Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode
The Developer of Stolen must have a keen sense of irony. The forthcoming stealth-action title from Blue 52 takes its name, ostensibly at least, from the fact that you play a state-of-the-art cat burglar, using your Scouser-like skills to infiltrate a variety of high-security locations and remove their shiny contents. Somehow though, we can't help but notice that this title's approach to game design is also a little on the light-fingered side...
For a start, the concept is essentially a modern-day take on Thief. In each level, you have one primary item that you have to pocket in order to complete a level, while various secondary items can be half-inched for bonus points. Following the theme, you also have a light meter, a lock-picking mini-game, and a noise arrow. Or at least, a 'sound emitter dart', which amounts to the same thing.
Being a modern-day affair, you get the ability to shoot out lights, a set of glowing goggles with various vision modes, and an electrical stun gun (we're thinking Splinter Celt). You even get the concept of tagging guards with a tracking dart a la Pandora Tomorrow.
Whose Game Is It Anyway?
It doesn't stop there. From Metal Gear you get guards with vision cones and useless security cameras. From Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time you get acrobatic tricks like running up walls and spinning on parallel bars. One of your gadgets is a sonic visor' that offers an x-ray vision mode (see also Ben Affleck in Daredevil), while in one of the more obscure examples of shoplifting, you have to search furniture for hidden items, exactly like you used to do in Impossible Mission on the old Commodore 64! (Though I loved that game, so I don't really mind.)
Of course, I'm being a complete bastard. As we all know, nothing comes from a vacuum, and every game borrows from others to some extent. The question is whether this mix 'n' match approach to game design bothers you or not. If it doesn't, then Stolen could be a highly enjoyable addition to the genre. There's little here you haven't seen before, but all the elements have been put together in an intelligent and coherent fashion.
In one interesting twist, you're forbidden from killing anyone in the entire game, and as such you're really forced to use your stealth skills to their utmost, with no recourse to deadly force should things go tits up. The atmosphere is also reminiscent of Alias - you play a hot k undercover chick with a conscience B and a mysterious female nemesis and after the disappointment of the Alias PC game this can also only be a good thing.
All the elements are here for an entertaining, if slightly console-focused, sneak 'em up. It's not going to keep Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory up at night, but with a bit of luck it could lay the ground work for a successful new stealth series made right here in our own backyard.