|Min OS X: 10.7|
Mac OS X: 10.7.5 |†CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo | RAM: 2 GB | HD Space: 5 GB | Graphics: 256 MB, (ATI): Radeon HD 2600 Pro; (NVidia): GeForce 8600M GT
Velvet Assassin is an interesting style of a first person shooter. Rather than having gun battles in this World War II based game from Digital Tribe LLC, you must sneak around and kill your victims. The game depends heavily on effective use of hiding, planning, and silently moving up behinds victims. Gameplay is suspenseful, requiring a lot of attention to to the environment, the speech of the NPCs, and many other audio and visual based clues.
Playing the Velvet Assassin, you take on the roles of Violet Summer, a World War II assassin who was working for the UK as they fought the forces of Nazi Germany. She has survived a long and arduous career, infiltrating important Nazi camps and destroying a variety of equipment and assassinating Nazi leaders. The game begins with her being in a hospital, remembering the past.
The gameís graphic style is hazy/foggy, giving the impression that this is more memory then living actual events. There also seems to be a regular haze of red surrounding many scenes, which paints an atmosphere of unhappy memories filled with blood and death. The use of typical 1940's style photos, background scenery, music, and clothing, make one feel they are living in that time.
Each mission begins with a briefing which consists of an audio explanation of the mission, its goals, some of the nastier obstacles, photos of important objects and areas, as well as a map showing the general layout of the areas you need to traverse. Overall, not a lot of detailed information.
Gameplay consists of sneaking around the area, silently closing in on various guards and dispatching them (or avoiding them when possible), all while working your way toward the major goal of the mission. There are also sub-goals, such as finding keys to unlock important doors, or locating equipment you couldnít carry in, but need to access the final area.
To play successfully one needs to spend a lot of time observing clues the game provides. For instance, listening to the lengthy conversations of the guards often provide hints as to where something is located or what activities are happening nearby. Sometimes a conversation reveals something as seemingly mundane as one guard's need to leave for a moment to ďtake care of natureís business," which is actually useful information, as one guard alone is an easy kill. Other audible clues include sounds such as: coughing, steps, squeaks, and so forth. There are visual clues as well, a guard that is hard to see might, for a short moment, move into view, or a shadow might alert you to someone around a corner. All doors have keyholes that can be peeked through to get a small glance of the room beyond. Success requires a great deal of skulking in the shadows, behind a crate, or wall, or even hiding in the john! In the game, as in reality, all this stealth takes time. Unfortunately, this means the pace of Velvet Assassin can be pretty slow.
When you do get discovered, the guards with their rifles, pistols, or machine guns will quickly put your assassin in the grave. Luckily, this is a game and not real life, so you can learn from your mistakes. Go through the sequence a second time, knowing the location of the guards you previously bumped into and no longer being surprised by that guard around the corner. The game provides a visual meter that can alert you that someone is in the area that could possibly see you, as well as when you have actually been discovered.
One method of playing could be to run in to a new area and try to survive long enough to locate all the guards, then go through carefully, taking them out one by one! The major problem with dying is that you cannot save the game when you like. Once you die, you return to the last auto saved point. In some cases, there is a lot of required activity to get to the next saved point.
Violet does have a few tricks to use. She is very very good at stealth. She seems to be able to hide in the most basic of shadows. There is also an almost magical power the game allows. There are morphine shots that give her the ability to walk directly up to a guard, without being seen, then dispatch him. She can carry only one dose of this power-up, and they are somewhat rare and often hidden in the game environment. Using morphine makes removing one guard very easy. Itís a good idea to save it for the most difficult situation. Syringes of morphine can be found hidden in the areas you move through. (Though, why a syringe benefiting an enemy agent is left lying on a tray in a storage shack is beyond me. ☺ ).
The game suggests that once a guard is killed, that you move the body. This works well, although the action of moving the body can expose you if you arenít careful. Sometimes the bodies of your victims have collectible items as well. I should also mention that there are no real blood effects in the game, so, after slicing a victimís throat or stabbing them in various deadly places with a long sharp knife, you donít have to worry about pools of blood messing up the floors. Additionally, you donít seem to get your clothes messed up by all this mayhem.
The tools of the trade include a long sharp dagger and a silenced pistol. The bad news is that the character cannot use them when she is discovered. I found this kind of dumb. Even a noisy enemy death is better then the agentís death, especially since the main character has the ability to fade into the shadows so well. Also, the guards are very stupid. They easily lose track of Violet if she moves into a deep shadow, and will soon give up looking for her once they lose track of her. It is even better when she leaves the room she was discovered in. While the guards will search that room for a bit, quickly they will give up looking, and they wonít leave the room to search. So, you are perfectly safe on the other side of a door.
Most games have a way to gain experience and advance the character. In Velvet Assassin, the method revolves around finding collectable objects. Items the Nazi soldiers might have left lying around, or on their person. The items are rewards for looking around the spaces, but donít really have a lot to do with the skills of the game. As you find objects, you gain points which can be used to enhance your characterís abilities. There are three different skill trees. Points gained can be applied to increase Morphine, Stealth, or Strength abilities. The player can select a skill that works best with their style of play.
Velvet Assassin does a great job of graphically creating a believable world to move in. The crappy AM radio with old German music, the discussions of the Nazi guards, the scenery, planes overhead, all paint a realistic image of Nazi Germany. I donít know enough German (Deutsch), to say that the English subtitles are correct or even close. I did catch a few words I know and they seemed to fit. The music track is dark and sombre, very appropriate for this type of tragedy.
Overall, this is an interesting game, although it takes a bit of artistic license with reality, while at the same time trying to duplicate it so well. This dichotomy didnít work for me. The game designers did a great job with the graphics and audio, creating a very realistic world to play in, but the gameplay is somewhat unrealistic. I personally didnít enjoy this. For me it was mostly, move along until you die, figure out how not to die, try again. Die again, restart again, and so forth. Other people might enjoy the suspense and the challenge of listening to conversations and other audio clues, searching for visual clues, and slowly moving through the game.
ē Terrific ambience and use of graphics/audio clues
ē No user save game, too long between auto saves means repeating much of the level more than once.
ē Slow paced if you want to succeed.
This is a very violent game, killing is up close and very personal. While it lacks bloody scenes, you are killing people first hand.