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Death To Spies

Score: 80%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Haggard Games
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Stealth/ Themed

Graphics & Sound:

It is absolutely amazing the kind of things that you can forgive about the way a game looks and moves when there are design elements that make the game unique and challenging. Such is the case for Death to Spies. If you were to cross this game on the Internet and choose it on looks alone, you may just pass it over. A great place to cover the fact that you can't choose a book by its cover, or a game by a screen shot.

Sure, when you fist look at this game, it will appear outdated. OK, to be fair, the second and third look will make you think it is outdated. The animation and motion are extremely robotic. The movement is mind numbingly slow, but we will get into why that is so great later. The funny thing to me is that some of the animations were so plastic they hurt to watch, while others were fluid, dynamic and graceful.

There is a standard in stealth games for the sound to be non-existent. This is an immersion trick to make you concentrate on what you do hear. I am fine with that. I don't expect an epic march while I am sneaking up on the guy I am about to kill. The voiceovers are more than a little bit laughable at times, but, hey, they are translated.


There is a lot under the simple surface of Death to Spies. You play a Russian counter-intelligence agent during and post WWII. You have been called forward to speak on your actions during these tumultuous times that became the Cold War.

The tutorial is long and comprehensive. Thanks to the difficulty and open-endedness of the game's missions, I found myself failing the tutorial mission quite a few times. The movement of your character is so slow that, at first, I was disturbed by the pace of the game. I was sure I had grown a layer of mold. I quickly changed my thinking to understand that this was a great design choice because it added to the immersion and added purpose to the stealth of the game.

You are capable of so much more in this game than just shooting people and sneaking around. Though maybe a little borrowed, you are able to employ disguises to conceal your movements and blend in with your targets to get close. It is not just a matter of being seen in this game, it is also not a matter of if you have a disguise on that you can just automatically sneak past the guards. Specific actions that would normally be out of character are gong to attract attention. Things like carrying a throwing knife while in uniform and even the act of being seen aiming your weapon are going to get the guard's attention. They went to great detail outlining the things that would get the attention of a guard in the real world. Fist punches and bodies hitting the floor make noise, and they bring attention.

Some cool features I thought needed mention before we move on are details like peering through keyholes to see what is on the other side. Lock picking is always fun and it is no different here with spinning lock wheels to find the combination. You are not always going to be on foot either; there are several vehicles to operate to get you to your destination. I was a little let down that the operation of these vehicles didn't draw attention the way other aspects of the game had taken great pains to accomplish, but still interesting.


One of my favorite parts of Death to Spies is the fact that it is not a Sunday stroll in the park. It is a difficult and methodical game, the way a stealth game should be. I would think it was easy to say it is almost too hard at times. When comparing this title to other stealth games, I believe that players of this genre will have to be more careful than they would normally have to be. There is none of this standing two feet from each other nose to nose and not seeing each other. You have to take your time. No really! There are some parts where it is business as usual, and you will have to gun everyone down as quickly and quietly as possible. For the most part, however, you will have to really think about what you are doing.

There are the usual settings of Easy, Normal, Hard and Expert. I felt that the Normal was hard enough to suit me, and Expert was insane.

Game Mechanics:

There was a lot of detail and time put into the aspects of how much attention someone would draw when they performed specific actions, and as such, Death to Spies deserves a true look. The progression of attention or alarm was very realistic and difficult at times. The fact that A.I. would pass on information amongst themselves was well done. If you were careless and left a body or weapons lying around, then you were going to get noticed fast. It is obvious that very little of these aspects of design are specifically new. Sure you have seen uniform changes done, but not where the A.I. would notice what you were carrying. You also have non-lethal combat, but here you can hear a fist strike skin. It makes noise when you smack someone in the face with the butt of a gun. When you put all of these elements together in a package that works, it is called good design.

The Cold War might actually be over, but it is well kindled in this game. The look and the animation could use some serious work, specifically the animations. The design came through and showed great care to really cover many aspects of the genre that are lacking in other stealth titles. The game is pretty hard, and they could do some things to make it a little easier, especially on the Normal setting, but I felt that attempting to do so may take away from the game as a whole. Death to Spies currently feels like a very niche end of the genre for those who really enjoy stealth games. I look forward to seeing titles from this team as this is a good move for the genre as a whole.

-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

Minimum System Requirements:

DirectX Version: v9.0c, Operating System: Windows XP/Vista, Intel Pentium IV 1.8 GHz or equivalent, 512 MB, 2500 MB of space

Test System:

Windows XP Pro, 3.2 GHz P4HT CPU, 2 GB Ram, 512 PCIE 16 ATI X1600XT

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