“Real Wrath Of God Stuff”: Wolfenstein The Old Blood Review

2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order was a delightful surprise. It took everything I knew about the franchise, limited to short sessions of Wolfenstein 3D on my parent’s computer, and dropped it into a startling new setting. B. J. Blascowicz’s mission to stop Deathshead shockingly fails and a coma puts him in the backseat for a ride into a terrifying ride as the Nazi Empire wins the war and takes over the world. Saved at the last minute, B.J. becomes a man out of time, picking up his quest to kill as many Nazis as possible.

The Old Blood is a two part story set prior to the events of Wolfenstein. As the Allies struggle against the onslaught of an emboldened Nazi regime, B.J. is sent on a mission to track down a file that contains the location of Deathhead’s compound, allowing the good guys to launch a full scale invasion to halt the increasingly technologically advanced German war machine.

Both parts of the story provide two vastly different experiences and are deliciously titled that offers the game a great deal more camp than The New Order. “Rudi Jager and the Den of Wolves” is essentially a spiritual remake/homage of Wolfenstein 3D as an inflitration into Castle Wolfenstein to seek out the Deathshead file fails, causing B.J. to be imprisoned by the titluar Nazi brute. “Den of Wolves” is for all intents and purposes a stealth game, putting B.J. into locals that offer lots of cover and steal kill opportunities. However, just like The New Order, there is no punishment for getting spotted. Nazi commanders will call in reinforcements until they’re killed and enemies always drop enough weapons and ammo to make any large scale assault manageable.

The game’s second story, “The Dark Secrets of Helga Von Schabbs” indulges player’s action oriented leanings by introducing Nazi zombies. “The Dark Secrets” is notably more difficult than “Den of Wolves” given the nature of how zombies work. Amusingly, the game’s reason for spawning zombies is hilarious. An ill timed explosion to open a crypt in a church unleashes a hidden power and triggers violent explosions all over the city, including a few zeppelins. As the transports fall to the ground in a fiery wreck, the flaming corpses of pilots and soldiers smash into the ground before reanimating and attacking the player. It’s a much more action oriented affair, even in its stealth sequences, that’s a nice change of pacing from all the stalking around in “Den of Wolves.”

The Old Blood lacks the punch and novelty of The New Order, but only because the former game took the series out of World War II and into a wonderfully fleshed out nightmare of a glorified, world wide Nazi Empire. There aren’t as many memorable locations to play through but because the action and story are constantly moving you to the next area, there isn’t much to see to begin with. B.J.’s periodically stated sadisitc desire to kill Nazis is carefully balanced by his thoughtful inner dialog about his own life experiences as they pertain to his mission. The game ends on a high point, with B.J. defeating Helga and her plans to resurrect an ancient power discovered by King Otto I, the good vibes are fleeting. After all, The Old Blood ends where The New Order begins.

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is a pulpy extension to an already fantastic game. If you loved The New Order as much as I, there is little need to convince you to partake in the second game. It’s got all the same gameplay and fun combat that made the original such a thrill. Thought the tone is brought down a notch, it nonetheless maintains the spirit and violent heart established by the main game. Its stealth is the game’s most noticeable weakness, but an action driven second act makes up for such shortcomings.

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