Most Intriguing Idea: Revisiting the sequence of the original Wolfenstein 3D.
Best Design Decision: I am really partial to that pipe.
Worst Design Decision: Zombiezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Last year’s Wolfenstein: The New Order was a refreshing blend of old-school run-n-gun FPS action with new ideas like optional stealth, cover, and actual characters. The Old Blood, its short-form followup/prequel, doesn’t reach the same heights. The brevity works against its efforts to be a character piece, as the span between a character’s introduction and inevitable horrific death can be ludicrously short. The pipe tool/weapon is an entertaining addition, but climbing The Old Blood‘s modest number of hotspots doesn’t add so much that the new option supports a whole game. This did not stop the developers from making an early chapter a mandatory stealth sequence built around the pipe’s limited capabilities. Still, The Old Blood recovers nicely from there and its midgame sequences were as strong as anything from The New Order, although it has a pervasive habit of dragging combat encounters on for too long.
The late game, however, falls apart. Shambling, on-fire zombies appear but are fundamentally uninteresting to fight, not even requiring headshots. I’d hoped that the ability to turn enemies into zombies would at least expand the tactical options, but that ends up being too unpredictable. The sight of flaming, undead Nazis falling from doomed zeppelins and then staggering to their feet is initially striking, but ceases to be once it has happened more or less continuously for 10 minutes or so. The Old Blood has further down to go, however, and reaches its nadir in an abysmal final battle against a giant boss with a glowy-weak-spot mouth. Aside from the technical problems (hits on the mouth registered inconsistently, dead adds failed to despawn and remained standing in the arena) this concept is innately dull and the fight it appears in is a bore. The Old Blood is more new Wolfenstein and had a few levels I’m eager to revisit, but it begins and ends badly and occasionally tries the patience in between.
Verdict: Cautiously recommended