I've made mention of my liking for the entire Wolfenstein franchise on many occasions; I can remember playing Wolfenstein 3D at a friend's house as a kid and enjoying the ability to mow down Nazis. Last year's Wolfenstein: The New Order was, by my accounts, an excellent return to the franchise and a solid game from start to finish. Arguments could be made that The New Order was the best first-person shooter released in 2014. MachineGames' follow-up, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is once again an excellent return to the world of B.J. Blazkowicz, and his one man march against the Nazi regime.
Set as a stand alone expansion, this prequel follows the familiar protagonist on the lead-up to The New Order. You'll return to one of the most iconic places in any shooter franchise,, Castle Wolfenstein (in more ways than one, actually). What begins as an infiltration mission quickly becomes an escape mission as it doesn't take long before you and Agent One are captured and forced to escape the castle. At the same time, you are attempting to find documents showing the location of Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse's secret base. Throughout all of this, you'll be mowing down Nazis, supersoldiers, and other occult experiments in exhilarating shootouts.
The game feels, looks, and plays just like last year's The New Order, right down to the stealth mechanics of sneaking around and silently knifing enemies in the back. If you enjoyed every aspect of last year's title, then this game will be right up your alley. Besides the occasional new weapon, this standalone prequel feels like an expanded prologue. Taken by itself, it's a short, but pleasurable romp through old, stodgy German castles and armies of pissed off soldiers. he gameplay remains the same as its predecessors - secret areas, collectibles, and crazy firefights. I'm not sure what MachineGames could have done to really expand upon The New Order in terms of offering new gameplay opportunities, but I'm not sure they needed to: they've got a winning formula. The atmosphere and storytelling are still top notch and hearing B.J.'s comments and thoughts throughout is the cherry on top.
It is clear that MachineGames took some inspiring from the opening chapters of 2001's Return to Castle Wolfenstein (and the Xbox title with extra content) and rehashed them in the form of The Old Blood. Many elements are similar, including the hunt for a dead German king, the eponymous Helga's in both games, and even the undead shambling about. Fans that play through both games will notice the similarities and hopefully enjoy them as much as I did. It might have been fanservice at its core, but it doesn't take anything away from the game. If anything, getting to see a beautifully redone and next generation version of Castle Wolfenstein was a treat.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is a great return to the game and I thoroughly enjoy MachineGames' focus on creating an excellent single-player experience. Fans of the series will definitely get a kick out of the game as well; it has the same charm and feel as last year's title while offering a short chance to kick some Nazi ass.
Note: The Wolfenstein: The Old Blood review is based on a digital Xbox One copy of the game.