Wolfenstein: The Old Blood review: Undead Blitzkrieg

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood doesn't bring a lot of new tricks to the table, but rather adds more of the New Blood flavor introduced last year. Also, zombies. Our review.


B.J. Blazkowicz was last seen in the brave new world of Wolfenstein: The New Order, a reimagined future where the Nazis had won World War II and taken over the planet. It was a horror-filled world, but also one that led to one of the best games of last year. While Bethesda Softworks and MachineGames explored this dystopian future in great depth, there are still some blanks left to be filled. Namely, where did Blazkowicz go before his ill-fated mission in Castle Wolfenstein? That answer comes in the form of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a game that feels familiar after last year's entry in the best of ways.

The story of The Old Blood is simple. Blazkowicz is out to find information on the location of General Deathshead's compound. Along the way, however, he finds another Nazi plot involving the SS Paranormal division. The immediate task then turns to finding and eliminating a Nazi general named Helga Von Schabbs--with guns blazing, of course.

Old Blood, New Foes

That's not to say that The Old Blood is all about rushing in recklessly, despite Blazkowicz's own words. Much of the game will feel familiar to anyone that's played The New Order. The first three-quarters of the game largely consists of open areas patrolled by Nazi hostiles. The idea is to employ stealth, since alerting commanders will cause them to sound an alarm that calls in reinforcements. Most of my playthrough was a massive shooting gallery, waiting to mow down Nazi forces. They didn't go down easy, either, as they'd often employ more advanced tactics, like taking cover, leaning out for fire, and taking advantage of the landscape to try and surround me. It was as gripping a challenge as I'd experienced in quite a while.

Then the final quarter of the game takes an intriguing turn, as the machinations of the SS Paranormal division were on full display. To put it plainly, Wolfenstein delved into Nazi zombies. This is where the game threw stealth and shooting gallery segments out the window, instead focusing on more close-quarters combat. In fact, the zombie portions emphasized melee combat, more than anything, as zombies would fall easier to a pipe in the skull than to assault weaponry. The game's pace changed noticeably and it's a change I wish the game had stuck with. Unfortunately, because of the game's abbreviated length, that wasn't meant to be.

Old Blood, Old Reliable

As hinted, The Old Blood is more of the same action introduced in The New Order, which only proves to be a good thing. Like its predecessor, focus is placed on old-school instincts, rather than relying on modern crutches. There's no minimap or radar, no auto-aim, and no character perks of any kind. Surviving means proceeding intelligently, whether it's through stealth or with more cautious combat tactics. I didn't last long trying to blindly shoot my way out. Rather, the game tested me by having me master leaning in and out of corners, aiming with iron down sights, and recognize when a tactical retreat was in order.

There's no shame in running, but one of the problems I had with the game was that Blazkowicz would often take his time in setting up his escape. While he could sprint like a madman, interacting with objects means having to wait out the animation, which plays out with zero sense of urgency. Enemies don't stop shooting and Blazkowicz is still vulnerable, so waiting for him to slowly jar a door open can often mean death.

Another issue with The Old Blood is that the few boss battles in place are something of a disappointment. Those looking for the over-the-top boss encounters of The New Order are likely to come out disappointed. In fact, because it's hard to tell if you're having any effect on the bosses, these encounters are likely to come out more frustrating than they should. There's still a sense of tension in place, especially as ammo and health packs start to run low, but these fights left me feeling somewhat unsatisfied.

'The New Order' Awaits

As a prequel, The Old Blood is fine. It rarely makes any references to The New Order or Blazkowicz's eventual storming of Castle Wolfenstein. There's no new insight to last year's story, nor are there really any new mechanical changes. Rather, The Old Blood is what it is. It's a standalone expansion meant to prolong the fun of last year's game and, in that sense, it succeeds.

The Old Blood also works as something of an experiment, no matter how brief. I came away from this game wanting some more of a "Nazi zombies" kind of game with the New Order game mechanics, so it's too bad that this portion of the game was so short. For those that don't have the time to devote to The New Order, this abbreviated Old Blood experience should suffice.

