Old Fritzies in a New Way – Wolfenstein: The Old Blood Review

Screenshot featuring a graveyard scene

Despite some naysayers in our ranks, it should be said that last year’s Wolfenstein: The New Order turned out to be an exceptional game. The combination of various elements of old-school and innovative ideas, to everyone’s surprise, resulted in one of the brightest and most badass shooters of recent years, confidently surpassing games like “Call of Duty” and “Far Cry” in terms of excitement. It would have been sinful not to capitalize on this success, but instead of a full-fledged sequel, MachineGames hastily put together a prequel.

Fortunately, it is no less substantial. In this age of microtransactions and ubiquitous DLC, to see something like The Old Blood is simply miraculous.

For those familiar with the series since the early 2000s, the new Wolfenstein will evoke familiar feelings. It is 1946, and once again we find ourselves rushing to the ill-fated fortress from the title, where the same B.J. Blazkowicz, who, judging by his exploits, single-handedly fights for the entire American army, quickly turns his mission into a series of chases and shootouts. As usual, he is opposed by influential Nazi villains, this time with archaeological and occult inclinations. It seems like there is nothing more to ask for, but the plot, which is supposed to be a distinguishing feature of a prequel, suddenly became its main weakness.

Action scene involving a sniper

Even if we disregard the merits of the unusual setting of The New Order, the storytelling here noticeably falls short of the original in terms of detail. Last time, they made an effort to give the frenzied action some meaning, mixing it with well-developed characters, fairly lengthy dialogues, and even genuine emotions, which is quite rare for “dumb shooters”. Now, however, the story is nothing more than a pale backdrop, giving way to constant shooting and explosions. There are minimal cutscenes and maximum action.

Promising images of main villains, encounters with friends, random remarks from German soldiers, and scattered recordings everywhere give hope for a quality script, but the game seems to briefly summarize its essence without delving into details. We have to learn about the antagonists’ personalities from their diaries, listen to Blazkowicz’s detached muttering, and sympathize with comrades whom we have seen only once – better than nothing, but there is no need to talk about the depth of presentation. “Faster, run, shoot! It’s fun over there!” – the authors urge. And we, though slightly offended, run because we know they are not deceiving us.

Image related to weaponry
A scene in a cavern

Gameplay-wise, The Old Blood, like its predecessor, is the purest simulator of Nazi extermination in any form and quantity, and this saves it from a potential storm of criticism. The mechanics as a whole remain untouched, only details like the protagonist’s weapons have been tweaked. Most models have simply been replaced with corresponding analogues of the time, but there are also new tools: for example, a rifle with an optical sight and deadly effectiveness at long distances, or a grenade launcher pistol that leaves bloody shreds of enemies – the collection is not very extensive, but everything is put to use. However, the praised pipe seemed too forced to us, as it practically duplicates the good old knife in terms of combat functions.

The levels turned out to be truly interesting. The first half of the game is dedicated to the familiar task of shooting down Fritz – and despite the lack of revelations, the process is not at all tiresome. Most of the time, we are simply left to have fun in a spacious room alone with a bunch of patrols, a couple of red barrels, and a machine gun, so the gameplay can vary according to our desires. If we feel like being stealthy, we crawl to silently kill soldiers a meter away from their deaf comrades; if we feel like shooting, we burst in with two machine guns and crush the screaming guards. Fortunately, The New Order’s potential still allows us to derive genuine pleasure from the carousel-like scenes of “me and many-many enemies.” And the new set of perks to level up will be just the thing, because there’s more to come…

Encounter with a zombie

Zombies! Occult damnation appears just when old amusements become boring, and that’s where the game heats up. Completely different in mood and rules, the final episodes simply overflow the screen with spectacular moments and impress, perhaps, the most. In reality, however, the zombie Nazis are just clueless meat, and with their arrival, the action completely departs from the concept of tactics – but you don’t really think about such things while loading your double-barreled shotgun under a rain of burning corpses.

And then it all abruptly ends. No matter how hard we try, completing all eight chapters at a high level of difficulty takes, at best, about seven hours with partial collection of accompanying trinkets. But these seven hours are so densely packed that there is no need to complain. Moreover, in case of a shortage of game time, the authors have saved a quite decent arena trial mode, so those who wish can stay a little longer.

By the way, from a technical point of view, Wolfenstein has seriously grown over the past year. Don’t expect a giant leap in graphics, but you no longer have to worry about pixelated shadows and jagged edges, which are eliminated by smoothing up to 32x. Moreover, the quality progress pleasantly coexists with stability: on the same configuration that struggled with The New Order on medium-high settings, the prequel flies with all its might on ultra settings.

Oh, you will wait with me!

Oh, you’ll wait for me!

Next to the older brother, The Old Blood doesn’t look the most advantageous, but without intrusive comparisons, it performs better than other peers. And even though the hurricane of fun has completely swept away common sense, they won’t let you get bored, and that’s the most important thing for a shooter.

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
PC, PS4, Xbox One
Bethesda Softworks
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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