You’d have to forgive a cynical gamer for originally not wanting to play “Wolfenstein: The Old Blood.” The prequel to the solid “Wolfenstein: The New Order,” it’s easy to wonder why this game was released, especially as a stand-alone download and not as a DLC, about a year after the original hit shelves.
And then it happens.
If you’re not awestruck the first time you see Castle Wolfenstein or nervous when your cover is almost blown the second you get inside, once the shooting starts, you’ll feel it. Shooting games aren’t supposed to be this addictive.
Enraptured in old-school noir and frenetic shooting, you’ll realize rather quickly that there’s plenty of intrigue to uncover here, more than enough drama and blood to go around.
While the addition of a few new enemies and weapons adds to the overall package, it’s the hard-boiled story that will convince you the most that this is an eight or so hour experience every first-person shooter fan should partake in.
It’s so good in fact that you’ll end up so hungry for more that, if you haven’t already, you’ll most likely pick up “The New Order,” too.
Taking place before the events in “The New Order,” “The Old Blood” has your undercover agent looking for clues in the castle that can turn World War II in the United States’ favor. And when we say looking for clues in the castle, we mean it. From prisons, air ducts, libraries, catacombs and even under the water, the environment is expansive and encompassed with German culture. In the kitchen of the castle, you’ll actually spot sausage and pretzels, while the constant foreign chatter is a consistent reminder that you’re surrounded by foes.
If the visuals don’t drive home the constant fear of death, the top notch sound effects add another layer. Dogs barking, gunshots, screaming and a dark soundtrack add to a game that has enough ambiance to hold its own with anything on TV now (take that, “Daredevil.”)
The experience does have its flaws, but nothing that robs you of the craving you’ll have for more. One of the game’s most used features, the slide, used to traverse under grates and doors, lacks real precision. In a few instances where you’ll have to pull off the maneuver quickly or die, you’ll definitely do just that a few times.
Speaking of passing on, even on the child-like difficulty, “The Old Blood” is a challenge. This could turn off some gamers, but truth be told, this is the type of game that can convert you into a fan of the genre. It has it all, stealth and puzzle elements and of course, plenty of opportunities to unleash your Nazi-killing self, from stabbing dogs in the neck and sniping guys after you’ve climbed up a wall with pipes.
Equal parts a traditional shooter with a hard-boiled story and just enough gameplay innovation to make it unique, “The Old Blood” is arguably the best direct download game on the PlayStation in 2015.
A Great Introduction to the Series: A prequel to last year’s “The New Order,” you don’t have to have any familiarity to the series to jump right in. With a charismatic main character, BJ Blazkowicz, plenty of weapons and a decent playtime through (about 7-8 hours) it’s something you can just jump right into.
Awesome Noir Story: Hearing your character’s inner monologue, as well as his interactions with other characters, adds an extra level to the Nazi and paranormal elements the game plays with. A fight for the safety of your country, with plenty of ambiance, little touches of German culture and a bevy of blood and suspense makes this something every FPS fan needs to experience.
Difficult: Even on the easiest difficulty, you’re going to die, a lot. However, the enemies attack in old-school waves at times, making your deaths, if you pay attention to your surroundings, ones that you can learn from.
Eery Tunes: Mick Gordon’s tunes are super atmospheric and borderline creepy. The rest of the sounds, from sirens, shot blasts and blood-curdling screams, set a scene for a wonderful experience.
Awesome Shooting Action: The feeling you’ll get from killing off dozens of guys, or throwing a well-placed grenade or even sneaking up on a dog and stabbing it in the neck are extremely gratifying. So much so that even if you’re not a fan of shooting games, you’ll find something to like here.
Some Puzzles Are Confusing: There will be times when you won’t see something right in front of you, thanks to the massive environment, or having to retrace your steps. While it’s all a part of any FPS, it can get frustrating at times.
Slide Mechanic Needs Work: Especially in the scene with the massive robotic dog where you have to execute it quickly, the gameplay elements proves it lacks precision.
If you’re not a fan of the “Wolfenstein” series or haven’t played the slew of games that have graced home consoles since the days of the Super Nintendo, “Wolfenstein: The Old Blood,” thanks to an awesome noir story, plenty of blood, a great soundtrack and uber difficulty, is an addictive experience that sets an awesome standard for digitally released first-person shooters on the PlayStation 4.