Wolfenstein: The New Order was a surprise to everyone, myself included.  It was an FPS with actual feeling and character development and just a dash of … alright, a ton of over-the-top factors like laser cannons and armored mechs.  Not to mention the setting — a world where the Nazis actually won WWII, 15 years after the war is over.  It was so interesting and fun that the announcement of a prequel, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, for just $20 was an easy sell for me.  I could go for another few hours in that world.

It’s a shame that I bought in so easily.  The Old Blood has a lot of the same mechanics as The New Order, but takes away all of the character development and gives you boring, linear levels that would have been better suited for the first few missions of The New Order.

I should have followed Blasko's lead and napped through this one.
I should have followed Blasko’s lead and napped through this one.

  • TL;DR: A disappointing prequel to a much better game.
  • Platform: PS4
  • Hours Played: 5
  • What I Played: Main campaign (both episodes)
  • Should You Play It?: No.  You should play The New Order, but not this.

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is a prequel to MachineGames’s 2014 hit Wolfenstein: The New Order.  In The Old Blood, Agent B.J. “Blazko” Blazkowicz is tasked with finding a folder which has the location of General Deathshead’s compound.  Finding the folder will allow for an all-out strike on the Nazi leader and hopefully turn the war around, a war that the good guys are losing.

One of the main reasons that The New Order was so good was the character development.  An actual story in a shooter, not just a tacked on campaign, was a huge and pleasant surprise.  It’s really a shame to see that all but gone here.  The Old Blood is broken up into two chapters.  The first chapter is mainly spent sneaking alone around the grey and bleak Castle Wolfenstein.  It looks like narrative/story element is going to pick up once the second chapter starts, but that fades quickly.  Maybe MachineGames didn’t have the time or resources to really make The Old Blood what it could have been, but it’s definitely a regression.

Not only are the levels fairly bleak, but they are incredibly linear.  One of the coolest parts of The New Order were the open areas of all out, guns ablazing fights, scooping up health and ammo from dead Nazis as others poured in to fight.  The running and gunning remains, but the open level design does not.  This really shows when you need to take out some commanders who can call in for backup if you are spotted.  The New Order would typically give you multiple paths to taking these guys out, while The Old Blood is linear to the point of walking a path, killing a commander, doubling back around a wall, up some stairs, and killing another.  The stealth is still fairly well done, but the restrictions put in place are another disappointment.

There certainly will be blood, though.  I can't argue with that.
There certainly will be blood, though. I can’t argue with that.

Blazko does retain a certain flair, though, which really comes out during takedowns.  The utility tool in The Old Blood is a pair of pipes that can be used for climbing walls, prying open doors/windows, or killing.  There are a fair amount of different takedown kills, most of which are pretty gruesome.  One of my favorites is tapping an enemy on the shoulder until he turns around, stabbing him in the neck, and then hammering the pipe section further into his head.

That flair can also be seen during non-combat sections.  While standing still with his knife drawn, Blazko will flip it around in his hand like he’s too cool for school.  Sliding under a door held up by your utility pipe will result in grabbing the pipe on the way by.

When the stealth breaks down, it’s easy to feel pretty powerful.  Blazko has access to half dozen weapons, most of which can be dual-wielded for extra Rambo-ness.  It’s definitely hard to aim while dual-wielding, as expected, but if you’re facing a group of enemies and feel the urge, it’s easy to go to down.

See: going to town.
See: going to town.

The general environment and polish level on The Old Blood also backs up my idea that the game was rushed.  Most levels are some combination of grey and brown, whether they be in a castle, in a cave, or in a crypt.  It’s easy to see a ton of screen tearing as well, since you’re often moving the camera from one side of the screen to the other.

Challenge maps give The Old Blood some replayability, but I have no intention of even starting one up.  I was frustrated enough by the original firefights, so why would I want to play them again?  The most surprising thing, though, was when I found a bed to sleep on and was transported to a Wolfenstein 3D level.  These secrets, called nightmares, are pretty damn cool.  I only found one of them, but it was one of the high points of the entire game.

Oh, look,  Another grey/brown setting with an assault rifle.
Oh, look, Another grey/brown setting with an assault rifle.

Wolfenstein: The New Order is a great game.  The prequel, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, is not.  Where the former excelled — character development, ramping up in action/insanity, a great blend of action and stealth — the latter fails in just about every case.  It’s really too bad.  I was looking forward to The Old Blood for a while and now, after having played it, I’m definitely disappointed.

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