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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Bandai

 

Developer

Banpresto

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

February 2004

 

 

- Really captures the feel of the Lupin series

- Very good voice acting

- Great music

- Some nice environments

 

 

- Generic gameplay

- Visuals are so-so

- Sometimes troublesome camera

- Enemies aren't too bright

 

 

Review: Splinter Cell (XB)

Review: Metal Gear Solid 2 (PS2)

 

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Lupin the Third: Treasure of the Sorcerer King

Score: 6.9/10

 

So many games based on popular licenses come and go with each passing year, with only a few actually proving to be halfway decent.  Lupin the Third is no exception with its fair share of games to hit various consoles over the years.  Now people in the US get their first chance to try a game following the exploits of the worldís greatest thief on their PS2s.  For a game based on a license, Treasure of the Sorcerer King does a phenomenal job of capturing the feel of the series, but unfortunately the gameplay ranges from ho-hum to problematic as the title progresses.  

 

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Set in a 1960s European setting Lupin and his trusty sidekick, Jigen, start out trying to get their paws on the latest expensive sparkly trinket to catch their eye.  Players start off the game trying to pinch a valuable pitcher while staying one step ahead of inspector Zenigata and his band of police officers and the story unravels from there.  Lupinís supreme confidence, Jigenís more laidback attitude, and Zenigataís arrogance and bumbling are all brought to life in this game extremely well, and with appearances from other Lupin regulars like Fujiko and Goemon the Lupin series is very well represented in look and feel over the course of the game.

 

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But while having a game that is very true to the franchise upon which it is based is all well and good, the gameplay just isnít up to the task.  As one would expect, playing as a thief will require players to try and sneak their way through various environments while keeping out of view of any security that may be around.  In Treasure of the Sorcerer King the problem comes in the game suffering from very poor AI.  Even if guards spot Lupin all they do is charge at him or shot with their guns.  It really doesnít take much to 

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incapacitate them, be it by hitting them with sleeping gas or smashing them over the head with a frying pan among other attack methods.  On top of this Lupin is a master of disguise, with all manner of clothing in his wardrobe.  Unfortunately for whatever reason, the guards have a real knack for figuring out that itís Lupin underneath the duds, despite his having special moves while in costume that are meant to fool guards even more so.  On occasion, though, players can keep the guard fooled and even pick their pockets for health items and other helpful knick-knacks, through a control system similar to that of a power meter in a golf game.  Itís a nifty little extra for the gameplay.  Making matters worse when a guard spots Lupin while he is in disguise, his ďmind stateĒ becomes disrupted.  Basically, he starts shifting into panic mode.  The only way he can calm down is to change out of his disguise and back into his regular clothing.  After this he must stay out of sight from the guards until he regains his composure.  This can be a very time consuming process, but then again with the guards being so dim-witted all you have to do is knock them out and everything will be fine.

 

There are some puzzles peppered throughout the game, but these often turn to fetch mini-missions, as Lupin must wander to a different area of the map to get something needed unlock the enigma.  Even worse, if players canít decipher the puzzle they canít progress worth a damn in the game until they figure it out.

 

What is nice in terms of gameplay are the level layouts, ranging from sprawling to confined.  The way the game divvies up the levelsí floor plans between areas ideal for sneaking around and wide-open areas that require liberal use of disguises is very well done.  The only major problem that comes with trying to make oneís way through these levels is that when walking down narrow corridors players really need to man-handle the controls to get the camera where they want it.  

 

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From a visual standpoint the game is serviceable.  Sporting some colourful characters and environments, everything stays nice and crisp throughout Lupin the Third.  There isnít a huge amount of detail present in the game, but it does make sense to go this route as it helps to embrace a more cartoon-like presentation.  With that though, the question is raised as to why the developers didnít go with cel shading instead to really make players feel like theyíre playing a cartoon.

 

In terms of audio, Lupin the Third really shines.  The music is really top-notch with a mix of ambient pieces that add a lot to the gameplay and a number of tunes with that 60s groovy-ness that the Lupin series is known for.  Even the voice acting is done very well, and is a key driving point in the game staying true to its cartoon counterpart.

 

Itís too bad that the gameplay in Lupin the Third proved to be so generic.  With a title that does such a good job of incorporating all the elements of style from the franchise itís based on, having some smarter AI and more purposeful stealth elements would have gone a long way.

 

Mr. Nash

(March 16, 2004)

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