Now playing is a series talking about games currently getting playtime at Press to Jump Towers. It can be anything from an epic high definition role-playing game, to a freeware download, all the way to a classic we’re playing through again. We might not do game reviews at Press to Jump, but we can certainly talk about what’s keeping us occupied! This time: Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, standalone add-on for the Shooting-Nazis-in-the-Face Simulator 2015.
Although I’ve got a long history with Castle Wolfenstein, having first encountered its horrors back in 1992 with Wolfenstein 3D (has it really been that long?), there’s been some difficult times. The fantastic Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory was mired by a few mediocre titles after the reboot in 2001. Return to Castle Wolfenstein came out at an odd time when first-person shooters were a very polarised genre: graphically, things were moving on in great strides, graphics cards were faster and shinier; but there was nothing new, gameplay wise. Since then, we had the sequel to RtCW, simply called Wolfenstein, which was mostly forgettable.
Wolfenstein: The New Order came out last year, and was surprisingly great. Sure, the gameplay was straight up old school shooting and strafing, but it had a great story, a believable alternate reality where the Nazis won the war, and recaptured some of the elements that made the original: shooting Nazi monsters in their evil little faces. I enjoyed it so much, in fact, it’s one of the few times I can remember when I finished a game and hoped there would be DLC to play at some point.
The year is 1946 and the Nazis are on the brink of winning World War II. In an effort to turn the tide in the allies’ favor, B.J. Blazkowicz must embark on an epic, two-part mission deep within Bavaria….
Part one of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood – Rudi Jäger and the Den of Wolves – pits BJ Blazkowicz against a maniacal prison warden as he breaks into Castle Wolfenstein in an attempt to steal the coordinates to General Deathshead’s compound. In part two – The Dark Secrets of Helga Von Schabbs – our hero’s search for the coordinates leads him to the city of Wulfburg where an obsessed Nazi archaeologist is exhuming mysterious artifacts that threaten to unleash a dark and ancient power.
Considering the price of the game (and it is a full game), I was playing through the first act without knowing anything apart from the fact it’s a prequel, and got to the end of the Castle Wolfenstein levels where I was surprised that I wasn’t even half way through the game. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood might only be a single-player game, but you get a lot of value for your purchase. Both act 1 and act 2 are meaty in their own right, with great over-the-top characters, decent weapons and some nice linear level design. The game actually holds itself back far more than TNO, though, so it feels much more like it could be the first game in the series.
Easter Eggs for everyone!
As is now tradition in the Wolfenstein series, The Old Blood features lots of secret places with power-ups, bonuses and extra health and ammo. There’s even a little easter egg that boots you into the final boss level of Wolfenstein 3D, flat textures, bitmap models and all. In fact, you can play the complete version of Wolf3D in your browser, right now!
All in all, I absolutely love the direction that these new Wolfenstein games are taking. Not only have they been value for money as single-player campaigns (which is rare these days… lookin’ at you, Call of Duty!) but there’s some genuine world-building going on. Like TNO, The Old Blood might be fast paced action from start to finish, but there’s also plenty of items to collect, letters written by NPCs to read and little story hints like newspaper clippings and memos/reports left by soldiers and scientists. Wolfenstein is definitely worth checking out. That goes double if you get lucky and find it on sale.
Have you played Wolfenstein: The Old Blood or The New Order? What did you think of the direction the games are taking? Let us know in the comments.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is a stand-alone prequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order. It’s out already on PS4, Xbox One and Windows, for around £15 to £20.