An ambitious experiment from beginning to end, this innovative wartime stealth effort just can't seem to rise above the commonplace level of mediocrity found in a sea of cookie-cutter World War II titles.
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Once upon a dream...
A beautiful woman lay in a tattered hospital bed, her white negligee stained with blood and stray drops of morphine. Lost in a coma, an empty syringe hangs from the woman's hand, her glazed-over eyes staring into oblivion. This is Violette Summer, British spy extraordinaire, now reduced to a bed-ridden shell of her former self. In these lost moments of sickness, the ailing spy remembers her first mission, and inevitably, the chain of events that left her locked up in a military hospital. Needless to say, Velvet Assassin starts off with quite an intriguing bang.
Through Violette's unwieldy subconscious, Velvet Assassin sets itself up as an interesting look into a war hero's frayed memory. Throw in the fact that the game's protagonist, Violette Summer is based off of real-life spy Violette Szabo, and you have a recipe for a fantastic deconstruction of the classic "war hero" story. Unfortunately, what sounds like a surefire recipe for success is marred by repetitive gameplay, incredibly dense AI, and altogether frustrating execution in a flawed, if entertaining adventure from SouthPeak Games.
When you take a look at Velvet Assassin's covert formula, gamers are bound to think of such classically sneaky titles such as the Splinter Cell, Thief and Metal Gear franchises. Similar to those games in many respects, Velvet Assassin consists of dropping its bare-essentials protagonist into a dangerous environment, and encouraging the player to use stealth tactics to their advantage in order to accomplish their mission. Taking to the shadows, players will see Violette through some of the most dangerous territory in World War II-era Europe. Stealth is undoubtedly the name of the game, as players are encouraged to stick to the shadows, only popping out on the occasion that they might stick a knife into a nearby patrolling Nazi. While this "hide-and-go-stab" formula is inventive and engaging enough at first, the formula grows stale far too quickly, marred by all-too-frequent deaths that turn the supposed stealth title into more of a memorization game of where to walk, when to sneak, and when to shoot (if the opportunity arises.)