Velvet Assassin: Sick Filth or Slick Thrills?

By Alec Meer on May 11th, 2009 at 7:40 pm.

A couple of readers have recently asked us what we make of Velvet Assassin. Which is understandable: no-one should trust their own opinion, only ours. Only two of RPS have played it, and suffice to say neither of them are in any hurry to ever play it again. Which, essentially, means it’s silently suffered the Dread RPS Pointy-Finger Of Judgement, and thus will pretty much never be posted about here. Except for this post, obviously.

The game, fundamentally, is Splinter Cell in the 1940s, but its successes and failures in that regard are not what proved to be a talking point for us behind the scenes. What we did discuss (as you may have picked up on from the podcast before last) was the character the game’s protagonist was based around. Hesitant moral deliberation follows.

Velvet Assasin’s heroine Violette Summer is based upon real-life spy Violette Szabo. One can appreciate why – a female assassin seems a rare enough thing today, let alone in the 1940s. Conceptually, the mix of oddity, violence and titillation inherent in a fictional recreation/embellishment of such a character is a videogame marketing manager’s dream come true. As well as that, the game attempts a few nods towards both historical accuracy and sober commentary on how messed up World War II was, on both sides of the fight. Entertainment and education: a perfect blend, right?

Or perhaps not. Violette Szabo, you see, was captured by the Germans after just over a year of active duty as a Special Operations Executive. During her incarceration, she was repeatedly beaten, starved and sexually abused. Ultimately, she was executed, aged just 23.

While Velvet Assassin’s Violette Summer is only ‘inspired by’ Szabo, the game’s marketing consistently makes a point of mentioning this, and even employs a narrative theme of Violette reliving her past adventures whilst apparently dying of severe wounds suffered during capture by the enemy. Loading screens show a seemingly near-comatose Summer lying in bed in a revealing nightgown, with a fearsome German soldier looming above her. The tiny nightgown reappears in the confused, confusing ‘morphine mode’ – when past-Violette takes found drugs to make present-Violette collapse into chemical addlement, in turn realised back in the past as her wandering through Nazi bases as a temporarily indestructible waif in gossamer bedwear.

Are we okay with this? Should we be okay with is? In a medium that so often makes light of past tragedy – any number of other World War II games, the recent trend of Middle Eastern conflict-based titles, even something like Colonization glossing over slavery – is it fair and right to single Velvet Assassin out as being too irreverent? Certainly, Szabo’s daughter Tania, aged only 3 at the time of her mother’s death, refused to allow her mother’s real surname and biography to be used in the game. From this recent interview with developers Replay Studios: “We had phone contact with her as we need to ask for permission using her mother’s name but she did not have interest of being in public. We of course respected this and so we did our best to separate the two. However, we have to admit that we would have liked to get some of the material from Violette Szabo into the game or in our background story, like for example some of the poems from her. But the utmost respect for her family’s feelings and requests is definitely of higher importance to us.

Perhaps the mere concept of turning her mother’s sad story into entertainment was bad enough (or equally possibly, perhaps it was a matter of money: her refusal to be involved has only been mentioned in passing to date), but how must she feel about seeing a recreation of her raped and murdered mother intermittently depicted as a titillating figure – back turned to the camera on the box art, perfect buttocks proudly displayed in skin-tight trousers? (Additionally, catsuited models have been hired to roleplay Violette at press events). Or about the choice to have this homage to her mother regularly use morphine as a magic power-up? And would any of this be any less worrying if the game had been totally, 100% reverent, and not a murder-centric action title starring a sexily-dressed lady?

It’s worth observing that Tania Szabo is the author of Young, Brave and Beautiful, a biography of the mother she never really knew. Unlike Velvet Assassin, the book does not seem in any way lurid – but it is nonetheless also turning Violette Szabo into an industry. Should videogames have the same entitlement? Or does the bulk of this young industry being still so centred around gunplay and titillation mean it should steer clear of more serious matters? The question that looms largest to me is, oddly, why did the developers/publishers not simply make a game about an entirely fictitious 1940s secret agent instead, and thus avoid any possible upset altogether?

I only ask so many questions because I don’t have the answers. I do, however, know that I’m fairly amazed Velvet Assassin has been and gone without its choice and interpretation of subject matter being a big talking point.

