The Sting!

a game by JoWood Productions
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 8/10, based on 1 review
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Overview

You play the role of novice burglar Matt Tucker, a former prisoner who is looking to make his way in the underworld. In order to accomplish this goal, you must complete a series of increasingly difficult heists in the town of Fortune Hills. Your ultimate goal is to become the most notorious criminal in the underworld by pulling off the ultimate crime -- The Sting!

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

The Sting! utilizes a simple point and click interface and an isometric view. You move your character around by pointing the arrow where you want to go and then clicking on that spot. You can interact with objects and people by selecting them with the arrow (which will cause any object you can interact with to be highlighted), then clicking the left mouse button to bring up a menu of available commands. These menus will allow you to speak to various characters in the game, purchase equipment, pick up objects and recruit accomplices.

A menu bar along the bottom of the screen allows you to check your inventory and bring up a navigational map. Most locations in the game can be accessed by double-clicking on them in the map screen. You can also hire a cab to escort you around town. Camera control can be accomplished by holding the right mouse button and moving the mouse or by using a mouse scroll wheel.

The burglaries themselves are accomplished by setting up a plan in Matt's home base. After the player has chosen his target, his accomplices, his tools and his getaway car he can then record the actions he wants Matt and his comrades to take to accomplish the robbery. Players must avoid or overcome such obstacles as police, locks, alarm systems, cameras etc. in order to successfully complete their goals. Once the player has recorded a plan of action, he then starts the plan and the robbery will be played out in movie fashion. At the end of the movie a statistics screen pops up, which informs the player how successful he was and tells him what his mistakes were if he was unsuccessful. The player may then edit his plan and start it again if he wishes.

Successful robberies result in property that can be sold for cash to acquire new cars and tools. Players also gain reputation points, which will allow them to complete bigger heists and recruit better accomplices. The bulk of the game revolves around planning and executing a heist, selling stolen goods, buying new tools and cars, recruiting new accomplices, then planning a bigger heist.

Overall the controls are functional, but a bit on the clunky side. The camera can be difficult to deal with and this makes navigating the city more difficult than it really should be. The gameplay is not wildly exciting, nor is it extremely compelling, but it can make for some light fun if you're in the mood for something a bit different.

Graphics

The graphics are presented in a cartoonish, almost comic book format. The characters kind of look like a Leisure Suit Larry meets Dick Tracy convention. The city and burglary locations do not look particularly interesting, which is a drawback for a game that boasts "the largest virtual town ever produced." While there certainly is a lot of territory to explore, most of it is not compelling enough to make you want to explore it. The visuals are functional in terms of the burglary aspect of the game, but don't really enhance it much.

Audio

The game soundtrack has a generic '50s gangster movie sound to it. The sound effects are not particularly good. For instance, when you pry open a window, rather than hearing the window creak open or the lock snap or some other such noise, you get a beep that indicates your success.

System Requirements

Minimum: PII-300 MHz, 64 MB RAM, DirectX 7/8 compatible 3D graphics card with 16 MB memory, 200 MB hard drive space, 4X CD-ROM drive, Windows 95/98/2000/ME

Recommended: Celeron 600 MHz, 128 MB RAM, DirectX 7/8 compatible 3D graphics card with 32 MB memory, 200 MB hard drive space, 8X CD-ROM drive, Windows 95/98/2000/ME

Originality / Cool Features

There aren't a whole lot of burglary sims out there, so the game gets some credit for originality in this department. The record and play-back feature for planning the perfect crime is a novel approach to this type of game. While I think it removes some of the excitement and tension level that would be found in a more live-action approach, it does place more emphasis on the mental planning part of the process.

The game has a nice on-screen tutorial that will walk you through all the basic functions of the game.

Bottom Line

edI wouldn't pay full retail price for this game, but if the idea of trying to become the most famous burglar in the underworld sounds appealing to you, this wouldn't be a bad game to pick out of the bargain bin in a few months. There are a reasonable number of places to rob, lots of characters to interact with and plenty of city locations to explore. The game is mostly held back by its lack of interesting visuals and sound and sometimes difficult interface. Improvements in these areas would make this mediocre game much better. The addition of some better story elements and improved dialogue could make it the next sleeper hit.

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