And though we were assured the grenade trick has been left in the game (even if it wasn't in the most recent build we checked out just before the 2009 New York Comic Con), enough has changed since we first met protagonist Violette Summer to be concerned. The polish once exuded by German developer Replay Studios' first game for the Xbox 360 has all but vanished, leaving behind kludgey player animation, poor enemy AI and glitch-prone graphics. With two months to go until the "April launch window" of VA, we're hoping (but not exactly confident) they can bring back the experience we had so many moons ago.
Controlling Violette Summer through a Nazi-guarded oil depot, we were tasked with collecting various items and demolishing the building -- an early level that serves as your advanced tutorial. Slipping around a corner, we took aim with a silenced pistol at the temple of an unknowing soldier. BANG! But rather than dropping to the floor, bullet firmly lodged in his skull, he instead flinched as though a bug had bitten him, turned the corner, and riddled Violette with bullets. "We're still balancing some things," we were told by a representative from SouthPeak, the game's publisher. We should note, however, that this problem persisted throughout the entire demonstration, occurring with not only helmet wearing enemies but also tanktop wearing, "Summer casual" enemies (read as: no helmet!).
More disappointing was the seemingly enormous difference in graphical fidelity between 'Violette then' and 'Violette now'. The Uncanny Valley has opened up and she has fallen directly in, along with (the mostly generic) enemies, resulting in an experience we were finding hard to sink into.
At a certain point, suspension of disbelief becomes a tenuous argument and you are left with something you simply cannot perceive to be a "real world." Unfortunately for Velvet Assassin, based on what we saw the other day, this seems to be a real possibility. We'll remain hopeful as the impending April release window draws nearer.