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117 Comments »

  1. rob says:

    Damn you RPS, tell me what to think!

  2. Sideath says:

    elope with me rps and we’ll sail around the world x

  3. Bhazor says:

    We don’t want questions!

  4. jackflash says:

    Should videogames have the same entitlement? No. A daughter’s biography of her mother is trying to approach truth. The videogame is cynically trying to exploit this person’s tragic story into a summer blockbuster to boost the publisher’s stock price. There’s really no comparison.

  5. Imperial Creed says:

    I do, however, know that I’m fairly amazed Velvet Assassin has been and gone without its choice and interpretation of subject matter being a big talking point.

    I’d suggest that the primary reason for this being the case Alec is that the game doesn’t seem to have been very heavily prompted up to and upon its release.

    I was mightily surprised when Steam informed me it was available to buy a week or two ago. I’d heard of VA in the past, but had not expected it to appear until the end of this year. Asking around, it seems most of my friends had either not heard of VA at all, or were also surprised at its recent release.

    No one seems to be talking about the game in any capacity, bar the reviews (and there doesn’t seem to be many of them), so that’s probably why there’s been no controversy/discussion/debate/angry internet argument. The publisher, SouthPeak, would appear to have dropped the ball as far as promoting/selling the game is concerned.

  6. Leeks! says:

    I imagine the game would have provoked more discussion if it had been, well, any good. If any of us had enjoyed playing it, I could see some Angry Internet Man using an argument similar to Alec’s in order to make us feel bad about it. As it is, this just makes me feel bad about being a gamer.

  7. mujadaddy says:

    …perfect buttocks…

    Come now. “Toned,” certainly, “taught,” perhaps, but “perfect”? That’s like calling something the “perfect cheeseburger.”

  8. nullwert says:

    I had heard of the vague background as anybody else, but did not know about the cruel facts. If this was a movie, there would certainly be an outcry, especially as Velvet Assassine is by a German based development team (in fact, they are sitting about 500 metres away from where I am writing).

    This raises other questions: Are games an (art) form for telling stories as complicated as the one of Szabo’s fate? And is the (gaming) public far enough for treating such games serious enough?

    Thank you for raising these questions!

  9. Smee says:

    Can I just take the time here and say that the often-heard argument “well, this game has some disturbing content/themes, but since it’s not very good, it’s not worth discussing” is, frankly, complete and utter bullshit? Thanks.

  10. NewShizz says:

    Does this game have loads of Dragon Age style maturity in it?

  11. Bhazor says:

    Yep the big issue is that this rape victim/mother has been sexualised to boost sales. If the team had shown the nerves not to rely on titilation for marketing I’d be defending the design of this game much more. As it is it is just a good stealth game in very questionable taste.

  12. Markoff Chaney says:

    “Or does the bulk of this young industry being still so centred around gunplay and titillation mean it should steer clear of more serious matters?”

    Not if it is actually handled seriously, but how many copies is that going to sell? Being an industry, their job is, ostensibly, to produce product and sell enough to make a profit. I think it is becoming clearer and clearer that a large number of publishers feel you can’t sell something unless it has sex and violence. How well would that game where you bag groceries sell? Ask Tetris.

    We push harder and harder for our medium to “grow up” and be “mature” yet we continually pander to immature and puerile baser instincts. Not that I don’t enjoy looking at a lady’s behind (and it’s why I prefer to roll females with MMOs or any 3rd person game, honestly) but having it be your primary selling feature can’t bode well for the contents therein, unless the industry in question is porn.

    To add further distaste to the bitterness in my mouth is that it didn’t seem like the daughter of the deceased lady the game was based on wanted the game to happen at all. That’s respect for your source material right there.

  13. jalf says:

    @smee: Where did you hear that argument? What was said in this thread was more “since it’s not very good, no one discusses it”, which is very different from “it’s not worth discussing”.

    And mujadaddy, the perfect cheeseburger sounds good.

  14. mujadaddy says:

    @jalf: The point is, what is my perfect cheeseburger isn’t going to be yours. And that Meer has just outed himself as a poor judge of backsides ;) :p

  15. simonkaye says:

    jackflash – I disagree.

