|System: PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Eko Systems||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Monte Cristo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: April 24, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-3||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by D'Marcus Beatty
Stealth action games took the gaming industry by storm, but now most gamers are bored with the slow pacing behind the genre. Games that rely on stealth nowadays try to spice up the action a little in a number of different ways, like speeding up the gameplay or allowing the option to forego stealth. For the most part, Th3 Plan attempts to spice up the stealth genre too by emphasizing criminal activity, but Th3 Plan falls short in a number of places, making it a decent play experience but far from revolutionary.
Th3 Plan places the player in three pairs of shoes. Robert Taylor is a criminal mastermind and the brains behind the team of thieves, unimaginatively nicknamed "The Mind". He puts together a team of thieves to steal various items throughout the course of the game with the ultimate goal of getting revenge on a deserter thief that put one of the team in prison with his untimely cowardice. Alan Siegel, nicknamed "Poker" is arrested and the first mission is to get him out with the help of Valerie Carrera, nicknamed "The Cat". The story isn't important, however, as it is poorly written and obviously a thinly veiled excuse for the team of thieves to do their thing.
The core of the gameplay of Th3 Plan revolves around the use of the team of thieves to accomplish various goals. The thieves all have different talents and skills to achieve various ends. For example, one teammate is "talented" at conversation, allowing her to distract guards with inane jabber while the other team members slip by undetected. The bulk of the game requires the player to balance and shift between the three available team members, with a large portion of the game devoted to simple tasks like simultaneous button pressing or the aforementioned guard distracting. Some of the talents require minigames, such as lockpicking and pickpocketing, but most of the tasks are too mundane for skilled and accomplished criminals. Sometimes this coordinated gameplay is kind of fun, but the implementation feels extremely dated.
The graphics are pretty bad. The visuals look out of place and look like they'd be more comfortable in the early cycle of the original PlayStation. The character models are ugly and stiff and all move awkwardly. The voice acting is mediocre at best, and seems badly implemented. During mission introductions and cutscenes, the dialogue is fully voiced but cuts out to text unexpectedly.
Probably the biggest problem that Th3 Plan has is its scope. The game's anti-heroes are described as crafty, talented thieves, but most of their objectives and tasks are simple and uninteresting. Sneaking past the guards is a simple task, since the A.I. is so unintelligent that it can be distracted by the same conversation about the female thief's hair dying techniques seventeen times without realizing anything is amiss. There is a point in the gameplay where one of the characters sneaks into a room and hides behind a bar. His objective is to take pictures of the people in the room with him, and to do so, he simply stands up (in plain view of everyone) and uses his camera before sneaking back out. No one detects him, since they are somehow too engrossed in their conversation to see someone standing up snapping their picture from a few feet away. With dumb foes like this, accomplishing goals (that are simple to begin with) never feels like much of an achievement.
There are a few things that Th3 Plan does pretty good. The lockpicking requires the coordinating of the two analog sticks to simulate the use of lockpicks and is an interesting minigame. Pickpocketing, on the other hand, zooms in on the character's hand and requires the player to keep the hand steady in a blurred outline to accomplish the theft. The way the game allows the player to switch between the three protagonists is well done too, with the screen divided to show each thief and the larger top screen devoted to the currently controlled team member. Switching is done with the press of a shoulder button, and simply pressing the control pad causes other teammates to rush to your position. The player can also surrender if caught, leaving the other players to liberate him/her in a short period of time for gameplay to resume. There are also two and three player modes that can be purchased from money earned during gameplay side missions, although the game is less fun and far too simple with another player. A lot of these elements are interesting and could work if the core game were more solid.
Th3 Plan is pretty good for a budget game, even with its poor graphics and clichéd and unimaginative story. If you can ignore the incredibly stupid foes and convince yourself that the tasks you're completing are worthy of a team of super thieves, then you might be able to enjoy Th3 Plan.
CCC Co-Site Director