Pulp plays. The shadow-draped locales, dangling cigarettes, and desperate, lone-wolf characters that often populate the genre lead to distinctly masculine worlds where the only thing more common than bullets and broken jaws is a well-timed one-liner. After successfully taking the chest paddles to the “Wolfenstein” series last year with “Wolfenstein: The New Order”, Bethesda decided to play out the latest chapter with a blood-soaked B-movie storyline that delves into the Nazi-shooter’s roots. The entry plays up the pulp and, in keeping with the genre, sets aside the fundamental strategies and sound tactics required by most modern first person games. And by going heavy on action and atmosphere, it produced one of the year's best first person shooters.
Set in the middle of World War II and preceding last year’s “The New Order”, “The Old Blood” again puts you in charge of Sergeant B.J. Blazkowicz’s shred through Castle Wolfenstein. The Nazi stronghold provides the backdrop for the chaotic gameplay that’s brimming with gore, imaginative weapons like assault rifle-rocket launchers and laser-shooting shotguns (that can be dual-wielded to up the bloodletting) and platoons of paranormal Third Reich enemies. The game feels equal parts throwback shooter and next-gen experience, with graphics that bring the broken down, creaky castle vividly to life and intuitive controls that up the lethal nature of your kills. And in terms of kills: “The Old Blood”’s weapon of choice, beyond the array of guns, is a rusty old pipe. It's the perfect means of pulling off close-quarter assassinations or battering a soldier senseless and perfectly exemplifies the game’s tone perfectly.
“Wolfenstein: The Old Blood” isn’t taking the FPS category into new territory but it’s easy to make your peace with that. Bethesda seems content leaving innovation to games like “Halo” and “Destiny”. Instead, they’re basking in perfecting something familiar: rewarding challenges, a huge arsenal of high-caliber weaponry and a borderline-ridiculous hero saving the day. It’s pure pulp, plain and simple. And, when it’s this well done, that’s enough for us.