    We wouldn’t really blink if Hollywood came along and romanticised and sexualised a female spy’s life with an ‘inspired by’ written in the credits. We wouldn’t feel morally outraged by a historical novel doing much the same. So a videogame is fair, if you ask me.

    I’m not going to complain that a sexy actress is cast for a serious historical role. Similarly, it makes no commercial or artistic sense to make the protagonist in this game anything less than the most beautiful that the artists and designers can make her.

    If the game is a pile of balls, then it’s a pile of balls. But should historical subject-matter put us off as we gleefully murder people in cartoonish environments in GTA, Postal and the rest? Really?

    Did we have qualms when we gunned down the hilariously-accented nazis in the countless other WW2 games? They too were modelled upon real individuals, thousands of them – and often turned deliberately into figures of fun or caricatures.

    We have to start accepting our hobby as a legitimate medium for any story at all. Then we can get back to the serious business of assessing each piece on its own merits.

  16. Bhazor says:

    Call me over optimistic in the human race but how many copies does having a nice arse shift? I mean really I am a straight male who rates women’s arses about fifth in physical desirability (below hair, eyes, voice and dress sense but above breasts and teeth) but I’ve never bought a game just because there was a picture of something I wanted to have sex with on the cover.

    It would be nice for one pr company to treat us like sentient beings rather than a cock weighed down by bags of gold.

  17. Dorimant says:

    It is also unfortunate timing, coming just a few months when at GDC when developers were castigated for being “fucking adolescents” prompting quite a few a people rallied to the developers defence. It certainly seems a more accurate description now.

  18. ZIGS says:

    I like how there’s nothing about the actual gameplay

  19. solipsistnation says:

    @Bhazor: You may not have bought it, but does it attract your attention on the shelf? That’s all it needs to do– once you’ve looked at it, it’s in your head enough that you’ll maybe wonder about it and maybe pick up the box and look at the back of it to see what’s going on there, and so on and so forth, and maybe you haven’t bought it because of the buttocks on the cover, but it started that chain of events… I’m not defending this, but you should be able to see how it works.

    As far as exploiting a tragic story goes, hm. The idea is kind of sickening, really. I was intrigued by the idea of the game (and was hoping it might be a sort of more-stealthy WW2-era NOLF kind of thing), but seeing that it’s more exploitative, now I’m less interested.

    So, here’s a thought– consider The Path, which is, basically, about horrible things happening to girls and compare it to Velvet Assassin, which is about horrible things happening to a woman. The Path still makes me (and other RPSers) uncomfortable, but it’s more respectful and isn’t exploitative– it’s so symbolic it becomes a pure metaphor rather than a straight-up depiction of events.
    I’m having a little trouble expressing the point I’m trying to make, but there seem to be similar themes explored from VERY different points of view.

  20. DarthInsinuate says:

    I’d like to imagine that the original pitch was a respectable interpretation of a war heroine’s career in espionage, but, through the process of development and the natural pressure of a high-risk industry, the vision was skewed, and it’s only in hindsight that we can see it is quite poor taste, too late for it to influence the final product substantially.

    But then there’s the barmy “morphine-time” antics which makes me think they never really gave a shit.

  21. Dizet Sma says:

    Does “Carve Her Name With Pride” the movie, based on the book of the same name, count toward this “mere concept of turning her mother’s sad story into entertainment ” or “… turning Violette Szabo into an industry”?

  22. Alaric says:

    Alec, in my opinion you, and those who agree with you, are looking at it from a wrong perspective.

    Is it OK to make a game about a real person who died, especially via violent means? Yes. There have been plenty of games like that, and nobody here seemed to mind this particular aspect of them.

    It is OK to depict this woman as sexy and possessive of “perfect buttocks?” Yes. It is normal to idealize heroes in both written and oral traditions. Being made good-looking is a form of idealization, and idealization is a way in which we show our respect and/or admiration for a person.

    Plus, would you really consider it less problematic, if she was depicted exactly as she looked in real life? To that end, according to what photographs I could find of her, she was fairly good looking. At 23 this is somewhat normal.

    Basically, my point is, I don’t really understand what is making you uneasy or outraged. Could you please explain?

  23. Brinstar says:

    I think it is disturbing that a woman who was raped, tortured, and killed would be used this way. Her own daughter refused to let her mother’s name be used. That should’ve sent a signal to the developers that it might not be a good idea.

