When it comes to villains, few can top the Nazis. Yet for all the fun Medal of Honour offers in taking them down you then have the likes of Wolfenstein bringing things to the next level; with its Tarantino-esque bombastic narrative, and then adding a level of occult and mad science Hellboy would be proud of. The Old Blood continues this trend, serving as a standalone expansion to The New Order and fleshing out B.J. Blazkowicz’s final missions in the Second World War.
Mechanically The Old Blood is extremely similar to its predecessor. Dual wielding and overcharging health systems both make a welcome return, along with a large number of foes from the armoured minigun wielding cyborgs to radio equipped officers. The same assets are present for most of the basic weapons, and the main changes this time revolve around the setting, characters and a few methods to move about the environment.
Sticking primarily to a Nazi occupied castle and town (nostalgia galore!) the environment and aesthetic is distinctly different, gravitating closer to the environment of the older games. This allows it to retain an identity of its own to a degree, and the writing has a distinctly different tone. This is most obvious with the brilliant soundtrack adding a great deal of atmosphere to a short game, and certain social norms which are a hallmark of the 1940s.
Unfortunately, however, while this is strong, there are two aspects which truly hold back the game from true greatness. The first is the unfortunate effect of its era. While certainly unique by comparison, lacking the vast and varied environments of The New Order means that it is notably small scale. This is only made far worse given the game’s linearity, and how it lacks some of the fun insanity of the prior title, such as metal cutting guns and laser weapons. If anything it seems far more toned down by comparison. In addition to this, many new elements seem lacking. The aforementioned travelling system allowing Blazkowicz to scale walls is limited to only a few points and offers little beyond glorified ladder climbing. Until the second half of the game, much of the overt insanity fans might hope for is absent entirely, and even then far too much of it is taking place off-screen.
The Old Blood is sadly no Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. While it has its charms and does offer a few ideas its predecessor lacked, you’d be forgiven for feeling this one was a step down. It’s an entertaining shooter to be sure and good to see Machinegames experimenting with this setting, but just temper your expectations before getting this one.
WOLFENSTEIN: THE OLD BLOOD / DEVELOPER: MACHINEGAMES / PUBLISHER: BETHESDA SOFTWORKS / PLATFORM: PC, PLAYSTATION 4, XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW