Some games you play for love, some for interest. Some because you do this for a living.
Oh Hi Professional $tealer, I reviewed you somewhere…
Full review below the cut:
If ever there was a time where the retrograding styles of the oldest games was to return, it’d be now. What with this being the second Renaissance of bedroom programming and homebrew games making, it’s no surprise that there are a plethora of titles coming out that harken back to the plinky-plonky sound effects and low graphic platforming days of old.
Given that anyone who is anyone has played and loved Canabalt, it’s no shock to see that the concept of running across the tops of buildings has a little more leg left in it. That’s where Professional $tealer (P$) comes in, an indie title on Xbox Live Arcade which will cost you a meager one or two of your earthly pounds; bagging you a dozen or so levels of rooftop bouncing mayhem as our titular thief legs it from the cops, avoiding low flying aircraft and badly placed TV Dishes.
What should make P$ an enjoyable romp is the excitement of the breakneck speeding pace across the skyscrapers and girder scaffolds in this strange city. Unfortunately, what would make this a great experience is let down by the lack of enough mid-level checkpoints and the poorly explained criteria of each level.
There is a tutorial, which gets you through the basics of rooftop parkour, including sliding, double-jumps, nailing policemen with throwing-knives (yes, you read that right) and it all seems like it ought to be fairly intuitive until the game throws in reverse double-jumps. It’s a nice idea, and if the game introduced it in anything that remotely resembled an intelligent fashion it might succeed. However, as with every other technique in the game, it’s thrown at the player randomly mid-level, far from a checkpoint with absolutley no warning.
The trouble is, that even if you’re an expert platformer, P$ is going to infuriate you with it’s surprise kill design, crappy collision detection and non-registering button presses. Adding to that, the levels are set with a ridiculously high difficulty, forcing you to memorise the exact sequence of jumps, planes, cops and obstacles to the point where the fun has long since left the room to find a better party. When you do finally get the sequence in your head, you’ll press the jump button and yet your thief will still hurtle along off the edge without care, sending you back to the last checkpoint, or the level’s start.
It’s sad that what is a technically good idea has been let down by some faulty programming and godawful level design. As is, Professional $tealer isn’t worth the price of the new TV you’ll need after you’ve thrown the gamepad through the LCD screen in your front room. If you see this game, just keep running away, and don’t stop.