  24. pepper says:

    Yes.

    Yes we should make this game, why people think these games are upsetting au contrait to lets say a movie(SAW) or a book? That is because a game does not offer a physchological look into the mind of others, but into there own, and might show them things they do not wish to see. It is fear for what one might be that leads to a skewed view on these games.

    Then again, movies and books have been used over the years to illustrate horrible events sometimes used for entertainment.

  25. Angry Internet Man says:

    Dorimant:

    Haven’t most games been puerile for a long stretch of the medium’s history? Most games cater to what a twelve-year-old boy would think about as “AWESOME!” and gamers’ tastes, even past that age, are notoriously bad. Go to any Gamestop and you’ll see shelf after shelf of power fantasies and titillation. Sure, there are exceptions, and yes, the exceptions sell, but hey–literature’s classics include Lolita, Hamlet, and Crime and Punishment. Gaming’s classics include Doom and GTA 3, and we’ll call any half-assed plot brilliant just for showing up (See Half-Life, which has a plot akin to a Michael Bay movie).

    None of which is to say I don’t play these games. I do. But I’m kind of uncomfortable about it. I’m just jonsesing to play Devil’s Advocate/troll today.

  26. Zaphid says:

    Just to tell you how does it play:

    Imagine your stealth-em-up of choice, now change all the colors to shades of brown or gray, then proceed to reduce the size of the levels so they can fit in a shoe box, give every room a single solution, give the player 1-2 “oh shit I can do this only once per level” buttons and throw in shitty controls for the PC. Oh yeah, and for some reason, you can’t sneak faster than a patrolling soldier who you are trying to murder.

    Oh yeah, and no saves, only checkpoints.

  27. Markoff Chaney says:

    I think of exploitation in terms of Lars von Trier. I can handle his films (just barely, sometimes) because they are imaginary constructs who he submits to his will and subjugation. Or, in the case of the five obstructions, the subjugated is a willing participant in the experiment. If he were to take a previously “real” woman and torture, rape and exploit her in effigy or via some avatar, especially when the surviving family requested he not do so, then it would be deplorable. As it stands though, and I’m thinking of his Breaking the Waves / Idioterne / Dancer in the Dark trilogy specifically, they become character studies and depressing journeys of sacrifice for love and I don’t consider them exploitative, simply contemplative.

    Of course, I say Tomato, you may say Tohmatoh. Eternally grateful I am the button says Opinion.

  28. AnneFrank says:

    I would like to see how game developers interpret my diaries into a tits and explosion testosterone fest.

  29. Nick says:

    I think it is pretty sick and pathetic myself.

  30. Günter says:

    I want the game to be made for the sake of freedom of speech, but I still find it absolutely tasteless and offensive.

  31. Alaric says:

    I am sorry, but that comparison is conceptually flawed to the point of being ridiculous.

    You are comparing a story of a child in hiding, to that of a professional soldier/spy trained in weapons, deception, unarmed combat and explosives among other things.

    Unlike Anne Frank, Violette Szabo was in fact a war hero, who blew up bridges, marked targets for bombing and killed people. She served her country, knew the risks and sacrificed her life as did many others.

    I really don’t understand why you think that depicting her in a slightly idealized fashion (as far as looks) is an insult to her memory. We do it to our heroes all the time, that is the point of having heroes.

  32. DK says:

    If this is exploitative, then so is the Path. Just because one was made by “indie developers” doesn’t automatically make art – just like one being made by a developer with an actual budget excludes it from being art.

    Would it have been deeper and more contemplative back when it had the slower, less actiony concept and was called something else (someone please remind what it’s original title was)? Yeah it would have been. But that’s the, perceived?, mainstream market. They literally had to redesign the heroine to make her more appealing. They wanted her less supermodel, the publisher and by extension the market did not.
    We have only us to blame (by which I mean the people who buy T and A based games).

  33. Nick says:

    Um, how is running around stabbing nazis in a nighty in a drug induced fever during her dying moments depicting her in an idealized fashion exactly?

    As for The Path.. it wasn’t based on real people so is hardly relative.

  34. Rich_P says:

    Can I just take the time here and say that the often-heard argument “well, this game has some disturbing content/themes, but since it’s not very good, it’s not worth discussing” is, frankly, complete and utter bullshit?

