Thursday, November 3, 2011

Professional $tealer (XBLIG): "Sidescrolling Parkour Thievery"

I recently got a request from the PR of this game about doing a review of it. As always I was glad to accept the job, and give my honest opinion about the game. Professional $tealer was developed by 'Aly Ameen/Brush and Code'. It's a 2D sidescrolling platformer that uses a constant running theme mixed with parkour style gameplay. I have actually reviewed a few XBLIG titles on my blog that feature similar gameplay styles, and I enjoyed them. This wasn't the case with 'Professional $tealer though ... In 'Professional $tealer' the player (stick man) takes on the role of a thief who is constantly on the run from cops. The thief in question has to dodge different obstacles in his/her path (jets, satellites, rockets, cops) using simple parkour style moves (jumps, wall jumping, sliding). There are three modes of play in the game that include singleplayer, multiplayer, and a score based mode called 'challenge'. The goal in each mode is simple. As the theif you must keep on the run, dodge obstacles, and make it to the end.

The gameplay in 'Professional $tealer' is a lot more complicated than it should be. The controls aren't very user friendly, and greatly complicate the game. For the most part you will be trying to time your jumps (A & A,A), your slides (Right Trigger), and your wall jumps (D.Pad + A) just right as you run across various types of rooftops. You can also speed up your thief by pressing (Right Bumper), or slow him/her down by pressing (Left Bumper). Movement in the game is controlled by the (D.Pad). As you run you will encounter stationary cops, satellites, flying jets, and rockets that will complicate your goal of making it to the end of the stage. Your progress is tracked by a red bar at the top of the screen (with a stick man marker) You can pick up power-ups such as throwing knives, and energy drinks that will help you make it through the levels more smoothly. The game also features checkpoints (in singleplayer) that allow you to continue from the most recent checkpoint you have made it to. In the game you have three bars to keep an eye on (speed, slowing, energy) as you try to make your way to the end. The three bars will fill up, and drain as they are used. Each bar applies to the thief's mobility, and effects his parkour moves as well.

Professional $tealer features a local multiplayer mode (splitscreen), and a challenge mode. I didn't actually test out the local multiplayer due to the lack of an extra controller, and an additional player to assist me. I did try out the challenge mode though. The challenge mode is a straightforward, and continuous version of singleplayer that keeps track of the distance you make it. The 'score' is measured in meters in stead of points, and is kept on the game's leaderboard. Challenge mode is a lot like singleplayer since you face the same obstacles. During my playthrough of 'challenge mode' I actually encountered a serious problem. When I got my final score the game caused the screen, and my Xbox 360 to freeze. I ended up having to manually restart my console in order to get out of it. This in itself is a serious issue that definitely needs to be addressed. If the issue can be sorted out then this mode would definitely be the highlight of the game.

In the end I found myself very frustrated with having to repeat levels multiple times in singleplayer due to checkpoint placements, and pointless deaths. This is one of those games that often times requires precise interactions, and perfect timing. It's the kind of thing that would scare away most gamers. My biggest complaint was with the game freezing up in 'challenge mode' though. Out of all of the XBLIG titles I have reviewed I have never experienced such an issue. Even if the developer is able to fix the issue I still won't recommend this game for purchase. I can't stand games that have no room for error, and cause the player to have to repeat levels unnecessarily.  Unless you are glutton for punishment I would stay away from this game.

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