. Several times I just got too fatigued to continue, a far cry from last year’s The New Order, which I finished by playing virtually non-stop over a couple of days.
Still, the game is well presented and still a lot of fun to play. The levels are well designed, many of which are area-type affairs that can be played again as challenges, once beaten.
Like in The New Order, many of the levels require a stealthy approach to avoid alerting commanders who will be quick to call in reinforcements. The enemies range from Nazi storm-troopers to huge armoured super-soldiers; there’s even the return of the giant robotic dogs, the Panzerhunds.
The developers Machine Gun Games have tried to catch lightening in a bottle once more, and whilst the game delivers, it doesn’t quite live up to the last. This is a shame, but even so, the game still offers up an amazing gaming experience.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is a great game, offering up between six and eight hours of play for a budget price. We should all consider ourselves lucky that Bethesda considered us worthy enough to enjoy some more time with B.J. in this excellent prequel. Roll on the next instalment!