Wolfenstein is legendary. LEGENDARY so much that I cannot remember any series of games with the same number of reboots and sub-universes (well, Mario doesn’t count), while still properly operating for over thirty years. Count on your fingers:
1) The classic film series Castle Wolfenstein (1981-1984) – quality 2-dimensional stealth with almost no graphics;
2) Wolfenstein 3D and two large extensions for it (1992) – one of the first in the history of FPS. Bright, cheerful, groovy;
3) The famous Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001) – a proper FPS with non-linear locations, which could be played in either Stealth, or in the open;
4) Graphic novels connecting Wolfenstein 3D and RtCW, but becoming a separate product in the end;
5) Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (2003) – generally a separate multiplayer game not much associated with the previous ones;
6) Wolfenstein RPG (2008) – a mocking sub-universes made in the style of Wolfenstein 3D, and part of the duology with DOOM RPG;
7) Wolfenstein (2009) – a great attempt to reboot the universe once more, but generally doesn’t contradict RtCW;
8) Wolfenstein: The New Order (2014) – a modern reinterpretation of the universe, sending the hero into the future, so as not to conflict with other games of the series.
Not everything above is a reboot, and not all can be called canon at the same time. It’s already difficult to understand what is truly authentic, and what is now meaningless fiction. Fans who gathered information about the games, made the following conclusion: RtCW, WET, W2009 and WNO are one product, which doesn’t have much controversy, as in other projects. In addition, thanks to the secrets and Easter eggs in the WNO, we can conclude that W3D is a dream of the protagonist, that is, the game also takes place in the main plot of the new reboot.
All of this is clear, but what about Wolfenstein 2009, where we had the undead Nazis and futuristic weapons, changing the course of World War II? Here somewhere an important plot element was missing, which in addition to ending RtCW would explain why in the Wolfenstein universe war didn’t end in 1945, but was much longer and much bleaker for the Allies.
Now all the i’s have been dotted by the add-on. Yes-yes, “add-on”, is a forgotten word from the wild days when developers didn’t clone millions of DLCs for their games, but created proper continuations for released games, not inferior to the originals. Players from the 90s and early 2000s will remember that the people rejoiced at each add-on no less than at the originals and sequels. They knew that they would receive no less than before, just on the same engine, and possibly with the same graphics. DLC policies and fast internet have made the developers and publishers a little lazier and very greedy; they no longer want to produce add-ons, and sometimes they produce sequels to games that don’t reach new content levels even of the old games add-ons. But a thousand or two of DLCs, carved out of the game before the release, is a must.
Anyway, let’s leave our mutterings that the grass used to be greener before. Swedish developers of MachineGames remember the meaning of the word “add-on” and don’t think any less of it. As in the old days, they didn’t create a 2-3 hour additional adventure, but a full eight hours of gaming, only slightly inferior to the original in scope and passion. But first things first.
The Old Blood is a prequel to the WNO. It’s 1946, the war isn’t subsiding, and a secret (ha-ha-ha!) ops specialist William Joseph Blazkowicz is sent to castle Wolfenstein to steal important documents with the hiding location of Wilhelm «Deathshead» Strasse. However, things are not going according to plan: you can’t steal the data files or the map, and Blazko gets imprisoned, and then runs away following the best tradition of the series. Objective: get out of the castle, catch the person who took the maps folder, steal it and finally get to Deathshead, who currently commands the Nazi army (he will perform the last point of the program in The New Order). Along the way, Blazko understand that new technologies are not all that the Nazis have in their arsenal. They open tombs and look for ancient artefacts, which is a plain text reference to the game Wolfenstein (2009). So we have a single prequel for two parts, seemingly not at all related. Of course, the end of the add-on says that the events Wolfenstein (2009) never happened, but … theoretically they could have happened somewhere between the dreams and the memories of the protagonist. Why not?
Now a little about arming our hero. The main character doesn’t have a portable laser cutter now, but there is a piece of a pipe that can be put together in different configurations – a universal remedy for all occasions. It can open doors, it can kill your enemies, it can be used to swing from ropes or cliffs, and you can even climb the rocks and tear off pieces of the enemies’ armour thanks to it. The authors deliberately abandoned over-complicated guns of the future, to remind the players that the prehistory of this game is The New Order and many of the technologies hadn’t existed during the game’s action.
However, everything else remains the same: a lot of voluntary stealth, a lot of forced shooting, more “dreams” returning to Wolfenstein 3D, the search for secrets in the spacious corridor locations and nontrivial levelling that doesn’t depend on actual “levels”, or “points” but only on the variety of tactics the player employs.
There are very few cons in all of this. Yes, the game isn’t very large-scale and not so strong on plot as the original, everything is a bit reduced, sometimes crumpled, sometimes very trite and simple. However, remember that this is not a sequel but a supplement. A large, expensive and juicy supplement which expands The New Order, though it isn’t affected by it. In fact, all the disadvantages which can be found here, can be reduced to the fact that in the year that has passed between the release of these two projects, the authors haven’t created a new game, but made more for an old one.
Here we must simply be realistic – a modern AAA project can’t be made in a year, even if the concept and the engine are ready. But a proper add-on is a different story. MachineGames made a full big independent project, which is only inferior to the original in details and diversity. It’s difficult to blame them for the little things, better pat them on the back and wish further success.
It’s an addition to one of the best FPS projects of last year
Connects the plots between old and new games
Still the same perfect combination of different styles of playing
In essence, nothing radically new
Few heartfelt videos and basically not a very interesting plot
Some graphics problems.