Wolfenstein: The Old Blood: Using blunt instruments

May 15, 2015


Wolfenstein: The New Order was refreshingly nostalgic. Everything looked amazing but acted like a classic shooter. It was up to me to pick up health packs and ammo, and I could carry every gun I found. There was absolutely no gray area: B.J. is the good guy, Nazis are the bad guys and you have to kill every one of them to win. Layered atop that were characters that I cared about and weapons that were all a joy to use. There’s nothing quite like swapping over to a double-barreled shotgun and laying waste to a room of pure, concentrated evil. The Old Blood falls short of its big brother in its characters and story, but the mechanics are sound and I had fun all the way through.

I played the original as stealthily as I could, so B.J. spent a lot of time holding a knife. Here the knife is replaced with a pipe that works as a weapon, a crowbar and a set of climbing axes. It’s a little thing, but a knife is almost always the go-to melee weapon in first-person shooters, and the different animations and uses for the pipe is a breath of fresh air. You can smack a guy in the head. You can take the pipe apart, drive one end into a Nazi’s neck, and use the other as a hammer to really drive it in there. You can also use it to disconnect proto-Super Soldiers from their power supply units, killing them instantly.


The Old Blood is more linear than The New Order, and I’m thankful for it. I like knowing where to go, especially in a game like Wolfenstein, where I’m generally looking for more enemies to take out. B.J. isn’t a “sit back, consult the map and plan his next move” sort of guy, and The Old Blood replicates that feeling expertly. There are new weapons, but they are mostly downgraded variants of what you’ve already played with, but the standout addition is the Kampfpistol. You’ll never have much ammo for it, but it can clear a room with only a couple of shots.

New enemies in the second half are introduced as you delve further into the Nazis’ occult experiments, but MachineGames isn’t showing us anything we haven’t seen in other first-person shooters. If anything, these enemies are less fun to fight than those you’ll face in the first act and The New Order, because there are fewer opportunities for stealth.

I don’t always choose to sneak around and take out commanders before they raise the alarm. Still, having the choice available, trying it, failing miserably and having to mow down reinforcements while hunting a commander made for great gameplay. The new enemies in part two reduce the equation to “here are enemies, be loud and shoot them all.” If you’re following up a game in which you regularly fought men in cool lightning backpacks and others in giant stompy mechs, it’s fine to shift to the supernatural, but you need to really lean into it. The Old Blood never goes that far.


There’s also a new score attack arena mode, which is great the same way Batman: Arkham City’s combat rooms are great: I can hop in and be dropped directly in combat. The guns all feel great, and now I don’t have to feel like I should really save some of that ammo in case a particularly hard encounter is coming up. It’s just a fun and gorgeous shooting gallery, and I’d like to see the mode expanded in future games. If nothing else, it would a great place to add a cooperative multiplayer mode.

That sort of sums up Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. I see lots of things that I want expanded in a sequel, but the mechanics are so good that I’m still having a great time finding armor, overcharging my health and using pipes to climb up walls that it doesn’t matter. The gunplay is good enough that even turret sequences are fun, and the set pieces and settings are definitely worth seeing.

Pros: Campaign expansion as long as other full-sized campaigns, new score attack mode
Cons: Doesn’t lean into the supernatural like the original did with super science, characters are flat

Score: 3/5

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