The standalone expansion is slowly becoming the go to means of extending a franchise without committing finances to a full blown sequel. It’s a welcome move for the most part – naturally there are some standalone expansions that aren’t much more than simple cash grabs based on a popular modern property (we’re looking at you Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious), but there are also wonderful releases like the ape crazy bonkers 80s action spectacular, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, and this old-school standalone prequel to last year’s sleeper FPS hit Wolfenstein: The New Order.
Set immediately prior to the prologue of The New Order, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood once again places players in the shoes of William “B.J.” Blazkowicz, agent of the O.S.A. (the Office of Secret Actions, not Obstructive Sleep Apnea, as Google would have you believe).
It’s 1946 and the hardened Nazi killer and future savior of mankind must infiltrate the eponymous Castle Wolfenstein along with Agent One in order to discover the whereabouts of General Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse, information under the protection of Nazi archaeologist, Helga von Schabbs and her hulking, brutal left hand/dog trainer Rudi Jager, the kind of cackling evil villain that is happy to feed both prisoners and underperforming underlings to his hounds. Naturally everything goes pear shaped, and the supposedly covert operation involving fake papers and stolen uniforms turns very shooty.
Balance of Action and Stealth
Although some sections demand a guns blazing approach, the choice of stealth or gunplay still features strongly in The Old Blood. With some enemies, such as the massive armoured sentries, can only be taken down or circumnavigated via stealth: first finding a switch to turn off the powered rails they are tethered to like some kind of walking Third Reich bumper car, then sneaking up behind the temporarily disabled villains and levering out their power cord to permanently take them off line.
These deliberate stealth sections sometimes come across as a little forced but they maintain a nice level of tension throughout. The shooting feels old-school and weighty, and although there are some modern mechanics, such as the ability to lean out around cover to take shots, it still feels more akin to the Wolfenstein’s of yore than modern shooters.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is not without pacing and design problems, but even still it’s a remarkably fun and satisfying game. It’s a short, five or so hour burst of action and excitement with production values that rival some far more expensive AAA titles. For half the price of a full title, The Old Blood still delivers a lot of game. 😀