The Wolfenstein franchise is over 30 years old, and since 2009 has begun being rebooted for contemporary consoles. While the 2009 release didn’t fare particularly well on the Xbox 360 and PS3, this latest installments including Wolfenstein: The Old Blood from MachineGames and Bethesda Softworks is the perfect approach to introducing the old arcadey style from its early days as Wolfenstein 3D to the modern style first-person shooters have today.
Wolfenstein merges the old with the new and does it really damn well.
The developers at MachineGames weren’t looking to completely conform to what the prototypical modern first-person shooter is now — and it’s awesome. What they made is truly fun to play. It takes the FPS gameplay trends of the late 90s and reintroduces them to many gamers who have not experienced them. It’s not flashy and it’s not a game riddled with little gimmicks.
Heck, the game can get pretty chaotic at points with that slight touch of the old rapid movement of the first FPS games like Doom, Marathon, and Wolfenstein 3D. But duel wielding shotguns and Ak47s while flying down corridors and the ruins of Castle Wolfenstein make the experience as fun as a game can be.
Even the setting is a tad off-putting for those not familiar with the Wolfenstein franchise. A Nazi-controlled alternate universe set in 1946 with America still fighting despite bleak circumstances.
Players are placed in the shoes of B. J. Blackowicz, a U.S. marine helping to lead the fight back against the Nazi oppression. The main mission for Blazkowicz is to find Helga Von Schabbs, commanding officer of Castle Wolfenstein. Blazkowicz is set forth to find and capture documents that could potentially help win the war for the U.S.
And while that’s absurd itself the game takes a dramatic sci-fi esque turn later in the story.
The game initially plays in a somewhat reasonable setting, but as the game progresses through the eight-chapter long campaign the developers take some fantastic creative liberties opening up a world of zombie-apocalypse with flaming — yes, flaming — Nazi zombies raining down from above. Even further down the line, the story’s primary antagonist — Helga von Schabbs unlocks the uncovered demon/monster creature from the dark depths of ancient ruins.
*End of Spoiler*
Any sense of realism in this game can be quickly dismissed.
This is what a pure video game should be.
Exageratted physics, overpowered characters, and the ability to withstand multiple (graphic) stab wounds adds enough ridiculousness that a hint of comedy is in almost everything as well.
Adding to that is the sometimes cheesy dialogue with an overly badass main character taunting the enemies around him.
Blazkowicz serves as the primary protagnist for the entirety of the story, and “badass” really isn’t quite a strong enough word. His attitude oozes confidence and stares down the face of those who would like to (and do) stab him in the face repeatedly with no remorse as he mows them down and attacks back with his trusty (and rusty) iron pipe.
The iron pipe is one of the first weapons and tools shown to players and serves a variety of uses from wall climbing like a mountain climber to killing your Nazi/zombie/mech opposition.
While the rusty piece of piping is certainly the most versatile weapon in the game, there are six main weapons — the Handgun 1946, Assault Rifle, Schockhammer Shotgun, Double-Barreled Shotgun, Bombenschuss rifle, and Kampfpistol.
Each weapon is well balanced with no being too overpowered to be deemed better in every situation over anything else. In addition, each enemy has specific niches that give players the opportunity to think more creatively with how to kill them.
While the combat is great, it is very fast paced and some players that are used to contemporary shooters may find it disorienting at first. The game does allow you to aim down the sites for more precision like contemporary games, but it is definitely much more fun to just go berserk dual-wielding and hip-firing shotguns or other guns.
And fun is what this game is all about.
Which leads to an unfortunate aspect of the game that inhibits how enjoyable it could be with friends — the lack of multiplayer. While a full online multiplayer system complete with lobbies, ranking, classes, and more is understandably not fitting for the game nor likely in the budget with just the $40 price tag, a small local co-op mode would have been extraodinarily well-placed in the challenge mode that is also offered in the game.
Challenge mode lets players rack up points and fight for high scores against an endless onslaught of enemies from every chapter in the game. It’s an excellent addition to add a touch of replayability in a game that doesn’t offer too much more after beating the game the first time.
It’s very surprising to not see multiplayer incorporated into this game mode whether it be online or local.
The lack of multiplayer is about the only drawback of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood.
However, even with the fault of no multiplayer the game is still incredibly enjoyable and well worth it for the campaign alone. Currently available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC Wolfenstein: The Old Blood offers a blast-from-the-past style gameplay reminiscing the classic Wolfenstein 3D game and brings a great level of pure fun, silliness, and insanity that isn’t always prevalent on modern consoles. It’s lack of multiplayer is disheartening, but not dismissing of how enjoyable this campaign is.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is currently available for Xbox One, PS4, and PC retailing at $19.99.