Release: April 28, 2009
Genre: Stealth Action
Developer: Replay Studios
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PC
ESRB Rating: Mature
Velvet Assassin follows real-life World War 2 spy Violette Szabo–renamed a much more American-sounding Violette Summer–as she recounts her missions from a hospital bed.
Velvet Assassin is a competent stealth-action game. The real-time lighting adds an amazing sense of atmosphere, as do the various environments; everything looks believable, real. The various kill animations are interesting, and the depth of development is, at times, astounding. For instance, while waiting patiently for two guards to separate, you can overhear their conversations, spoken in German (with English subtitles). You will also stumble across random letters, written by the Nazis, in which they tell their girlfriends and wives how much they’re missed. Details like this make you realize that many of the Nazi soldiers, outside of the war, were not all that different from American or British soldiers.
While the game looks beautiful and is, at times, deeply engaging, it does have its drawbacks. The gunplay is absolutely horrible. Yes, this is meant to be a game of sneak attacks, but there are times when you can’t help getting into an open confrontation. When up against machine-guns, wielding only a silenced pistol that requires headshots for one-hit kills isn’t all that effective. Also, the checkpoint system is flawed. As is common with stealth games, trial and error is unavoidable, and a respectable checkpoint system should come standard. Sadly, Velvet Assassin drops the ball this time. You may spend 10 or 20 minutes figuring out how to manage your way through an area. Upon finally achieving your goal, you may make your way to the next area and get killed, only to have to do it all over again. If a stealth game is going to be broken up into smaller segments like this, then each one should activate a checkpoint upon completion. This could very well be the breaking point for a lot of gamers, especially those not native to the stealth genre.
Velvet Assassin suffers from some atrocious gunplay and annoying trial and error segments, but if you can push past them, you’ll see that it is a beautifully realized game. The stealth is standard, but fans of the genre will probably enjoy it, regardless. Although I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone while it stil carries the $60 price tag, I don’t think a rental is out of the question, even for gamers new to the stealth field.