|System: X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Replay Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SouthPeak Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 28, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Of course, you'll not be able to constantly use this tool, as morphine drops are very limited and Violette can only carry a maximum of three syringes. While I found Morphine Mode to be interesting, it seemed to be superfluous and in effect Nerfed the experience. It could have easily have been dropped from the game entirely, forcing the devs to only moderately change the level design.
Players will advance through the levels and find a number of collectible items. Not only does this promote a modicum of exploration, it also will garner you experience points. For every 1000 points of EXP accumulated from the hidden objects, players will be given an upgrade star to enhance one of three abilities: Morphine, Stealth, and Strength. Improved Morphine will both increase the effect's duration as well as allow you to carry up to three syringes when maxed out. Stealth will allow you to move much more quickly while crouched. Finally, increased Strength simply allows you to take more damage before dying. While upgrading the character made collecting rare objects from the environment more important, the simplistic level progression could also have been easily done away with, as improving her skills felt tacked on.
In terms of visuals, the overall package is very good but suffers from a few glaring errors. The environments are varied and wonderfully creepy; the lighting effects in particular are astounding. Also, the brutal kill animations are both visceral and fun to watch. On the downside, there is rampant slow down to be found, an abundance of disappearing walls, and the enemies are all clones with a paltry bit of class variety. A more polished graphical presentation would have been greatly appreciated. Aurally, the game is quite good. While the stealth genre means there isn't much in the way of music, the ambient sounds and enemy conversations are brilliant. In particular, the German dialogue is outstanding. The banter between troops not only sets the tone but gives the enemies a lot more depth than their cookie cutter appearance belies. I often found myself waiting for a couple extra minutes at a time just listening to the stories conveyed by my unwitting victims; a calm before the storm if you will.
Velvet Assassin is likely a niche game that won't be fully appreciated by all comers. That being said, there is a compelling story and a lot of fun gameplay to be found. Players interested in the title should make sure they have a good deal of patience and familiarity with the stealth genre. If you're looking for some run-and-gun action, or even a nice mix of the two, you'll likely be disappointed. Moreover, Velvet Assassin only offers a single-player campaign. There are no competitive multiplayer or cooperative modes, so other than challenging the highest difficulty setting, picking up all the collectibles, and scoring a higher mission rating, there's not a whole lot of replay value. Armed with that knowledge, if you still fancy a go, you'll quickly get hooked.
CCC Editor / News Director