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Often Games Published by the chaps at SouthPeak are complete garbage, so to get one that isn't is a pleasant surprise. While Velvet Assassin won't be running off with any Golden Joysticks or BAFTAs, as a plain-and-simple stealth-action game it's enjoyable, albeit with a few niggles.
You may know already (if not, then the screenshots on these pages will have given the game away) that you play a ruthless murderer/brave soldier of freedom (delete as appropriate) of the female persuasion; one that has been given a relatively realistic physique as well. We're glad the developers haven't played up to the cliche of women in videogames and made her top heavy. It would spoil the mood somewhat if you were controlling an inflatable doll, so well done for that.
Said character is called Violette Summer (based the real-life WWII spy, Violette Szabo) and we find her at the beginning of the game bedridden and at death's door, mere months before the end of World War II. Each mission is therefore a flashback (or 'fever dream' to give them the official term) to a time when our heroine wasn't confined to a hospital bed. These follow relatively traditional lines, such as assassinating an evil Nazi, destroying a Nazi fuel dump, and various other things lethal to Nazis.
To accomplish her missions, Violette needs to sneak about like Sam Fisher, stabbing people in the shoulders, neck and throat before hiding their bodies and moving on. She is also capable of donning various disguises to help her walk through places with hardly any shadows to hide in... just like Hitman's Agent 47. When inside buildings, keyholes can be peeked through; again, just like Agent 47. Finding secret objects and completing hidden objectives gives you experience points to spend on upgrading your skills and abilities. Remember those bits in the Hitman games where you could hide in cupboards, peeking through a crack in the doors to observe enemies? You can I do that in Velvet Assassin too..
Now, before you get carried away and think I'm mocking the game, I'm not. While there's relatively little we haven't seen in plenty of other stealth games, this isn't a bad thing. These things reappear because they work in other titles, so why not re-use them? No marks for originality, but only the disguise system could truly be said to be a bad implementation of a trusted mechanic (it's far too easy for your cover to be blown). Everything else works and makes the game solid and dependable. You know what you are getting and so aren't too disappointed not to see exciting new ideas cropping up all over the place.
One slightly new-ish idea (although it is effectively bullet-time) is 'Morphine mode', where time stops still and you can rush up to an alerted character in order to take them out before they can react. Now, remember when I gave the developers a well done for not exploiting the fact a woman is the lead character? I spoke too soon. In Morphine mode Violette strips down to a flimsy nightie. The premise is that, being a dream, Violette can get around potentially lethal situations by twisting the timeline and making sure herdream continues. Flimsy, just like her nightie.
Nevertheless, barely explicable scantily clad slo-mo sequences aside, Velvet Assassin is a really solid game. There are a couple of little graphical glitches, but nothing major - the worst I saw was her face going completely yellow in certain lighting conditions. The only major flaw is badly placed checkpoints, forcing you to redo certain sections again if you, like me, like to be liber-stealthy and refuse to continue after alerting the guards. As mentioned, Velvet Assassin is unlikely to win any awards, but if the stealth section of your shelf o' games is a bit empty these days, this one will fill your slot nicely. Don't go into it expecting the new Hitman or Splinter Cell and you'll have a decent time, even if you'll end up wondering why you find Violette so much more alluring when she's wearing her Nazi chick outfit.
Why men stand still when she wears her lingerie
As mentioned in the main text, Violette can enter a bullet-time mode when she injects herself with morphine. This allows her to move freely while all enemies are frozen in place. Two enemies in a room? No problem, just shoot one in the head and quickly enter nude, I mean, Morphine mode and stab the second one. It still looks bizarre whenever you enter it, though. Ah well.
Download Velvet Assassin
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP