Maximum Games cold war stealth action game Alekhine’s Gun comes to consoles and PC offering 11 missions and plenty of sneaking about. With Hitman also available now, is this a worthwhile investment as a full priced game. Take a look at our Alekhine’s Gun review for the full picture.
Alekhine’s Gun Review:
Today we’re taking a look at Maximum Games cold war stealth action game Alekhine’s Gun (or Death to Spies 3) which released on consoles and PC and comes at the same time as another more recognizable offering from IO Interactive with their HITMAN game. The two products share many similarities and yet at the same time are quite far apart in terms of approach and quality. Where HITMAN has opted for an episodic method, Alekhine’s Gun offers a fully fledged campaign that will keep you engrossed for many hours without having to replay the same levels over and over to get your monies worth. On the flip side, HITMAN is the far more polished game of the two so if graphics mean everything to you then perhaps Alekhine’s Gun won’t be so appealing. For the record we’ve been playing the PC version and from what we’ve read about the console ports is the PC game is far more accessible and smooth playing.
To begin, Alekhine’s Gun tells the story of a highly skilled Russian secret Agent who is given the codename Alekhine working alongside the CIA in a post WWII setting. The opening has you conducting a mission in the past and then once the pleasantries are over you’ll jump in to the real meat of the stealth, subterfuge action. Make no bones, this is s stealth game at heart and whilst it’s possible to get into gun fights, the idea is to sneak around, knock out the unsuspecting, take their clothes and infiltrate to either sabotage, murder or grab Intel. Most missions offer multiple objectives and give you enough time to scope out the targets before going in for the kill. As expected, the game uses a system of restricted areas which can be bypassed if the correct uniform is being worn or if you’re incredibly sneaky. It’s challenging and time consuming looking around for ways in but at the same time tense and engaging. In a way, there’s a puzzle element to how you approach the various tasks required of you – although that said there are multiple ways in which to accomplish your goals should that be poisoning, accidents or straight up strangulation.
The core gameplay works reasonably enough if you’ve got a little patience, although in some instances there is a bit of inconsistency with the AI which sometimes will have eyes of a hawk and other times will simply let you go about your business without a flutter. There’s also issue with how they respond to your actions where if you commit a dodgy act such as lock-picking a door you’re not supposed to or be seen in a restricted area, if you simply run away to safety there’s little to no punishment allowing you to repeat the process until you succeed. Sometimes actions won’t perform either so for example on the second mission where you’re tasked with getting a bellboy outfit the game will decide to not allow you to stealth KO all of sudden. It’s frustrating and just reeks of poor testing which hampers the experience quite a bit. Coupled with no option to invert the Y axis when using a controller (a standard in gaming since the 90s) and there’s quite a bit going against the game.
There’s is a variety of missions though which span across 11 stages and comprise of various themes. The opening has you wandering around a hotel causing all sorts of mischief and later you’ll even enter a biker bar for some more shenanigans which actually is quite tough having to kidnap one of the targets without being spotted. There’s certainly enough to sink one’s teeth into and as already mentioned, you’re encouraged to try again, beat your end mission rating and perhaps opt for something new on subsequent plays. There’s unlockable weapons of choice to select and upgrade for additional methods when replaying – and something more to work towards with the points earned from mission completion.
In its current state and despite a recent patch the game suffers from random crashes which can be frustrating and it also means you’ll need to manually save frequently.
Visually the game looks decent enough on PC although not up to par with today’s games considering this is being released as a fully priced game. Whilst the gameplay is smooth at 60 frames per second it’s just looks rough around the edges in terms of texture detail and lighting. It’s on the same level of games we’ve seen many years ago. There are a few glitches here and there as well to be mindful of, making for a game which could have had a bit more overall polish lavished upon it. That said, the game merely looks functional with its still images cutscenes between missions despite the promise of the trailer which showed in-game visuals for various cinematic moments. Audio is reasonable and features a non-intrusive soundtrack to accompany the sneaking about and the voice acting does the job but won’t win any awards for its delivery.
Alekhine’s Gun enters the fray as an interesting prospect for fans of stealth and subterfuge and whilst the series has been around for quite some time, this latest iteration seems to fall short of what’s expected from today’s games on PC. That said, despite some discrepancies with the gameplay it’s very playable and quite enjoyable when it works – although in this regard does require a bit of patience and the finger hovering over the save option constantly. In all honesty, if this was offered as a budget release then some of the shortcomings could be a little more forgiveable, however as a full priced release then it’s perhaps asking a bit much considering how the game compares to its peers in terms of overall polish. However, if you do get into the Cold War spy theme then there is some enjoyment to be gained here which will no doubt appeal to stealth purists rather than casual players.