Death To Spies is a PC stealth/action espionage game by Haggard Games that does a lot of things right, and brings a realistic take on the stealth genre. While Death To Spies immerses you in an authentic world of stealth and espionage, it does miss a few beats along the way that mar the game a bit.
The game puts you in control of a SMERSH operator during World War II, who’s job is to assassinate Nazi’s in the USSR (kind of like a walking SHMERSHshmortion clinic). The game’s introduction, unfortunately, doesn’t set the mood very well with it’s atrocious voice overs, accompanied with bad sync timing. You’ll also notice how stiff and poor looking the character models are, which I thought was a thing of the past. But, I’m not going to cast stones at the superficial aspect of the game, because for what Death To Spies lacks in the character models, it more than makes up with environmental detail and gameplay mechanics.
The game sets you on various missions, which will usually offer several methods of entry and completion. Mission details are in depth, and planning is generally required for the missions due to the sheer difficulty of the game. Diehard fans of stealth/action games should rejoice, because Death To Spies offers some of the best blends of stealth, action, and espionage with a very realistic approach. Just some of the things you’ll have to consider while playing the game are item weight, clothing, and weapons. For example, if you don the uniform of an enemy soldier, it would behoove you to also use the same weapons and gear that soldier uses. Being disguised as a German soldier with a Russian haversack and firearm will most definitely alert the guards to suspicion and prompt them to investigate you further. Also, things like dead or unconscious bodies lying about will cause guards to immediately sound the alarm, and any noises you make whilst sneaking about will be investigated. Also worth noting is the use of shadows, light, and camouflage to hide your presence from enemies. Unlike some action games, simply hiding in the darkness in an enemy’s presence won’t guarantee you’ll remain undetected, so you’ll have to be clever on when and where you move to.
While Death To Spies has the gameplay mechanics in the bag, the controls, sadly, just don’t seem to fit in the aforementioned satchel. A bit clunky, the controls just don’t feel as polished and crisp as they should be for a game that requires such stealth and precision. Combat is frustrating and difficult at times because of this, and it is very troublesome to try and recover from an error due to mushy controls. To give you an example, this is one of those games where you’ll be engaged in combat and probably hit the kneel/prone button, and get one hundred bullets occupying the space where your head once used to be. The controls aren’t terrible, per se, but do take some getting used to. Simply put: save often. The game is tough enough as it is, but the controls only add another variable of difficulty.
Graphically, the game isn’t going to rock your socks clear off of your stinky feet. It’s no Call of Duty 4 or Crysis, but it does well enough. The character models, as stated before, are not up to snuff, but the attention to detail in the environment and authenticity of the items, weapons, décor, and ambiance overcome the poor models. To compound the sub par character designs, a sheer lack of diversity amongst the characters and interaction with them also detracts from the experience. Guards will only say a couple of uninspired phrases over and over again, and always seem to patrol in a predictable manner. This generally would make things easy for the player; learn the pattern, adapt to the situation, and eliminate. However, Death To Spies’ counter to this is to make guards patrol in groups, making a stealth assault that much more difficult. Eliminating a target in a room full of people will also prove extremely challenging, especially when you’re tap dancing on stage with the Fred Astaire of machine guns.
While this game almost sounds like a budget title for the PC, don’t be fooled. Death To Spies will offer you a challenging and rewarding experience, provided you enjoy extremely in depth stealth/action. The gameplay is spot on, with a few little grubby hands dragging it down it’s trousers a bit. It’s nothing to snuff your nose at, so why not give it a try?