Monday 5 December 2016

Wolfenstein - The Old Blood review: Castle crasher

Published 25/05/2015 | 01:00

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood - BJ Blazkowicz is back
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood - BJ Blazkowicz is back

A STANDALONE expansion to last year's highly regarded reboot, The Old Blood comprises two separate chapters originally intended as DLC.

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood (XOne/PS4/PC); rating: 8/10; age: 18+

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Chapter one brings us full circle back to Castle Wolfenstein where the Hitler-bashing shooter began in 1981 while part two unleashes the supernatural forces of Nazi occultist Helga von Schabbs.

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood - new enemies
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood - new enemies

What the first lacks in strong characterisation, it makes up for with intense firefights and stealthy assassinations. Paradoxically, the second echoes the compelling storytelling of its 2014 parent but combat degenerates into a slog against zombies. They're Nazi zombies, yes, but unimaginative undead nonetheless.

Common to both is the redoubtable BJ Blazkowicz, the archetype of every gruff shooter hero we’ve ever seen. He’s capable of carrying dozens of weapons, dual-wielding many of them and needs only to glance at a medkit and he’s fighting fit.

So it’s gloriously unrealistic and over the top but still presents a formidable challenge, whether you’re dodging rabid dogs, the powerful giant robots or a stream of undead soldiers of the Third Reich.

Periodically, you’ll stumble on a room with a bed. But if you lie down it’s not for a rest – with a post-modern wink, you slip into a fevered dream that transports BJ to 1992 and the blocky graphics of Wolfenstein 3D. These retro interludes serve no purpose except to tweak your nostalgia glands and, to be honest, the corridor-crawling gameplay hardly stands up after all these years. If nothing else, it reminds us how much games have grown up in the intervening two decades.

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood - with zombies, of course
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood - with zombies, of course

As a cheap expansion pack, The Old Blood fulfills its mission to entertain with several hours of high-octane, gory thrills, augmented with new skills and weapons, all for under €20.


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