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Friday | December 9, 2016
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Death To Spies: Moment Of Truth (PC)

Death To Spies: Moment Of Truth (PC)

Death To Spies: Moment of Truth has recently appeared on Valve’s Steam platform and it is the sequel to 2007’s Death To Spies. It is a game which may be overlooked and that would be a shame because it combines challenging stealth gameplay with a super smooth and very effective engine.

Moment Of Truth is a rather difficult game, when I received our review copy for Gamingheaven it took me 3 hours to beat the first level. Initially I was not impressed with the Hitman style gameplay but after the first hour I began to realize that this is a game which definitely rewards patient gamers. If you get caught picking a lock or are even seen acting suspiciously near a dead body the outcome will surely mean death. It is a third person game with the focus on realistic sneak tactics – because the slightest wrong move will mean the end of the game. Saving, and saving often is the key to success.

The Artificial Intelligence is quite often surprisingly good and your successful completion of specific goals is massively rewarding. That said there are some issues with the lack of tutorial, which makes the initial learning curve a little steep. If you are a Hitman veteran however most of the tactics and ideals will prove immediately obvious.

If you played the original game in the series you are still a member of SMERSH, the Russian predecessor to the well known KGB and you spend much of the game sneaking around Nazis and assassinating key targets. There are certain patterns that many of the Nazi guards will follow and it is your job to find holes in these to sneak past them, or alternatively you can take them out. Be aware however the AI is very smart so if you leave bodies in the open they will quite often be found and alarms will be sounded, making your progress difficult. You can sneak up behind your enemy and use chloroform, slit their throats with a single slice of a knife and then steal their clothing so you can disguise yourself as one of them and move around more freely. Quite often there is more than one course of action you can take to achieve your goals which means that the game has a ton of replay longevity. I have spent the last week on and off playing this game and I still haven’t beaten it … some of the levels are really that challenging.

It isn’t all great however and the cutscenes and cinematics are reminiscent of a lower grade game from many years ago. They also really don’t aid the storyline much and seem more like an afterthought rather than some founded background progression to help detail your missions. Fortunately this is only a minor part in the games presentation because the main engine in the game is very impressive and doesn’t require a massively high powered system. It is one of those engines which seems to run well on any semi powerful modern day hardware. Playing it on my Intel Quad Core and GTX 285 meant I could crank the settings to 2560×1600 with AA and all other options maxed. Strangely enough I couldn’t get the 2560×1600 setting once the game loaded, but the separate configuration tool via the Steam interface allowed for the 30 inch panel native resolution.

It would be fair to say that Moment of Truth doesn’t present a class leading engine in the manner that Crysis did when it was released, but its good enough to look impressive but not require you to spend a few grand updating your components to get smooth and effectively gameplay. The developers have opted for a diffused appearance to the environments which gives the impression of a very realistic tone and the added noise filter places a subtle yet gritty edge to the overall appearance.

The fourth level for instance has a sepia filter applied which gives the view that you are playing in the actual time zone, like a scene from an old photograph. It is these little touches which show that the developer is really intent on setting a solid foundation for the stealth war game. My particular favourite aspect of the graphics is the diffused lighting which looks simply stunning – the light penetrates the branches of a tree for instance and soaks through the dirty windows in a very realistic manner. Sadly the character models have not received the same attention to detail and while they won’t ruin the overall experience, they look a little rigid as they go about their daily routines. On a sound level there is very little audio present and while many will rate it negatively for this, I personally feel it adds a huge amount to the atmosphere. The germans will speak for instance and there are ambient background noises, but you aren’t compelled to endure a pulsing guitar based rock soundtrack while you attempt to sneak into a facility. In this case, less is certainly more.

I mentioned earlier that the game is very difficult and I need to stress just how difficult it really is, even on the easiest setting. Your progress will be slow and controlled and if you like to charge into a game guns blazing, then you need to look elsewhere as you will end up in a body bag in a manner of seconds if that is your preferred gaming style. The tension is high and I found myself sitting on the edge of my chair while playing, just waiting for the right second to make my move and pray that I wouldn’t be caught. The AI really is the games focal point because everything in your surroundings will react as you would expect. For instance if you have killed a mechanic or an engineer and have stolen his clothes you won’t get much attention, but if you try and wander into specific high profile locations the guards will demand you leave immediately as you won’t have the necessary clearance to enter. Equally so If you assassinate a high ranking officer, you won’t be expected to be running around the locations with an SMG in your hands. This will again get you spotted as an imposter.

To make matters more difficult the game doesn’t often put a single enemy on a single key location so getting into the buildings will require a significant effort when it comes to your train of thought. Barging in the front door with your gun drawn will once again mean your death, so you are best hanging back in a guard duties uniform until you can analyse the people allowed in and their patrolling patterns so you can make the quietest kill possible. Bodies can be hidden in various crates and containers and unless you want to be caught, every kill needs careful planning. It is a more challenging version of Hitman in that manner. If the alarm is raised then guards will swarm the environment looking for suspicious activity and unless you are well clothed and act like the relevant person you will be spotted and hunted down. This is were the AI falls down a little, because the enemy are not great at fighting, sometimes they will run around like headless chickens and others they will all charge you down headfirst – regardless however, if you are spotted and an alert has been sounded, escaping is extremely difficult and unless you have an already dead victim in a hidden location you can reach – to change clothes you are best just loading a previously saved game.

The levels are superbly designed and they let you approach your objectives in a variety of ways to suit various game play styles. Every action has a consequence and it is important to save the game before you approach any key location. When you die however, it is not because of a sloppily coded bug with the game, it is just because you are meant to handle the task more effectively. I was getting so frustrated on one specific level that I screamed “man this is a dumb game!” at the monitor, only to find out shortly afterwards that there was an alternative route I never thought of – the joke was on me. This is certainly a game that will reward a more intelligent gamer, if you can’t be bothered with this depth of gameplay then you will never get anything from it. Initially I found it frustrating and extremely annoying but after the first hour and much swearing I began to realize that this is a stealth gamers dream. Sadly there is no tutorial and not much guidance on your way so you are left with a briefing, a decent map and inventory system to deal with the tasks on your own.

Death To Spies: Moment of Truth is a game which I ended up loving but the initial learning curve, demanding AI and painfully hard levels will mean that many people will move onto something else. For those of you reading this however who want something incredibly deep along the style of ‘Hitman’ then this game will be infinitely rewarding. I absolutely love it.

Gameplay
88

The depth of play is incredible, but only the most patient people will find reward.
Graphics
86
An engine that will run well on the majority of gaming hardware available. It is not class leading but damn is it effective.
Sound
80
The sound has been stripped down for atmosphere and it works great.
Value
90
If you can live with the immense challenge asked of you, each level can be replayed MANY times.
Overall
87

A stealth fans wet dream. Don’t miss this one.

 

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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