Reviewer’s Note: I played this game on a PlayStation 4. There may be differences between versions.
Wolfenstein: The New Order was a surprise to a lot of people. I don’t think anyone expected it to become one of the best and most beloved FPSes of 2014. About a year after its release we’re now treated to a shorter $20 stand-alone prequel expansion. Yet does The Old Blood have the same heart, or should The New Order remain in charge?
Taking place before the events of The New Order, The Old Blood sees B.J. Blazkowicz infiltrating Castle Wolfenstein to attempt to find a document that reveals the location of Deathshead’s secret base. Yet things don’t go as planned and along the way Blazkowicz comes across Nazis trying to raise up an ancient super-powered weapon in an effort to defeat the Americans. He’ll team up with a small resistance, kill plenty of Nazis, and get a chance to revisit Castle Wolfenstein and the surrounding town.
Yet while The Old Blood’s story certainly isn’t a bad one, it’s also not exactly much when held up to The New Order. While The New Order surprised people with its deep story and interesting characters, The Old Blood lacks these things. I never found myself invested in much of anyway, and by the end of the game I just sort of nodded and said “okay”. It’s not all a loss: the game is held up by strong voice acting and characters that are a step above the regular military grunt or faceless villain (Rudi in particular is pretty creepy), it’s just not as good as The New Order.
It does look as good as The New Order though. This isn’t much of a surprise, the game reuses many of the assets from The New Order. One level that took place inside of a burning village inn is a particular visual treat, while a boss fight in a bar features exploding columns and a claustrophobic environment against a genuinely tough enemy. While the graphics are a treat, the soundtrack is mostly just forgettable. As I mentioned before, the voice actors are all on point. Brian Bloom does a fantastic job with Blazkowicz still, while Lilli Fichtner does great with local village girl Anette.
The Old Blood also continues to be a good mix of action and stealth. Levels are open and often have several ways around them. A gate controlled by Nazis saw me able to just walk up with a machine gun, sure, but I also found a hidden vent that could allow me to try and sneak in and take out the officers before they call for help. Or I could climb up to a high wall next to the gate, grab a sniper rifle, and pick Nazis off from a distance.
The second half of the game is where real differences start to come in. One of the biggest addition comes from new zombie enemies. Yes, zombies. They’re weak to headshots, can only use melee attacks, and can’t be sneaked up on like normal enemies. It’s a pretty good way to change how I approached combat, but it also meant that I mostly just went in guns blazing. Similar to its predecessor, The Old Blood brings back its ‘perk’ system that sees me getting passive boosts for completing in-game challenges, like getting a specific amount of head shots or stealth kills. It’s also mostly stuff that I didn’t really need. There’s a few new weapons in Blazkowicz’s arsenal as well. A bolt action rifle is pretty awesome for sniping, but the sawed off shotgun is the same as the normal shotgun yet holds less rounds. There’s also pipes, but they work the same as the knives so they’re mostly just there to eat up a spot.
The Old Blood’s story lasted me about 6-7 hours, which is fantastic for a $20 game. Besides the story, there’s also a new wave-based challenge mode where I was attacked by Nazis endlessly until I died. It’s not a proper multiplayer mode, but it’s pretty fun in a pinch. Still, I can’t help but be let down by the fact that there’s no real multiplayer again.
Is Wolfenstin: The Old Blood as good as The New Order? No, it’s not. Yet this $20 expansion still has some fun game play ideas and an interesting enough story to get me through it. I won’t remember it as fondly, but I do believe that fans should definitely check out The Old Blood.