“Back In Time For Tea.”

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood continues upon the traditions that made it’s predecessor, The New Order, one of last year’s most beloved shooters. Returning in The Old Blood, is the perfect blend of stealth and all-out gunplay, along with engrossing environments that make pulverizing waves of American-hating, Nazi goons immensely satisfying and challenging. What’s missing is the amount and scale of heart The New Order captured so well. There’s plenty of exciting, gritty action to sink your teeth into here, but in terms of emotion, The Old Blood gears its focus elsewhere.

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is broken up into two acts, “Rudi Jager and the Den of Wolves” and “The Dark Secrets of Helga von Schabbs.” Nazi murder enthusiast William Blazkowicz makes his return as the leading lad, this time tasked to infiltrate the infamous Castle Wolfenstein to retrieve a top-secret folder which contains the location of the Nazi commander Deathshead. The Old Blood acts as a prequel to The New Order, the folder being the tie-in, as the opening sequence of The New Order is the siege on Deathshead’s compound.2822935-row_thebridgeMachine Games once again maintains to rise above the modern shooter, as well as the genre as a whole. Last year’s Wolfenstein presented absolutely everything I wanted out of a story-driven first person shooter, so expectations were high for The Old Blood to deliver. And it does, in its own right. As a standalone expansion there’s a lot here, considering the price and extensive replay-ability. Both acts cleverly revisit some of the best mechanics from The New Order, while still making time for plenty of its own new features. The mix of optional stealth and catastrophic bloodbaths remain the highlight of the gameplay.

Straight-up gun battles are a joy, as the cleverly varied array of fun weapons allow players to change the feel of combat entirely, with just a press of a button. From picking off lone guards, thanks to a perfectly timed headshot with a silenced pistol, to devouring waves of alerted enemies with guns blazing, both options are accessible and extremely satisfying. No matter what your intended approach, shooting is incredibly responsive and robust. From a presentation standpoint, firefights look, sound and feel marvelous.2822934-row_spookyThis time around, the story shoots for a more B-movie style tone, yet doesn’t fully dedicate, thus winding up with a pacing that’s slightly disjointed between the two acts. The first, Den of Wolves, feels pretty much like a chapter straight out of The New Order, while the second, Dark Secrets, adopts a strange direction full of surprises; it’s also here where The Old Blood stumbles the most. To put it simply, zombies come into the equation, bringing with them an action-heavy second half that undermines some of Wolfenstein’s strongest suits.

There are some great character moments in the Dark Secrets’ opening sections, but they go quick and don’t make up for the noticeable missing pieces. The alluring stealth approach is removed for a large section of the Dark Secrets, as forced gunfights take center stage. There are few moments in both acts where the action slows down enough to develop characters and ambition. The Old Blood, lacks the humanity that kept me fully devoted to its predecessor, as the story elements here are much less involved. Yet, those factors only matter so much when you’re having a good time blowing your archenemies to bits. I thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout the amusing, if forgettable, seven hours.2822933-row_sniperFor the weary, The Old Blood is not a quick cash-in, but a worthy follow-up that absolutely justifies the asking price. Machine Games excels at large open level design, with choices that make environments feel expansive and explorable. Fun new weapons and enemies, along with some of the best easter eggs I’ve ever seen, make The Old Blood definitely worth the playthrough.

Summary: While not as strong or memorable in all fields as its predecessor, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is still a completely capable and robust shooter. If you liked The New Order, you’ll like The Old Blood. The fact it’s standalone, affordable and accessible for newcomers and veterans, alike, validates reentry into the genius realization of this twisted, yet enthralling take on alternate history. It’s worth visiting, if nothing else, to knock on the gates of Castle Wolfenstein to slaughter more Nazis.

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