Alekhine’s Gun is a stealth-action game in the vein of Hitman. Playing as a Russian assassin, does this game live up to the high standard set by Agent 47? Or does it fail in its mission entirely? Garrote on to find out!
Developer: Maximum Games
Publisher: Maximum Games
Platform: Xbox One
Release Date: March 1st, 2016
Copy provided by publisher
The stealth-action genre has adapted over the last decade due to declining sales. Games that once focused on slow, methodical, stealth are now being infused with optional fast-paced action. Splinter Cell, Hitman, Deus Ex, and Metal Gear are all prime examples. For hardcore stealth fans, indie games have been the only source of pure stealth gameplay.
Games like Mark of the Ninja, Styx Master of Shadows, and others are taking the stealth genre back to its roots. I’d love to be able to include Alekhine’s Gun in that list, but sadly it has taken a different route backwards. Don’t get me confused, Alekhine’s Gun is not an indie game. It just looks like one.
Where modern AAA stealth games have added optional action and faster gameplay, and indie games have tended to focus on pure stealth, Alekhine’s Gun decides to turn back the wheels of time all together. I really wanted to be able to proclaim this game as an ode to the classic Hitman games. I really wanted to be able to say “hey, you don’t like the way the new Hitman game is being handled? Well try out Alekhine’s Gun!”. Especially considering my review of the new Hitman wasn’t all too bright. But that is not the case.
Alekhine’s Gun looks and feels like a bad Hitman 2. Not the new HITMAN, not Hitman Blood Money, not even Hitman Absolution, Hitman 2. And this is a bad version of it… It wouldn’t be such a big deal if this was 2002, the year that Hitman 2 released. But here we are, 14 years later, and it’s worse.
The gameplay of Alekhine’s Gun is practically identical to that of the Hitman series. Missions begin with an overview of your targets and you can choose your loadout. Loadouts can include garrote wire, poison, chloroform, knives, and pistols. Each mission drops you in a random location where you must knock-out guards, steal disguises, and sneak your way to your target. Again I’d like to tell the readers that there are dozens of different accident kills you can perform on your targets. But remember, this is Hitman 2. Hitman Blood Money was the first in the franchise to introduce the accident kill mechanic.
A good portion of the missions have very little in the way of variety. Playing on the recommended brightness setting, they all look the same shade of “dark”. The locales themselves aren’t all too different either. One of the coolest aspects of Hitman was that the people changed along with the location. Guards ranged from rednecks to FBI to Afghanistan soldiers. Alekhine’s Gun is too focused on the Cold War setting to allow for such creativity.
My time with Alekhine’s Gun was a struggle. After each completed mission I felt like I didn’t even do anything, although I still received the highest ranking. The AI is one of my biggest complaints. Most missions involve AI that simply won’t move out of your way. Only by constantly whistling and walking around them in circles could I get by. It’s possible I was missing the right disguise or object similar to the third mission. In that mission, killing one of the targets is only achievable by obtaining a high-level access card or wire cutters. I couldn’t find the former and after blindly wandering the entire map I finally found the latter. Another example was when a target would only patrol a short route from one point to another. Neither of which was clear of guards. The only way to kill him unnoticed was to poison his drink. Well first you have to find the poison just like the wire cutters. Then you have to time it so that none of the three or four guards in the area saw you pouring the poison into the drink. It’s instances like these that made want to stop playing the game.
Alekhine’s Gun is a bad game. It’s dated in every sense of the word. The graphics look bad, the gameplay is slow and uninteresting, the locations are stale, the kills aren’t exciting, the story is told through moving slideshow pictures, the list goes on. I’d love to give this game a plus just for the fact that it’s a stealth game because dammit there just aren’t enough. But Alekhine’s Gun is an awful example of a stealth game. You’d probably have a better time picking up a guards semi-auto weapon and shooting up the place rather than play stealthy. If this were 14 years ago, this game would get a pass. But it’s 2016, and games of this quality should be regulated to $10 indies not $50 retail.
– Terrible AI
– Boring locations
– Unimaginative stealth