I seem to be a bit slow with Wolfenstein series in general. Played almost every game in the series a year or two after they got released. Have I ever told that my first ever FPS experience was with the Spear of Destiny? Dad brought me along to his friends’ office in October Palace in Kyiv, and they had a 486 IBM PC there with that standalone new episode to Wolfenstein 3D installed. Doom already was out, but I didn’t experience that one yet. Funny, I’ve even played Corridor 7 before I’ve played Doom…
So here I am again, just finishing a standalone DLC/expansion to Wolfenstein: The New Order almost two years late on an old dirty MX518 that I really need to update to some newer cleaner mouse. Thinking about how Old Blood reminds me of things that remind me of other things that remind me of other things. A perfect end of the year game to play, I suppose.
As with The New Order, The Old Blood mixes a lot of old FPS concepts with more modern ones. Health and armor are pickups, but partially regenerate. Weapons are a bit slower to handle, items need to be picked up separately and there’s a cover system, but at the same time you can dual wield and the action is very fast paced, with cover being more of a thing to have a quick respite before rushing into the midst of enemies, blowing off their arms and heads off. Even the story is still this weird mix of oldschool one-liner silliness and serious inner melancholic introspective monologues on horrors of war and horribleness of all the gore and violence that’s happening on screen. The mix of ideas felt perfect in The New Order and it feels perfect in The Old Blood.
What feels off, however, is the scenarios the player is put into. The New Order tried to mix things up constantly, just like The Darkness or The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (which the developers worked on while still working at Starbreeze), – having slow NPC talking elements, right amounts of stealth and open action, varied locations, varied weapons. Overall feel of a more “action adventure FPS” rather than just a mindless FPS. The Old Blood feels similar to how Assault on Dark Athena felt – all the elements are there, but they just don’t click more often than they do. First half has too much rather boring stealthy segments. They’re not forced, usually, but the alternative of infinite enemy spawn until special enemy is killed is just not fun. And the second half introduces Nazi zombies, which are surprisingly incredibly boring to fight.
And even the full first Episode of the original Wolfenstein 3D as secret levels feels a bit less fun to play with normal game controls, weapons and speed. It’s still full of great elements, the levels still look great, the music is still amazing, but all of it doesn’t result into magic, like it happened with The New Order. It just results in an enjoyable FPS with good levels, gameplay mechanics, music and mood. It’s a lot more than what we’ve been getting for years in the genre, sure. But it’s just a little bit disappointing as well. And a bit pointless, if you’ve played The New Order.