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Velvet Assassin Review - Death Hides Behind A Ruby Veil

by: Eric Stallsworth ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

Velvet Assassin is unique in the stealth-based FPS genre in a number of ways. The assassin is a woman, for one thing. But besides that, it approaches the World War II FPS games from an entirely new perspective. Not everything is done perfectly well, but there's enough here to enjoy.

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    The Story Of A Velvet Demise

    Velvet Assassin From the get-go, Velvet Assassin displays a deep storyline told from the assassin's perspective. The narrative plays out in her voice, each scene a flashback of a mission she had to complete. Her name is Violette Summer, and she is one of the deadliest assassins employed by Britain's MI6. One interesting aspect of the storyline is how alone Violette is the entire time. She is an operative out on the farthest fringes of secrecy, with nothing to rely on but her own skills. While the backdrop is WWII, the enemies she eliminates or sneaks past are the elite German SS troops. This only serves to enhance the idea that Violette is the best at what she does, so why waste her abilities on the common German soldiers.

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    Death And The SS - Violette's Favorite Dance

    The gameplay for this remarkable title is unique in a few noteworthy ways. Its a stealth-based FPS, so lighting and sound are important aspects. A silhoute of the deadly feminine heroine indicates whether she is out in the open or deep in shadow. Much like Splinter Cell, turning out the lights can have implications for enemy reactions. Violette is not able to walk around with a lot of ammunition either, forcing her to be as quiet and invisible as possible. There are also key portions of the game where she can adopt the guise of a female SS soldier, as long as she doesn't get too close to anyone else or point a gun in their direction.

    Violette is sitting in a hospital bed, with morphine for pain. Because of this (or maybe to explain the use of it), you can use an injection of morphine during the game to institute a "bullet time-like" pause in the action. Violette is able to move feely about, the rest of the world frozen in place, while drops of blood float about everywhere. Don't ask why she is depicted in an almost lingerie-type nightgown. This can come in handy when she needs to take out a difficult enemy or multiple foes.

    Where the game fails miserably is the AI of the enemies. Sometimes they appear to be as watchful as a rock, and other times they seem to have nightvision goggles for eyes. The game tries to give Violette alternate ways to kill guards, such as pulling the pin on a grenade they carry or shooting a patch of oil beneath their feet to light it. Unfortunately, these events do not always play out as you would expect, making them often useless.

    The one shining aspect of gameplay is when Violette sneaks up behind someone to perform a silent kill. The stark brutality and various ways she dispatches her foes is unnerving and enjoyable at the same time. Despite the flaws in the gameplay, overall the experience is still a positive one.

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    Velvet Comes In Beautiful Colors

    Waiting For The Kill Visually, the game is beautiful. It's dark in just the right moments, the corridors are lonely and disquieting, and the atmosphere created is one of silent, gritty death. The animations of Violette's silent kills are awesome and varied enough to keep you interested. There is a noticeable hue of age to the visuals, which lends credence to the idea that Violette is remembering these moments in flashback. While you might get tired of the particular shade of red used, you can't argue that helps bring you into her memories nicely.

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    A Velvet Death Has No Voice

    Death may not speak, but Violette does, with a very seductive and alluring voice. The voice-acting here is top notch, and that's only one facet of sound done well in this game. The use of sound (or lack of it) is crucial in any stealth game, and Violet Assassin implements this idea decently. From the echoing footfalls of patrolling guards to the savage thunk of Violette's knife in a victim, you'll find yourself immersed quickly in the aural sensations. Oh, there is one thing done wrong however. Evidently every German SS troop knows only one song. And they all sing it, over and over. It will undoubtedly annoy you way before the end.

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    Summary

    Velvet Assassin is a stealthy bastion of fun. The storyline, visuals, and sound build a world you can almost see and touch. Violette is seductive and capable, with maybe just a touch of malice tossed in. The enemy AI leaves much to be desired maybe, but the rest of the game more than makes up for this shortcoming. Pick this one up; it's a more than worthy title.