Wolfenstein: The New Order arrived to usher in a new era for the Wolfenstein franchise, one that would see the game return to its core, no-nonsense first-person shooter roots, but with a developed sense of narrative. There was a strong sense of identity throughout and some solid visuals to boot. The Old Blood looks to build upon this as a standalone expansion, by offering up a different scenario, but by utilising much of the framework that was proposed in The New Order. It's a formula that works when it comes to the no-nonsense side of things, but the story does suffer a bit.
Positioned as a prologue to The New Order, in The Old Blood we see BJ Blazkowicz attempting to infiltrate Castle Wolfenstein with Richard Wesley. They are looking to obtain a secret folder from Helga von Schabbs that contains some rather pertinent information, but, when they get to the planned location the folder is nowhere to be found. BJ and Wesley are then captured and the rest of the game follows BJ's attempt to escape and retrieve the secret folder.
It's a decent plot and sets The New Order up in a sufficient way. What's impressive is how it drives you from location to location, each with its own distinct style. Whether it's the imposing Castle Wolfenstein or Wulfburg, the world has plenty of personality.
You will also meet a few different characters along the way, such as Rudi Jager (Helga's lieutenant) and Kessler, but there isn't a whole lot of screen time for you to develop any real relationship with these characters. They are there more as devices than anything and at certain key points where their roles are more pronounced, there isn't that much of a connection. It means these key points fall a bit flat; they turn into throwaway moments. It feels like a missed opportunity as the developers clearly intended these characters to have a life of their own, it just doesn't come to fruition.
Acting as a standalone expansion, The Old Blood has very similar gameplay mechanics to The New Order. However, there have been a few little improvements made to tighten up the experience. If this is your first jaunt though, the gameplay is very explosive, focussing on an all-guns blazing approach. You will often have the ability to dual-wield pistols, machine guns and shotguns and in general, the approach to success in the game is to blast them before they blast you.
There are, however, some stealth sections that enter into the mix. They make sense in the grand scheme of the story, but do rather stunt the gameplay a little. It's at odds with the core messaging of the experience and when they are over the game becomes more enjoyable. If anything, if you're bold enough, it's much more fun to just tackle these head on and see if you can get through that way instead.
Aside from that, it's very much more of the same with The Old Blood. There are a few different enemy types, but the game doesn't promote anything out of the ordinary for the franchise. Boss fights enter the fray to break the experience up a little bit and they can be somewhat challenging, if not a little bit tedious. The last boss, especially, more than overstays its welcome health-wise, purely because it's so grossly inflated compared to anything else you face in the game.
Easter eggs are prevalent throughout the experience, with little nods to previous properties popping up throughout the main campaign. There are also the rather awesome Nightmare sequences, where you are transported back to Wolfenstein 3D, but with The Old Blood's weaponry. It's a novel twist and certainly brings back some good memories. All of the old tricks still work out too, so this is one particular nod that is much appreciated.
Challenges also help to enhance the experience beyond the core package, allowing you to tackle set pieces from the game's story. You are judged based on how well you clear each of these areas, getting bonus points for things like explosive kills, headshots and combo killing.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is an accessible and worthwhile standalone expansion to The New Order. It doesn't attempt to reinvent the wheel, but it doesn't need to. Instead, it offers a familiar experience in a new setting, but with a few tweaks here and there. If you enjoyed The New Order then you should definitely give it a look.
|Wolfenstein 3D makes a triumphant return.|
|Core gameplay is still strong.|
|Environments have plenty of personality.|
|Characters lack any real development.|
|Stealth sections are kind of boring.|
|Doesn't present anything out of the ordinary.|