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The credits have rolled on Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. Is it a good video game? Well, that depends. If you are 100% pro-Wolfenstein, then sure. If you only liked The New Order because of it’s brilliant storytelling, then probably not. If you wished The New Order was more about run-and-gun, duck-and-cover shooting, then definitely yes!

Have you played Wolfenstein: The Old Blood? If so, what are your thoughts?

Transcript(ish)

It’s time for a post-game smoke, where I give a few thoughts on a game as soon as possible after playing it. As is the nature of this type of video, it’s short, quickly thrown together, and certainly rides emotional high or low of whatever game I just finished. I trade in-depth analysis for visceral reaction. I offer plenty of longer, more thought-out videos, so please stay and poke around  a bit.

The credits have rolled on Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. Is it DLC? Is it an expansion? Is it a stand alone game? I’ll probably call it all three during this review. It’s confusing.

The comparisons to its parent game, Wolfenstein: The New Order, must be made, so I’ll do so right up front. This game is not nearly as good as The New Order. But it’s still absolutely worth playing. For me, Wolfenstein has become a series that I anticipate almost as much as Fallout.

The only reason I played The Old Blood is because the base game, The New Order is so great. And if I’m being honest, one of the primary reasons I am not disappointed by The Old Blood is because The New Order is so great. Had I played The Old Blood in a vacuum I might be turned away by its comparatively–comparative to its predecessor–straightforward first person shooter mechanics. Where The New Order is a brilliantly effective story with strong cinematic set pieces woven into the first person shooter mechanics, The Old Blood tells a moderately effective story with baseline cinematics subdued even further by the first person shooter mechanics.

But what must be mentioned above all else is what The Old Blood doesn’t mention until almost all else has been said. Nazi Zombies. About 80% into the game, the story attempts to acclimate itself into the world of zombies. This is contextually appropriate considering the historical presence of zombies in Wolfenstein games, but the old blood specifically didn’t mention it until later in the game, and remember, Wolfenstein: The New Order was meant to be a reboot of the series, and considering that game was sans-zombie, it’s a surprise that this game is avec-zombie.

And as jarring as this seems at first, Wolfenstein–by way of MachineGames and Bethesda–can get away with this. An incredibly affecting, rebooted story that doesn’t lose its way no matter how many mech-piloting Nazis and giant mechanical dogs get thrown into the mix will need more than a surprise zombie Nazi expansion to bring it down.

This zombie motif that’s been so popular over the last few years is just the sort of art-diluting pop culture reference that I don’t want a great series to reduce itself to. I wanted the rebooted Wolfenstein to back away from zombies. But I think that very aversion is why MachineGames embraced it, and that conscious intent, that unstated but understood use of the absurd is what separates simple products from works of art. It’s hokey but not enough to be unintentionally laughable.

This is also why The Old Blood had to be released after The New Order, even though The Old Blood a prequel. Without the genius context of the main game, the zombie expansion could have been a product rather than art. But, there’s a question that needs to be asked when examining any extremity as a stand alone work: considering The Old Blood is sold as a stand alone expansion, should it also be judged by its own merit?

Some could say so, but as I’ve defended in the past, art should never be analyzed in a vacuum.

I know I’ve been talking about 20% of this game so far, but that zombie 20% is what makes this game interesting. Outside of the undead, The Old Blood is a pretty typical duck and cover shooter.

One more note: I love the idea of having to kill every enemy twice. It’s a fun way to increase difficulty without simply introducing new bullet-sponge enemy types.

Tell me in the comments if you’ve played Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. What did you think of it? If you’ve played both The New Order and The Old Blood, how would you compare them?

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Thank you for watching.

Music Credits

  • Video Dungeon Crawl Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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