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Genre: Action


PS2 Review - 'Stolen'

by Hank on June 2, 2005 @ 3:33 a.m. PDT

Genre: Stealth
Publisher: HIP Games
Developer: Blue52 Limited
Release Date: April 21, 2005

The word "stolen" can be defined as taking away by force or unjust means, and as such, Blue52 Limited's game could not have had a better title. The game borrows heavily from other great titles, which can be successful, but unfortunately, this was done in quite a mediocre fashion.

When you think espionage and stealth, you think Sam Fisher, but Stolen isn't exactly of the same caliber. Sam Fisher and Anya , Stolen's protagonist, are both equipped with essentially the same set of tools, but Stolen ends up being a bargain basement wannabe of Splinter Cell (Anya's hot figure aside). It's taken all of the great ideas, such as laser targeting, darkness meter, sonar, and other trackers, but the execution is far from the perfection achieved by Sam and his team at Echelon.

This may be due to the issue of controls in the game; they are just not as fluid as they can be. Secondly, the gadgets seem to be a tad weaker than Sam's. If you look through a door with a sonar visor, you'd want to see through the door, not the black screen that you're presented with, even when you are in the correct position to utilize the item. The biggest issue I have is with the camera control in the vents; you can't do anything while you're in there. When you get into the vents, your eyes are only able to move in one direction: forward. Even when you are at the end of the vent, all you can see is what is in front of you, which can be quite problematic. Because of this, it is even harder to crack the puzzle, especially in the first mission, where you are supposed to draw the guard from his post.

Even though the main portion of Stolen is about sneaking around with all of this high-tech stuff, there is also a puzzle aspect to the game. Blasted puzzles. The puzzles may be simple, but with the control set, they aren't nearly as good as they could have been. One such puzzle involved tagging lasers; I was trying to climb on top of a box, but for some reason, you can't do this so I was stuck on that puzzle forever until I discovered the ability to jump while hanging onto the box to the next open area. Even though I progressed to the next point, I was still stuck and couldn't figure how to move past the laser beams (a trail of white smoke indicates the desired path). I was supposed to wall run and jump to the next section, which might have occurred to me if the tutorial had spent more than a split second on this move. These platforming segments are quite identical to those in Ghost in the Shell, but again, this concept is borrowed and poorly replicated.

Most of my frustration with this game stems from the poor reaction time and unresponsiveness of the character. At times, it just doesn't feel like you are in full control, especially during the wall-jumping and wall-climbing sections. I had a hard time executing the wall climb consistently; it kept thinking I just wanted to jump onto the wall. Better controls and response time would have greatly improved the platforming sections.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the game is the stealing, which is essentially the heart of the game. You can steal from characters that are walking by and take their wallets, watches, credit cards, and more. The real stealing comes when trying to crack the puzzles to unlock the laser protection system, cameras, or some sort of security system … which brings up another "stolen" aspect taken from Mission Impossible. There's a popular scene with Tom Cruise hanging in the air stealing an item. Similarly, to actually achieve your goals, you are required to steal some valuable artifact while avoiding detection. To achieve this, you will need to pick locks, unlock security systems via hacking, and lastly get by the security guards without being detected. Even if you do get detected, you can just knock out the guards (unlike Splinter Cell, where not getting caught actually counts). Even if you are seen, the security drops down rather quickly, but they don't bring in massive forces, and the status doesn't stay on red alert when a guard has actually seen you. I'm certain if you were actually trying to steal valuable museum artifacts or rob a bank, it wouldn't be this easy to get away once you've been spotted.

Aside from stealing the main objects, you will usually have several side objectives that you can choose to achieve, such as taking pictures of certain items, or stealing artifacts that may be of value to you. While progressing through each task, you can pick up items in boxes, lockers, and much more. Health is a greatly appreciated asset in almost any game, and thankfully, there is plenty in Stolen. The concept of time is a little "off" in this world, though. If you were stealing something, you'd try to get in and out as quickly as possible, but in the game, I can hack a laser system faster than I can look through a locker or drawer.

In the game, hacking is portrayed as a game that has a grid, and you essentially have to push the sensors in the right order, which is really easy once you know what you are doing. Lock picking is another story, however, and probably one of the better methods implemented in the game. We all know locks have different grooves that require unlocking, so you're presented with picks in several patterns, and all you have to do is match them and put the right amount of pressure to unlock (I believe a good lock pick can do it with just one item).

The graphics in the game are all right but definitely nothing too spectacular. Most of the security guards look the same, but you will probably never actually see their faces because you are hiding most the time. The opening sequence actually looked quite cool and enjoyable, but the best graphics can be seen on the main character herself. She is hot in black, and those shiny blue glasses just make her look hotter.

The sound in the game can get quite repetitive at times, but it also depends on the section and how long you have been there. If you get stuck in a puzzle, you just get annoyed because it reminds you that you are still there, but when you are finished with a puzzle, the music's actually not too bad. You should definitely use the sounds to listen to the security guards' conversations because they can provide insightful information.

Overall, Stolen was mostly disappointing, although it had some redeeming factors to make it somewhat enjoyable. It borrows heavily from other titles, but it needed some more refinement before it could have been a smash hit. With the current price tag, I can't recommend this to other gamers due to the sluggish aspects of the game. If this were a value game, I would suggest giving it a try, but only if you were running low on games.

Score: 5.8/10

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