    Heh, I’m of the belief that if a game sucks at being a game (fun, entertaining, strategic, etc.), then it’s pretty worthless as far as videogames go. But then I’ve never been one to care about the videogames as art and whatever debates.

    Velvet Assassin sounds like it was conceived and directed by marketing execs through and through.

  35. Gap Gen says:

    “Richard Baxton piloted his Recon Rover into a fungal vortex and held off four waves of mind worms, saving an entire colony.
    We immediately purchased his identity manifests and repackaged him into the Recon Rover Rick character with a multi-tiered media campaign: televids, touchbooks, holos, psi-tours–the works.
    People need heroes. They don’t need to know how he died clawing his eyes out, screaming for mercy. The real story would just hurt sales, and dampen the spirits of our customers.”

    “Mythology for Profit”
    Morgan Stellartots Keynote Speech

  36. DK says:

    “As for The Path.. it wasn’t based on real people so is hardly relative.”
    Neither is Velvet Assassin. “Inspired by the story of” means about as much as “Spiritual Successor of”. In other words: nothing.

    “Velvet Assassin sounds like it was conceived and directed by marketing execs through and through.”
    The moment it got the new title, Velvet Assassin, yes – it was effectively remade by market studies. Can’t really blame the developer or the game for that though – your ire on that is with the publisher.

  37. LactoseTheIntolerant says:

    It is fairly sad the developers/publishers decided to take that direction with their portrayal of Violette. To be frank, as a stealthy-actiony game of the type we’re all so familiar with, it’s not especially suited to a sympathetic portrayal of a genuine historical figure. These type of game are geared towards tension, thrill and excitement, so any attempt at framing it in a sober historical context is bound to run into difficulty.* They should, as you suggested, have gone with pure fiction, more in keeping with the fun-in-a-historical-setting type of game I’m sure they were always gunning for.

    I’m trying to imagine the style of game that would be suited to a more ‘serious’ take on such a theme (which is of course emintently possible; I’ve not read the book by the daughter but I imagine she wasn’t sexing up her mother to cash in, and similarly, from what I remember of it, Carve Her Name with Pride was a fairly considered and moving dramatisation of her fate.

    *Not that it’s impossible for games to do this, obviously. Thoughtful/deep subjects are often explored in, e.g., RPGs and the stories of many games successfully (in my opinion) deal with serious messages. Dealing with historical events is, I think, a little harder however. WWII FPS games somewhat bewilderingly get a free ride for their turning of a gruesome and destructive conflict into epic shooters. Though that could arguably be applied to WWII set films and books as well, so perhaps it’s a broader cultural trend rather than something specific to games.

    I’m losing my point here. This was a tactless handling of a sensitive subject.

  38. AnneFrank says:

    @Alaric

    Hey if American McGee can do what he did to a children’s tale, why can’t my stories be turned into a stealth/horror game with a tarted up protagonist?

  39. suibhne says:

    Alaric, in my opinion you, and those who agree with you, are looking at it from a wrong perspective.

    When you counsel that granting perfect buttocks and a titillating nightgown to female heroes is simply “idealizing” them, a form of wholesome praise and nothing more, you seem to miss the point that the real Violette Szabo was raped and murdered and now a videogame about her is sexualizing her image (and in a totally unnecessary, superfluous manner). Those things cannot be disjoined. You also seem to neglect the market valorization of sex, as demonstrated in Alec’s link to Kotaku. The unfortunate conclusion seems to be that Southpeak is selling the image of Szabo in basically the same manner as Lara Croft, while appearing ignorant of the fact that Lara Croft (who could be another discussion entirely) is fictional and didn’t die as a rape victim and prisoner of war.

  40. bhlaab says:

    Did we have qualms when we gunned down the hilariously-accented nazis in the countless other WW2 games? They too were modelled upon real individuals, thousands of them – and often turned deliberately into figures of fun or caricatures.

    The difference is specifics. They were not based on real individuals, they were based on a mob entity. You were killing Nazi #23, not Hans, former steel worker with 3 children and a wife, who died from starvation on the Russian front.

