Published May 05, 2015Indiana Jones' indelible gripe "Nazis; I hate these guys" was one I once shared as a gamer. Early gaming relied too heavily on our WWII Euro opponents because nobody would ever complain about Germans being the bad guys.
But after so many post-Modern Warfare shooters focused on Middle-Eastern enemies, last year's Wolfenstein: The New Order felt refreshingly unique, with its alt-history setting in a 1960 where the Nazis had won. This despite being part of franchise that dates back to 1981's Castle Wolfenstein.
Old Blood is a standalone expansion prequel that anyone can download, though it began as traditional DLC for game owners, which is why it's actually two separate campaigns: "Rudi Jager and the Den of Wolves" and "The Dark Secrets of Helga Von Schabbs."
Both star B.J. Blazkowicz — the recently revealed half-Jewish hero in every Wolfenstein game since the series went 3D in 1992 — and are first-person shooters set in 1946, just before the New Order prologue. The war is still ongoing; the Germans are developing mech technology, Nazi robots and cyborg dogs while dabbling in the occult.
The opening is spent stealthily infiltrating (and then violently escaping) the titular Castle Wolfenstein to retrieve a secret document and shoot Nazis. A lot. The second part is set in an occupied village where it turns out that the "dark and ancient power" they're messing with is the ability to reanimate the dead — yep, Nazi Zombies! Needless to say, you will also shoot them a lot; maybe even too much.
Old Blood is, not surprisingly, smaller scale than its predecessor — hard to complain, though, when it's also one-third the price — and the related reduction in narrative import can make it feel too action-y at times. New Order's epic, speculative storyline was largely why it won such critical acclaim.
But the mechanics remain great and, well, it's still a lot of fun to blast Nazis, be they alive or undead. (Machine Games/Bethesda)