Not every game lets players slaughter both of humanity's deadliest enemies!
Last year Bethesda unleashed the novelty of Wolfenstein 3D with an alternative universe sequel called Wolfenstein: The New Order, and it turned out to be one of my favorite games of 2014. Now the standalone prequel, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, has been released, and it proves that killing virtual Nazis is just as fun as killing cyber-zombies. Believe me, players will have a bloody good time whether they skulk in the shadows eliminating enemies with stealth kills or blast their way through the ranks using dual assault rifles!
This game tosses players into two different acts that are loosely related. The first is “Rudi Jager and the Den of Wolves,” where BJ Blazkowicz races to save a squadmate from the ultimate bad guy. What's really cool is that this act occurs inside of Castle Wolfenstein, so players get to navigate through the tight corridors and wide-open rooms of the infamous castle. I opted to use stealth as much as possible in this act, but there are some places where the game forced me to blast my way through Über-Soldats.
The second act, “The Dark Secret of Helga von Shabbs,” mostly takes place in a small village outside of Castle Wolfenstein. Apparently, all it takes for Nazi zombies from Hell to be unleashed is a minor accident at an excavation site. Now, the zombies have overrun the town and it's up to players to send them all back to their fiery grave. This section of the game eschews stealth in favor of non-stop blasting, but it's fun to sit back and enjoy the carnage created by pitting unwary Nazis against flesh-eating zombies.
As a big fan of stealth games, I enjoyed the first act much more than the second. Part of the reason is that a new weapon has been introduced that consists of two metal pipes. They can be dual-wielded, with one pipe acting as a makeshift shiv while the other is used for bashing, or they can be put together to form a more powerful two-handed blunt weapon. I love sneaking around and performing brutal stealth kills with these pipes, but they can also be used for climbing up certain walls and also for prying open small doors and entrances. This opens up new pathways to take, but surprisingly, the game is still a bit too linear overall.
Part of what makes stealth so cool in this game is how certain areas have commanders that immediately sound an alarm when the player is discovered. Needless to say, this is followed by waves of enemies rushing in from everywhere, which creates a distinct incentive to stay undiscovered. As a result, I restarted these sections over and over until I was able to sneak through them using only stealth kills. Some people may find this annoying, but I use it as a chance to perfect my stealth skills.
Don't get me wrong, I still love to shoot my way through hordes of ruthless Nazis. It's just that the second act doesn't give me the option for choosing stealth. Fortunately, the shooting action in this game is very satisfying and there are plenty of cool weapons at the player's disposal. It's hard to beat the intensity of mowing down enemies with dual auto-shotguns, then seamlessly switching to a sniper rifle to shoot more, and then finishing the rest with grenades. Adding to the fun is a handy perk system that rewards players for custom fighting methods like getting numerous stealth kills or overcharging health.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood should have more alternate paths and secret areas to uncover. However, both the stealth action and shooting gameplay are top-notch and the levels are fun to explore. With so many modern shooters available, now is a good time for game developers to reintroduce familiar conflicts of the past.