NEW YORK — Sure, Xbox 360 owners have been deprived of experiencing Metal Gear Solid 4 and all of its stealth goodness, but no worries, as Replay Studios and SouthPeak Games are here to help you get over your Solid Snake cravings. To do so, they have enlisted a female lead decked out in leather named Violette Summer, the Velvet Assassin.
Though the game will also release on the PC, I tested it out at Comic Con for the 360. Let’s start with some backstory: Velvet Assassin tells the tale of Violette Summer, who is based on an actual secret agent named Violette Szabo. She has gone behind German lines during World War II after losing her husband in the war, and she intends to exact as much revenge as she can now that she believes she has no real reason to go on with life.
It’s a sad story, especially when you consider that the game you play isn’t happening in real-time; instead, you are essentially playing through Violette’s dreams as she lays in a hospital bed, one which may or may not be her deathbed, in an interactive flashback style. The story is told through the use of a photo album, in which the photos come to life to illustrate the story better than a static portrait would. The scenario and what you need to do are explained for you here, as they are already events that Violette has experienced.
As for gameplay, I played through the first level of the demo and was impressed with a few things, though I wish I could have played more to see what level of challenge the title gets to. You will need to stick to the shadows and out of sight, because Violette is not about to haul off on Germans that she meets face to face; that’s a good way to cut Violette’s dreams short and lose.
Instead, you need to sneak up on as many enemies as possible, and then stab them or cut their throats in silence before hiding the bodies away from other guards who may see. It’s a slow-paced action title, as a stealth game should be. I’m kind of concerned about how your only modes of hiding is to crouch lower, but if the game doesn’t allow you to lie flat on the ground, then there won’t be situations where it is necessary to do so either.
If you run, enemies will hear you. If you are seen, they will give chase, and you can run, but you are most likely screwed unless you find a good hiding place. One way you can take out enemies head on though, is through the use of morphine. Yes, you will inject yourself with morphine in order to boost your skills momentarily. Violette will shed the leather garb and don the nightgown she is seen wearing in the hospital bed, where she lays next to, you guessed it, a syringe full of morphine. This basically allows her to power out of a bad situation in her dream.
I was stuck behind a box after being spotted, with one guard still lurking near the exit I needed, searching for me. I used a syringe of morphine, charged him head on, and then cut him down just like it was from behind. It was thrilling to have that temporary state of what seemed like invulnerability; morphine is limited as well, though you earn experience points (gained through kills and picking up collectable items in each level) that will help you earn new skills and increase the amount of morphine you can hold at one time.
Of course, if you’re properly utilizing the stealth aspects of the game, you won’t need to use morphine that often anyways, and with Violette’s health set as low as it is, it’s going to be tough to treat this as a shooter anyways.
As for things that SouthPeak let me know as I played the title: you will be able to find letters from Nazi’s to their families, meant to humanize the enemies that you so willfully slaughter before they sense your presence. The sound at the convention made it difficult to hear while playing, but the game plays a sound to let you know that you have been spotted, as well as removing the blue tint from around your character once you are in an enemy’s line of sight. This lets you know if you have been spotted from a distance, and that it’s time to find a better place to hide or lay low until the heat dies down.
It’s very difficult to gauge a stealth title based on a single level, but things were promising based on my experience with the title. I would like to see just how difficult things get in the game, but we may have a better idea of that as the release date approaches. The game is set to release in April of this year for the Xbox 360 and PC. Check back here for future news on Velvet Assassin, and eventually a review of the game.