Review: Wolfenstein: The Old Blood (Xbox One)

If you know me at all, then you would know that I absolutely loved last year's Wolfenstein: The New Order. In fact, it was my personal game of the year. It was everything I had hoped for and more from a modern Wolfenstein game. Fun action was a given, as all of the previous Wolfenstein games have successfully delivered that, but The New Order also managed to have a surprisingly engaging story that proved that this series can still be relevant.

It's not surprising then that I was extremely happy when Wolfenstein: The Old Blood was announced, a stand-alone expansion that serves as a prequel to The New Order. To be blunt, The Old Blood is mostly more of the same. The new weapons and enemies don't add much to the action and the story feels largely superfluous here, which is unfortunate.

Despite these flaws, the fact that The Old Blood exists should be commended. This is the sort of post-release single-player content that I want to see more of. I couldn't care less about most single-player DLC these days because it often add so little to the core game and usually you sneeze and then it's all over. The Old Blood offers an enjoyable campaign, filled with varied locales and intense gunfights, that lasts about 6 hours, which is sadly often the length of many full price games nowadays. For only £15/$20, it's well worth it and anyway, more of the same is not much of a criticism considering The New Order was my favourite game from last year.

The core story in Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is paper-thin. The game casts our hero B.J. Blazkowicz on the hunt for a dossier that will reveal the location General Deathhead's compound, which you may remember romping around in at the start of The New Order. Aside from that, that's pretty much it!

Wolfenstein: The New Order had a greater emphasis on quieter moments that mostly worked to that game's benefit. However, The Old Blood hasn't got any time for such shenanigans though, as it's much more interested in guiding you through several key locations while eviscerating Nazis. Instead of providing all of those slick cinematics that helped to convey The New Order's tale, MachineGames has unfortunately tucked a lot of the game's story in boring text logs scattered throughout the levels. 

That's not to say the story a complete dud though, there are a few memorable encounters with the game's main antagonists and I still find B.J.'s one-liners to be entertaining. But by comparison to The New Order's story, it's a bit disappointing.  As mentioned earlier, it is a prequel to The New Order and all of the events featured here feed into that game nicely. This is good for those who haven't played The New Order yet (you really should though) as you don't need to worry about spoilers or important story beats before jumping in.

I won't go into too much detail when it comes to The Old Blood's gameplay because it is pretty much exactly the same as it was in The New Order, which is a brilliant thing of course! The powerful weapons, the smart artificial intelligence and fast-paced gameplay all combine together to make a great first-person shooter, simple as that. Like before, a lot of the encounters here can be approached in a stealthy way, which is fun and works well but it is when things get loud is when Wolfenstein is at its best.

The Old Blood adds a few new weapons not found in the last game. There is a bolt-action rifle, that has a nasty tendency to cause decapitations. There is also a pistol that shoots explosive rounds, similar to the rocket launcher attachment that you got for the standard assault rifle in The New Order. Both of these new weapons are nice but a few more would have been appreciated, and you will still probably stick with the standard shotguns and assault rifles throughout most of the game. There are also a few new enemies but they really aren't anything to rave about. There's a new sniper enemy, a new heavy armour enemy and there are new occult enemies encountered later in the game, but that's it!

While the new enemies and weapons don't add much, I appreciated the new and varied locations you will be blasting through in The Old Blood. Early on, you are infiltrating the familiar Castle Wolfenstein but later on, you will be fighting in more striking locations like catacombs, a village and inside a cable car. Generally, the campaign is great fun from start to finish but was that boring stealth section towards the start of the game really necessary?

Once you are done with the 5-6 hour campaign, there are a few reasons to keep coming back. Like before, the levels are packed with lots of secrets and collectables to find, the coolest of which are hidden beds in each level which take you to each of the 9 levels that made up the first episode of Wolfenstein 3D. An awesome bit of fan service right there. There are also new challenge rooms, which are all directly taken from sections of the campaign. These challenge rooms are nice though, as it allows you to easily get to the most intense fire-fights in the game without much fuss. There is no denying that for price, The Old Blood has plenty of value.

Graphics and audio carry straight over from The New Order and both still manage to hold up their end of the bargain. Rough edges that were easy to forgive a year ago stick out a bit more now and textures are pretty putrid in some areas, but this is still a visually vivid game that runs as smooth as a baby's backside. The audio is still great too, with great explosions and nice weapon effects.

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is a no-brainer if you liked The New Order. Heck, it's really a no-brainer for anyone who likes first-person shooters. The smaller price tag might lead you to think that this is a shady and shoddy product, but you'd be wrong to think so. The core gameplay is just as brilliant as The New Order, it's just slightly shorter and doesn't have any of the intriguing story hooks that took that game to the next level. Despite that, The Old Blood is a fine example of post-release single-player content done properly.

FOUR OUT OF FIVE

(A great game that largely succeeds, but stumbles in some notable ways.