This review is based on a PlayStation 4 download code provided by the publisher. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is available now on Steam, the Xbox Store, and PlayStation Store as a downloadable title for $19.99. The game is rated M.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

  • The New Blood mechanics return intact
  • Immense variety
  • Interesting new environments
  • Boss battles are a disappointment
  • Zombie sections feel too short
From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 7, 2015 7:30 AM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood review: Undead Blitzkrieg

    • reply
      May 7, 2015 7:33 AM

      Played this for 30 seconds last night and then realized I had chicken in the oven. Had a blast. Food was good, too.

      Seriously though, I hope to see more titles like this in the future. 20 bucks, standalone, but build on a formula and tech I know that work, and not too long. Perfect.

      • reply
        May 7, 2015 7:37 AM

        For the price, we get good value for dollar. This was a great purchase.

    • reply
      May 7, 2015 7:39 AM

      You say: "I came away from this game wanting some more of a "Nazi zombies" kind of game with the New Order game mechanics,"
      I'll see that and up the ante with Terror Army Trilogy, yes I know the mechanics are different, but MAN! what a great game.

    • reply
      May 7, 2015 7:40 AM

      I played the first couple levels of this and am enjoying the hell out of it. The level design is just so fun. Even small areas feel huge, just by how you progress and unlock sections without even realizing it. It's such a contrast to the Call of Duty of level design. This is a quality FPS.

      Whoever is on the fence about it should take the fence post out of their ass and buy it.

      • reply
        May 7, 2015 8:06 AM

        But I echo the feeling on some of the lumbering animations. They seem very slow and methodical considering that circumstances. The reload animation for the double barrel shotgun is the worst offender. It is so so slow, and resets from the beginning every time you sprint during combat. If you try to fight more than one guy with it, you are almost guaranteed to be force fed a lead sandwich while you sit and wait for the animation to finish. Don't move, as somehow the shells you slowly put into the shotgun one by one, as if surprised by the NRA, will magically fall out and and have to replaced during the 1 second sprint to cover.

        Luckily, within the entire scope of the game, this is a very small problem so far.

    • reply
      May 7, 2015 7:41 AM

      I love this game, the AI is very aggressive and can be sometimes surprisingly intelligent, this game is worth every penny

      • reply
        May 7, 2015 9:43 AM

        Yeah, I'm playing on Uber difficulty and assholes don't let me camp at all, they throw grenades if I hide and rush me when I'm not moving fast enough. This makes fights dynamic and satisfying.

    • reply
      May 7, 2015 7:48 AM

      Love the key chain!!!! :)

    • reply
      May 7, 2015 7:56 AM

      8/10 means it's GOTY.

    • reply
      May 7, 2015 7:58 AM

      Loved the New Order. Old Blood seems a little less ambitious, but still a great FPS.

      Apparently, if you're using the CUDA transcode option (you should be, if you're on nvidia hardware), then try to capture some footage with Shadowplay, the texture transcoding shits itself while your cuda cores are busy encoding video, and it doesn't seem to recover until you reload the level. I got the (glorious) shotgun last night, created some Nazi-pulp and decided to capture it. Had to reach the next checkpoint at a very uneven 6-10fps.

      I don't think I'll be capturing any video of this one.

    • reply
      May 7, 2015 8:10 AM

      Does anyone know the length of this game?

    • reply
      May 7, 2015 9:42 AM

      Playing it now, fantastic so far. Classic Wolfenstein setting - castle, mountain, small town, nazi occultists, loving it. After few hours of play I caught myself thinking - "I wonder when will they do another one...". Can't wait!

    • reply
      May 7, 2015 9:48 AM

      It looks absolutely gorgeous on my PC. When you take the cable car up to the castle I was impressed with the size of that thing.

    • reply
      May 7, 2015 9:53 AM

      Machinegames should do the next Duke...its all im saying.

      • reply
        May 7, 2015 10:06 AM

        The next Duke doesn't need to exist. That franchise is dead and it should probably stay that way.

        They could absolutely do something awesome and new though, and I'd be right there.

        • reply
          May 7, 2015 2:46 PM

          Come on! There's always room for the Duke (just cant be that hot mess we got a few years ago).
          If these guys did it, id start throwing money at them pronto.

      • reply
        May 7, 2015 5:07 PM

        I hope they do something new. If not then I think they would give Quake justice.

    • reply
      May 7, 2015 4:55 PM

      Just finished the prologue. Looking forward to more!

    • reply
      May 8, 2015 2:55 PM

      Ragequit. Fucking stealth sections in the beginning.

Hello, Meet Lola