Velvet Assassin Review

September 11, 2009 at 1:19 am | Posted in Reviews, Xbox 360 Reviews | Leave a comment
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Link to review

There’s a distinct lack of Spy/stealth games these days, and there’s a good reason why. Not only are the major successors of stealth some of the biggest well known gaming characters to grace the earth, but there also really quite difficult to pull off to such a degree of standing up to said juggernauts of darkness. Haven’t figured who I’m referring to yet? Get out.

Hopefully one of the last of the World War II batch of games for a long time, Velvet Assassin follows a young female spy and whilst the general idea of the character isn’t so far off from the truth, we set off on a handful of her missions.

Early on, well. From the main menu background, were shown our female character Violette, looking a little worse for wear, lying in a hospital bed, with some rather menacing men surrounding her. From here, the beginning of the game sets off just a teeny bit behind in the storyline, and our first few missions are the lead up to the predicament were shown in the menu and loading screens, here is where we get the feel for Violette and what leads her on her missions.

Like most stealth games, Velvet does rely on a lot of sit and wait it out moments, with dark areas keeping you hidden and the light areas…well, go figure.

Firearms aren’t much of a focus in this game, whilst there are opportunities and in some places its necessary to use guns, some silenced and others not, your main friend will be your blade.

Now don’t be fooled on your foxy main character, she’s pretty brutal with her blade, and anything else that she uses to be honest, it’s a bit shocking at first, hell, sometimes I still find new ones.

Now the only problem with these gruesome attacks is their all random, because there all done from one button. Now, this sounds silly, because obviously, its done from usually just one button anyway, but the game treats stealth attacks almost like a RTS section, where you need only be sneaking behind an enemy within a certain radius and just press A. When it tells you to obviously, and bam the whole things done right there in front of you, bit of a let down. Then with usual actions you soon find A is pretty much the only button you’ll need until you have yourself a pistol, or no doors to work through, this is a lot less rewarding as it seems with just pressing A for the entirety of your sneaky takedown of a room full of mugs.

One other way of dispatching of your enemies is the…Morphine Mode. Now, this mode is a little weird, as not only is it just plain stealth kill ruining, but if the games meant to retain any realism something like this shouldn’t be included. Basically, providing you have one syringe of Morphine, you for a limited time can run around like a loon (in your underwear might I add) and freely kill one enemy of your choice without running the risk of being caught or heard. Now this is all fair and fun in the game, but I was starting to get the feeling you were reliving Violettes past missions whilst she told you because of the way the first missions are presented and the narrative, yet these ‘Morphine sections’ don’t really fit. Its like she’s recalling what she did, and those sections were the blurry bits she forgot, oh you know how these kids get with their morphine n such!…Addict.

The one painful flaw in the A.I. is that it never really seems to give the impression your using any form of stealth whatsoever. You’re just in fact cloaked under their ability to see unless your doing something painfully obvious. This works alright in the first set of missions, however later, when in broad daylight using shadows from a hedge to keep you hidden from a guard in hugging distance, this really takes away the realism. Not only that, but the fact guards will on off see you from the ears they seem to have grown in their ears and when caught, regardless of where you run and hide, the enemy who caught you will always seem to run to where you are, exactly, rather than the last place you were seen. With this, you’re usually hiding, with the guard right in front of you, with a 50/50 chance of him seeing you despite being in the dark. This, and the ‘Press A to do pretty much everything’, is what holds the game back.

The games dark, lets get one thing straight. I had to knock the in game brightness up to almost full just to be able to differentiate from hidden areas and right in front of people. Once you get past that, the games a good looking piece of work, the levels flow well together and whilst the levels are very linear there’s always a simple path to make it from one door to the other, its just how long your willing to stalk your prey before you go.

Whilst the games very quiet (it is a stealth game after all) you’ll always get those typical German calls and even the occasional conversation you have to sit through whilst its being dubbed in English before they decide to split up and you do your rounds.

There are 12 levels, split over 6 main missions, which makes for good hunting. On top of that there’s the collectables to find and secret objectives hidden in every level to find, so keep your thinking cap on.

By leaving the NVG’s and tranquiliser darts at home, the game automatically gets kudos for making you use your head more in more suitable settings with a lot less technology to help you out, however the sheer thickness and predictability of the A.I. really let the game down on the level of just enjoying the game, or even restarting checkpoints.



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