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Review Velvet Assassin (XBOX 360): Time and patience required but fun experience nonetheless!

genre: stealth, shooter

Velvet Assassin for the most part contains almost everything I like in stealth games.You need to thread lightly and be aware of your surroundings. If you get spotted it usually means instant death. So you need to think of a strategy to go from point A to B without getting noticed. To a degree because you can whistle or use your silenced gun to attract attention which is needed sometimes to get an enemy to break his pattern and get him on his own giving you the opportunity to take care of him. In this aspect it is very similar to the game play mechanics of Splinter Cell. Except without the cool gadgets. Understandable of course since this game is set in World War II. To compensate for the lack of those useful gadgets you get morphine. If you use this it will make enable you to kill of one guard in plain sight without alerting the other ones as long as you hide the body in time. Throughout the mission you will find some collectibles and if you have found enough you will get a star to upgrade your character (Morphine: this will increase the time morphine is active and the number of times it can be used, Stealth: increases your sneaking speed and Strength: increases the number of damage you can take when shot. It is very easy to overlook or miss these collectibles and therefore you won't be able to upgrade all of these skills. But to be honest. I hardly noticed the supposedly faster sneaking or being able to take more bullets. So not sure if it really matters that much!).

Velvet Assassin has these moments usually at the end of a mission where you are forced to abandon stealth and where the game becomes a shooter except that our character is not suited for this at all. Especially in the last two missions this gets clear since then you really notice how clunky the combat controls are. If you are lucky you can hide behind cover and eliminate enemies one by one but even then the enemies manage to shoot and damage you. The Nazi's with the flame throwers are the worst. They can spot you even when it's impossible. But the damage they can deal is terrifying since their flame throwers have a very long reach as well. They even are capable of going right through walls. Very cheap way to increase an already difficult game. These last missions ruined the overall experience for me somewhat. And I rather want to ignore them since up until them I was having fun. Although that does not mean that the missions in between did not have their share of frustration. At least that was manageable to a point. This is a very good game to check how high your Zen levels are. Often though it was better to stop playing and continue when you felt like it again. It's not a game you will play non stop. And that is mostly because of the save/checkpoint system.There is no real logic to it. Sometimes it takes too many difficult sections before you actually reach a checkpoint. (Some of you might be thinking that it was the same in the first two Splinter Cell, XBOX versions that is, before you could save where you wanted it to in Chaos Theory). Only if I had to compare I think that Splinter Cell was much fairer since it did offer more alternative ways and tricks to get out of a predicament. Here it simply is used to increase the difficulty in a cheap way.

The final mission in it's entirety seems like it has been a rush job and does not make sense at all. What exactly is the point to suddenly put someone who is all about the stealth in the middle of some deadly shoot outs. A few shots and you are gone. None of your usual gear or other means like morphine, vests, or silenced guns are present to aid you like in the first missions. To me the awesome part of the main character was that she took out Nazi's in her own way, silent but deadly. Blasting with machine guns is so generic and frankly does not belong in a stealth game unless there is a decent game play element that makes it doable like for example a decent cover system. 

While the gameplay mechanics in Velvet Assassin are a bit simplified in comparison with other stealth games and it can be frustrating it did offer me quite the fun experience. Excluding the shooter sections and the poor ending story wise. People who are into stealth games should not pass this up since it's too solid to do so. But time and patience is required.

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