    The difference here is that this is based on a specific, named woman. They completely distort and disrespect her by assuming that the amazing things she did and the horrible shit that happened to her wasn’t interesting enough unless she had a nice ass and perky lil titties. Total Frank-Miller-revisionist-history for a woman who probably deserves a little bit better than that.

  41. Alaric says:

    @The-person-who-uses-Anne-Frank’s-name

    I don’t think that attacking either your age or education level would be a good strategy, but I must bring it to your attention that “Alice in Wonderland” is not, and was never meant to be a children’s tale.

    As far as Anne Frank goes, I think that if someone made a horror game out of it, depending on how it was made, it could serve the same purpose as publishing the diary.

    And before I get crucified for saying that, I’d like to mention that I don’t envision such a game as involving a lingerie model and jumping puzzles. In fact I don’t think such a game is feasible at all, because aside from conversations, there isn’t any possible action that could be involved.

  42. OMG says:

    OMG Anne Frank point-and-click horror adventure!

  43. Y3k-Bug says:

    Why would (or should) there be outrage over this? As has been accurately said by many, it’s a vidyagame, I hardly think anyone is looking to Velvet Assasin for accurate historical information.

    I would argue the game as it’s set up now is well done-if you care enough to be bothered to look into the real story behind the game, great! You’ll be rewarded with a wealth of legit info from real sources, history books and the like. If you can’t be arsed to care, then in all likelihood you didn’t even know the story was based on a real one, and you won’t care anyway.
    Let’s assume the game does make the point that it’s story is based on a true one. If a game is the first and last stop for your historical accuracy, well then Jesus Fuck All Christ. you’re looney.

    No harm, no foul in my opinion.

  44. Alaric says:

    @suibhne

    You are suggesting that the fact that Szabo was raped does somehow negate the fact that humans like to see their heroes as better, smarter, stronger and prettier than they themselves are. I assure you than nobody here (and no normal person in general) approves of rape or murder. It is, however, perfectly normal and not at all morbid to want to see someone whom we consider a hero as an idealized version of the person they historically were. Yes, even if they met a ghastly end.

    Moreover, when bad things happen, it is not OK to forbid all mention of them. That way, only a handful of historians will ever know that something took place. Things must enter the popular culture, even if that means they may end up getting distorted.

    As a historian myself, I hate when things are distorted, but still I would rather people remember Leonidas and Szabo as a muscle-bound brute and a foxy model respectively than not remember them at all.

    Plus, the mere fact that we are having this discussion will make at least some people look up her name. People who otherwise would have never known about her will learn the truth thanks to this game and the conversations that it prompted. As far as I am concerned you could not ask for more.

  45. jalf says:

    @Alaric: Agreed about a potential Anne Frank game.

    They too were modelled upon real individuals, thousands of them – and often turned deliberately into figures of fun or caricatures.

    No, they were not. No one ever made a WW2 game by researching the life stories of individual soldiers. The keyword here is real individuals. Generic Nazi Soldier is certainly an individual, but he is not a *real* individual. He never existed. He does not have a name, and he is not modelled on the life of any specific person who ever lived.

    Nevertheless, you have a point. The countless WW2 games letting you merrily slaughter batallions of people are not problem-free either. Am I the only one who is a bit disturbed that we pretty much have a generation growing up who thinks nazis simply “deserve to die”? 30 or 40 years ago they were considered criminals, certainly, they fought for a cause that committed terrible atrocities, no doubt, but they were still considered human. I’ve talked to enough people who seem to feel otherwise, who think Hitler was pretty much evil incarnate, and that everyone who fought for him were “evil” (and so regular human rights don’t apply to them, and whatever cruelties you commit on them doesn’t count, cos you’re doing it against nazis) that I can’t help wondering if WW2 shooters are to blame for desensitizing us to this particular chapter of human history. In a way, they trivializes their subject matter by reducing it to “these weren’t human beings. They didn’t have names, lives, families or personal beliefs. They were just there to defend Hitler, and therefore, killing them had no downside”

    I’m all for all kinds of media exploring our history, but I’m not a huge fan of the way games typically approach the task. Every other form of media has been able to produce nuanced works that treated their subject matter with respect, as something that actually happened. Somehow, this still eludes game designers. When they dig through history, it is seemingly only to find a new uniform to stick on the thousands of generic cannon fodder soldiers that are placed in front of the player.

