I remember when I first read an article about Alekhine’s Gun; I was very interested because it seemed to be a throwback to the old Hitman games. When the game was released it received a lot of bad reviews and that’s why I didn’t buy it at full price. I recently saw it for €20 on the Playstation store and I decided to give it a go and see if it deserved all those harsh reviews.
The story of Alekhine’s Gun is a typical Cold War era (some missions are set in World War 2 but those are flashbacks) spy thriller. You play the role of Semyon Strogov, a KGB agent working for the CIA. The plot features around a number of real events such as the assassination of Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs invasion.
So the story isn’t too bad but what about the gameplay? Well that’s the point where things go horribly wrong. Alekhine’s Gun plays like a game from 2004: everything feels clunky and the controls are very weird (pressing up and right on the D-pad to select a weapon is just stupid). It gets especially bad when you’re shooting ; the game stutters all over the place (this stuttering also happens when you enter a new room/turn around quickly) and aiming is so slow and sloppy that you’ll avoid shooting entirely. The stealth element in this game is also very badly done. Like in more recent Hitman games you have a ‘vision mode’ which lets you see enemy movement but it’s not all that useful because the enemy AI isn’t great. Enemies will chase after you when you act suspicious (lockpicking, going into rooms that you aren’t allowed in, …) but they are easily evaded by just running. Yes, the best way to avoid any confrontation is to run. The enemies rarely bother to chase after you even when you enter a part of a building that you shouldn’t enter (see the video below). It’s this kind of stuff that ruins to experience for me. Why would I find a good disguise and sneak my way into a building when I can just run past the guards?
The graphics aren’t too special but they aren’t bad. You’ll visit a number of different locations and all of them feel and look different. It’s a shame that the character models didn’t receive the same variety; a lot of the guards look the same which ruins the experience a bit. Good old Strogov can use a variety of weapons ranging from a pistol to a garrote and poison. It’s nothing too special but it all has its use during each of the 11 missions. At the end of each mission you get a rating based on how well you’ve done and you get rewarded with points which you can spend on new weapons and upgrades (a silencer for your pistol for example). It’s nice that you can buy new things but besides the silencer I didn’t really bother buying/upgrading things because the standard equipment works just fine.
Conclusion: Alekhine’s Gun has some nice ideas but they are all ruined by the lackluster gameplay. I really wanted to enjoy this game but I couldn’t because it feels unfinished. If you want a good stealth game, buy Hitman.