Being a Yorkshireman, I’m quite the fan of bargains and at under £8, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood certainly qualified as one. Indeed, for considerably less than the amount I’d just spent on two drinks and a snack at Costa (fucking fortune) Coffee [I’m here all week, folks…], I figured it’d be both rude and daft not to pick up a copy – particularly given I’d really enjoyed Wolfenstein: The New Order. Sure, it’s not a “full” game per se, but the promise of more dual-wielding, Nazi-shooting fun seemed too good an opportunity to miss out on, so, to paraphrase Shakespeare, I snapped that shit up like a boss.
And boy was that a good decision. What followed was – essentially – hours and hours of fun. I’ma go into more detail than that obviously, but as a general theme, or motif, fun’s a pretty apt one. From the get-go, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood grabs hold of your fingers and eyeballs, and peppers them with pure gaming fun-bullets. They’re not actually a thing, admittedly, but they should be!
Anyhoo, back to the game. The Old Blood is a prequel to The New Order, and as such, you’ll be in control of B.J. Blazkowicz right before the events of the latter take place. And because you’re BJ, and because you’re in the Wolfenstein Universe, you’ll be tasked with getting to the bottom of some weird occult-ey goings on and with killing Nazis. A whole murrrrfuckin’ shitload of Nazis. And because this is a Wolfenstein game, there’ll be a commendable amount of ways to do that, from dual-wielding some pretty big guns, to sneaky-pipe-bashing-Nazi-skull type shenanigans, and with quite a bit in between. Much like with W: TNO, how you approach your Nazi killing is often largely up to you, and you’re usually free to take a stealthy, cautious approach, or go in with all the subtlety of….well, of BJ Blazkowicz, blasting wave after wave of Third Reich soldiers in their stupid Nazi faces. And if all of that isn’t enough for you, later on in the game things get even more fun. Because what’s more fun than shooting Nazis in the face? Shooting Nazi ZOMBIES in the face!
To be sure, this isn’t a game that takes itself too seriously (the Nazi zombies being your first clue), but it is a game that’s well done and deftly crafted. Whilst The Old Blood doesn’t quite have the narrative depth of The New Order, I still found the story quite compelling, and as enjoyable as all the shooting was, I still felt like there was a sense of purpose to it all. On the face of it, there’s a degree of daftness to the story, but as with The New Order, that story is fleshed-out somewhat by the various letters, notes and articles dotted about the place, and they add a sense of context to the carnage. Of course, you’re free to ignore it all, but if you want to augment your journey, they’re there for you to do so, and actually, I very much enjoyed that part of the game too.
In terms of GRAPHICS and MECHANICS, I didn’t find much to complain about in The Old Blood either. In respect to the former, the game isn’t overly fancy and (again, like The New Order) there’s a kind of retro feel to the graphics – without them looking dated, or sub-par if you get what I mean. Basically, The Old Blood let’s you have your Nostalgia cake and eat it with a Next-Gen spoon, which is a pretty impressive achievement, all things considered. Levels are basic, but not shonky – and the times when you’re not running and gunning, there’s plenty of interesting things to look at, or hear, or admire. And when you are busy shooting the shit out of stuff, The Old Blood plays like a dream, and there’s a smoothness to the mechanics that I genuinely loved. I honestly can’t remember encountering any stuttering, frame-rate issues or glitches and – other than one Nazi dying in mid-air and staying there – my experience was exceptional. Even with waves of enemies descending on me, and whilst letting rip with two automatic weapons simultaneously, I breezed through the game in a silky, dreamy fashion.
And talking about dreamy stuff; Wolfenstein: The Old Blood had some actual, non-simileish dream stuff in there too, and if you’re of a certain age (or into Retro games) you’ll probably quite like that. Me, I positively fucking loved it, and for a little while there, I was 11 years old again and playing a much-loved part of my own gaming history. Being reminded of a time when my biggest worry was my maths homework is great anyway, but in terms of my overall experience with The Old Blood, it elevated it just that bit higher, and added an extra layer of fun to the proceedings. And actually, re-playability in general is another string to the game’s bow, which is commendable anyway, but given I paid less than a tenner for it, it’s outstanding. Aside from the aforementioned Collectibles and Easter Eggs, there are Perks to master, as well as a pretty cool Challenge mode to tackle.
The Perk thing will have you mixing-up your approach to the game and, if you’re so inclined, it encourages you to tackle levels you’d previously blasted your way through with stealth – or vice versa. Getting x kills with such-and-such method can often feel like grinding, but I actually found it was enjoyable, and that it made me appreciate just how well thought-out the game actually was. Sections I’d barely survived with a guns-blazing approach were a totally different proposition when I opted for stealth, and I had a lot of joy playing around with various approaches. Again, you’re free to ignore this if you want to, but I found it will worth having a crack at. The challenge mode is also – you guessed it – a whole lot of fun too, and it’s basically Wolfenstein: Arcade Mode, wherein you can just dispense with the pretense of narrative altogether, and concentrate on all the shooting Nazis in the face stuff instead. Funnily enough, Challenge Mode is, like, quite challenging, and once you’re done with the story stuff, there’s many more hours of interest getting to grips with it, and trying to get your shiny medals/trophies.
Which brings me nicely to my CONCLUSION, which is this: Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is a brilliant little game that, actually, isn’t that little. Even at the full £15, the game’s great fun and great value, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it, and, for the record, I expect to continue enjoying it for a while yet. OK, it might not be the most nuanced of games, and there aren’t many shades of grey here, but as much as I like games that make you think, or grapple with existential anguish and whatnot, sometimes it’s OK to just want to shoot shit up. Sometimes it’s OK to want to maximise your shooting-shit-up-iness by grabbing a second gun, and doubling the rate at which you can do just that. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is a game for just these times, and it’s a pretty damn good one. Just as they did with The New Order, Machine Games (Developer) and Bethesda (Publisher) have done a great job with Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, and they’ve lovingly updated a stone cold gaming classic for the Next-generation, erm, generation. The game’s polished – but without ever feeling gimmicky – and that allows you to focus on the superb gameplay, which itself allows you to have fun. Shitloads and shitloads of fun. See also: fun!
If you liked The New Blood you’ll almost certainly like this, and if you haven’t played the former, this might very well make you want to. And – to come full-circle – as a Yorkshireman who’s been entertained for the last week for the modest sum of £8, I’ma go right ahead and put buying Wolfenstein: The Old Blood in the ‘better decisions I’ve made’ column. Because, like…. Fun!!