previews\ Nov 2, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Lupin the 3rd: Treasure Of The Sorceror King - PS2 - Preview

Who is Lupin the 3rd? Master of disguise? Thief? Secret agent? Lost member of the Mission Impossible team?

Well, a lot of one and a little bit of the others. You see Lupin is a world-class thief, who has Interpol and a bumbling, self-pretentious inspector on his trail. He is also the star of the game Lupin the 3rd (Treasure of the Sorcerer King), a PlayStation2 title from Bandai, Banpresto and Eia slated for release after the first of the year.

It is early evening in the Heldeliedschloss train station. A young countess sits on her luggage waiting to board when her attendant approaches to ask her to get on. She declines stating she would like to watch the people a while. In the bustle, a porter wanders past with a statue that he tries to load into a car that is reserved for a priceless piece of art the countess is using to enrich the lives of young children. It was collected by her wandering father, who has disappeared.

The statue is finally placed in the baggage car at the rear of the train.

Meanwhile, a gruff inspector from Interpol approaches and gives the young countess the low-down of the world-class thief he is tracking, Lupin the 3rd. The inspector has reason to believe that Lupin (whom the countess seems smitten with) may be in the area, but as a precaution, he is there to protect the train.

Finally, the train begins to move. The statue, in the final car, moves and the plaster falls off to reveal Lupin. He is ten cars from the painting, and there is a host of police officers along the way.

Let the adventure begin.

Lupin is the leader of a band of thieves, each with their own specialty. Together they are able to combine skills to pull off daring robberies. The core character in this game is obviously the suave, and slightly sarcastic Lupin. He will wise-crack, and displays more street-wise kid attitude than debonair cat-burglar.

The game itself is a blend of puzzles and some minor action. Lupin can sneak very well, and if he gets close enough, he can use his array of non-violent weapons (like his sleep gun) to stun or knock out opponents. He can also use disguises to move through those bent on stopping him. But his disguises can be seen through. In order to keep up appearances, he must role-play a bit, put minds at ease, and then use his skills to further his schemes. He may don the disguise of a police officer, and getting close to one of those stationed aboard the train may allow him to pick the pocket and gain vital information for him to continue.

The puzzle set-up is not overly complex and players, by paying attention and looking around, will certainly discover what is needed to advance. To this end, the camera will allow players to switch from third-person to first-person perspective.

The environments of this title offer a rich array of three-dimensional hiding spaces to use. In the opening segments, which act as a tutorial, Lupin can sneak up the train, ducking into the areas where the seats are to hide from the officers. There is some graphical disparity between the character models and the environments. The characters bear some resemblance to Japanese anime characters while the look and feel of the environments is Western Europe.

The game sound is solid, but some of the jokes seem forced and while overly funny do set a mood and tone for the lead character.

Lupin the 3rd is setting itself up to be a different style of game, both in its graphical presentation and script. The game has a really solid feel and a unique style that is certain to garner numerous looks. Even in this early build it is apparent that the game is focused on fun and light-hearted entertainment.

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