  46. DK says:

    “In a way, they trivializes their subject matter by reducing it to “these weren’t human beings. They didn’t have names, lives, families or personal beliefs. They were just there to defend Hitler, and therefore, killing them had no downside””
    Absolutely this – and in that regard, Velvet Assassin, however misguided the sexify-redesign was, is already a step above. It’s not about generic, abstract entities like “American Hero Soldier” vs “Nazi Gestapo SS trooper X”. It’s about a single, vulnerable woman, fighting her own personal battles – and losing.
    Edit: Losing the personal battle for the sake of the overall good. A far more moving conclusion than what they could have (and Hollywood/Videogamewood have in other cases) done.

    Keep in mind that they did not change the outcome of the story. (as I understood it from the RPS article and other sources) The main character still dies, at the hands of her captors. Isn’t that still far more genuine to the source than having her wake up, strangle the guard, blow up the prison and fly home in a stolen Messerschmidt?

    Horrible things happened in Vietnam, yet we accept anti-war movies set there as okay.

    Is it only okay to shoot nazis if you’re playing a male who heroically wins the day and gets to come home again?

  47. blacktick says:

    The game has nothing do with Szabo(other than taken an inspiration). If you ppl would actually play it,you’d know Violette is not captured by the nazis or is she tortured/raped. The loading screen only shows those images to keep you wondering what will happen or something in that direction.
    Same happened with the latest Hitman and those death scenes in the loading screen.

    The game itself is good or at least I liked it despite it’s apparent flaws.
    I know it’s pointless to say this,but a little backround before assuming things would be great.

    @ DK
    SPOILERS!!!!
    She doesn’t die,but you almost got the ending right with the waking up,killing the guards and flying away,lol. :D
    SPOILERS!!!!

  48. calyth says:

    It just seems like a case of marketing not talking to the game devs on this one.
    You can see the whole promo-gameplay mismatch, right from the start, when you look at the gameplay trailers.
    So far, the game takes a serious tone, and aside not portraying the truth of what happened to Szabo (which is pretty understandable IMO), the game has portrayed everything pretty realistically.
    The game does a good job at showing that not all of the German soldiers are monsters. Some were disgusted with what is happening, while some were clearly conducting evil. It give the opportunity for the player to understand that in order to carry forward what Summers has to do, she will have to kill those Germans who don’t particularly approve of what’s happening, alongside with those who commit those attrocities. Perhaps I’m seeing too much into things, but the fact that in a lot of situations, you are pretty much forced to kill the soldiers in sight allows the game to hammer the point that all sides are responsible for the vulgarities of war.

    I don’t think the game itself is particularly demeaning to Szabo. One could argue that the morphine nightie thing is pretty demeaning, and I’d cop to using the nightie for Summers is really pandering to the 16 yo who giggles at it. But it was pretty early on that you can overhear a comment about how German soldiers were abusing morphine too.

    Aside from gameplay changes, I only wish that the marketers actually took a more serious, sombre tone that is in the game, instead of appealing to T&A. It isn’t like there’s a hell a lot of it. If you’re playing the game, you’re hardly paying attention to Summer’s outfit. If someone paid for it because of the outfits, they’ve got problems that games won’t solve anyways.

  49. Xercies says:

    Hmmm there are some films that use war as a action blockbuster movie and have no shame and we still don’t go after them. But I do believe that the video game industry is shooting themselves in the foot by bringing these kind of games out like Velvet Assassin and 6 days.

    Oh and people defending the sexuality of the women just have to look at the picture shown on the IGN page to be disgusted about it. Pure T&A with no qualms about it.

  50. mercurya says:

    While I find it totally interesting (well, boring, actually) and okay to argue whether using this womans’ personal story as a selling point or not I’m a bit suprised that no one has commented on the actual game.

    It’s bad. The levels are totally linear (ie you follow the one, ‘right’ route or you’re likely getting killed 99% of the time), slowdowns are common and guards will attack and likely kill you in three shots as soon as a mere pixel of your character sticks out of cover. Not even watching those ‘perfect’ buttocks got me to play that dreadful thing longer than the first few levels. You see, they needed that sob story as a hook to generate interest and discussion in an otherwise totally unremarkable and, really, bad game.

    And it totally worked.

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