Format: PS2
Hip Interactive

3 760049 399417
Age Restrictions: 12+
01 April 2005

In a city plagued by crime and corruption, heroes are found on the wrong side of the law. Anya Romanov is a sexy, high-tech thief; Louie Palmer is the voice in her ear - her advisor, confident and friend. When an everyday job turns sour, they find themselves drawn into a web of conspiracy that will shake the whole city to its foundations...

As the opening sequence to Stolen starts playing, all impressions are of a well polished game. The graphics look the business and the music is fantastic - almost filmic in its deliverance. Then you start one of the most annoying tutorial levels we've every played - more of that later.

The best way of describing Stolen is like a less polished version of a Splinter Cell game with some of the elements of the Prince of Persia series thrown in to the mix. But, before you dash out to buy Stolen, a word of warning... It's not actually very good. And that's the surprise. All of the elements that should have made this a hit are all there, it's just that somewhere along the way someone forgot to add any solid game play.

What we are presented with is a rushed game that is a total nightmare to play. As I mentioned previously, the tutorial - which by its very nature should be there to help guide you through the controls and feel of the game - is just confusing. You get to learn the basic controls, but no introduction to your weapons or different views. This means that when you start the first level you really are thrown in at the deep end.

And that's another point worth raising. Level one - traditionally an easy level to help you get used to everything you've just discovered in the tutorial - plays like a hard level for any other game. And, because you have had no weapons training, everything is done on the fly. This means that security guards will see you and I'd like to meet the person who can fire the sonic dart and make the guard move from his position. No, I got bored of having no luck with that and just knocked him out and moved on.

The later levels are no better and in short everything just becomes one big mess. In fact I would have stopped playing this game before I got to the end of the first level if it wasn't for the fact I had a reviews editor standing over me.

The AI is laughable (trip an alarm and hide behind a desk - the guards never think of looking for you there); the graphics just don't cut it; and the whole experience will leave you feeling cheated.

If you want to see how it's done properly, buy yourself an Xbox and get hold of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Now that's a game.

Pete Boomer

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