Game Review: 'Wolfenstein: The Old Blood'

"Wolfenstein" is the only name you need to know when it comes to wasting virtual Nazis.

The folks at Bethesda Softworks would like to reintroduce Sgt. B.J. Blazcowicz—agent provocateur, handy with all manner of firearms and one Nazi-killing sumbitch. You may have brushed up against him in the past, but you’ve never seen him like this, in glorious HD maiming people with a pipe much to the delight of gamers everywhere. B.J.’s return is a revisit to the hallowed Third Reich halls of Castle Wolfenstein and a blast from the past of gaming history, when first-person shooters were all about body count.

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood builds on the foundation of last year’s sleeper hit, Wolfenstein: The New Order. While both games shake off the strategy and Quantico-like fundamentals required of most modern shooters, The Old Blood channels its roots of near-infinite redshirt cannon fodder, big bad boss battles and the increasing difficulty of making your way through floor after floor of the Nazi’s paranormal tower. Ironically, channeling the early days of the first-person shooter genre into a modern game feels surprisingly like the breath of fresh air we needed in a category that’s quickly filled up with exo-suits, superhuman abilities and bleeding-edge weapon tech. Instead, The Old Blood is just about you, your guns and making it out alive.

The gameplay in The Old Blood may feel retro, but the game looks as modern as you’d expect of an Xbox One/PS4 release. Frame rates stay high and HD graphics wrap the bloody battles in gorgeous textures—full of detail—which is really how we prefer our mayhem. The Old Blood's graphics may be realistic, but the game’s story is told in a pulpy B-Movie style that fits the nostalgia of the gameplay and edges gamers ever forward through the two-episode story arch.

Bethesda seems hyper-aware of this juxtaposition of new and old and even takes you down a few meta roads as a nod to it. The Old Blood isn’t just chock full of Easter eggs for watchful gamers (we highly recommend trying to find the Grammar Nazis if you can), but full-blown nightmare levels that suck you back into recreations of the classic '90s game are littered around the castle for the intrepid explorers bent on 100% completion. It’s a worthy endeavor to find them all, especially if you’re a longtime fan of Wolfenstein games. So whether your relationship with Castle Wolfenstein goes back decades, or you’re a newcomer to the series, The Old Blood is a welcome addition to any FPS fan’s collection.

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