One of my most favorite games of all time... but that doesn't mean it's a masterpiece!
Back home I Installed this game on my computer and tried to figure out how to play it. It took quite a while but finally I nailed down how to play this interesting game (not necessarily the 'good' kind of interesting).
Anyway, this is a burglary strategy game. The game is about making and initiating great theft acts. When you look at the gameplay from a bird's perspective, this is a very original, innovative and fun game. Unfortunately, if you try to play it till the end, you will undoubtedly notice quite a lot of issues this game has.
The story is basically this: Matt Tucker, a burglar, gets out of jail and is trying to get the hang of stealing again. He will start small and work his way up to bigger thefts. Later the story shifts into something really ridiculous which I will actually tell later on (I'll put spoiler marks just in case but I don't think it's even worth it because the story is really bland and kinda stupid).
The gameplay. Ahhhhh... now this is something you don't see everyday. This game actually has a really unique and interesting gameplay. The point of the game is to steal things, but how do you do that actually. Well, first you make (play) a plan, then you initiate a plan and if everything works out without flaws you succeed in your theft. Let me elaborate on what I have just written... You start from your safe-house where you have a computer you use to make plans. When you create your first plan and see yourself (Matt Tucker) on your first burglary point you will undoubtedly be confused. On your screen you will have Video camera options which you have to use in order to record your plan, so to put it simply you have to record your plan like a movie before you can actually pull it off. While you are recording your plan, you will notice that you are able to walk right in front of a guard or even break into a building he is guarding without him caring at all. Well the guard may not act now... but if you save that plan and START it, believe you me, he WILL REACT. So while you are recording your plan you have to be careful not to make mistakes such as, walking in front of a guard, making too much noise while breaking into a safe, triggering a security alarm and other similar things. Once you collect your loot and get back to your getaway vehicle you save your plan and pray that you haven't made a mistake, literally! When you start the plan, you pretty much watch your own replay. Since they take just as much as the recording you can speed them up with the camera control buttons. If you stole everything without getting caught your plan will be a success and you will get back to your computer with all the stuff you stole in your inventory. Solving a plan is as satisfying as winning a lottery. You will feel smart and proud of yourself every time you hear the successful plan sound.(It kinda reminds me of Portal when you pass a test chamber :D) Once you finish a plan successfully you won't be able to do it again so make sure to steal as much as you can. If you have made, and believe me you will and very often, a mistake you will hear a really annoying alarm sound and get a display picture of where, when and why you were caught, after which you are set back to the plan menu where you can make another or edit the plan you failed.
You have quite a few locations to rob. You start from a gas station and make your way to the ministry of light while robbing a bank, a museum and other places a burglar would rob.
Obviously, since you are a burglar and since you are a burglar you will need tools to perform your heists, and luckily there is a tool store in the game that sells everything you could ever need. You will have tools for breaking down locks, safes and alarm systems. They vary in their effect, weight, noise making and such. You will see all the tools you would expect a thief to have: from a crowbar to a laser that cuts safes.
You also need a vehicle in order to escape from the scene of the crime. Luckily again, there is a car dealer that sells all sorts of cars. The only difference with cars is the amount they can carry, other then that, they are pointless to buy, once you get the biggest car (truck) you won't ever need to worry about it anymore. Unless you want to collect all other pointless fast cars.
Remember how I said that there is a big town you can explore. Well, yeah there is! In fact this was quite impressive when it came out. The only other fully explorable town we have seen in a game was in GTA II so game reviewers were very fascinated by this town. The only problem is, there isn't much to do in the town. For one, there are barely any people in it and just a couple of cars. You will only use it to go to the tool trader, car dealer and a few pubs. Other then those reasons... it's pretty much just for exploration. You can also go to the next target spot you wish to rob, just to scan it a bit, but I find that pointless since you can do the same when you are making (recording) a plan.
Also, sometimes, Matt only won't be enough to rob a bank and you will need help from other thieves. You can recruit new people by going to bars and talking with them. These conversations are... pointless. All you get are a few choice answers when you engage in a conversation with a potential thief colleague and even if you screw up you can try again until you have them on your team. When you select another member for a plan you will need to play them separately. Sometimes you will have to pull an alarm disabling switch at the same time with your partner. So you might be wondering how the heck can you do that if you have to play them separately???
Well, you play one character first and do what you have to do with him, then you REWIND to a point you wish and select another character and play him while your previous character does what you did with his before. Later in the game, things really get complicated as you have to time all your characters right to perform grand thefts.
Pretty cool gameplay huh :D . Well, yeah it actually is... for the most part. If I could, I would have given this game an 8/10 but unfortunately, the game doesn't deserve such a high score. Why, you might ask, because half of this wonderful gameplay is BROKEN.
