Review: Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
BJ Blazkowicz is not done with the Nazis. One year after having wreaked havoc on his own excursion throughout Europe, facing enemy troops and gained the victory back to the Allies, the American soldier newest opus brings back the good memories. Here we are invited to discover what Blazkowicz was busy during the weeks before the start of The New Order, in a prequel called Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. This standalone, which was quick to devour, left me good impressions of the work of Machine Games and Bethesda for the franchise.
Released during the same month of May last year on all platforms, Wolfenstein: The New Order Review (which I previously reviewed and gave it an 8.5/10) was a very satisfying adventure, supported on a solid foundation of a great atmosphere, design and storyline. It must be said that the plunge into an alternate world who saw the Allies fail to beat the Nazis, which then imposed a new order did fascinate and arouse my curiosity. Add to that a war machine as a hero, with a big arsenal, and you have one of the best FPS you can get on the consoles. We also remember that Wolfenstein: The New Order had a more honorable lifespan for the genre (even with no multiplayer mode), making the release of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood as surprising as appealing. We remind you, this prequel is available as a standalone sold for a mere 20 dollars (or Euros for our European friends); so it is not necessary to have The New Order to play The Old Blood.
Still in control of development, Machine Games takes the basic recipe of the previous opus and offer us eight chapters (The New Order had double the ammount) that make up an adventure focused on two main parts. The first four chapters take place in the iconic Castle Wolfenstein for a sting operation that quickly turn sour, putting Blazkowicz and his teammate Agent One into custody of the Nazis, and turns into an escape mission that is rather lively. In the second part, BJ takes the path of Wulfburg to hunt down Nazi officer in charge of the excavations and uncover (very) strange plots being hatched there. Again, developers will give us enough content in terms of lifespan: Approximately six hours to finish the adventure, which can extend a bit more if you feel like finding collectibles to unlock hidden artwork and other stuff. We can only regret the relative imbalance between the two parts of the game, as the duration is much to the advantage of the first (about two thirds). Besides that, no competitive multiplayer exist in the game, no cooperation mode, but at least the opportunity to redo some areas in the form of challenges, with a fairly simple scoring system will keep you coming for a while.
The Old Blood therefore incorporates game mechanics introduced by The New Order. If it is possible to cross almost the entire game Rambo-style, gun blazing, the game occasionally urges you to be cautious and make some discreet eliminations. We always appreciate having the choice, and this this small freedom is indeed comforting when one exercise or is force to us discretion: at the beginning of the game, stealth sequence leads pace. Fortunately, this is the only one of this caliber and leaves things gradually towards more and more action, particularly in the second part. These passages are particularly troublesome infiltration sequences, nevertheless gives you the opportunity to discover an enemy already in The New Order: we are well in the past compared to the year of the story timeline, and Machine Games operates rather well this element, especially giving good background to the Wolfenstein universe. Letters and newspaper clippings certainly add to these atmospheric elements. The return to 1946 is also an opportunity to test some weapons of that period, like a gun fitted with effective explosive bullets, a medium-range rifle with retractable scope, or a new double barrel shotgun. Blazkowicz also becomes more of a MacGyver and is armed now with two pipe for variable use: kill, climb certain walls or open doors and latches for example.
Already very effective in the previous episodes, the gunfights gain momentum, with weapons being more accurate and more pleasant to use, while many enemies sometimes make ideal targets to test this new hardware. We also like the challenges that builds character development based on certain accomplishments (more or less the same as in The New Order) but in return, we regret that I still have to spam the X button to pick up weapons and ammunition. If justified for health items (giving us the choice to overload or not BJ’s health), one wonders who might not want to pick up ammunition for his weapons. It is therefore common to scout for bullets in the heart of the battle, while being painfully pit down in a corner. But in what Wolfenstein retains the past, I particularly love the artistic take: the castle, the towns of Paderborn, Wulfburg catacombs renew themselves in such a beautiful way. Finally, ending with a good note, but not the least important, you can now adjust the voice level of Blazkowicz so you can finally hear his thoughts. It would have been a shame to miss once again the little touch of humor that counterbalances the violent and gruesome killing machine mood.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood was reviewed using an Xbox One redeemable code of the game provided by Bethesda. The game is also available on PlayStation 4 and PC in both retail and online store releases. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
• Prettier than The New Order on some extent
• Those intense gunfights
• The possibility to go stealthy
• Really fun story even with a hint of paranormal activities
• Enemies are still weirdly balanced
• No multiplayer (but I don't really care)
The Wolfenstein franchise celebrates its first anniversary with an excellent stand alone bill. Buoyed again by a design and a neat atmosphere, BJ Blazkowicz's adventure at the dawn of The New Order is easy to devour despite a first chapter that runs too slow. But soon, when the soul of the warrior takes over, The Old Blood ensures almost all levels are equal and has the luxury to offer a lifespan that some FPS at full price can't even reach. If you liked The New Order, you can rush headlong into The Old Blood. For others, this is a great way to experience the franchise and perhaps succumb to the charms of an original episode now available at lower cost.