Death to Spies: Moment of Truth is the sequel to 2007's Death to Spies. Death to Spies is a stealth game centred around a Soviet Smersh operative named Semion Strogov. Your mission: infiltrate, destroy, sabotage and kill nazis. Death to Spies will have you visiting various locations during the Second World War including nazi occupied castles, European villages, submarine docks and British towns, to name a few.
Death to Spies is a very competent stealth game but it's hard not to compare it with high profile games of the same genre. When you do make a comparison, although a solid entry into the market, it seems rather average and does not bring anything new to the genre. This isn't to its detriment though as Death to Spies is still an enjoyable experience and any avid stealth game fan will enjoy playing this game. It is difficult though to gauge how this game will be accepted by average gamers as at times the AI can be unforgiving. Even on the easiest difficulty setting, bodies placed in seemingly inconspicuous corners will be discovered and within seconds the enemy will be on you like hounds on a fox. Once you have made a slip up the AI is amazingly skilled at finding you, even if you are on the other side of the map hidden from any enemies.
A key element to Death to Spies is having you rely heavily on the use of stolen or found uniforms. For example, if you cannot gain access to the second floor of a building without raising suspicion, find or steal a higher ranking enemies uniform to blend in. This isn't a new mechanic to the genre but it is very novel and creates interesting and fun scenarios. One level requires you to assassinate two men within a Nazi stronghold. If you search the building you can find a waiter's uniform as well as a bottle of poison. If you plan everything carefully you can gain access to the targets quarters using the waiter's uniform and then poison the target's wine bottle and watch him drop like a fly. It is these types of moments where Death to Spies really shines. You'd think after a while though nazi command would send out a memo about leaving uniforms lying around.
Death to Spies really is a thinking man's stealth game. The difficulty curve does not allow you to just wing it or make a decision on the fly. To execute a plan you'll likely need to sit and watch enemy's moments so that when you strike you won't be caught. Likewise, going Rambo simply does not work. The sheer size of the maps and amount of enemies does not allow for any run and gun type of gameplay. Stealth really is the only course of action to complete the missions. To help you complete your objectives the game provides you with an excellent overlay mini map. This map provides you with the location of the objectives, where enemies are located as well as what is in their field of view. Having this much information at your disposal definitely helps plot out your course and is probably one of the more advanced mini maps you'll see in a game.
Death to Spies follows a pretty typical formula for informing the player of their objectives and giving them a briefing before each mission. At the beginning of each level you'll be given a briefing as to what your objectives are, a layout of the area you will be infiltrating and the option of selecting what objects and weapons you wish to have as you commence your mission. The story which is presented in short clips in between missions was pretty insubstantial and did not seem to link to the events of the game in any way (maybe it will make more sense for players of the original game?).
Although Death to Spies is an enjoyable experience, it isn't without its problems. It is easy to see that it lacks the polish of other games in the genre like Hitman or Splinter Cell, but when you take a look at the number of people that worked on the game and the likely fractional development cost, it makes the end product all the more impressive. Also, you can see that this game has taken some mechanics from these other games such as moving and hiding bodies or picking locks, but in Death to Spies defence it is hard to make a game of this genre without having some overlap. Graphically, although not an eye sore, Death to Spies will not blow you away with its visuals. The game has a rather low maximum resolution and uses a lot of motion blur to try and make the visuals more compelling. The sound does not have all that much variation but does do a good job of conveying when you're in danger or the tension is rising. The voice acting is decent for the mission briefs but the AI character enemies will often repeat the same line in the same voice every time. Also, if you watch long enough or come back to a room, the characters will repeat the same speech, movement or action over and over. The same can be said for enemy course paths, but this type of predictability is needed in a stealth game of this nature. Death to Spies does include some vehicle use but the controls feel clunky and driving across the maps is not very necessary or enjoyable. There were some clipping issues of bodies going through objects or your character model going through certain objects while trying to go prone but none of these technical issues detracted from the game in any meaningful way.
Overall Death to Spies: Moment of Truth is a solid stealth game. Although the game can be unforgiving, it requires you to sit and think about what action to take and when, and when you are successful, it makes your achievements all the more rewarding. The game has no real tutorial, and when you combine that with its steep learning curve, new comers to the genre should expect to spend upwards of several hours on one mission alone. If you are a fan of the stealth genre and looking for a challenge, this game will tide you over until the release of the newest iteration of either Splinter Cell or Hitman and in the process hone your skills so that those games seem like a cake walk.