Yes, unfortunately, such a fantastic gameplay fails short because of a lot of game errors, glitches and occasional crashes. I really wish I was making all these up...
First of all, when you record a flawless plan you can still fail it because of one of the numerous game glitches. If you fast forward a plan your character might get stuck in front of a door for no apparent reason and get caught by a guard by just standing there. Other times when you don't synchronize your character's moves more carefully, they might just stop and stand at their spot like idiots until they get caught. Just imagine, you are thinking your brain out trying to find how to get from point A to point B, you finally finish it and save it. You start your plan and your character gets to a door, that you didn't even get near to, and stands there until a guard raises the alarm. I sometimes get frustrated at games because they are too difficult, but I get absolutely enraged every time a game tries to cheat me, and in all my gaming experience this is the first game that was able to do so. So when such a thing happens, you will either have to make a plan all over again, or replay it until the game takes pity on you and plays the plan how you ACTUALLY did it.
Another thing that really made me angry were the often seen glitches. Sometimes you wouldn't see the floor you were on, other times you would see a guard walking on air and yet other times the game would just crash and laugh at your face because you forgot to save! So remember to save often!
Also remember how I said I played this game for the first time when I was 12. There must have been a huge tutorial in the game to help me understand how to play it. Well, guess what, the entire tutorial is just a word page with barely any pictures that explains in a most boring way how the game is played. It took me weeks just to get past the first level, but I was determined and I wanted to beat the game. I eventually learned how through trial and error, and for a game with such complex gameplay, this is a huge minus.
One of the huge flaws in the game was the experience bars for your characters. Wait a minute, why is that bad?
You raise your lock-picking skill by picking lots of locks and your safe picking abilities by picking safes. It works just like it sounds except every time you do something like that you raise your criminal record a bit. Now please explain this to me: how can you raise your criminal record if nobody ever sees you!!!
Do you leave a hair every time you break a door and the police find you using your DNA?
Do you leave a string of your coat at every safe and the guard contact a tailor that can identify you?
Do you fart at every alarm system you disable and the guard get the hounds to sniff you out with their hounds?
It's never explained and it makes no sense and if you raise it to your maximum you won't be able to do any more plans but instead send other people to do them for you like a 'real man'. So the game actually forbids you to raise your characters skills. Luckily some of the other thieves are born with a natural talent in opening safes...
There is no replay value to the game. Once you know how to beat a level there won't be any point in playing it again. Even if you want to get more stuff from a level, money pretty much becomes pointless after about 6 levels and you end up using it for taxis to get around the boring city faster.
The worst thing about this game is it's graphics. They are just UGLY!!! Everything is unappealing to look at. The strangest thing is that they were done this way on purpose. The game has a deformed-cartoon style about it. The characters have long necks, huge chins and ugly faces. The town looks like a place nobody would ever want to visit. It's sort of an Industrial town with support beams everywhere, metal buildings and factories, gloomy atmosphere and it's always dark, which brings me to the plot of the story and to the spoilers.
Once you rob a few places you meet a woman which asks you to help her with something. She actually tells you that the town is under a barrier that blocks all the sunlight from entering the town, and you have to destroy it. WOW, I have never heard a plot like that ... except in THE SIMPSONS! And even if you buy that, isn't it just a little bit possible that the game designers were a bit lazy to make a story of their own or make the game's daytime so they decided to combine the two? Just a thought...
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Ironically, the best thing about a game called "The Sting!" is it's music. You won't be hearing Sting or The Police but you will hear some awesome Jazz tunes. The game simply can't be played without it. It sets you in just the right mood to rob a bank guarded by thousands of security systems. I could talk about the music all day but let me just say that it's definitely some of the best game music I have ever heard and the best aspect about this game.
Another thing that also bothers me is the title itself.
Why "The Sting!", is it because of the movie "The Sting"? The game has nothing to do with it. Did Sting the musician have anything to do with it? Probably not. Are there any bees or hornets in the game that I might have missed?
The original titles in Germany was "Der Clou! 2" (this is actually part two of the game called "The Clue". I'm just as confused as anyone) which means "The Clue 2", so what do Clue and Sting have in common? :D
I tried to search for an answer online but nobody has an answer mainly because this game has been forgotten. There is maybe one good review and one good walk-through. It's really sad but not surprising. Sure this game is kinda cool, but it's flaws simply rip all the life out of it. If it had just a bit more time in development, it may have been a great game and we may have gotten another sequel to it.
In conclusion, this is a great game with a lot of flaws. If it weren't for the flaws and the graphics the game could have become something a little bit better. As it is not, it's just a shiny little rock, that's only worth a lot to those who grew up with it like myself. The music and the nostalgia of this game will live on forever inside me, but the effect and the impact this game had on the gaming world has already been forgotten. :,(