previews\ Jan 22, 2007 at 7:00 pm

Th3 Plan - PS2 - Preview

There’s nothing more disturbing than a plan gone wrong. Not just any plan – THE plan – with a “3” replacing the letter “E.” It could be a reference to the long lost Electronic Entertainment Expo. Or it could have something to do with a major bank heist gone horribly wrong, times three.

Whatever the case, this hasn’t been a good day for Stephen Foster and Robert Taylor, two men dubbed the world’s greatest thieves. They’ve been in and out of tricky situations. Knocked heads with countless locksmiths. And shared smiles and hellos to unsuspecting victims. Yeah, these two are the king. Unfortunately for them, all kings must one day rescind their title. Unfortunately for them, that day came a little too soon.

Approximately five years ago, a secret underground crime organization – presumably the mafia – commissioned Th3 Plan’s finest to be a part of a major heist. Two over-priced and hugely famous paintings were the target. The pay: a highly valuable diamond. It couldn’t be sold openly or exchanged as easily as unmarked bills (or a briefcase full of U.S. savings bonds – a heist movie staple), but if you look hard enough, there’s bound to be someone in the world willing to pay to have a diamond of its stature. Blood may have been spilled to get it, but that won’t stand in the way of a rich, unscrupulous businessman from putting it on display in his personal gallery.

Stephen Foster, the evil man that he is, decided that it would be better for one man to collect the diamond. After all, it’s not like two people can share a single object. And he had much better things to spend the money on – you know, like himself. What’s a friend to do but leave his buddy Robert to take the fall? Stephen could sneak off with the diamond, charter a plane, and spend his days sipping cocktails on sunny beaches.

He caves. He gives into his evil desires and does the dirty deed.

Little does Stephen know that Robert has a plan to right this wrong. And it’s not just any plan – it’s TH3 plan. Will it work? Only time will tell as you step into the shoes of three thieves as they attempt to infiltrate, recover, and get revenge.

Created by Eko Software, Th3 Plan is a game of espionage. It borrows a snippet from the most suspenseful show on television, 24. The screen is split up into three parts – two small, rectangular (“widescreen”) pieces on the bottom, and one giant image on top. This interesting combination is not only cool and unique, but it also allows you to keep an eye on your party even when you can’t be there to see everything unfold.

Players will instantly recognize the basic gameplay mechanics, which follow the rules of most third-person action titles. Corridors seem to be commonplace in this adventure, though that all could change in the final version.

Graphically you’ve got a number of things working to produce an attractive image: lighting, shadows, realistic textures, etc. It’s work in progress, but there are already signs of beauty as you approach a window to see the sun shine through. More impressive than that is how the game displays three scenarios at the same time. They’re not swapped in and out as they are on the show 24, but it’s still very cool. Different camera angles per scenario screen go a long way to enhance that intense, high-impact espionage sensation.

Though you could spend time just staring at the screen for amusement, the real reason for having a three-way display is to coordinate the ultimate plan. This plan will have you using one character to initiate a plan while another goes out and makes the execution. Your first comrade might be used as a decoy – a distraction to avert disaster. Then the real hunter goes in. With your sights squarely focused on the target, nothing could possibly go wrong…unless you get caught.

Technology plays a role in each mission, and that means you’ll have to whip out gadgets and acquire the necessary pass codes to proceed. Night-vision goggles anyone? Too typical, you say? Then how about a radio-controlled probe? Might that intrigue the Solid Snake in you?

Due by the end of the first quarter, Th3 Plan hopes to take more than a slice of the stealth game pie when it’s released. Look for it soon.

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