A slinky spin on Second World War shooting games
Anyone with an interest in war history may be acquainted with the name of Violette Szabo, a female British secret agent who was captured and executed by the Nazis just before the end of the conflict.
Violette was awarded a posthumous George Cross and a film was made about her (the 1958 Virginia McKenna biopic ‘Carve Her Name With Pride’), and now she has the more dubious honour of having a computer game loosely based on her exploits behind enemy lines.
Velvet Assassin takes more than a few liberties with the Szabo story. The majority of the game takes place in flashback as the renamed Violette Summer reflects on her career from her hospital bed. As she recalls a particular mission, you then get to play it.
Violette’s assignments range from the occasional assassination of an important German officer to theft of secret plans or sabotage of some kind. In practice, each one follows a familiar theme: slink in somewhere and quietly kill a lot of baddies before fulfilling your objectives.
Basically, then, this is a stealth game. Think Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell with fewer gadgets and more Nazis - staying hidden is vital. It’s possible to enter into a firefight with enemies, but this is usually a recipe for disaster. It’s far better to opt for a well-timed stealth-kill and then drag the body into a dark corner so as not to be detected.
For the most part, Velvet Assassin is a pretty tense game with tons of atmosphere. Locations are varied and the lighting effects are particularly moody. Unfortunately, it can also be a very frustrating experience, as frequent in-game deaths will inevitably lead to replaying the same sequences over and over again.
On top of that, the game has a faintly distasteful edge – specifically during morphine-induced segments that see Violette’s clothes fall away for no apparent reason, allowing her to fight the Nazis in nothing but a skimpy nightdress.
It’s a bizarre mechanic that completely undermines any integrity the game mi ght have had – moreover, it’s hardly an appropriate way to represent a real-life war heroine who died for her country.
Pegi age rating: 15+
A tense game with atmosphere, but one that's spoiled by a rather silly gimmick
Updating your subscription status