Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

I loved Wolfenstien: The New Order (I’m not sure why I keep thinking it’s called New Blood?) as you can check here and I love new DOOM. With high expectations we’ll see if The Old Blood this expansion/stand alone prequel of the classic holds up or not. Is the box set of New and Old still worth the asking time and price or is it just another FPS to be shifted to the TimeShift of mediocrity.

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BJ is back baby!

Can you expect the same run, gun and lean shooting with mixes of story and perks to level up as you go? Sort of. Old Blood has quite a drastic shift from the New Order action at the start with a much stronger emphasis on stealth gameplay. Even on the lowest difficulty for the first few chapters you and your trusty pipe will be relying on stealth tactics to survive. Unlike New Order there won’t be an option for the action friendly run and gun gameplay until a few hours in. The gameplay does eventually open up and remembers what made it fun in the first place but even then the levels feel tight and enemy placement doesn’t offer stealth as an option more as a demand to progress.

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Get used to seeing that pipe, it almost gets more cutscenes than the Nazis

Set before New Order the new characters you see don’t really stick around long enough to get to know and are pretty disappointingly throw away. The game starts with a very strange BJ who seems to think he can be a perfect spy without speaking any fluent language? The spy story element feels like it’s a justification for the focus of stealth over action and irritatingly the stealth is just not as fun when it’s forced. Your sent into areas that require you to slowly crouch about and try not to get in the line of anything’s sight. New Order had stealth but it felt optional and even though this does have those moments the stealthy moments can be ruined in one accidental dog around a corner you could never have seen before on your first attempt.

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I can totally survive falling from that. Totally.

Once the Old Blood gets back to open levels and various options to dispatch the Nazi soldiers wandering around it does start to pick up. The problem is you’ll quickly find the levels and difficulty shifted to encourage stealth again. With either basic hallways and sections that will result in a quick death if you try to take them on with two assault rifles. It’s disappointing each time your approach fails and the rinse and repeat grinding is only alleviated by fast loading times. The game gets so ridiculuos with forcing stealth it you’ll find multiple points where you can steal a massive powerful fun minigun but have to drop it to go through a door and return to sneaking around all over again. The Nazis feel a lot more like bullet sponges in the Old Blood on any difficulty and only the Shockhammer (essentially an automatic shotgun) feels like it works and does any damage. The sawed-off shotgun only being unlocked in the last few chapters throwing the pacing all over, why bother with a simple shotgun like that when you have 2 automatic shotguns?

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Some of the best moments in the game again come from BJ

The more you progress through the Old Blood the more the disappointment runs deep. The story is incredibly predictable to the point where a torture scene that should have been powerful becomes trivial, some character development feels incredibly pointless and as soon as it introduces two characters you know there will be a point where your forced to choose who lives and who dies. It’s the same song and dance added just to justify two runs but unlike New Order these characters show up just before the end and only effect a tiny cutscene. There are plenty of frustrating levels where despite being armed to the teeth it’s a case of either stealth or fail. Rinse and repeat all over again. It makes your progression through levels a slow walk and the only increase in pace comes from a slide under heavy electric doors. It sucks all of the pacing and creates a lot of tedium that doesn’t ease up until much later in the story. Even then you get little glimmers of brilliant ideas and design it’s disappointingly buried under more tedium and waves of enemies that pose little threat.

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Finally something new to blast through!

The perk system being a simpler setup linked to Trophies is fine and you’ll find there’s the usual collectible items of gold and intel hidden throughout the levels. Even the welcome challenge mode for previous completed levels adds more bang for your buck. The problem is that at its core Old Blood’s campaign just isn’t as satisfying as the main story of New Order.  The graphics are almost like for like as New Order throughout which isn’t a bad looking game even to this day. This isn’t surprising as this is the same functional engine and the system interface makes it very clear the game is more of an expansion than a new game. There are plenty of new areas added in towards the end but you’ll still find a sewer, a factory like area and cave systems that you feel like you’ve seen before. If the new areas and the clever quirks added were the focus the game would be a lot more interesting but they fall by the wayside to just become glimmers in the grind.

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The classic Wolfenstien 3D level are back again for better or worse (for some reason I get horribly motion sick from playing them)

Old Blood is such a strange title to look at as a standalone game. There is enough story and content to warrant not being additional DLC but these small moments of fantastic design are drowning in a stretched and disappointingly generic affair. When you reach to a new open area you feel that same rush of, “how will I dispose of these Nazis this time?” It’s a welcome feeling that the new weapons try to help foster. The problem is that once you visit these new and interesting moments they quickly dissolve into stale generic levels where your dealing with bullet sponges until you can move on again. It’s just not up to the standard of the New Order. It’s not terribly bad but it’s surprising the lead pipe didn’t get a mention in the credits because that was the most interesting character in the game.

6/10 – The old blood just isn’t up to the New Order

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That Jammy Dodger IS MINE!

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