Velvet Assassin is a stealth game released in 2009 for PC and Xbox 360, developed by Replay Studios (formerly Team Toro) and published by SouthPeak Games. The title takes place during the Second World War, where player take control of Violette Summer, a British spy in the service of MI6, attempting to thwart the Nazi war effort, operating behind enemy lines. The game’s story was inspired by the real-life secret agent/saboteur Violette Szabo.
But before being released in this form, the game had two other versions, during a hectic development spanning approximately from 2002 until its release in 2009.
In February 2003, German studio Team Toro revealed its very first game, Sabotage 1943, a First-Person Shooter whose scenario and background were identical to Velvet Assassin. It is then planned for a release during the Winter of 2003/2004 on PC, Playstation 2 and Xbox, and the press release revealed some information:
“France 1943. Behind the façade of stability a secret, desperate, and cruel war of liberation has already begun. As a spy, saboteur, and partisan of the French resistance movement, the Résistance, you will also get involved in this fight.
The omnipresent enemy keeps everything under control and reacts on every kind of resistance in a barbarous and brutal way. An open military confrontation would be a lost cause.
Therefore, another way has to be found to fight the enemy. You conspire against the Nazis, operate underground, and pretend to be a harmless civilian. This way you can deceive and infiltrate the Nazis to strike secretly. But don’t fall in the hands of the Gestapo that even plants spies in the resistance groups…”
3D tactical first-person shooter with the newest technologies offers extremely realistic game visuals. Dynamic real-time light and shadow effects perfectly reflect the sinister atmosphere of the background story.
Particle system makes the explosions look extremely realistic. Environmental effects, such as dust, rain and leaves, create a dark and gloomy atmosphere.
Flexible camera control and exact details of the game world even allow the player to peek through keyholes.
22 levels will lead you through the cruel story, which is based on true historical facts.
Scenarios in authentic French theaters of war in 1943/44, such as Paris occupied by German forces.
Seven different characters with various specific attributes
Complex enemy AI with numerous surprising behavior patterns
Various clothing and uniforms allow the player to operate secretly in military areas behind the enemy lines.
Player’s behavior has a direct effect on the relationship between the population and the Résistance (betrayal, assistance, etc.)
By skillfully sneaking up on the enemy, soldiers can be overwhelmed and forced at gunpoint to open doors and reveal vital information
When under fire, the player can fake death by using the “Playing Dead Mode” to deceive the enemy
Shortly after, the developer showed a first trailer, then, a video preview from Gamestar in April of the same year was published.
However, after these revelations, the game felt into total obscurity and was not mentionned by its developer until May 2006, just after completing Crashday for Moon Byte Studios. Unsurprisingly, after almost 2 and a half years of absence, the project had undergone a complete overhaul. Simply renamed Sabotage, the title did not change context nor main character, but took the form of a Third-Person Shooter, planned exclusively on PC for 2007 and published by Anaconda, the label of DTP Entertainment. It was presented at the E3 and Game Convention 2006 shows, and it was again Gamestar that released a video preview in November of the same year, notably showing several phases of gunfights.
Early 2007 should have been the release window for Sabotage, but it wasn’t. The title would reappear briefly during the Game Convention 2007 for a release now planned in Autumn 2008, where we learned that Gamecock Media Group took over the publishing rights.
Finally, in March 2008, new changes occured for this project, now named Velvet Assassin with an Xbox 360 version in addition, it would see its main character partially redesigned, as well as its HUD. The gunfights phases that we could see in Gamestar’s preview seem to have been mostly dropped in favor of a more tactical and stealth-oriented gameplay.
Velvet Assassin would finally see the light in Spring 2009, after experiencing an additional delay and a final change of publisher with SouthPeak Games, following the acquisition of Gamecock Media Group. The game received mixed to average critical reviews and Replay Studios filed for bankruptcy in August 2009, only 3 months after its release.
During these 7 years of existence, Replay Studios seemed to have a lot of difficulty in the development of its titles. In addition to the chaotic one for Sabotage 1943, the company also had Survivor in production, a title announced in October 2004. Crashday, only available on PC since 2006, should have been released in 2005, also on Playstation 2 and Xbox. At some point, we could even read on the now-defunct Replay Studios website this:
“Sabotage 1943 is a tactical shooter game in WWII. As allied elite agent Jason Turner you perform dangerous, top-secret guerilla and sabotaging activities which officially don’t exist behind enemy lines.”
Sabotage 1943 video:
Sabotage 1943 images: